We were invited several weeks ago up to New Hampshire by a friend of mine to join her on a hike of Mt. Washington, an annual tradition for her family. Having missed our vacation last March and failing to conquer our hike of Mt. Lincoln on the Lincoln-Lafayette loop over the summer (infuriating summertime, snow-covered dead president!) we jumped at the chance to take on the highest mountain in northeastern U.S. Since it is a bit of a drive to North Conway and the mountain from the city, we decided to take a mini vacation for a romantic weekend in the mountains. In classic Greg style, he found us a last minute room at the elegant, cozy and exactly-perfect-for-the-occasion, Wentworth Inn.
After an abbreviated work week we hopped in the car and sped up to New Hampshire for our little weekend extravaganza. The drive itself is beautiful during the day with scenic views and rhythmic winding roads. Unfortunately, by the time we stopped to collect dinner and an appropriate amount of alcohol it was past dusk so we missed most of the views and the lull of the meandering roads put me right to sleep. Sorry Greg!
The Wentworth Inn sits in the adorable tourist town of Jackson, on the south-eastern side of Mount Washington. It is a historic inn originally built in 1869 as a wedding gift to Georgia and Marshall Wentworth. The Inn’s appearance and atmosphere today is truly reflective of it’s romantic history and grandeur. It is both rugged and elegant, descriptions typically not complimentary of one another. The crisp mountain air and tranquil buzz of surrounding forest activity formed the exact escape we were seeking from the city. Our room was substantial, complete with an attractive four poster bed, fireplace and inviting, French-style wingback armchairs. The heavy bedspread, thick drapes and rich autumn tones throughout the room drew us in, creating an almost encircling quality as soon as we stepped through the door. Relaxation hit immediately. The primary reason Greg chose room 409 sat just outside the bathroom in the turret on the corner of the building; a picturesque, private hot tub with soft lighting and a cool mountain breeze wafting up the conical wooden interior. Soaking our tired bodies in the warm water was absolutely the highlight of the evening.
The next morning we dragged ourselves out of the plush bedcovers and wearily dressed in itchy, merino wool and polartech hiking gear. I was hesitant to sit down for our complimentary breakfast as we were running short on time before we had to be up at the Pinkham Notch Visitor’s Center. Our server assured us that the kitchen was quick and mentioned that our breakfast options included the scrumptious-looking menu items if we chose to avoid the cold muffins on the buffet. I didn’t really believe him but was relaxed and hungry, so we ordered off the menu and hoped for the best. True to his word, our server brought out Greg’s spinach, mushroom and gruyere omlette with my quick two egg breakfast in record time. We inhaled all we could, left the polite server a nice tip and hurried to the car.
It was a good thing we had such comforting accommodations the night before because Mount Washington had anything but leisure planned for us. The hike took us a little over 4 hours, was primarily foggy and the wind whipped at 50 mph plus towards the top. It took every ounce of what little strength I had left from fighting the wind to drag myself over the last ledge into the parking lot of the Summit Station. I was immediately greeted by cheerful children who had driven up the Auto Road with their parents and were zealously arguing over the “I climbed Mt. Washington” sticker their foolish parents had purchased. I secretly wanted to wring out my sweaty pullover on their little heads. The rest of the group was along shortly and we all gathered at the Summit Station for a hot coffee and a bowl of chili. Fortunately for Greg and I, my friend’s family also holds as part of their annual Mt. Washington hike, a ride down the mountain in one of the shuttle vans, which we readily accepted. Normally this would go against my principles of hiking, since most mountains you have to get up AND down on your own two feet, but I was cold and had a bit of windburn on my face so I conceded.
One pleasant van ride and one exceptional history-of-the-mountain lesson later, we were back at the Vistor’s Center. I immediately changed back into my comfortable jeans and hoodie and sat wishing I had possessed the good sense to book two nights in a row at the Wentworth Inn.