Climbing all the 4,000-foot peaks of the White Mountains is a cherished goal of many East Coast hikers. And like many novice hikers in the Whites, I couldn't resist the lure of the grandpappy of them all, Mount Washington. Yes, I made it to the summit of the patriarch on my first trip to the Whites, but I can't say I did it in style.

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Lupines in the meadow near the AMC Highland Center, Crawford Notch

We began that first hike as a group of six, starting out from the AMC Highland Center. Alas, at the previous night's social hour I had made one too many visits to the nicely appointed bar, and several of our party were late getting into gear, so like true rookies we got off to a late start. We were also overly ambitious: we had grand ideas of completing a full traverse of the Presidentials on a two day trip, with just one night's stay booked at Lakes of the Clouds. I learned my first lesson, to hike within your abilities and experience, the hard way.

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