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View Full Version : Airline Trail and Weekend Conditions



BadPepsi
07-17-2008, 02:57 PM
Hi, I'm wondering about the best way to get up Madison and/or to the Madison Hut.

Since they both have the same elevation gain, what makes Airline Trail so much more difficult than Valley Way? Pros and cons for either trail?

Also, I've been obsessively checking the weather for this weekend and it looks a bit dodgy: the Observatory forecast says chance of T-storms with possibility of heavy rain, small hail, or high winds. Yikes! I'm coming in from the west coast and was wondering if any locals could weigh in on....um...chances of survival in that kind of weather....

Really wanting to hike, but really not wanting to die,
BadPepsi

Breeze
07-17-2008, 07:52 PM
BadPepsi,

As far as the weather, it's SUMMER.

Those same words have been on virtually every afternoon forecast for the last 5 weeks, and only on a couple of days have the t-cells lit up and produced anything, and usually it has been late-ish afternoon ( 4 to 6 PM) when it has hit. When they do, you DO NOT WANT to be unsheltered.... above treeline... JMHO.

I don't have right map for Madison approaches in my hands, but here is a great website for you ( and I! ) to peruse

http://home.earthlink.net/~ellozy/madison.html

The questions of the day ( of the hike) will be what does THAT DAY's forecast look like, ( long-term outlook in the whites is NOT worth SPIT), do you want to have the MOST visibility to the W/SW so you can SEE weather approaching ( and therefore be more exposed for longer time and distance) or do you chose the trail that keeps you LEAST exposed for the longest time and distance and lets you bail quickly below treeline, but doesn't really let you see what is coming for weather?


Most T-storm activity that happens in the Northern Presi's comes from the W/SW direction. Many times, line storm activity diverts either south of MW and clobbers Conway to Kezar Lake and E , or goes around Madison to the north ( Androscoggin Valley) and clobbers Gorham, Shelburne, Gilead, Newry Hanover and beyond. The problem with this is .... one never knows which way or what now when one is 4 thousand feet UP and the bail-out equation needs a solution NOW.

Some mitigation options..... start EARLY, beat the heat. T-storms need that heat to get the convection and rotation going. Plan the hike so that by 3 or 4 PM you are headed down, whichever way you chose. Valuable caution. It is daylight at 5 Am, GO!

Look at wind directions in the weather information available to you. If there is a decent and prevailing NW for the previous 12-18 hours and no forecast of a switch to SW during the daytime, you've got a darn good weather window for most anything you want to try. If there is a switch in the works from NW to SW forecasted, go conservative, that generally means there are opposing fronts setting up a line-activity and things could go downhill quickly.

Upshot is, Valley Way is your most conservative option, Airline is more exposed but worthy of consideration for the views and excitement factor, given a good weather forecast, and I'd totally avoid the east flank options ( Great Gulf to Osgood) which would totally obscure your weather eye not to mention being the LONGEST way possible.

I'm sure there will be other opinions, keep an open mind and an eye to the sky!

Breeze

mtm1208
07-17-2008, 08:44 PM
what is your opinion of Jewel ? i picked it as its "easy" i will have a dog with me.

BadPepsi
07-17-2008, 09:00 PM
Hey Breeze,

Thanks for your quick and informative response. Re your "It's SUMMER" quote, I KNOW it's summer!!! And I keep telling myself it's summer, and then reading horror stories of people dying left and right in all months of the year. Let's just say I'm prepared, but cautious. :)

And re the "get an early start" suggestion....that would be ideal, and it's my preferred hiking schedule. Unfortunately I'm flying in from the west-coast (let's add red-eye exhaustion to the picture!), and will not start hiking til 1pm. I guess I'll just have to take it as it comes and hope for the best.

I think I'll do Airline instead of Valley Way, being partial to stellar views and all.....

I'm so excited! I've spent time in NH for the past 25 yrs (even lived there for a stint), but embarrassingly, have never done any serious hiking. Heading to the airport in an hour and can't WAIT to be there! I'll post a trip report when I get back to my home turf....

-BadPepsi

Bill O
07-17-2008, 09:05 PM
NWS says breezy and 71F in the valley on Saturday. Looks like post-frontal weather. Either way, like Breeze said, a thunderstorm forecast in the summer is fairly common. I wouldn't worry about it, there isn't much that can stop you from reaching Madison Hut via Valley Way.

I've done Valley Way a few times and would like to do Airline. Valley Way is in the trees and follows a stream the whole time. As soon as you break out above tree line you are at Madison.

Airline follows a ridge, so you get out of the trees earlier and have more exposure if the weather is bad.

Breeze
07-17-2008, 09:43 PM
OOOOOO KAAAAYYYYYY !

Glad you've thought about it!

Best wishes and have a great hike!



Breeze

Breeze
07-17-2008, 10:58 PM
what is your opinion of Jewel ? i picked it as its "easy" i will have a dog with me.

Jewel Round trip is a LONG hike/day , and if your dog is not foot broke/ pads calloused and resilient to mica schist on granite ( razor cutting edges on the sides of ledges and boulders) your dog will not fare well on that hike. You could consider booties of the Muttluk strength, but if your dog isn't used to wearing foot protection, s/he probably will rebel. If you go for it with the dog, give some thought to how you will ask for assistance, and how that will be received, and if your call for help is for your dog, know that on a busy day the calls for human assistance will be of higher priority.


Last August, Mike Pelchat, Diane Holmes and Chris Uggerholt ventured down the Jewel Trail below tree line to rescue a dog and owner who were STUCK there over night just because the dog could no longer travel on its own power. It was a hound mix, the paws were bloodied and swollen, and 3 people ( state employees) shared the evac for that dog on their shoulders.

Is that what a responsible dog owner wants for their companion?


i know it is hard to extend the view , but some thought needs to be given to the possibilities.

Breeze

Steve M
07-17-2008, 11:16 PM
Shouldn't that be, "Arr, keep a weather eye on that horizon!"?


BadPepsi,

As far as the weather, it's SUMMER.

Those same words have been on virtually every afternoon forecast for the last 5 weeks, and only on a couple of days have the t-cells lit up and produced anything, and usually it has been late-ish afternoon ( 4 to 6 PM) when it has hit. When they do, you DO NOT WANT to be unsheltered.... above treeline... JMHO.

I don't have right map for Madison approaches in my hands, but here is a great website for you ( and I! ) to peruse

http://home.earthlink.net/~ellozy/madison.html

The questions of the day ( of the hike) will be what does THAT DAY's forecast look like, ( long-term outlook in the whites is NOT worth SPIT), do you want to have the MOST visibility to the W/SW so you can SEE weather approaching ( and therefore be more exposed for longer time and distance) or do you chose the trail that keeps you LEAST exposed for the longest time and distance and lets you bail quickly below treeline, but doesn't really let you see what is coming for weather?


Most T-storm activity that happens in the Northern Presi's comes from the W/SW direction. Many times, line storm activity diverts either south of MW and clobbers Conway to Kezar Lake and E , or goes around Madison to the north ( Androscoggin Valley) and clobbers Gorham, Shelburne, Gilead, Newry Hanover and beyond. The problem with this is .... one never knows which way or what now when one is 4 thousand feet UP and the bail-out equation needs a solution NOW.

Some mitigation options..... start EARLY, beat the heat. T-storms need that heat to get the convection and rotation going. Plan the hike so that by 3 or 4 PM you are headed down, whichever way you chose. Valuable caution. It is daylight at 5 Am, GO!

Look at wind directions in the weather information available to you. If there is a decent and prevailing NW for the previous 12-18 hours and no forecast of a switch to SW during the daytime, you've got a darn good weather window for most anything you want to try. If there is a switch in the works from NW to SW forecasted, go conservative, that generally means there are opposing fronts setting up a line-activity and things could go downhill quickly.

Upshot is, Valley Way is your most conservative option, Airline is more exposed but worthy of consideration for the views and excitement factor, given a good weather forecast, and I'd totally avoid the east flank options ( Great Gulf to Osgood) which would totally obscure your weather eye not to mention being the LONGEST way possible.

I'm sure there will be other opinions, keep an open mind and an eye to the sky!

Breeze

Breeze
07-18-2008, 09:08 PM
Steve, we had some magnificent T-cell activity on and around the rock pile today.....if anyone loved weather, we had ALMOST the whole ball of wax for them today. Wind ( gusts over 80) hail, rain, fog, thunder, lightening, and then at 6:15 the summit cleared completely with rainbows visible over Carter Dome. Stunning stuff.

I don't think the hikers liked it all that much, however, the t-cells were wickedly fast movers and came with astounding fierceness, right over the summit, and by the time you could say UH OH, what is THAT?? it was too late to do anything but get soaked.


NWS tonight says the frontal boundary will stall out through tomorrow, and move south on Sunday. Interesting weather , no doubt, over the weekend.

Aye, matey, the phrase IS "keep a weather eye". Unfotunately, and too often, that is not the priority it should be!

Fun in the summmer!

Breeze

Bill O
07-18-2008, 09:32 PM
There was a spike in the wind to 80mph around noon, which looks like a thunderstorm passage.

What's more interesting is the strong sustained winds that came later in the afternoon and lasted for several hours. Sustained over 60mph with gusts over 80mph. Impressive for July.

Steve M
07-18-2008, 09:34 PM
That's awesome! I hope we get some of that while I'm up there next week!


Steve, we had some magnificent T-cell activity on and around the rock pile today.....if anyone loved weather, we had ALMOST the whole ball of wax for them today. Wind ( gusts over 80) hail, rain, fog, thunder, lightening, and then at 6:15 the summit cleared completely with rainbows visible over Carter Dome. Stunning stuff.

I don't think the hikers liked it all that much, however, the t-cells were wickedly fast movers and came with astounding fierceness, right over the summit, and by the time you could say UH OH, what is THAT?? it was too late to do anything but get soaked.


NWS tonight says the frontal boundary will stall out through tomorrow, and move south on Sunday. Interesting weather , no doubt, over the weekend.

Aye, matey, the phrase IS "keep a weather eye". Unfotunately, and too often, that is not the priority it should be!

Fun in the summmer!

Breeze

rockin rex
07-19-2008, 04:58 PM
I will always have my favorite way to climb up to Madison or Madison hut and it is via Kings Ravine. This gives option to tie in Adams or just head to Madison Hut or also do Madison peak. Airline is nice, done it many times but nothing beats king Ravine. If you are looking for a challenge and an exciting time, climb Madison / Adams via kings Ravine. Just whatever you do don't do it in the rain. I got stuck in Kings Ravine in a heavy rain storm and it was not fun. In good weather Kings Ravine is amazing. Randolph side of the mountain is INCREDIBLE. Enjoy!!!!!!!!!!