View Full Version : Presidential Traverse 6-17 thru 6-19-12

06-27-2012, 10:13 PM
Mt. Madison, Mt. Adams, Mt. Jefferson, Mt. Washington, Mt. Monroe, Mt. Eisenhower, Mt. Pierce, and Mt. Jackson
6-17-12 thru 6-19-12

DAY #1

Valley Way --> Sylvan Way --> Brookbank Trail --> Brookside Trail --> Watson Path --> Gulfside Trail

Distance: 3.996 mi.
Elevation Gain: 4,055 ft.
Time: 5:23 (Mt. Madison) 5:44 (Madison Spring Hut)

I have been wanting to do a Presidential Traverse for a while now. Not just because I could get 8 peaks off the 4K list, but because it seemed like it would be a great hike. I finally figured out a time where I would be able to take some time off and still be able to get a place to sleep at the huts. Thankfully, in the end, the weather worked out great for me. It was sunny each day with a few clouds from time to time and no real chance of rain until after I should be back at my truck and headed home. Mt wife was a little nervous about me going on this hike. It would be my first overnight hike plus it was the entire Presidential Range. In the end, she let me go. I just had to check in when I could.

I parked at Mt. Clinton Road and reserved a spot on the hiker shuttle up to the Appalachia Trailhead. On the shuttle, I met a nice couple about my age from the Carolinas that was also doing the traverse and staying at the same huts. They just weren't going to be bagging each peak like I was. I started off up the Valley Way Trail heading for Sylvan Way. My intention was the head up the Howker Ridge Trail to the summit. Where the trail crosses the brook though, I got a bit messed up. I thought the trail was going to follow the brook up a bit before then heading away from it. Well, either I didn't pay enough attention to the signs or something. It seemed the signs could have been better here with an intersection on both sides of the brook. Well, I ended up going up the Brookbank Trail. Once I figured out I wasn't going to hit the Sylvan Way Trail, I just changed my plans some. I probably should have gone back and went up as planned since my wife had my planned itinerary, but I didn't.

The Brookbank was a nice trail though. It follows the brook as you would think from its name. It also go past a couple small waterfalls which is part of why I wasn't just heading up the popular trails anyways. Eventually you cross the brook and joing back up to the Valley Way Trail. After a short bit on this, I hopped off onto the Brookside Trail. This had another couple waterfalls on it and was still away from the crowds. I only saw 3 other people before I got to the end of this trail.

While on this trail, I stopped at a brook crossing to take a picture of a snake that was getting some sun. When I started across the brook, I thought "if I have any problems it will be on that rock." Well, just before stepping for that rock, my foot slipped out and down I went, left foot and leg under water. I got back up and finished crossig just to set my pack back down. I wrung out my sock and as much of my boot as I could. I had 4 pairs of socks for 3 days, and didn't really want to break out an extra pair already, especially when the boot would get it wet still. After hiking a bit, I also took off my wedding ring as I must have tweaked that finger while going down. I could tell my finger was swelling up some and didn't want to have the ring cutting off circulation. It was good I did this as it did swell up pretty good. A week later and I still can't get the ring back on quite yet. I must have sprained it or something. It was/is still useable though.

After the Brookside Trail, I headed up the Watson Path to the summit of Mt. Madison. This trail was pretty steep from the start and didn't really seem to let up much. I am sure it was partly from the heavier pack being prepared for 3 days of hiking, but this trail really tired out my legs. They got a bit sore by the end and were cramping up a bit too. On this trail, you all of a sudden pop out of the trees and into the alpine zone. From here the trail starts to get real rocky, like the rest of the northern peaks on the range. I finally made it up to the summit. Just over 4,000 ft of gain in about 3.6 miles so far. I had something to eat and took in the great views all around. This was where I first started to see more people. After a while on the summit, it was time to make my way down to the hut and check in so I could get a bunk and rest before supper. This part of the hike went quick and my legs were glad to be going down.

The hut was great and looks real good after the remodel. Supper was very tasty and just what was needed. I chatted with some of the other hikers and then watched the sunset. If I recall, there were just over 40 of us there for the night. As expected, my cell phone didn't work here, so I would do my first check in with my wife from the summit of Mt. Washington. Prepaid AT&T phones don't seem to work as well as others in the northern half of the state.

Snake the was getting some sun, just before I slipped in the brook

Brookside Trail

Duck Falls

Watson Path coming to tree line

Watson Path above tree line

Carter Notch

View from Mt. Madison

Madison Spring Hut

Sunset at the Hut

Route for day 1


06-27-2012, 10:14 PM
DAY #2

Gulfside Trail --> Air Line Trail --> Jefferson Loop Trail --> Clay Loop Trail --> Tuckerman Ravine Trail --> Tuckerman Crossover

Distance: 7.011 mi.
Elevation Gain: 1,506 ft. (Overall) 3,396 ft. (Total)
Time: 1:03 (Mt. Adams) 2:56 (Mt. Jefferson) 5:49 (Mt. Washington) 7:09 (Lakes of the Clouds Hut)

With my legs getting so tired yesterday, I decided I would take the Air Line Trail up Mt. Adams this morning rather than the Star Lake Trail. From Madison, this looked less steep. Getting up to the summit was rocky and slow going, but I found this makes it much easier to pace yourself. Maybe it was because of the rocky trail, or being so quick after the start of the day, but Mt. Adams was possibly my favorite peak of all of them this trip. The undercast clouds were starting to break up by now which made the sights even better from the summit. After enjoying the views some, it was time to head on as today was going to have plenty of ups and downs before I got done.

Off towards Mt. Jefferson I was headed. Having never hiked on the northern end of the Presidential Range, I was a bit surprised with how rocky the trail was once I was down off of the summit. The couple I met from the Carolinas mentioned that the rocks were the hardest part for them since the trails near them typically don't have many rocks or even roots. The trail through here went fast though and of course had great views. Hitting the Jefferson Loop Trail, some clouds were trying to come over the range, but didn't last long. Having never hiked this much two consecutive days before, I was a bit slower than normal getting up Jefferson and was ready for the rest at the summit. The views from here were great too. Best of all, the highest peak for the day (Washington) was getting closer.

Going down Jefferson was quick and I was soon in Sphinx Col ready to head up Mt. Clay. I figured I would go over Clay to stay on top of the ridge with more views. The distance was the same and the gain was only a little more this way. On the peak of Clay I rested my feet some and changed my socks. My boot was still a bit wet from falling in the brook yesterday. From the summit, it appears that the next hump is actually higher, but once you get over there, the summit looks higher. This was an interesting illusion. Once my feet dried out a bit, I headed out for Mt. Washington. Nearing Washington the trails got busier with plenty of people that looked like they headed down from the parking lot for short hikes. Going up Washington was good with a great view over the Great Gulf as you walk right along the top edge. It was a steep long drop from here if anything were to happen. When I got to the summit, I had it to myself for a few minutes as there wasn't any large crowd waiting for their pictures next to the sign. It probably helps it was a Monday, but the timing was good between trains showing up at the summit too.

I went inside the Sherman Adams building for a cold drink and a rest. I had thought about going on a tour of the Observatory, but didn't want to be late to the hut since I wasn't going the shortest route. I tried to call my wife from here to let her know things were going well, but one pay phone was broken and the other only gave my busy signals no matter who I tried calling. I guess I would have to borrow a cell phone so she wouldn't be worried about me. I headed down the Tuckerman Ravine Trail to the junction before taking the Tuckerman Crossover to the hut. I'd never been this close to the ravine yet, and it was quite the sight. I took my time to the hut and arrived with plenty of time to find a bunk, get my stuff settled, and go soak my feet in the cold water before supper time. It was another great meal followed by a good sunset. It was interesting to see that all of the croo try to get out to watch the sunset even though they see so many. I was able to borrow a cell phone from the couple I had become friends with so I could check in with my wife and let her know all was well.

Undercast past King Ravine

Rocky path to the summit of Mt. Adams

Washington and Jefferson from Adams

Rocky terrain nearing Jefferson

A few clouds trying to hide the view

View from Jefferson

Looking back from Mt. Clay

Great Gulf

It was nice to have the summit to myself when I showed up

Clouds held back by the Carter Range

Tuckerman Ravine

The croo enjoying the sunset with the hut master striking a pose

Route for day 2


06-27-2012, 10:15 PM
DAY #3

Mt. Monroe Loop --> Crawford Path --> Eisenhower Loop --> Webster Jackson Trail

Distance: 8.782 mi.
Elevation Gain: 321 ft. (Overall) 1,457 ft. (Total)
Time: 0:16 (Mt. Monroe) 1:41 (Mt. Eisenhower) 2:47 (Mt. Pierce) 4:28 (Mt. Jackson) 6:30 (Trailhead)

Today would be the longest day as far as mileage was concerned, but the least amount of elevation gain. I started with the quick hike up Mt. Monroe right after breakfast before most others headed out. I had hiked down to Monroe from Washington before, so this peak wasn't 100% new to me. I still provided great views and I was also able to see the thru hiker Angry Bird heading down the Crawford Path on his way to Zealand Falls Hut for tonight. He was 3 weeks into his hike heading south. Heading down from Monroe and over the small hump of Mt. Franklin went pretty quick and easy. The trails were now getting more solid and it was pretty nice.

I worked my way up Mt. Eisenhower and it was starting to get a bit uncomfortable. Today was expected to be the hottest of the three I would hike and it was already feeling it. Once on the summit I took a seat on the shady side of the summit cairn and the cool rocks felt nice. Since it was getting hot and this summit was a bit dull (very round with not much for plants or features), I headed down.

The hike towards Mt. Pierce went well and it was nice to have brief bits in the trees. I had been above treeline for a couple days now, plus the pockets of shade felt nice. Where the Crawford Path heads back down to the Highland Center, I caught up to the couple from the Carolinas. They had passed me while I was up on the summit. They were heading back down from here since they wanted to get back to Boston to their hotel for the night before an early flight out. We said our goodbyes and I thanked them for serving in the military. They are both in the Army and she even parachutes for her job there. It was a short quick walk up to the summit of Mt. Pierce. This summit is more like I am used to with the trees around part of it and less rocks.

From here I headed down the trail again. I made the trek down into the col and stopped off at the Mizpah Spring Hut after a steeper descent near it. I wanted to sit down in the shade and this was great spot to do it. Plus I could top off on cold water too. There was a group of 4 LOTC croo members here for lunch that had run down the trail past me earlier. They would soon be running back up the trail so they could prepare for supper. I don't think I could do that.

The trail to Mt. Jackson went by pretty quick with plenty of bog bridges and some interesting scenery. I personally think the steep climb just before the summit is some cruel joke though after this much hiking in three days. There was only a father and son on the summit when I showed up, but soon more started making their way here. After something to eat and letting my feet dry and rest again, I decided it was time to head out. After hiking along for three days, the 10-12 people that were now on the summit made things just seem crowded. Kind of a funny feeling. Plus I was also getting sore/tired legs and looking forward to getting back home. The trail was a bit steep and rocky to start down, but eventually it got easier. It seems to take a while before you get to the junction though. From here it was a pretty easy trek out. I was a bite slower than normal with my tired legs, but cooling off at a brook crossing gave me new life. I just love cool mountain streams. Back to the road, I made the quick walk back to my truck. I was glad to put on some dry clothes and get my pack off my back.

All in all the hike was great. The weather couldn't have been much better. The hike was harder than I expected, but still good. I would certainly do it again. Staying at the huts was pretty nice too. I had never spent the night in one before, although I have been to most of them. I did learn a few things. 1. Bring more socks and better socks. 2. Apply sunscreen at the start of day 2 rather than near the end. 3. I did better than I would have expected after 3 days of consecutive hiking.

View from Mt. Monroe

Closing in on Mt. Eisenhower

Trees and shade again

View from Mt. Pierce

Plenty of bog bridges

Mizpah Spring Hut

Mt. Washington in the clouds a bit

I'll come back and hike Mt. Webster some other day

Route for day 3

For all the pictures from the hike, just go HERE (http://sdways01.smugmug.com/48NH4Ks/Presidential-Traverse/)

06-27-2012, 10:18 PM
Total mileage for the hike was 19.789 miles. Overall elevation gain was 5,026ft with a total elevation gain of 8,908ft. Hiking time appears to be about 19 hours and 45 minutes.

This post was long, but hopefully plenty of pictures makes up for it. :D

Snow Miser
06-28-2012, 04:18 PM
Congratulations on completing the traverse, and knocking off 8 more peaks! I really enjoyed reading the post and viewing your photos. Longer post are just fine when they are good reading, and yours was. :) Thanks for bringing us along.