Presidential Traverse 6-17 thru 6-19-12
Mt. Madison, Mt. Adams, Mt. Jefferson, Mt. Washington, Mt. Monroe, Mt. Eisenhower, Mt. Pierce, and Mt. Jackson
6-17-12 thru 6-19-12
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
Watson Path coming to tree line
Watson Path above tree line
View from Mt. Madison
Madison Spring Hut
Sunset at the Hut
Route for day 1