My Summer vacation
Wanted to touch base with all of you more expereinced hikers to this area and ask for some free advice. As of today here's what i have planned 7/29 thru 8/7/12:
Day 1- Journey starts at fraconia ridge and continues to garfield ridge campsite-approx. a 10 mile hike.
Day 2- From G. Field to ethan pond 14 miles
Day 3- Ethan to mizpah-9 miles
Day 4- Mizpah to lake of clouds-5 miles
Day 5- Lake of clouds to odgen or back to pinkerton-Joe Dodge lodge either 11 or 14 miles
Out on day 5 and head to cabin in the woods for R & R rest of vacation!
Question I have & advice I'm asking for:
1. Are these distances on days 1, 2 & 4 doable? I plan on training for months before heading in, so I'm thinking fitness shouldn't be an issue. But I don't want to bite off more than I can hike & enjoy!
2. I plan on staying on the AT all the way over to pinkerton. That's approx. 55 miles in 4 to 5 days. Are there any other loops/trails anyone can reccomend so I make the best use of my time and catch all the cool sites? Only reason I choose the AT was because I purchased their trail guide that gives me all the details I need to map out my stops along the way. Any suggestions on other books/maps that are worth it?
3. Once at lake of clouds plan on hiking around that area and bagging Mt. Washington unless someone can recc. another peak? I'll do whatever as long as it doesn't run me into a ton of tourists-that I would like to avoid at all costs if possible!
4. Any other options regarding the shuttle back to pinkerton from franconia? Just curious or is AMC the only game in town?
5. Whatever else anyone could/would suggest to make the trip more enjoyable & memorable would be great. I'm well aware of unforseen weather that hits this area so I'll be preparing for the worst and hoping for the best!
thanks to all and hope to hear back soon.....bob a.
a little help would be nice!?!
Can someone please reply to all or even any part of my post. Look at it this way you could be helping avoid a major disaster by informing a less experienced hiker of what he's up against!?!...point being-any feedback would be very helpful.....thanks...
Hey Bob, I'll try to help you out a little bit. Assuming you are in shape, this should all be possible. I will emphasize though that being in shape isn't everything - the terrain in the Whites can be extremely rocky and tolling...the best practice for hiking is hiking. Day 1 definitely seems doable. For day 2, I haven't hiked this trail, but your plan for seems a bit ambitious (IMO). From what I've read, the area around Garfield/the Twin Mountains is very rocky tough hiking. It looks like this will require you to summit South Twin, Guyot and Zealand which adds up to a lot of elevation gain. A better plan might be to stay at Zealand Falls Hut or the Guyot Shelter. Day 4 looks alright but keep in mind you will be going up and down a lot. The weather can also be pretty fickle in the Presidential Range so I would have an "escape-route" planned out. Avoiding tourists on Washington will be impossible in July, but there is definitely no shortage of alpine terrain to explore.
Don't know anything about the shuttle.
It might help if you give us an idea of what kind of hiking you have done and what you're comfortable doing. A strong hiker could do what you have suggested, but without knowing your capabilities it's hard to give you the best advice.
If you don't already have them, I would pick up the AMC maps of the White Mountains (sounds like these two should cover your trip: Franconia-Pemigewasset, Presidential Range
The AMC White Mountain guide is considered the hiker's bible for the whites...highly detailed trail descriptions/everything you need to know.
As a side note, I just ordered this book and I haven't read it yet, so I can't recommend it with any certainty, but The Country Northward sounds like it tells the tale of a backpacking trip very similar to yours.
Hope this helps. Happy to answer any other questions you might have...sounds like you're going to have a really great trip.
The Following 3 Users Say Thank You to ow2010 For This Useful Post:
Anna LeBlanc (04-05-2012), KathyC (04-05-2012), Snow Miser (04-05-2012)
I think Owen's opinion above is pretty spot on. I would only add that when Owen says "in shape", he doesn't mean you're just in physically good shape. He means you should be in good "endurance" shape. This mileage is absolutely doable, but over this terrain, over the course of 5 days, back-to-back, endurance ends up being the key characteristic! It is really some beautiful terrain you'll be covering and if you can do it, it will be a trek of a lifetime I'm sure. Also, keep Owen's warning in mind regarding the Presidential Range/Crawford Notch area...weather is always hairy there and can turn drastic quickly! I would assume planning out this type of trip, you will be prepared for the unexpected.
Keep us posted on your trip and please post some pics from it!
Best of luck!
First of all, I agree, you definitelyshould get the AMC white mountain guide and maps. Also, lassaid before, mak sure you have looked ahead on the map and figured out your "escape trails" for bad weather, especially on the presidentials.
I have hiked this exact route before, so here is what I have to say from experience. Your first day is doable, but personally I like a shorter day for my first day out. You can do this by, instead of taking the AT up to Franconia Ridge, take Falling Waters trail. It cuts off about 1.5 miles and you still get to go over the main peaks and above tree line part of the Franconia Ridge. Beware, the .5 mile climb to the top of Mt Garfield right at the end if the day is brutal.
Day 2 is ambitious, particularly if you are not very experienced. What I did was I stayed at guyot shelter, which is .8 miles off the AT so possibly not mentioned in the AT guide. I then went from there to Ethan pond. If you split day two into two days, which does mean adding a day to your trip, you give yourself more time to enjoy the beauty of that area. Some things you should not miss- between Garfield and guyot shelters is galehead hit, which is a great place to rest, get water from their faucet, have lunch etc. It has great views. There is also a .4 mile side trail up galhead mtn, a forested peak but there is an amazing viewpoint part way up. Another warning: the .8 miles up south twin is very steep and will take quite a bit if time and energy. Between guyot and ethen pond shelters, there is another grey viewpoint at the top of zeacliff (not out of your way at all, just a short side trail to the rock outcrop). Zealand mtn itself has no views from the top, but zeacliff, 1.6 miles pat it on the AT, does. There are also some nice waterfalls you might want to stop at in this section- Zealand falls and thoreau falls.
From Ethan pond to mizpah hut should be fine, just remember that although going up Mt Webster and Mt Jackson is below tree line, it is still exposed to weather. If you want to save a large chunk of money (the "huts" i.e. Mizpah and lakes of the clouds, are about $90 a night, I believe) you could stay at nauman tent site, right beside mizpah hut. That is, if you are planning to bring a tent. I would highly recommend bringing a tent, even if you plan to only stay in the shelters and huts, just for safety reasons when you are up above tree line especially.
Don't be worried about day 4. Despite being all above tree pine an uphill, it is not bad and can be completed before lunch. On your way from mizpah to lakes of the clouds, be sure to take the loop trails up over Mt Eisenhower and Mt monroe. Neither are out of the way and both are very cool peaks with great views that the AT for some reason goes around. If you arrive to lakes of the clouds early in the day, you could possibly summit Mt wahington (there will always be tourists who drive up but it is worth it) and be back to the hut in time for dinner.
For the last day, you have a few options of how to get down to Pinkham (it's not called Pinkerton) notch. I would suggest taking tuckerman ravine trail all the way down. It is the easiest on the knees, as there are rock stairs on the steep parts. It also has continuous views on the way down the ravine. The other options are lions head trail and boot spur trail, but these are both just as steep but without the stairs and views and they are longer.
AMC is the only shuttle I think, unless you encounter some local guy who will give you a lift. That is a common sight along the AT.
In the white mountains, it is best to take your time an enjoy the amazing area, IMO. Do your research on food, gear, shuttles etc. well ahead of time. If you have any questions, even small ones, post them becaus you do not want to go in the the white mountains unprepared or you will miss something amazing or have trouble with finding the right trails (there are lots if trails in the area, so definitely get an AMC guide and map)
The section of the AT from Garfield to Galehead has got a series of PUDs (pointless ups and downs). It's a good workout, but it's definitely more strenuous than you might guess by looking at a map. (It certainly was more strenuous than I thought it would be!)
I'd echo Owen in his suggestion that you camp at Guyot (although I hear that fills early in the day) or that you stay at Zealand Falls Hut. That way, you could also hit the three Bonds--definitely worth doing when you're that close!
Of course, that would have ripple effects through the rest of your days' starting/ending points...
wow thanks for the great insight and feedback on my itineary. In answer to some of your questions/concerns I can only say that I am in total agreement with not to only having to be fit but having to be hiking or sport specific fit! Which is why i have taken it upon myself to prepare by putting lots of hike/jog over the next several months. In fact I've registered for a local 34 mile trail challenge a month out from my trip. Last summer I was able to to approx. 80 miles of the AT (damascus to marion Va. ) in 4 days. My only regret was not the physical demands of it, but that i/we had little time to relax & enjoy the scenery as we had to make a shuttle deadline of be left for dead! Point being-I'm up for the challenge and will make sure my body is as well....zealand hut was my backup plan in case I can't make it to ethan as planned so nice to see you feel that's a good alternatative as well. Hoping i can make it to ethan so days 3 & 4 are a bit easier and will allow me to make it feel more like a vacation and a trip once I hit lake of the clouds....! As for an escape route I agree but am open for suggestions as I'm not familiar with the area.....maybe the maps your suggestiong will give me some options or if you can fill me in on any you know of personally that would be great....thanks for getting back with me...I'm looking forward to this trip as i have heard so many good thigs about this place....My one buddy says that if he ever meets that girls of his dreams the first place he's taking her in franconia ridge!....thanks again and be well...bob a.
Originally Posted by ow2010
thanks for geting back with me Karl. You & owen gave me some good information to go on....As the majority of your information is the same I responded to Owen's post in hopes that you will read it as well and make any additional reccomendations if need be. yep the mileage will be challenging but when it coms to hiking it needs to be a challenge so it's worth more in the end....I'll do my part preparation wise & can only hope the weather will do her part & fully cooperate! Again once you have read my response to owen I'm open to any and all of your suggestions &/or support....talk soon....bob a.
Sounds like you will be well-prepared physically for your trip. The Whites are by far one of the most beautifully places I have ever spent any time in and I would definitely agree with your friend -- Franconia Ridge is among the best there is in the Whites (and arguably all of New England).
In terms of once you hit the Presidentials... you will be pretty sheltered until you get beyond Mt. Pierce. From then on you will be pretty much exposed to the elements. You will be able to talk to the crew at Mizpah Spring Hut in order to get an idea for the weather outlook. If the weather isn't great you might consider waiting out the weather. If you continue from Mizpah in poor weather, you will be on a completely open ridge for about 5 miles. For quick escapes below treeline before you get to Lakes of the Clouds, the only real choices are Edmand's Path and Mt. Eisenhower Trail (the only problem being there are no official campsites near these trails; you would have to backcountry camp if weather forced you off the ridge here...or return to Mizpah).
Once you're higher on the ridge, your best option is to head down Lion Head Trail. I'm guessing you were already planning on descending into Tuckerman Ravine since you said that your trip will end in Pinkham Notch. You could also descend the headwall of the ravine on Tuckerman Ravine Trail (which I have done in July) but this is a steep and intimidating route. Not recommended in poor weather. Mileage is about the same either way.
I guess my best advice is to study the maps and give yourself enough time that you don't have to hurry. Other than that hope for good weather and make sure you carry the proper clothing for bad weather. It has been known to snow on Washington in July so don't feel like a fool for packing a jacket even if it's 90 at the trailhead.
You'll have a great trip. Be sure to let us know how it goes.