The Worst Weather in America

Presidential Range sign talking about severe weather

The sign as you approach the summit of Mount Washington warns that you are now entering the worst weather in America. Be prepared, it reads, as many people have perished here. In fact, Mt. Washington has recorded one of the highest wind speeds on the surface of the Earth at 231 mph. However, this was not one of those days, as we basked in warm sunshine in a boulder field near the top, waiting on the last members of our expedition to catch up to make the final few steps as a team.

We had already covered more than 10 miles of burly mountain terrain along the roof of New England, navigating loose rocks and steep scree fields on New Hampshire’s Presidential Traverse through the White Mountains. This group that had been strangers three short days ago was rallying as a cohesive team around our toughest member as he made the last few steps onto the summit of the tallest mountain in the Northeast.

David lost a leg to bone cancer, yet he had not lost his spirit. And he demonstrated his courage and strength to all of us. With the complete loss of his leg he lacks the ability to attach a prosthetic; he adeptly uses his crutches to surmount one obstacle after another: Imagine hopping on one leg, sometimes a foot or more in the air to get over large rocks — and doing that hundreds of times during the day.

David’s accomplishments were powerful, including making it to the top of Mount Washington. This was not only an emotional high point for him, convincing himself that he does indeed have the strength to tackle life’s challenges, but for the rest of the team as well, who had been inspired by David’s effort throughout the arduous trek. We would go on to stand on another six summits as we completed the Presidential Traverse over the next few days, and other inspirational stories would emerge as bonds strengthened over shared experiences in the mountains. Still, for this team, walking with David to the summit of Mount Washington would be the indelible memory of this No Barriers Warriors Expedition.

David Laurie and the Presidential Range warriors hiking.