Mt Adams Finish to the 48!
I'm not sure if my link below will work, but adding photos was proving to be difficult at the end of a Sunday afternoon.
I was going to post a full trip report on my voyage up Adams, but it proved to be a pretty long report so I'll spare you some of the details : )
We headed up to Madison hut on Friday morning around 11, via Airline. We figured staying at the hut we didn't need the usual early start, and given the great weather report (booooo!) we wouldn't be spending as much time hanging around out in the great outdoors. We started out in hats, rain gear and the like, but soon realized it was fairly humid, and shed down to tank tops and hiking pants. We remained this way till treeline where we made our first bad judgement call. It was raining, but not hard, and the trees provided enough cover that we really weren't getting wet. There was no wind to speak of either, which was also a surprise.
We decided that given the rain and inevitable wind above tree line, we were probably going to take one of the cut offs across to Valley way just below the hut. When we got to treeline, it did prove to be wet and windy, so rather than take a chance, we took the cut off. Uncle Rick decided to continue on Airline, and we had no reservations about him heading on alone and agreed to meet at the hut (he beat us there). We took the Upper Bruin, and soon realized that the trail not only cut across, but DOWN to Valley way. We lost elevation and had to make it up on a section of rocks (I know, the whole mountain is rocks) on Valley Way back up to the hut. Had we known that it dropped that much, we would have taken a minute to layer up and continue on Airline. I knew I still had two miles left to my day, summiting Adams (and returning to the hut), so I wasn't enjoying the early introduction to the rocks.
We soon made it to the hut, where Rick was inside enjoying something warm. Up till now it hadn't been too wet or cold. We checked in and dropped our packs on our bunks and added hats and layers, knowing the summit would be less kind. We headed out for my 'final' summit, hoping to not be late for dinner : )
We headed up Gulfside back to the junction with Airline. This half mile wasn't bad. No views of anything but rocks and rocks. We hit the junction pretty quick and started the longest, most wet and unforgiving part of the day up the summit cone. Now, it's not that I didn't know what the summit cone would be like, or that I hadn't hiked the other Northern Presidentials, but if you add in some wind and have the storm open up on you at the given moment, it makes the half mile seem endless. And fairly miserable. We kept our sense of humor and adventure, heading up into the clouds and rain, not getting any preview of what's ahead. Every once in a while mother nature would mock us and open up just enough of a view to see the imposing summit cone above us at what seemed to be an unreasonable pitch. Again, no misconceptions of what we were getting into, it's just not as humerous when it's raining and you're scrambling over big honking wet rocks with no sure footing for a round trip mile.
Others may be more nimble on the rocky slopes, but we are not. There's also the cautious side of me that would stop and make sure I could see a faded blue blaze or a cairn before moving on. It seemed to take forever, and we finally saw a summit sign looming in the distance. We prayed it wasn't a false summit, but I was pretty sure this was it! I summited Adams with no real fanfare, as there was really no where to even stand and it wasn't the kind of day to be hanging out. We took a couple summit pictures and headed back off that rock pile and back to the hut.
The rain had picked up even more, so it took a while to pick our way back down to the junction. From there, it was a quick slop through the now formed puddles and rivers back to the hut. We were soaked, but I was excited and ready for some mountain cooking. Part of me hoped we weren't shunned for being 20 minutes late. I'm sure one look at us and they would understand.
We changed quickly and sat down to a delicious dinner of chicken and veggies, with cupcakes for desert. We had brought wine and had a quiet but hard to miss celebration, as I ate dinner with my summit sign (hand painted by Melissa) which didn't make it to the top with me, and wearing a boa and a tiara : ) I deserve a little moment of diva-ness?
We swapped stories with other hikers and hut guests and snuggled into our bunks for a somewhat good nights sleep. It was pretty cold (somewhere around 40?), we could see our breath. But the wool blankets did the trick and I didn't hear anyone stir all night.
We woke to calmer weather, and after breakfast Rick decided to head up Madison. Melissa and I hung back and were interviewed by an AMC film crew doing a piece on the 125 year anniversary of the huts. The weather cleared enough for a quick trip to Star Lake, then off down the mountain. We decided to go back down Airline instead of Valley Way as intended, and we were happy with that choice all the way down. Wet, but not too bad. Didn't really rain on the way out, so our sopping wet things from the day before dried quicker as we wore them on the way out than they did in the hut the night before!
As I headed down the last 100 yrd of the trail, I thought about how I was now almost officially done with my list. Once back to the parking lot, it was official, and I once again wore my tiara for photos and had a celebratory glass of wine. We stopped at a Pigs Ear BBQ in Lincoln on the way home and it was delicious! I highly recommend it next time you're in the area and hungry for some good texas BBQ.
This part of my journey is over. A goal that started by accident and grew into so much more than just checking off a list. Even without the sun or dry skies, and without evidence of any other hikers on the summit that afternoon, it was still an adventure I'd never take back, and maybe, just maybe, I'll return to Adams on a nice day and see what all the fuss was about : )
The link below is supposed to go to my facebook album, but I make no promises!