Mt. Washington Trip – The Journey Home

Our trip Mascot, Gomer was always ready to ride!

After three days of great weather, my rain curse made itself known and Monday night a massive storm rolled in. The sky lit up with lightening and everything shook from the thunder that followed, while strong winds tried to pull the tent pegs from the ground. The worst of the storm only lasted a few hours but the rain continued throughout the night.

In the morning, we woke to a soaked tent and damp sleeping bags. I wasn’t looking forward to packing everything up in the rain to say the least. Susie brought all our riding gear up to the registration office and waited for me to pack up all the gear and strap it to the bike. Just before I finished, the rain finally stopped but left us with some very cold, damp riding conditions. I wondered at this point if Chris went through the same thing or if he opted for a motel room somewhere.

Back on the bike, we left the campground around 10am in New Hampshire and headed back towards the Lake Placid area. I wanted to do some more touring through the Adirondack Park again, even if it was on many of the same roads. Our first stop was in Plainfield, Vermont where I had, what turned out to be, the worst breakfast in history! I swear it tried to slowly kill me for the next two days. If you ever happen to roll through there…don’t stop!

Once we rolled through Montpelier with their suspension killing potholes again, we jumped on the I-89 and headed towards Lake Champlain and crossing into New York State once again. After some insane crosswinds, our necks began to get fatigued from all the wind buffeting. I decided that it was time to get off the main roads and needed a bit of a break, so I decided that taking the ferry across the lake was a good idea.

This ferry crossing was the first I actually used my tie-down straps. The chop on the water would have been too much for the kickstand to support the bike and it would have surely fallen over. Even though I was sitting on it, it would have been too much to hold on too. If you look carefully, you can make out the red strap around the green plate part along the side of the ferry.

After crossing Lake Champlain, it was a reasonably short ride back to Wilmington, NY area. Considering all our gear was wet, we looked for a local motel and ended up at a great Bed & Breakfast ( In hind sight it was a good idea. The temps dropped to 3 degrees celcius and considering all our gear was wet, it would have made camping rather miserable. Instead we had a nice warm bed and a terrific view of White Face Mountain from our bedroom window.

Wednesday morning we started our final push home through the Dacks, along some great country roads, across the ferry and finally the least entertaining section across the 401 home. Once again, my tie-down strap came in handy on the Ferry across to Kingston and once all was said and done, we had traveled 1800km over 5 days.

Props must go to my traveling partner Susie. Prior to this trip, she hadn’t spent more then 1.5hrs on the back of a bike. Nor had she ever been camping! This trip was full of “first time” experiences for her and she did great.

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Mt. Washington Trip – Mountains Galore!

We started off by meeting Chris at a gas station not far from where I live. He was coming in from Oakville and needed to fill up anyway. From there we headed east and had our first break at a service station just west of Bellville.

From there we continued to Kingston and waited for the ferry crossings to Wolfe Island and then a second to the US border crossing. Once we crossed the border (which was the fastest chat with US Customs and Immigration that I have ever had), we started making our way towards the Adirondack Park. Our butts became numb, our necks sore and we loved it as the miles clicked away on the odometer.

Once we stopped for dinner in Gouvernour, we entered the park and we were treated to some simply awesome riding roads and spectacular views of the forest, rivers and lakes that we passed through. It’s no wonder this is such a popular place for camping. The miles climbed and the sun began to set as we made our way through Lake Placid, finally arriving at our KOA campsite just north of there near Wilmington, NY. The next morning we decided that since we were so close to White Face Mountain, that it would be a shame to not ride to the summit. So we packed up our site, had a hardy breakfast in Lake Placid and headed for White Face.

When we arrived at the bottom, we were advised that visibility was zero and that it was chilly at the top. Whatever…upward we rode and stopped to take some great pictures along the way.

The view was simply breathtaking once the clouds moved off a little but the best view was just below the clouds, where we were able to overlook the mountain ranges, lakes and valleys off in the distance.

Chris originally was just planning on camping and riding around Adirondack Park for four days, but decided that he would join us to see Mt. Washington. So with that, the three of us headed off towards our second campground in New Hampshire. We crossed Lake Champlain via the ferry into Charlotte, Vermont and headed south to Bristol for another break. From there we headed up RT17 through Buel’s Gore, which is an extremely twisty and technical section of road. I’ll admit that I was nervous in some spots considering how heavy the bike was and how poorly it handled.

Onward we rode through Montpelier, which is the capital of Vermont and I must say that it was here that we encountered by FAR the worst roads on our entire trip! Although, the road climbing White Face was rough…the roads in Montpelier were way worse and our bikes took a serious beating. After a short stop to put on some warmer clothes and rest our pothole-beaten butts, we pushed hard into New Hampshire towards our next campsite, which is not far from Mt. Washington. Once again though, we arrived after sunset and had to setup our site using flashlights to see. This was becoming a pattern that needed to be broken.

Another hardy morning breakfast to start our day before riding to Mt. Washington. This was to be the shortest riding day of the trip. Well at least for Susie and me anyway.

Now for the purpose of the trip: Mt.Washington!
I stripped the bike of all the cases and un-needed gear with the exception of rain gear in case we needed it and some warmer clothes that we certainly would. We reached the base and began our ascent up the mountain with Susie on the back and Chris following behind. The road was actually pretty easy to ride since most of it was paved but what makes it nerve-racking is that it’s only a lane and a half wide and there are no guardrails. This made passing cars coming down the mountain more interesting since there was very little space to get by and in some spots it would have been impossible for two cars to pass by each other. Seeing nature so up close made me think about how I treat my body, and other people as well. Not everyone looks after their health as well as they should. I try to watch what I eat, and exercise when I can. I even take a natural health supplement called kratom masters which has been very effective for me. I have found myself recommending it in casual conversation actually. If you are in the market for one, you should check this one out.

Part way up the climb, the asphalt gives way to dirt and gravel, then back to asphalt again, making that rougher section just a little more interesting and soon we face a new challenge as we climb into the clouds with strong gusting winds. Visability is now only 20ft in front of us and we crawl up the hill trying to ensure that we don’t over-shoot a tight turn and fall off the mountain or get blown off by a wind gust!

Finally we reach the top and although we feel a sense of satisfaction from the climb, it is quickly replaced with some disappointment from the complete lack of visability through the clouds. We stayed at the summit for a while checking out the gift shop and the cog train that climbs the mountian.

The train is for those who want to travel to the summit but either can’t hike up or don’t have the intestinal fortitude to drive up themselves. This is obviously a common choice for seniors or for those who have a fear of heights and may panic behind the wheel. The train is steam driven and fueled by a coal burning fire. You can see the coal cart from where the engineers have to shovel the coal by hand into the fire.

Finally the clouds passed and we were treated with a breathtaking view of the Appalachian mountains as far as the eye could see.

Now for the decent. Personally going back down was far less intimidating since I already had an idea what to expect for road conditions and with the clouds gone, I could actually see where I was going. Many people get more nervous going down simply because of the visual effect of looking down the mountain and out over the ranges. You get an idea in this image of how steep sections of the road are.

Our only issue was at one point nearly being run off the side by a small SUV that was taking up too much of the road and not watching for oncoming traffic. I had to swerve towards the edge to avoid being hit head-on and my tires came about 1.5ft from the edge! Talk about a pucker moment. My sphincter didn’t relax again until I reached the bottom.

Without a doubt, our tour of the mountains was a great experience. After successfully negotiating the Mt. Washington Auto Road, we headed back to our campsite for a relaxing remainder of the day…for Susie and me at least.

Chris wanted to head back to Adirondack Park to check out Lake George. So after packing up his tent and gear, we said our fairwells and Chris continued his adventure on his own. As for us…we lazed around the campsite late into the night until the rain rolled in.

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Mt. Washington Trip – Preamble

After talking to a good friend of mine about her experiences at Mt. Washingon, while on her way to the east coast, I became more and more intrigued by the idea of riding to the summit myself. It’s the highest peek in North Eastern United States (6288ft or 1917m) and has the most volatile weather.

I started playing with the idea more and started picking up bits of equipment along the way that I was sure to need. I didn’t really commit to the idea until about the beginning of July and had fully intended on making the trip alone. It wasn’t until my return from camping in Algonquin Park, I realized that having some company would be nice but if they were to ride with me, they needed to be experienced riders as well as own all their own camping gear.

Well it wasn’t long before it was decided that I would take a friend of mine, Susie, as a passenger (this gets interesting later during the prep when packing for two people). I talked to other friends of mine from the riding community to see if others were interested. Some were too new as riders, others couldn’t get the time off work and some friends had mechanical issues with their bikes, making them unreliable.

In the end, two days before departure, I was contacted by a fellow named Chris. He was planning on camping in the Adirondack Park for four days. Since we were leaving on the same day and he was also planning on camping for his first night near Lake Placid, we decided to head down together. He stated that he has all his own gear, is used to camping trips with his bike (Yamaha V-Star) and is an experienced rider. Perfect!

Now lets go back to the prep…I needed new cases since a small low-side a few months earlier resulted in one of my BMW cases getting snapped off and broken beyond repair. Not wanting to replace it due it’s obvious fragility, I opted to go with a stronger design by Caribou Cases ( which have developed custom racks for my style of bike and use Pelican 1550 cases. Talk about tough!

I had to start thinking about how to not only pack everything that I needed personally but also for Susie as well as tools for the bike. Tent, sleeping bags, ground pads, camp stove & fuel, food, axe, first aid kit, rain gear, and much, much more…

Once mounted, the bike was heavy and sluggish. The cases (including the mounting racks) weigh 35pds empty, I packed each case with about 30pds of gear. Then I added more on the tail rack (another 15-20pds or so), which when added to the weight of my passenger, made my bike top heavy by about an extra 250pds.

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With the final touches added and packed Saturday morning, we set off to meet Chris at a local gas station.

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