Mount Madison via Kelton Trail/ Valley Way/ Osgood Trail 9/22/07
Mount Madison 5366’
8.6 Miles 4100’ Elevation gain
Kevin, Judy and Emma
Always looking to expand our horizons, we set out on Friday the 21st to meet up with a large group of hikers from the Views from the Top website community. The plan was to camp at White Birches in Shelburne, get together and decide what people wanted to do on Saturday, then groups could go in their own directions the next day. I got to meet many other enthusiastic hikers and all around nice people, so it was a great event. Saturday, groups hiked the King Ravine Trail, the old Adam's Slide bushwhack and some went and climbed the Wildcats, Carter Dome and Mount Hight. Jude, Emma and I set out on our own to stick with our original plan of climbing Mount Madison by the Valley Way, the easiest way possible, we hoped. Madison had defeated us last year when melting snow and ice turned our late October hike along the Howker Ridge Trail into more of a bushwhack along a rushing stream, as the trails were flooded. Both Jude and Emma needed this on their 2x48 list, so we wanted to get it done this time. Of course, as I always do, I convinced her we should try another trail instead of the Valley Way, which I wanted to avoid, fearing a lot of other hikers and a crowded parking area at Appalachia. We parked at the parking area on Dolly Copp/ Pinkham B Road, and started out along the Randolph Path, quickly turning onto the Howker Ridge Trail. Just above Coosauk Fall, we got on the Kelton Trail and began a semi-steep climb up to Kelton Crag from which we had no view, as the valley fog was still thick around us. Just beyond here we rose out of the fog and saw the sun above us. Soon there was another outlook and we were able to see to our north with an undercast below us. From this vantage I could also catch a good look to our south and Mount Madison's summit, looming over us. A short time later we found ourselves at the Upper Inlook, peering out across Snyder Glen to Durand Ridge, then up to the col between Mount Madison and John Quincy Adams. Beyond that to the west is Cherry Mountain, Starr King , Waumbek and further north to Cabot, with the Weeks and Crescents lying to the north. The trail south from here is very moderate, following a more or less level course for a mile or so until it finally dips down to its junction with the Brookside Trail a tenth of a mile below Salmacis Fall. There has been a lot of recent work to improve this trail, and it is very enjoyable from the Upper Inlook to its junction with the Brookside Trail. From here we followed the Brookside Trail past Salmacis Fall up to Duck Fall, then took the Lower Bruin Trail up to the Valley Way. In another 9/10ths of a mile we came to the AMC Madison Spring Hut, now closed for the season. To this point, and to our amazement, we had seen only one other hiker along the trail. After a mild scolding from a thru-hiker because our dog was in the stream next to the hut, we took a short break, a quick snack and drink, then off along the Osgood Trail to the summit. I briefly considered telling the thru-hiker I would never drink from a stream that ran so close to an AMC hut, but thought better of it. As we walked around the southside of the hut, low and behold there was a new drilled well, with a pipe a drip, drip, dripping for clean drinking water. I'm sure he found it. All water is drinking water to thru-hikers, and we can live with that, but I still wouldn't drink from that stream. We made our way up to the summit, and I walked a short way and talked with another thru-hiker. I always ask, "It's like another 350 miles to Baxter, isn't it?" And if they answer,"No, it's only 334", I know they're for real, and not a poser. There was a beautiful breeze on the summit, with a few good gusts that almost knocked us over. My sweat soaked shirt was dry in no time. We hung around for a bit, but it was crowded with a group that was celebrating someone who had finished their 48. I can't for the life of me remember her name, but congratulations. We soon headed back down to have our lunch at Star Lake. At this point we had decided against any thoughts of going to Adams, as neither one of us was on our game this day, although Emma would have gone if we decided to. On the way down we bumped into the scolding thru-hiker again and had a nice conversation with him, he turned out to be a real a nice guy. We both took tumbles coming down off of Madison and scraped ourselves up a bit, nothing serious, but that locked our decision to make it a one summit day. Just northeast of Star Lake is a beautiful outcrop of Quartz, and we sat on this to eat lunch. As always, I had to drag myself away to begin the long hike back down to the car. The late afternoon sun shone through the trees and lit up the emerging colors, and it was a beautiful, though tiring hike back out. That night I made it up to the Pot Luck Dinner where there was a nice fire, good company and lots of stories. I was able to put faces to a lot of names I only knew from reading online, and although we didn't share any trails that day, I got to meet some great people who I may get to do some hikes with in the future.
That is such a unique area between Adams and Madison, and you picked a great time to be there and watch seasonal transition! Good shots, and liked your touchstone question to check out thru hikers!
The Presidentials are so beautiful, up there above the trees. I still haven't been there enough so it's always new to me. Like another world. A world I never want to leave when I'm there.
I remember the first time I was able to spend some time around that quartz outcrop you mentioned. It was the month of July in 89, I spent the whole month (minus 3 days) hiking. It was an incredibly hot couple of days but you could sit/slouch on that outcrop and it was cool as ice. Never found out why, the properties of quartz must have something to do with it. There is also a large chunk of it not far off the Great Gulf Trail going up the headwall, experienced the same thing hiking it in August.
Yes, sitting there, the rock was quite cool. Climbing up Madison I put my hand on a piece of quartz atop a cairn, and it was much cooler. I moved my hands down to the other gray rocks, a quartzite, mica/schizt and they were noticeably warmer. I'm sure it has to do with the quartz reflecting the sun's rays whereas the other's soak them in. The same way snow reflects the sun. I get worse sunburns in winter from the reflected snow.
A nice "cool" place on a muggy afternoon!