By Lloyd Jones
CONWAY — Scott Brown took a break from the campaign trail to hike another trail and cross an item of his bucket list Monday.
The Republican from Rye, who is running for the U.S. Senate, hiked Mount Washington for the first time on a picture-perfect day. He made the trek with former congressman Jeb Bradley, of Wolfeboro, who was making his 20th climb of the largest mountain in the East.
“This was on my bucket list,” Brown said by phone Tuesday. “I had driven by the mountain so much as a kid and I’d look up there, see the weather station, and think someday I’d like to climb this. I always wanted to get up, but never had the time or anyone to do it with.
“It was perfect,” he said of the climb. “The views were breathtaking. It’s something I would do again. (Mount Washington) is one of the great natural resources of the state.”
Brown and Bradley, who is running for reelection as state Senator for District 3 but does not face a primary opponent, gathered at the Cog Railway Base with about eight nine others including photographer Jamie Gemmiti, of The Conway Daily Sun, and hiked the Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail.
The Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail is considered a moderate grade trail on the western side of Mount Washington. The hike — 4.5 miles one way, takes about 3.5 hours. The trail reaches treeline a short distance below the Appalachian Mountain Club’s Lakes of the Clouds Hut (at 5,012 feet), which is 3.1 miles from the parking lot. The Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail ends there, and the group then followed the Crawford Path northward for 1.4 miles to the summit
“The Ammonoosuc Pass was interesting,” Brown said. “There had been an avalanche over the winter and it changed the fabric of what (some of the fellow climbers) had seen in the past.”
Mount Washington is called “the home of the world’s worst weather,” where the weather can change in a matter of minutes.
“I could see where you could get caught off guard,” Brown said. “You can get dehydrated in a hurry.”
Brown, who competed in a triathlon in Atkinson on Sunday, sad he enjoyed climbing with Bradley and loved the banter with the folks on their trek.
“(Bradley) was a slow and methodical climber,” Brown said. “He knew what he was doing. We had about eight or 10 people with us and we joked and cracked up each other. (Laughing) I’d say to Jeb, ‘Come on, dad, let’s go!’”
“It was a great day,” Bradley said. “For me it was my 20th time climbing the the mountain and for Scott it was his first and he charged up the hill.”
Brown has actually challenged Bradley to do the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. The challenge is being done to raise awareness of ALS or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, better known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. You dump a bucket of ice water over your head or donate $100 to ALS research and nominate three other people to do the same.
The viral challenge started when Pete Frates, a 29-year-old Massachusetts resident diagnosed with ALS, started posting about it on social media A former captain of the Boston College baseball team, Frates knew Boston athletes, who accepted the challenge. From there, the local news stations picked it up and soon celebrities and politicians were doing it too.
Brown was nominated by Ayla Brown and DJ Bettencourt and took the soaking last Wednesday. He then nominated Chris Sununu, Jeanie Forrester and Jeb Bradley.
“There was plenty of ice in my bucket,” Brown said, laughing. “It was pretty chilly. I don’t know if Jeb has taken it yet. My daughter knows the Frates family and the challenge has increased awareness of ALS four-fold.”
Since the challenge was created July 29, over $2.3 million has been raised for ALS research.
Bradley said a lot of people were surprised when they saw Brown on the mountain Monday.
“A lot of people recognized him and he’s just an extraordinarily nice guy and took time to speak with everyone,” he said. “Scott’s a good guy and a live free or die kind of guy.”
Bradley has climbed all of the Granite State’s 4,000 footers and is at 566 on his grid of climbing each of them in every calendar month.
“I have 10 more to go,” he said.
Brown said he was blister-free from the climb.
“I woke up this morning a little tight, but not too bad,” he said laughing. “I thought my feet and legs would be hurting a bit more but actually my neck was a littler sore.”
Brown joked that he’s been recouping his calories since the hike.
“I’ve been eating like a pig,” he said, laughing. “I’ve already had a hero (sandwich) and after that I got two slices of pizza.”
As for his bucket list, Brown has a few more things to cross off.
“I’d like to swim the Isle of Shoals from Rye,” he said. “It’s probably too late in the season for this. I’ll probably try to do it next year. I’d like to pick a charity we can raise funds for.”
Brown will be back in the area on Thursday for a Republican Senatorial Debate at the North Conway Grand Hotel from 9 to 10:30 a.m. Sponsored by the MWV Economic Council, Brown will square off against Bob Smith and Jim Rubens, with George Epstein as the moderator.
“I’m looking forward to it,” Brown said. “I’m happy to do them. I want to connect with as many people as possible. We’ve got a town hall meeting (in Manchester this Monday); this is a true grassroots campaign.”