As the wind whipped my hair in my face and the bitter chill nipped my skin, I pulled my leather jacket in tighter. Clouds enveloped me, making my line of sight difficult. It was hard to believe that just this morning I had been sitting under clear sunny skies eating a bagel and reading a magazine.
I was at the summit of Mount Washington. At 6,288 feet, it is the highest peak in the northeastern United States. Not only that, it’s also home to the Mount Washington Observatory where the “highest wind ever observed by man” was recorded. During a violent storm on April 12, 1934, the crew’s instruments measured a wind velocity of 231 miles per hour. After learning that, I felt pretty thankful to only have to be dealing with getting hair in my mouth.
There are many ways to reach the summit. For the adventurous, hiking to the top is an option. You’ll trek up Crawford Path, which was first laid out in 1819 and is said to be the oldest hiking trail in America. You can also opt to drive the Mount Washington Auto Road, which is 8 miles long and starts from the eastern side of the mountain in Pinkham Notch. Admission costs $25 per vehicle, and $8 per additional adult. For a historical journey, ride the Mount Washington Cog Railway, the world’s oldest mountain climbing cog railway that has been transporting people up the mountain since 1869.
No matter what way you choose, you’ll get encompassing mountain, forest and valley views and journey through several climate zones. At the top, you’ll be immersed in the clouds, and will be able to visit the Mount Washington Observatory Museum and the Tip-Top House, a restored historic hotel from 1853.