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2011-07-20 22:23:45.000 – Ryan Knapp,  Observer / Meteorologist

As Mike Carmon mentioned in yesterday’s Observer Comment, our annual Seek the Peak hike-a-thon is quickly approaching this coming weekend, Saturday, July 23rd. And while we are preparing for the event both here on the summit and in the valleys below, participants need to prepare as well. So I will provide some input on some common problems and questions I have heard over the years that come up frequently with this event.

First up, the question/concern people have about the weather forecast. Typically, Mike Carmon and I only forecast out 36 hours which is posted daily on our website by 6 am. In the coming days I will make an exception to this rule and extend it out a bit. But by no means should you get used to it. But so far the forecast that Mike preliminarily wrote about in yesterday’s comment is holding strong. A ridge of high pressure so far is expected which will allow for it to be sunny resulting in it being hot, humid and hazy (a triple “H”) set up. While this may be “ideal” weather for hiking, it can be very dangerous as well. Sunscreen should be on your mind but more importantly should be staying well hydrated and cool. That means more than 20oz of water. While most will say 2 liters is good, I would recommend more than that with the weather that is shaping up. And keep in mind most trails will be putting you in the sun. While it will be “cooler” the higher you go, with such high humidity’s, keeping cool from evaporating sweat will be very difficult. So take plenty of breaks as necessary and possibly bring a mister or something to try and cool down. Having personally experienced a severe case of heat exhaustion on a hike in Arizona in my youth, I don’t recommend the experience on anyone.

Next up, how are you getting down? If you hike up, YOU (not us) will be responsible for getting yourself down. You can do this by hiking down, having someone in your group pay to drive up and meet you to drive you down, paying for a ride down via the Mount Washington Auto Road (if space is available and shuttles are running), or paying for a ride down via The Cog (if space is available and trains are running). I always say that we should rename the event “Seek the Peak…Then the Valley”, but it just isn’t as catchy. But please keep this in mind since this is a very common problem people run into. And if you are planning on hiking down (or up) the Tuckerman Ravine Trail, part of it will be CLOSED. No if’s, and’s or but’s about this one folks. So start looking at alternative trails that will meet your needs. More information on the closure can be found here: or by talking to personnel at check-in or at one of the AMC visitor centers.

Lastly, be aware of timing and distances. Some participants have hiked this mountain and know how long it takes to get up and down it on various trails to get them down in time for the after party Saturday or before darkness sets in. But for those doing it for the first time, start looking at topography maps, reading guides, or talk to others. It can be a very quick hike for some but it can be a very long hike depending on your fitness levels. It is also very deceptive. I can’t tell you how many times I have been on the trails or hiked with people and hear the line “It’s (the summit) just right there”. But the peak, for whatever reason is not “just right there”, it’s more like a passenger side mirror on a car, the object (in this case the peak) is closer than it appears. So give yourself plenty of time to get up and down and pack a headlamp or flashlight just in case your time runs long. And if you are depending on a ride by some method, remember that the road and cog close at some point (check their sites for times). Also keep in mind that if you park and hike up the west side of the summit, the after party will be on the east side of the summit. So once you get back down, there will be roughly a 50 mile car ride to get you back to the other side for the activities.

There are several other topics I could touch upon but that will have to do for now. And while I say these are common things that come up with Seek the Peak, they are general problems that we run into up here. So if you are just planning on hiking up on Saturday on your own accord, keep these pointers above in mind. Hopefully everyone will have a fun and safe weekend and we look forward to seeing you on the summit or at the after party below.


Ryan Knapp,  Observer / Meteorologist

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