View Full Version : Question on route proposal

07-18-2007, 02:57 PM
Hi, new to this site but actually was an observer at the obs back in 2003 for a summer.

I'm planning a 3 night trip for a group of 25 year olds who are experienced and in shape hikers/campers but are generally new to camping in this region (aside from my many hikes from the summit down I didn't do as much camping as I would have liked). I'm wondering if someone might take a look at a proposed route to let me know if it looks doable/not too easy or hard, etc. We're cheap/poor and into camping in tents so keen to not stay in the huts, by the way. I completely realize that this is a lot of elevation gain and loss each day, which is making it hard to get a guage on how difficult (or easy) it will actually be.


Day 1:
Park car at the Crawford Path trailhead on Mount Clinton Road (other car already parked at Appalachia parking lot)
Begin hike on the Crawford path going up to the Mitzpah Spring Hut. Hike up Pierce or other southern presi as desired
Hike down the other side on the Dry River Cutoff to the Dry River Trail
Camp at the Dry River #3 shelter (if unoccupied) or somewhere nearby in tents (obeying camping regulations)

Day 2:
Hike up Oakes Gulf via the Dry River trail to the Lakes of the Clouds Hut.
Drop packs and take a quick jaunt up to Mount Monroe
Hike up the cone of Mount Washington--if we're feeling energetic, all the way to the summit (6288ft). If not, along the westside trail, skipping the summit.
Hike along the Gulfside Trail up and over Mount Clay (elev: 5533)
Hike down into the Great Gulf via the Sphinx Trail, camp in the Great Gulf Wilderness (again, obeying camping regs)

Day 3:
Hike up Six Husbands Trail up to Mount Jefferson
Hike along the ridge to Mount Adams and then to Mount Madison if time allows/desired
Camp on other side of the mountains at either The Perch, The Valley Way, Crag Camp, or Gray Knot cabin

Day 4:
Hike down to car, stopping along the way at numerous waterfalls, brooks, etc.
Pick up car at Crawford notch.

Again, thanks for any thoughts you might have on this!

07-19-2007, 01:14 PM
Is the interest more in using up the 4 days or doing the Presidential's without staying in the Huts? Dropping down off the ridges into the ravines then climbing back up to the ridge is do-able but allot of work.

07-19-2007, 01:19 PM
What is the reaction to the idea of going down Great Gulf?

07-19-2007, 01:21 PM
going down the Sphinx trail sounds hairy

07-19-2007, 02:19 PM
I'll agree with that. No matter how you go down to Great Gulf (headwall, Wamsutta, Six Husbands, Sphinx)its a real bumper. Doable for sure, but its tough to say the least. Factor in weather as well, if it rains I would abandon descent into Great Gulf. Those trails are handy if forced into descending them because of weather, but if with a group,now you have more factors to consider. But, it could be done.

07-19-2007, 03:58 PM
If you don't want to stay in the huts, you really don't have much choice except the up and down off the ridge every day. I've led a group of newbies down the Sphinx trail once a number of years ago. Some got down at the bottom (camping, as you plan, in the Great Gulf - and yes, there are some great little camping spots down there) and were ready to kill me for leading down such a treacherous trail - others (like me and even a couple of the newbies) were thrilled and exhilarated, and thought the challenge was wonderful. Mind you, it IS a challenge. I wouldn't ever try it in the Spring, as parts of it are literally hiking through the stream bed. But it's certainly doable! Going up Six Husbands Trail could prove fascinating, as well. I've never done that trail - only read book accounts - but guessing there's a reason they have ladders. I've heard there's quite a "bald face" climb where they have those ladders. Some day I hope to check it out for myself - sounds like a lot of fun. Hey - if it's difficult you simply go slower! Power is great but endurance is everything!
The Perch is a wonderful place to settle in for the night. Spent many nights there, over the years. If you DO stay there, make sure you take a side trip over to Emerald Bluffs (I think that's what it's called - Emerald "something"). It's only a short 15 minute walk from the Perch (or so I remember) and WELL WORTH IT!!
You've set out a challenging route for a few days - but I'd say "Go for it!"
Write and let us know how it goes . . .

07-19-2007, 05:08 PM
Thanks everyone for the thoughts (I thought you all would be helpful and this hunch certainly proved correct!) If I'm reading correctly, the main issues raised are:
1) Lots of up and down in order to get to places where we can camp (thus the benefit of the huts...).
2) Issue of going down into the Great Gulf being a bit treachorous, especially with packs.
3) Issue of coming up out of the Great Gulf.

To respond...
We are four very in shape and experienced hikers (don't mean to oversell ourselves, but we're all 25 and have been camping/hiking since childhood so it is what it is) who are in fact looking for a challenge. We also have 4 days (3 1/2 really) to kill in NH and a few of us have already done the Pemi wilderness, so we figure the Presis are as good a bet as any. Last year's trip (it's an annual get together this trip) was in the high peaks of the Adirondack's--up and over Marcy, etc.

I've definitely taken some good looks down the Great Gulf (sphinx, etc) trails and understand the trepidation. Obviously the main issue is the headwall--assuming we take it slow and carefully, is this actually DOABLE? I think our group would be game for a challenge, but not if it's way over the top. Does anyone have a sense of which of the trails into the gulf are "least extreme"? We could come around to some of the other trails if they are better.

Obviously understood about the weather factor (I was a MWO observor afterall!) and will map out escape routes etc. (Ammo, Jewell, down the other side of MW, etc) that DO NOT include going down Sphinx if the issue should arise.

So I think I will pass along your comments to my friends to press upon them the challenges of this hike. I for one know the mental issues surrounding gaining elevation just to lose it again...it can be a big bummer. But, at the same time it could be a good workout for us.

Thanks again--any further comments, encouragement, cautions would certainly be welcome. We'll be taking this trip early August.

07-19-2007, 05:26 PM
I've only done Sphinx and Six Husbands going down once each, the Headwall 3 times and Wamsutta 4. Wamsutta I thought was the easiest(relatively)of all of them. Problem is, its taking you of course of where you want to be. Six Husbands seemed easier than Sphinx(again, I was only going down them once each time), but again is a bit out of the way.Since your all in good hiking shape and obviously experienced in your own right, I'd say roll it and stick with Sphinx. Great Gulf is such a great area. One of my favorites. Post any pics if you can. Crag is a sentimental favorite. My brother has been hiting Perch a lot this year also, according to him, its seen a bit more usage than he has seen prior.
Have fun!

07-19-2007, 06:09 PM
Thanks, FisherCat.

For the perch, by "a bit more usage" I'm assuming you don't mean that we (the four of us) might have trouble finding a spot? I sort of figured this wouldn't be an issue considering there are several tent platforms in addition to the shelter, but let me know if I'm mistaken. (We'll be there midweek--Tuesday night)

Thanks again.

07-19-2007, 08:54 PM
Oh yea, midweek, I don't think you would have any problem.
Have fun!

rockin rex
07-19-2007, 10:33 PM
I see going down Spinx with light weight as not a problem. The problem arises with the heavier packs. I normally head into the gulf from Pinkham and then base camp. This allows me to go super light when climbing and allows me to do alot more miles. I have also base camped at the perch and have done the ridge from that side the same way. Your trip that you have planned has alot of elevation gain and loss. With full packs you are going to be pushing yourself pretty hard. If you are looking for a challange I think you will find it. All trails out of the great gulf are amazing. My favorite is six husbands but I would not suggest descending it. I have always taken it up to the ridge but never come down it. My other favorite is Wamsuttea. Your trip sounds like alot of fun so enjoy.

07-20-2007, 07:56 AM
From your response - that you are very in shape, experienced hikers - and that you obviously understand the concerns that have been raised here - you folks should have ABSOLUTELY NO problem with ANY of the proposed routes you are looking at. Everyone agrees that there are probably NO easy routes up to the top of the ridgeline - no matter WHICH trail you take up. Mount Washington is a struggle - a challenge. Let's face it - that's why we're all there!! To reach the summit is the end of the fun. All of these trails that've been mentioned - most of which I've been on - are all gorgeous hiking trails - each with their own unique perspective - and each with their own unique challenges. All I can say is - I'm jealous. I could never spend enough time hiking in the Whites . . .
Please write back and let us all know your thoughts - and what route you eventually go with.