Sometimes it's difficult to get beyond the notion that you must follow a trail all the way to its end in order for it to be a “complete” hike. However, there are several trails where you can create your own destination without hiking the entire length of the trail.
A few days ago, my friend Marty and I decided to hike the Huntington Ravine Trail (HRT). However, rather than hiking the trail to its endpoint at the Alpine Garden Trail, our destination was “The Fan”, which is a large area of broken rock high up on the HRT. From reading the trail description, we determined that this location would provide interesting views looking up at the headwall. In addition, we felt there would be other nice views en route to our destination. But even more important, this would be a new adventure since neither of us had ever hiked the HRT.
This hike “delivered the goods” in every respect! There were picturesque scenes along the way, such as those shown in the next few photos.
One of several cascades along the route
A cascade flowing over a boulder with brilliant green-colored moss
View of neighboring Tuckerman Ravine
Trailside view of Huntington Ravine on the approach to “The Fan”
The route to “The Fan” was no more rugged than many other trails in the White Mountains. However, the segment of trail after “The Fan” is where conditions become much more challenging!!
Once we arrived at “The Fan”, we were treated to the “upward views” of the ravine that we had anticipated. This perspective is very different from the “downward views” into the ravine that we both had experienced on many occasions while hiking along the Alpine Garden Trail.
Looking up at the Huntington Ravine headwall.
Also from our lofty perch upon “The Fan” we got a nice view looking down the ravine toward Wildcat Mountain and surrounding peaks.
Wildcat Mountain and surrounding peaks
By no means was the Huntington Ravine Trail overly crowded with hikers. However, there were many more people than one might anticipate for a trail that is described in the White Mountain Guide as “the most difficult regular hiking trail in the White Mountains.”
We met several hikers along the way. Some were couples, some were hiking alone, and there was one large group from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. We even met on father and son team who were doing the exact same thing as us, i.e. just hiking to “the Fan” as a destination.
Shown below is a zoomed photo of several groups of hikers making their way up the headwall.
(Click on photo to enlarge it.)
Groups of hikers winding their way up the headwall of Huntington Ravine
We even saw a group of rock climbers scaling a formation within the Huntington Ravine known as “The Pinnacle”.
Rock climbers scaling “The Pinnacle”
The next photo shows “The Pinnacle” (as mentioned above), as well as other named features within the Huntington Ravine, including our destination, i.e. “The Fan”. This snapshot was taken from a large sign posted at Harvard Cabin (more about that later). Obviously, this photo is a winter scene. The ravine also serves as a playground for backcountry skiers.
Huntington Ravine in winter
Okay, regarding the Harvard Cabin, this facility is maintained by Harvard Mountaineering Club for use by the general public. The cabin is operated under a special-use permit granted by the USDA Forest Service. Cabin space and tent-sites are available on a first-come, first-serve basis between December 1st and April 1st each year. Specific instructions for staying at the cabin can be found online (click HERE).
To sum it up, a change of mindset is required to purposely set forth on a hike with no intention of hiking the entire trail to its completion. However, adopting this frame of mind can produce some rewarding experiences. Marty and I thoroughly enjoyed our hiking adventure to “The Fan”. Not only was the trail new to us, but so was the destination. Experiencing new things is always great fun!