I had no idea that our first trip to New Hampshire would be this memorable. Oh, I knew that we would see some pretty serious nature, but having traipsed many a Rocky Mountain trail, in California, Washington, Oregon, and Utah, I didn't think the Appalachian, specifically, the White Mountain Range, could wow me. Yes, I admit my fallacy - both in measuring greatness purely according to height, as well as calculating my own ability to be awe-inspired. The drive up Mount Washington has, happily, humbled me.
To be fair, it was my husband who drove; but from the passenger side, I was often the source of consternation, especially when I huffed in one of those breaths, sharp with panic, shocked that I was being forced to practically hang my car off of one cliff after another on a crazy road, narrower than most of the hiking tails at Arches National Park, in Moab, Utah. Only New Englanders, and their contrary ways, would put me in this position - ha!
But we stopped often, both on the climb up and down (I haven't shared those pics here, since it would just be too many), which gave my husband the opportunity to ease the tention from his fingers. It wasn't until we were pulling away from the exit that he admitted to suffering a panic attack on a portion of the road where it suddenly turns to gravel, and it's near impossible to see around the jutting sections of gray rock, covered in iridescent moss. Years before, we'd taken a back road from Park City to Salt Lake City in our Toyota Corolla. That was pretty nerve-wracking too, but we had known what we were getting into.
Of course, we stopped quite a few times to cool the breaks of our Prius. Thank God for the hybrid, which has a way to break on the gear shift; it also coasts beautifully, so we used less than two gallons of gas for the whole trip. There was this one family who pulled off right behind us: heavy smoke was rolling around the tires of their loaded Suburban. This was our third stop on the way down, and they hadn't stopped yet once. The driver told us he thought he heard metal hit mental, and that's what made him pull over. I truly hope they suffered no costly expenditures; but the warning signs were posted frequently. This road, mostly paved and way too easy to access, had surely deceived him.
The scenery was both soothing and spectacular. Something about these ancient mountains, with their dips and curves, lull you into thinking they aren't as formidable as their gaunt and jutting counterparts two timezones away, which, of course, they are. Men often make the same mistake with women! Throughout the trip, our youngest, when contemplating where to hike, would point to a peak and say, "well, not that one, that one's just a hill". Upon closer inspection of course, closer as in half-way through a grueling four-hour hike, she was forced to change her mind.