Submitted By Michael Virdone
The Mountains & Stats
People On The Trip
Due to some amazing generosity from a friend, Nicole and I were able to attempt a presi traverse.|
We left the parking lot at 5:15. The climb up to Madison Hut was slow and steady, we kept a slow and steady pace to conserve our energy for the rest of the traverse. At the hut we knew we already 3500' of gain into the day and we were feeling pretty good. We knew the fun and games were over as we began the rocky climb of Madison, but the sunny morning had us feeling pretty good during the climb. By 8:15 we were at the summit enjoying some breakfast. We knew we could count on hut water, so we climbed with empty packs, and filled our hydration bladders after climbing Madison.
With freshly weighted packs we continued on our way, slowly climbing up Adams, along the way we met another couple who was also doing the traverse. The climb up Adams was continually difficult, hopping from rock to rock, but eventually we reached the top at around 9:30. We had built up a pretty good lead on book time, but we knew the Northern peaks were going to eat into that head start. The rock hopping across Adams and down to Thunderstorm Junction definitely took its toll on both our strength and morale (I don't typically wear my ankle braces anymore, but the rocks were so tiring that I decided I could use all the help I could get). Once we were on the Gulfside trail to Jefferson it was slightly easier, but still tough. Eventually we reached Edmund's Col where the climb of Jefferson began, at this point (to be honest) I had just about enough of the rocks for the day, but we had been dropped off in Appalachia, and we were committed to get to our car at Crawford Notch (plus I was really more grumpy than tired). After another climb we arrived at the summit of Jefferson at 11:15.
After descending Jefferson we finally got onto some easier terrain. The climb up Washington (we skipped Clay) was actually somewhat relaxing, our descending legs were more tired than our climbing legs, and the good footing up Washington was a nice treat. Along the way we ran into a fit looking hiker carrying a daypack (at least it was the size of my day pack), so we chatted for a second. We asked where he was heading and he coolly answered Maine! I told him that he must be some sort of ultralight backpacking god and that I worship his light packing ability (I'm pretty sure my day pack looked bigger than his AT pack). Soon enough we were at the summit. We "cut" the line to touch the summit marker before sitting down for our lunch. We hung around a bit and departed the summit at 1:30. It was a really good feeling knowing that we had over 7k of our gain behind us for the day, and we took off feeling completely rejuvenated. On the descent it felt really good to be passing passing those who were still climbing their first peak of the day.
We stopped at the hut to re-fill our water, while inside we were both tempted by the croo's homemade "brownie" (it is in quotes, it was somewhere between a frosted cake, and a brownie. Plus Nicole thinks she spotted some chopped up vegetables in there, and know how good the hut staff is at "recycling" food, I wouldn't doubt it). The sugary treat (which was large enough for the two of us to share) provided enough fuel for us to make quick work of the climb up Monroe. Once on the summit we kept walking as we had already taken a substantial break at the hut. Of all the range, the section I had not seen in the longest time was the stretch between Jefferson and Eisenhower so I was pleasantly reminded of how nice the trail is between Monroe and Eisenhower. We skipped Franklin before continuing our way down the ridge.
Throughout the day we leap-frogged with a group of three younger gentlemen who were camping at Valley Way and Nauman as part of their traverse. We enjoyed the summit of Eisenhower (~4:00) with them before they (quickly) continued on their way. The trail between Eisenhower and Pierce was fresh in our memory (I didn't remember it being too hard), and we were making really good time, so I proposed the idea of adding Jackson to our day (the thought was out of the question in the morning). We both agreed that if we made it over to Pierce in good time, then we should definitely go for it.
Well, (un)fortunately we made it over to Pierce (~5:00) fast enough. When we got to the summit there was a large/loud group from the hut yackin it up, so Nicole and I knew we had to get going before they got ahead of us on the trail.
We had never done the trail between Pierce and Mizpah hut before so we were taken off guard by the ruggedness of the trail to descend to the hut. Eventually we made it, but I still took the opportunity to take a break. At the hut we met a thru hiker (one of many we saw throughout the day). Knowing that i had severely overpacked on food and we were almost done, I offered him his choice of what he wanted from my snack bag (Nicole did the same). He ended up getting: 3 bags of chips (2 cheetos, 1 fritos), 2 packs of chocolate almonds, 1 Shot Blox, 1 Stinger Honey Chew, and 1 Mc Double (yes I only carry the finest in hiking cuisine). After the hut we continued down the ridge to Jackson. We had previously hiked this section of trail (Jackson to the hut last time) and its funny how easily your mind forgets all the PUD on certain trails. About half way there, when I told Nicole that the total distance was 1.7 miles, she threw a bit of a fit, and didn't talk to me again until the summit (ah, the fun of hiking as a married couple).
It was a good feeling when we reached our final summit of the day (6:15). I sat down to change into some dry socks and we enjoyed a final meal. We spent a while on the summit soaking in the view (ok too long...). We shared the summit with another group who were enjoying a gourmet picnic and were nice enough to take a picture of the two of us to complete the day. Eventually we knew we had to finish the hike so we began our descent. On the descent of the summit slabs, we were greeted by some Gray Jays who provided some wonderful entertainment. I remembered the summit scrambles, but I forgot how rugged the trail was near the top. We were pushing as hard as we could to get down before dark. It is always funny how "as fast as you can" at the end of the day, is roughly the same pace as "I'm going to go slow to conserve my energy" first thing in the morning. I only made it to within 200 vertical feet of the road before I needed to put my light on, Nicole managed to make it the whole way (I'm not certain what percent of that is eyesight vs stubbornness). It was wonderful to see the road (~8:00), and we were so high on adrenaline that we didn't really mind the final walk back to the car at the Crawford trailhead.
Overall it was a wonderful experience, it felt great to accomplish another tough hike this year (GRT earlier this year). Special thanks to Chip who helped us a tremendous amount, without his help, we probably wouldn't have been able to get the logistics for the hike to work.
The Good and The Bad
Rock hopping in the northern pressies
|NH house to Chip's house, Chip's house to NH house|