2,133 miles to Chicago – Mt. Washington 4/18/2015

Nice to know the distance
2133 miles to Chicago via the old Chicago-Milwaukee-St. Paul-Pacific Railroad

(click on any photo to enlarge and use the ‘back’ button to return)

I would at least entertain the possibility that I overdid it just a little bit today, but it wasn’t all my fault.

Derek is on call this weekend so I wanted to plan a solo hike.  I needed a hike with a trail on which I couldn’t get lost, and I wanted to train for the next hike we have planned (a steep one, McClellan Butte next Thursday, the 23rd) so what the heck.

I parked near Rattlesnake Lake, which is supposed to be about a 5 mile hike down the Iron Horse Trail to the Mt. Washington trailhead.  Iron Horse is the former route of the Chicago-Milwaukee-St. Paul-Pacific railroad, and dead flat for many miles.  It is a sub-trail of the John Wayne trail – a trail that is far longer than The Duke’s military service.

Anyway, I hiked Mt. Washington a few weeks ago with Derek and we did it the normal way, parking near the trailhead and walking down Iron Horse from west to east maybe 100 yards to the second little trail on the left.

Derek knew what he was looking for and it was easy.  Alas, this morning, walking from east to west I missed the little trailhead and went an extra mile before I realized I was a dunderhead.

So what I planned as 10 miles round trip on Iron Horse plus 8 miles up and down Mt. Washington wound up being 12 miles on Iron Horse plus Mt. Washington for a total hike today of 20 miles.

It actually wasn’t that bad and I am raring to go for Thursday’s challenge.

From the Mt. Washington trailhead to the top was 2:15 minutes, an hour faster than Derek and I did it before.  I have learned the lesson of walking slowly when it gets steep, just trudge along, get into a Zen-like state of one foot after the other.  It wasn’t so bad, 4 hours and 10 minutes round trip.

Just hiking along Iron Horse is nice.  It is dead level, but about 1100 feet elevation, with a north view (your left as you walk towards Mt. Washington) that is beautiful.  For example, check out this perspective on the previously hiked and blogged Mt. Si and Little Si:

A different view of Si
Little Si on the left, Mt. Si on top

There are some tough sections of the trail on the way up:

Sometimes the trail is rocky
I call this “trail”


Things are also looking very good about halfway up:

What we are talking about
The ‘hood

I had a couple of friends at the very top, two birds I tried to photograph as they ate the bread I shared (they have been fed before and know the drill).  They were pretty quick and hard to photograph with our less-than-professional camera:

Hungry Birds
Trying to get a picture of one of the birds who was begging for food (I gave the two of them some bread)

Here is the view from the toppermost-of-the-poppermost:

Not bad!
View from Mt. Washington summit

And here are a couple of nice views from just below the summit, where the view is less constricted:

Amazing view from just below the Mt. Washington summit


Great view
Beautiful view just below Mt. Washington summit

What is the difference between a ‘beautiful’ view and an ‘amazing’ view? – you tell me.

I made it back to the car about 8 hours after I pushed off and immediately fell back to earth.  The Rattlesnake Lake area is popular to put it mildly.  For a mile or more there were cars parked bumper-to-bumper just off both lanes of the narrow two-lane highway, with people hiking on the road.  It took me 15 minutes in the car to go about a mile, which is my pace on Iron Horse.

Then, the freeway back home was gridlocked thanks to some construction and concomitant lane closures.

Oh, well.  These hikes are wonderful mini-vacations from modern life and every moment is precious.

And those mileage-to-Chicago signs are a reminder of just how far Jan and I have traveled from home.

4 thoughts on “2,133 miles to Chicago – Mt. Washington 4/18/2015”

  1. I wish I knew what kind of birds were sharing my lunch – they were friendly and well aware of the fact that people sitting near where they live are likely to have sharable food.

    1. Nice work on the 20 miler! Sounds like you had a great day. I wish I could have been there, but work had a different plan for me. I couldn’t help but look out the window at Mt. Washington and think to myself that you where somewhere on the trail. Looking forward to Thursday.

      1. Yeah, I wish you had been able to make it. Much faster time today , thanks to trudging slowly. I am getting the hang of the paradox that slower is faster hiking up a mountain. We should get a nice workout Thursday on McClellan Butte. There was lots of snow on Mt. Washington but it wasn’t bad and I put my new Ice Trekkers on going downhill and they work great to grip the trail when it is snowy and icy. So McClellan will be snowy but let’s just say ‘the heck with it’ and go for it.

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