Madison via Valley Way, Osgood 2008-02-14
The high-summit forecast called for 30-50mph NW, with high summits in the clear. As usual, it was snowing on the way through Franconia Notch at 6am. I got to Randolph just before 7, and while waiting for Dave to arrive, drove on to the outlook and took this shot:
I headed back to Appalachia and 'parked' as best I could since the lot wasn't plowed. I had my shovel and would have to dig under the wheels to get moving. Plus, Dave has a 4WD truck so I wasn't really worried. The conditions for the day included 4-6" powder over the consolidated trail, with half to one inch of sleet / rain / crust on top of that, and another 1-2" of powder atop that. We put on our snowshoes and struck off on the Valley Way at 7:30. We followed one bare-booter's tracks for a while, and his companion (see below ) alternately bare-booted and wore snowshoes.
As the sun rose over Howker Ridge, the ice on the hardwood twigs sparkled to life. The sky was a deep blue. It reminded me of the Winter Warlock in Rudolph The Red-Nosed Raindeer. There were numerous critter tracks, small, medium and large, throughout the lower open forest. At 9:00 we passed the turnoff for Watson Path. Just beyond this, we ran into the aforementioned men. One was wearing snowshoes, the other didn't have snowshoes. They had been to the hut and back. What is interesting to note is that they were sharing a pair of gloves. Yes, one pair of gloves between them. Taking turns, apparently. Hmm. By 9:45 we passed Upper Bruin which had seen some traffic as well. How far, I don't know.
We made the hut about 10:45, ate some hot stuff (well, I did), drank some warm liquids, put on wind pants, down jackets and face masks. We opted to leave our snowshoes there, and put on crampons (G10s for me, instep for Dave). By 11 or so we left the shelter of the hut. For the first 10 minutes or so the northwest wind blew hard on our left shoulders. The twin cairns marking the summit ridge were in sight. Once the Osgood crossed over the edge, the snow drifts were deeper, and the wind was far less. No regrets about leaving the snowshoes.
Just before the first cairn on the ridge, the full force of the wind returned. It was interesting walking the 25 yards or so between cairns, but at 11:30, we made the summit. Took a few quick photos
and ducked back down the leeward side. Middle Carter through Moriah (Tom & Atticus are rumored to have been there) were in the clouds, but Carter Dome and Wildcat were not. Adams, Clay and Washington were perfectly clear.
By far, my favorite view of the day though was the Moon over Madison:
After sitting in the lee for 10 minutes, we began the return to the hut, stopping every few steps to savor the last of the views. Coming down the Osgood we could see other hikers in by the hut. Two men and an unrelated woman. The men had overnighted at the Valley Way Tent site and their stove had malfunctioned, so they had just enough water for Adams, and planned to hike out that night.
Once at the hut, we ate and drank some more, left the down jackets and crampons, collected our snowshoes and headed down. At the tent site and out of the wind, the down got stowed and we cramponed all the way to Appalachia. We ran into two groups of four men each, together forming a party planning to spend the night at the tent site and then go for the traverse tomorrow. Good luck to them.
It was an incredible experience to be above treeline in the winter. Madison makes #32 on my all-season and #7 on my winter. It was #45 on Dave's all-season, leaving him Owl's Head, Carrigain and Adams.
Complete album is here:
Awesome trip report. Makes me feel like I was there (and wish I had been). We're heading to NH (AMC Highland Center) for Sat-Wed and seeing this report is really getting me itching to get into the mountains!
Thanks! It will likely be one of the more memorable trips I've made to date.
Nice going, Tim. Looks like you couldn't have had a much nicer day! Funny, the 3 Dave has left are same 3 I have left, (for 3x). All I can say to him is don't save OH for last, very anti-climatic! Either Adams or Carrigain would be excellent ways to finish. The way you're racking them up this winter, you'll be finished soon, too!
Dave has named Adams as #48. It's been that way for a while. I "compromised" with him to do Madison 'cause he needed it, as did I.
Awesome day, although I don't know if I cared for the wind. Might be unavoidable on high-pressure clear days. So if MWO said ~55MPH at 6288', what do you think it was at 5367'? I'd say it had to be as strong there, because out of the northwest, what is there before Madison to really slow it down?
I start a brand-new job at a startup on 2/18 (coincidentally, President's Day) after which point I am sure I will less visible on the boards and in the mountains... being home this week I've posted a lot, and been out a fair amount too.
I did read that about Dave and Adams in your post, just slipped my mind (which is a terrible thing to lose!) Good luck on your new job and hopefully you'll get some time to hike again soon!