View Full Version : Extended Pres-Traverse planned Franconia Notch to Pinkham Notch July 2013

06-21-2013, 02:45 PM
Hi all and thanks for validating/accepting me to the forum. I am planning a hike-Franconia Notch to JDL/Pinkham Notch late next month. I am wanting to hit as many presidential peaks as possible along the way. I have done a number of hikes in the past, Colorado, Hawaii, (Mt Washington, Kingsman Ridge, Mt Chocura) in New Hampshire, etc. Looking forward to this one as its solo. I just retired from the Army (lots of forced road marches) this past February and I figured why not take a hike. Any advice on the White Mountains in late July-weather, water sources, huts/sites to tent-which to avoid, etc., would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.

KD Talbot
06-21-2013, 04:54 PM
Welcome to the forum and thank you for your service! I served in the Air Force from '79 to '83.

Any advice on the White Mountains in late July-weather, water sources, huts/sites to tent-which to avoid, etc.,

These are just my opinions and don't reflect those of anyone else here or at the Obs. Late July to me is hot, unbearably hot for hiking, with the possibility of thunderstorms almost daily, not good if you're above tree-line, which you will be in the Southern Presidentials. Black flies and mosquitos will still be ravenous. I prefer after Labor Day when things have cooled down, the bugs have backed off and the crowds are back to the weekends only.

The route you speak of passes AMC huts Greenleaf, Galehead, Zealand, Highland Center and LOC (Lakes of the Clouds). They are all an easy day's hike away from each other. To my knowledge you would need a pre-paid reservation for a night at any of them. You get a bunk, a blanket, dinner and breakfast for about $90. IMO the huts are hot, crowded, noisy and don't smell all that good in late July. If you were in Iraq maybe this is what you're used to, so maybe no big deal to you. July will be the peak of thru-hikers in that area, so huts, shelters and tent-sites will fill up every night. There is no camping above tree-line in the Whites, but many "stealth" camp along this route below tree-line, hammock is the preferred method, and "Leave no trace" mandatory.

I wouldn't trust any water source in the Whites, you need a top-notch filtration system. There is drinkable water at all the huts.

Hope this helps, feel free to keep asking!


06-23-2013, 09:19 AM

Thanks for the reply. I had originally planned for a a mid to late September hike (same route) but ride coordination and the lack of shuttle service that late in the season dictated otherwise. I figured everything would change; obviously temps, but crowds and availability as well.

Do you think it is reasonable to figure 5 days 4 nights-Day Zero at Lafayette Campground...Day 1-step off-0500-Franconia (south at Liberty Spring Tr up to Lafayette/Garfield/Galehead) - Crawford - Day 2 or 3 depending on weather and conditions-considering including the Webster Cliff Tr to Webster and Jackson (if feasible-should I eliminate Webster/Jackson?) versus Crawford Path to Mizpah -Crawford Path to Monroe and Washington-up Gulfside Tr to Jefferson and Adams then Madison (camp somewhere between Jefferson and Adams or try to get to Madison Hut) and then down to JDL/Pinkham on the 5th day?

Any advice would be greatly appreciated. Thank you. Patrick

KD Talbot
06-25-2013, 10:17 AM
Sorry for the late reply. I wanted to study this a bit before answering. I am going on the assumption you are in top-notch shape. I know you are used to hiking long distance w/ a heavy pack, but not sure you are used to carrying it several thousand feet in elevation gain over long distances, but will assume you can. I would say that the plan is good.

Day 1 looks a little long and difficult to me. Liberty Spring is 3k+/- elevation gain over 3 miles, then about 7-8 miles and easily another 3k of elevation to Garfield Ridge Campsite. In bad weather could be a miserable, not to mention dangerous, trip. An alternative would be the Old Bridal Path.

Day 2- From Garfield to Zealand- the major obstacle is "Jacob's Ladder" from Galehead Hut to South Twin, similar to Liberty Springs. It is conceivable to hike all the way to Crawford on this day, with a stay at Highland Center or there about.

Day 3- Webster Cliff Trail- 2700' in 3.3 miles. A much easier alternative is Crawford Path. Can easily reach Lakes of the Clouds.

Day 4- Lakes to summit of Washington and on across Jefferson to Adams, stay at Crag or Gray Knob, 1st come 1st serve, no meals, there is also shelters at The Perch, and the Log Cabin, all run by RMC (http://www.randolphmountainclub.org/) or continue on to Madison Springs.

Day 5- In good weather, easy hike down to Pinkham.

Yeah, it looks like a good plan if the weather cooperates. Weather is the big factor on these ranges. You must always be willing to change plans when the weather dictates. Being above treeline in bad weather can be deadly. Lightning is probably least of your worries, but not to be overlooked. Hypothermia in downpours has taken many lives on the Presidentials. Wet rocks covered in lichen are slick as ice and many veteran hikers have been injured in serious falls. Snow, hail and ice are not unheard of even in July. Be prepared with good weather gear. You don't need a parka and crampons, but you DO need stuff that will keep you warm and dry. I'm pretty sure the Army might have mentioned these... :D

Keep us posted!