First Mount Washington climb

3:26 p.m. on April 18, 2017 (EDT)
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I am planning to climb Mount Washington for the first time. I am hoping to get some advise from you experienced climbers. I appreciate all the input in advance.

I will be arriving very late at night and plan to camp near my car day 1. On day two I would like to hike a good portion of the trail and camp. On day 3 I would like to summit and head back down, camping close to the car on night 3 (so I can make the long drive home early in the morning on day 4).

So far the closest I have to accommodations is grabbing a random wooded area at the side of the road before I get to pinkham notch for a snooze on day 1. Then hiking to lake hermit shelters for night 2. Hitting the peak on day 3 then going back to the lake hermit shelters. The hiking out and driving my 12 hours home from there.

Is there places you can pitch a tent and camp for free? Or, a place where i can have a small camp fire? Is there a trail you recommend for this? Somewhere where my overnights are not restricted to lake hermit shelters? If not, does my current plan sound like a good one? Do you know of any random free camping wooded area near there for my first late night of shut eye before I begin?

4:15 p.m. on April 18, 2017 (EDT)
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Hey John, welcome to Trailspace.

Couple of questions I think that would help us to zero in on your goals-

How experienced a hiker are you?

What time of year are you going?

How much weight will you be carrying?

Mt.Washington can be done up and back in a day (yes,even in winter) however it seems like thats not your objective. There are tons of camping areas both on the mountain and within a half an hour drive of it. Once you let us know a little more info I think we can give you a little bit more guided bit of advice.

11:01 a.m. on April 19, 2017 (EDT)
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Somewhat experience. Mount Marcy was probably the closest thing I've done. I'm fairly adventurous and in fairly good shape, but I do want to take a direct-ish kind of path. I would guesstimate my bag to be like 35 lbs. I considered going up and back in one day, cutting out a day or two camping, but I really want to enjoy it and make a kinda man trip out of it. I plan to go mid June.

4:15 p.m. on April 19, 2017 (EDT)
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a couple of thoughts:

-crashing by the roadside on night 1 may not be as simple as it sounds.  anything near Pinkham is within the White Mountain National Forest.  you aren't confined to designated campgrounds in that national park, but the rules are that you must camp at least 200 feet from any trail or water source; at least a quarter mile from any trailhead, hut, or shelter, and below treeline.  i have done that with hammock and tarp; it's not so easy to bushwhack in and find a suitable area to pitch a tent.  there is a campground (Dolly Copp) on route 16 between gorham and pinkham notch, and others further off.  

-the hike from Pinkham Notch to Hermit Lake takes is about 1800 feet of vertical gain over 2 1/2 miles.  It's uphill but not overly taxing.  You can safely do it, except in really adverse weather conditions, in two hours.  It's another couple of hours to the summit from there, depending of course on weather and fitness.  

-The only overnighting i'm aware of at Hermit Lake are the lean-tos and tent platforms.  They are first-come, first-serve, you buy a camping permit at Pinkham.  I think it's around fifteen bucks a night.  

-3 basic routes up Mt. Washington from Hermit Lake: Boott Spur trail, Tuckerman's Ravine, the Lion Head trail, with some variations (eg boott spur link).  Boott Spur is the left ridge of the ravine, Tuckerman's switchbacks up the middle of the ravine, Lion head is to the right of the ravine.  I have hiked all three many times, and they all have appeal for different reasons.  

-Mt. Washington can feel crowded.  if you might consider an alternative, think about parking near Lowe's Store, hiking up the shoulder of Mt. Adams to Randolph Mountaineering Club's shelter or tent platforms at the Perch, overnighting there, then hiking the summits of Adams and Jefferson or Adams and Madison.  Equally beautiful, tends to be more quiet/less traveled.  

have a great time.  these are fun, gorgeous hikes if you're in good shape.  mind the weather and be prepared - when it gets bad up there, it can be really bad.  I once hiked through a July snow storm in the Northern Presidentials.      

April 29, 2017
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