Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Fantastic Mid-week Trek to Tuckerman Ravine

How do you describe a perfect day for Dundee, Dick and I to hike to Tuckerman Ravine. In two hours, we made the three-mile uphill trip via Tuckerman Ravine Trail to Hermit Lake. The summer-like day was emphasized by Dick and I wearing t-shirts and shorts (we did have warm clothes in our backpacks for any change in weather.)

Tuckerman Ravine (, isolated on the east side of Mt. Washington in the White Mountain National Forest, is famous for its daredevil spring skiing, snowboarding, mountaineering, ice climbing and hiking. Moreover, Tuckerman’s isolation and its dangerous conditions and terrain can be dangerous – and even fatal.

If you are thinking of skiing Tuckerman, you should be an expert skier in good physical condition. The headwall at Tuckerman is between 45-55 degrees and the vertical drop is approximately 1200 ft. The only way to the top is by climbing the headwall. (

The hike started on a dry and bare rocky Tuckerman Ravine Trail. As we ascended to the middle section, we encountered snowmelt small streams crossing the trail, and we gingerly traversed slippery ice. The upper part of the trail was snow covered, and we could hear and see water flowing underneath our feet.

Fellow outdoor enthusiasts, carrying their downhill and telemark skis, boots and gear, passed us. Other hikers, like us, are there for the thrill of the surreal scene of this magnificent beautiful ravine with a reputation for beauty, avalanche danger, and untold climbing challenges.

Shared Thoughts:

• A trek to Tuckerman’s is a perfect place to bond with your significant other, family, and friends. My wife Cathy and I have made this trek many times, and years ago, my son Tim and I encountered a sudden storm that nearly put an end to our lives. Memories of love, emotion, and bonding are part of my Tuckerman experience.
• 10:30 am temperature 82 degrees AMC’s Pinkham Hut, 12:30 pm temperature 68 at base of Ravine.
• We were aware of an air and ground search for a 17-year-old hiker Eagle Scout who had been missing in this area since Saturday. At around noon we heard from a hiker the scout was found safe and in good condition.
• Camaraderie of all skiers was evident throughout the hike as we shared “where are you from”, “conditions of your ski”, “which side of the ravine did you ski?”, and “Have you heard if they found the scout?”
• We wished a ten-year-old boy “happy birthday” after we learned he and his dad skied Hillman's Highway trail, the longest run in Tuckerman.
• We drank water every ten minutes to be sure we did not get de-hydrated. My backpack was filled with a quart of water, two peanut butter jelly sandwiches, compass, map, duct tape, ace bandage, contractor trash bags for an emergency overnight, warm clothes, gaiters, winter hat, and gloves. We all wore hiking boots (sneakers would nearly insure a sprained ankle and wet feet).
• After lunch at the caretaker hut, we started up the right section of the Ravine, but stopped because of rocks covered with slippery ice and brewing dark storm clouds moving swiftly over the headwall. Since storms come up quickly in this area, we did not hesitate to leave when we saw the threatening conditions.
• Thinking of going to Tuckerman? Great, but before you go be prepared with a review of the HikeSafe program In 2003, the N.H. Fish and Game Department and the White Mountain National Forest partnered up to create a mountain safety education program called "hikeSafe." A large component of the program is the Hiker Responsibility Code. The code applies to all hikers, from beginners on a short hike to experienced outdoor enthusiasts embarking on an expedition. Please practice the elements of the code and help the hikeSafe program spread by sharing the code with fellow trekkers. This will help increase responsibility and decrease the need for Search and Rescue efforts.

Dick, Dundee and I will never have to say, “We wish we had hiked to Tuckerman to watch the skiers and enjoy Tuck's majestic wilderness and mountain scenery.”

A Summer Trek and Paddle in the Great North Woods of New Hampshire
Later in July, I returned to the Tuckerman area.  My nephew Braden, and grandson Carson, joined my two sons, brother-in-law, two father-son friends and I on a four-day trek enjoying the Great North Woods of New Hampshire.  Please view the video to see this beautiful northern New England area as we hiked Pinkham Notch, Tuckerman Ravine and  Mt Washington, paddled Lake Umbagog and the Androscoggin and Magalloway rivers, hiked to the 4th Connecticut Lake, and tented at Mollidgewock State Park in Errol, NH.

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