Looking for a weekend adventure that won’t break the bank? The White Mountains are an accessible winter wonderland just a four hour drive from Kingston campus, and they’re calling your name! Whether you aspire to carve down Tuckerman’s Ravine, climb Mt. Washington or just relax in a cozy cabin, you and a few close friends can find it all by Saturday and make it back to Rhody in time to finish that essay Sunday night.
The Whites are nestled amongst the northern Appalachian range, spanning northern New Hampshire and parts of western Maine. Standing tall, wind-worn and white-capped, within the Whites is the famous Presidential Range in North Conway, New Hampshire. Known mostly for its volatile and vicious year round weather, the Presidential Range draws thousands of visitors each year ranging from bearded ice-climbers to minivan families and everyone in between.
During summer months, many tourists opt to drive to the summit of Mt. Washington via the Mt. Washington Auto Road or on the Cogg Railway, but throughout the winter months the road and railway are both closed. However, one’s options for outdoor adventure are anything but limited; Speckled throughout the entire mountain range are a series of huts and cabins spaced 6 to 8 miles apart and open to the adventurous public willing to brave the conditions for a few minutes of fireside refuge or a few nights in a toasty sleeping bag.
The cabins are owned and maintained by the Appalachian Mountain Club, the Randolph Mountain Club and the Harvard Mountaineering Club. Many have year round caretakers and low-cost accommodations that operate on a first-come-first-serve basis, so hike quickly! Additionally, the trail system throughout the Presidential Range is second to none, with clearly marked and well-maintained trails that could take you to the top of every Presidential peak in one day if you’re up to the challenge.
Skiing and snowboarding are other hugely popular activities in the Whites. There are multiple ski resorts including Attitash, Black Mountain, Bretton Woods, Cranmore Mountain and Wildcat. However, if you pay one full or half-day pass for either Attitash or Wildcat, they are interchangeable. Whether you want to go for a long day trip to hit the slopes or stay overnight at a cozy, hike-in cabin, it’s up to you!
If the day trip is too far and you’re willing to explore the mountains first-hand, I’d suggest a one night stay at the Harvard Mountaineering Cabin. After an early morning drive, pull into the Pinkham Notch visitor center, sign up for a night at the HMC cabin with the friendly front desk clerks, and begin the two mile climb up Tuckerman’s Ravine trail. If you pass the Harvard entrance exam, volunteer caretakers Rich and Marsha will warmly welcome you into their winter abode. Just be sure to layer up, bring a warm sleeping bag and sleeping pad, and provide your own food, and you will want to return every weekend!
What you will need: for a day trip of hiking on the trails: good waterproof hiking boots, snowshoes or crampons, snow pants and winter jacket, water, snacks, flashlight, layers (avoid cotton!) and of course a camera!
As for staying in the cabin be prepared to bring a sleeping bag, sleeping pad, flashlight, food for as many nights as you stay and once again layers!
For more information visit http://www.harvardmountaineering.org/cabin/.