If you’re from the Northeastern United States or have spent time here noticing the bumper stickers—as I have—you’ve probably seen one boasting that “This Car Climbed MT. WASHINGTON.” This drive is billed as “a drive unlike any other“. Mt. Washington, in the Presidential Range of the White Mountains in the state of New Hampshire, experiences dangerously erratic weather, due to the convergence of several storm tracks. The eight-mile drive to the summit has numerous hairpin turns and no guard rails; the usual this-car-climbed bumper sticker is not an idle boast.

Which makes the above bumper sticker all the more interesting: Now, nearly 150 years after the mountain first opened to automobile traffic, it’s no longer enough to have guided your car up the mountain. You must have made it up under your own power—but still under wheel power. Why the attachment to wheels? Biking Mt. Washington seems to hold some special allure, distinct from hiking Mt. Washington, maybe because hiking mountains (even big ones) is something that it seems like anyone could do with the proper equipment; to bike up a mountain (especially a big one) you’ve got to have serious muscles.

Also interesting that this sticker is a bumper sticker, designed for the cyclist to display on his/her car. Even if you biked Mt. Washington, you still have to drive everywhere else.

(And: The Mt. Washington summit brand co-opted by other uses.)

(And: Red, white, and blue. Mt. Washington! The great outdoors! George Washington! America! Patriotism!)

Advertisements