After climbing Mt. Jo, we decided to drive up Whiteface Mountain to take in the view. For a fee, you can drive up the mountain on the Whiteface Veteran’s Memorial Highway. The weather seemed to change rapidly as we approached, and looking at the summit we could see that it was shrouded in fast-moving clouds. Fighting initial disappointment (and hoping that the weather might shift soon) we drove up anyway. Well, the weather didn’t shift, but we were so glad we stuck with our choice.
Upon reaching the parking area, you’re presented with a choice: take the elevator (which is built into the side of the mountain), or climb a rocky path to the summit. Being the seasoned hikers that we are (i.e. we already climbed Mt. Jo and were still feeling sporty), we opted for the latter.
I don’t know if you’ve ever been inside a cloud before, but it’s pretty wild. Especially at 4867 ft. above sea level. We couldn’t see any of the surrounding scenery–it was incredibly surreal, like being on another planet. Intellectually we knew we were high up, but we couldn’t see below us to put that distance in perspective. Without being able to see much other than the path, I somehow got more nervous than if I could’ve seen how high up we were. The fear of the unknown is strong, especially when that unknown could mean a little slip leads to plummeting to my death.
Spoiler alert: I didn’t die. We made it to the summit–a fairly large expanse of smooth rock, with a weather observatory in the middle. As I recall, Whiteface is the first of the high peaks that experiences weather approaching from the West, so it’s the perfect spot to study airborne pollutants and the like. So not only did we hike, we learned things too.
While I’m sure Whiteface Mountain would also be a fantastic destination on a clear day, I have to say I feel pretty lucky to have experienced it like this.