Our Presidential Traverse
Submitted By Michael Virdone
The Mountains & Stats
People On The Trip
Nicole and I have been actively pursuing our 115 finish this year. Part of our plan for finishing involved a prezzie traverse. Because of availability at the Huts and my vacaton schedule we were locked into hiking Northbound. We stayed in Gorham the night before our hike and used the AMC shuttle from Appalachia to Crawford. We arrived 30 minutes before the shuttle was supposed to arrive and waited, and waited... |
Eventually the shuttle arrived (20 minutes late), and the driver decided it would be funny to say the shuttle was all full (despite the fact that we had reservations). Needless to say, there were seats, but the joke really wasn't appreciated. We arrived in Crawford after a while and began our hike. I wasn't really sure how long the southern peaks were going to take (and we didn't want to be late for dinner) so we skipped Jackson and just headed straight up the Crawford path to Pierce. We took it nice and slow as we had a lot of hiking ahead of us, but we reached treeline pretty quickly.
From Pierce we hiked along the ridge, enjoying the views along the way, until we hit the Eisenhower spur path. We began the climb of the peak and eventually reached the top. There were some giant wasps that were living in the summit carin so we enjoyed the views and lunch on a slab a little ways down the trail. The trail was very enjoyable and we made good time along its whole length (I now know it is doable to add Jackson if going to lake of the clouds).
We continued up the ridge before hitting the spur to Monroe. The climb up the sub-summit was very rock hoppy but it didn't take us long to get to the summit proper. The climb up Monroe was slightly dampened by an obnoxious family that was hiking behind us. The kids would hike by (or hot on our tails) before the parents would fall behind and yell at the kids to wait, then we'd pass the kids, and start the cycle over again. It was really a damper on the trip to see people being loud and obnoxious in such a beautiful place. Nicole and I had been looking forward to the prezzies for such a long time and we just couldn't understand how people were still behaving like they were walking through the mall.
Eventually I just sat down and let that group get way ahead of us (unfortunately we were sharing the huts with them both nights). We enjoyed the summit of Monroe for quite a while before descending to the hut for the night. We enjoyed the amenities of the hut, though the company left a little to be desired... After dinner we hiked down the ammo a bit and enjoyed sunset before turning in for the night.
The next morning we had breakfast, packed up quick, and then joined the long line of hikers going from the hut to the summit of Mt. Washington. We were fortunate enough to get to the summit before the first cog, and before there were many cars up there so we were able to skip the "summit waiting line". Nicole and I got our picture before heading inside for a little while to see the displays and look at the gift shop. The wind was howling (40-50 MPH) so we layered up before heading outside again to take some scenic pictures. After taking a bunch of pictures we decided it was time to continue our hike.
The descent of big George wasn't anything too special, except we crossed the train tracks on the gulfside just ahead of the cog. It was funny, I wanted to get some pictures of the cog as it went by so we waited nearby. When the car passed everyone was waving and a few people took our picture (so that was a really nice ego boost).
We went over Clay (which I wouldn't do again so I can save my legs for the challenges that laid ahead) and headed towards Jefferson. I definitely did not anticipate the toughness of the northern prezzies. The mileage and gain for the 2nd day was less than our first day so we weren't prepared for how challenging the trails were going to be. We climbed Jefferson, soaked up some views from the top before rock hopping down and starting our climb of Adams. The tough trail continued all the way up and down Adams and eventually we were back on the easier trail down to the Madison Hut.
Unfortunately since we went over the summits (and took too long of a break @ Washington) we were one of the last people in the hut for the night and got stuck with 4th level bunks. I don't know about you guys, but I'm usually on belay when I'm that far off the ground. We setup our bed, enjoyed a delicious 4th of July dinner of stuffed shells and then put our boots back on for our climb of Madison.
The climb up Madison was uneventful and the sun was setting as we got to the top. I got an awesome picture of the shadow of Madison (or maybe Adams) stretching across the valley and up the slopes of the Carters. We began our descent and once we were closer to the hut I sat down and started snapping pictures of sunset. I got some really good shots, but I wish I had my SLR instead of my point and shoot. After the sun had set I made my way back to the hut and then enjoyed the rest of the twilight while sitting on a rock a little ways up the trail. I went to bed that night very happy.
The next morning we got up, ate some breakfast, and then beat feet back to the car at Appalachia.
I don't know if I would stay at the huts again as I don't think we really fit in with the clientele that we spent most of the time with. Most people behaved as if the hut was the destination and the hike in between was just an inconvenience whereas we couldn't care less about the huts (give me a bunk out of the weather and I'm happy) and really wanted to enjoy and savor the hike.
Overall the traverse was a great experience and something I would like to do again some time. We lucked out with the weather (some clouds, a little hazy, but warm and clear overall) considering we made our reservations months in advance. I can't wait to finish the 115 (N. Twin, Isolation, Jackson, Cannon) so that I can go back and enjoy some of these mountains over and over again.
The Good and The Bad
Jerky AMC Shuttle Driver
|Stayed at NH house Thurs night, Gorham Hikers Paradise Friday. Drove home Monday BUT WE DID THE ALPINE SLIDE @ PICO!|