Fri 14 Jun - Lincoln, NH

Quiet morning, with laundry duties before our main event for the day, Mount Washington Cog Railway (lots and lots of photos, sorry but it was really cool). So, after breakfast we packed up a couple of bags of clothes that needed washing and drove to town.

Here was Di checking out the spin perhaps...

Hans took a wander along Main Street just to kill some time and take some photos. This Lincoln logo was painted across one of the side streets to Main Street.

Main Street and bikers in a seemingly never ending succession. We found out the Laconia Bike Week is a huge event - runs for 9 days and it first started as a bike tour back in 1923. Laconia is about an hour south of where we are staying in Lincoln, NH and one of our biker neighbors said it can be a mad-house during bike week. That might explain why many of the bikers stay in the surrounding areas.

We returned back at the cabin around 10.30am with 1.5 hrs to "kill" before we need to drive to the base station where we would catch the Mount Washington Cog Railway.

Coffee and cookies by the brook seemed like a good idea, very relaxing.

We drove about 50 minutes north east to a place called Coos where the Marshfield Base Station is located for the Cog Railway. We got our tickets and as we had some spare time, we checked out their museum.

This old metallic sign was on display and it seemed like an appropriate photo to start this section of the blog.

Marshfield Base Station is located 2700 feet above sea level and the summit at Mount Washington State Park is located 6288 feet above sea level. In the museum, they showed this "Devil's Shingle" that was used by workers in the olden days to descend from summit to base on average within 10 minutes, and some in 3 minutes. Hmm...3 miles in 3 minutes equals 60mph or 100km/hr sitting on a wooden board sliding down the track.

The record is 2 minutes 45 seconds. Yep, the "Devil's Shingle" was eventually banned after a fatal accident.

We ate our sandwich lunch in the warm sunshine outside the base station and looked around while we wait for our train ride.
The very first locomotive was called Peppersass and is there on display at the base station. This locomotive powered uphill with President Ulysses S Grant less than 2 months after the railway first opened. Keen.

Look out, a train is coming down the hill...

Yep, it is the train from the earlier 10.30am tour that is returning with ours to leave at 1.30pm, so there was Di queueing for us to get good seats.

While we were waiting we thought it was a good time to take the obligatory self portrait...

All aboard! And we were on our way. This is the "flat" section at the start of the track.

Everyone looking relaxed as we head off.

Our Brakeman, Jim, doesn't have much to do on the way up but provide some commentary on the history and facts of the railway. The track still averages 25 degrees in steepness...

The track gets steeper as it runs up the eastern side of Mount Washington in pretty much a straight line. Where the track disappears in this photo is where we make a gradual right hand turn and up the final ridge to the top.

It's hard to show how we are all sitting on an angle but the way Jim, our Brakeman described it is that in the length of this carriage the front is 14 feet (4 metres) higher than the end of the carriage. Something to think about...

Di was experimenting by taking photos of the crowd... Say no more...

The steepest section of the track is more than 37 degrees and is called Jacob's Ladder - it can be seen near the top of this photo just below the "no tree line" where the track is on a raised trestle and takes a bend to the right and straightens out again.

You can also see the water tower below which is still in use to provide water for the steam train that is occasionally also used.

Not the steepest section but this really showed us the angle - the building is of course leveled.

This is not a tilted camera - just looking out of our carriage.

We were invited to try standing up and not holding onto anything with our hands whilst going over Jacob's Ladder. Look no hands but not easy.

Hans tried the same when we were heading back downhill. Weird sensation.

The Appalachian Trail (the good ol' AT) crosses the railway track near the top ridge of Mount Washington. The AT white markers can't be blazed on trees here as there are none to be found, so the trail maintainers built rock cairns and put white blazes on these.

Not sure that it would do any good looking for them in heavy cloud or rain or even snow.

Near the top of Mount Washington and we start to see evidence of the visitors centre and weather station equipment.

Our train reached the top in 45 minutes. The track is about 3 miles or 4.8 km long so not a speedy ascent.
The views from the top of Mount Washington are truly amazing, particularly on a reasonably clear day like today albeit with some haze.
Mount Washington is staffed 365 days a year and winter must be ferocious. They had several feet of snow on Memorial Day (the day when we were at Coney Island enjoying the sunshine!). They have recorded weather here since about 1870. The weather is alpine and erratic. Since mid 1800's about 150 people have died on this mountain - most from hypothermia, and all their name and reasons for death where listed at the visitor's centre.
And it's windy - although today was described as very mild at less than 30mph. Wikipedia says that 110 days a year they get winds here of hurricane strength or above (that's 70 mph or about 110km/hr).
Mount Washington was the world record holder for strongest wind recorded ever for many years. 231 mph? That's 371 km/hr!

The highest peak in north eastern America.

And everyone wanted to be part of it. Became a bit ridiculous really.

The first hiking trails up on Mount Washington started in 1820, and by 1850 they started building lodges and guest houses. This is a replica of one of the earliest - the Tip Top House. It is acknowledged as a lodge that has saved many a hiker from hypothermia.

The Tip Top House seemed to have provided pretty basic food and lodgings but must have seemed like heaven if you were lost on the AT in a storm.

The bunk beds were not inviting. And for short-ars.s only...

We were incredibly lucky with the clear weather at the top. You can see for miles and miles. We noticed that quite a few bikers had taken the auto road and were also enjoying the views.
In this photo you can see a typical New Hampshire ski field to the left - about 4,000 feet at their highest point.
The bikers seemed to have a good sense of humour, unaware that we took this photo from the train. Or were they?
We wandered around the top and started putting on warmer clothes as we felt the wind chill. We were well prepared so had no problems with colder or changing weather. We did however see people in shorts and t-shirts. Bred tough? Or just dumb?
Hans is the king of the world!
Behind Hans the AT stretches south / southwest and passes close to where we are staying in Lincoln.
Further around Mount Washington, the AT continues - white blazes mark the trail. It is rugged - in fact nearly all rocks in this section.
The very end of the cog railway up at Mount Washington.
The AT continues over these ranges too.
We loved how the train just pulls up near the edge at the top. We were assured their brakes were excellent and that was no risk whatsoever that the train would descend into... Say chaos.
Mount Washington is quite an old tourist destination so of course they have the usual restaurant and gift shop. The hikers use it too and we could see the attraction of hiking all the way up here and then sitting in the warmth with a hot drink afterwards.
We took a short break ourselves and had to laugh when we realized that climbing 3,500 feet had pressurized our Kit Kat packets.
Unfortunately you don't get enough time at the top - just under an hour - but as our Brakeman Jim explained they come up here until the wind hits 70mph - so in colder, windier conditions most people hesitate to even be outside for 20 minutes!

On the way down we sit bumper to bumper against the engine which does all the braking. Our Brakeman watches closely and has emergency back up and manual brakes just in case. Of course, he also has his trainee there to the right.

Heading back down - a few scenic photos.
The AT continues across a very thin saddle. The drop off to the right is more than 1km deep to the valley floor - you don't want to slip.
The view out the front window heading down. Again, it's hard to describe how cool this was!
Approaching Jacob's Ladder again.
We make it safely back (of course) and believe that this was money well spent. Mount Washington Cog Railway was a truly unique experience.
As it was about 5pm when we got back to Lincoln, we opted for an early pub dinner before returning to our cabin. The pub called Truants Tavern was quite a popular hang out of the bikers - Di is looking at them and also the TV which showed a small clip about the bike event at Laconia. Did we hear right? 200,000 people visit the event? Yep, checked it later on Wikipedia.

Hans orders a burger and fries and Di orders an appetizer Nachos (maybe followed by dessert...)

They must be joking... Thankfully no main meal ordered and forget the dessert!

We are back at our cabin around 6pm to do some prep for tomorrow's big hike and also relax. Good night.

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