Showing posts with label white mountains. Show all posts
Showing posts with label white mountains. Show all posts

Thursday, July 24, 2014

2014 Presidential Range Traverse – Multi-day Hike

2014 Presidential Range Traverse – Multi-day Hike
Dedicated to Sue Barber!

AMAZING 3 days - 9 summits - 21 miles – 8,800ft elevation gain!

Mt. Madison #30, Mt. Adams #31 and Mt. Washington #32 for me. Washington #41 for Tim!!! My first time on Clay. Third time on Jefferson. Second time on Monroe, Franklin, Eisenhower and Pierce!

Started traverse 3 days after my 55th birthday!!!

A year ago Sue asked me if I would be interested in hiking the Presidential Range Traverse with her. I hemmed and hawed a bit but ended saying yes! And I’m sure glad I did.

Fast forward to May 2014. Sue and I agreed on a 3 days/2 night-traverse. She also invited Tim along on the traverse. Reservations were made at the Madison Springs and Lake Of The Clouds huts. I also set up reservations for the shuttle to take us from the AMC Highland Center to the Appalachia Trail on Route 2, the start of our 3-day trek. Unfortunately, 3 weeks before our traverse, Sue had to back out due to illness. Tim and I decided to go ahead with the traverse.

The Presidential Range Traverse in the White Mountains of New Hampshire is one of the most coveted hikes in the Northeast. Most of the hike is above treeline making for exposure to every sort of weather. The traverse covers all the summits named after USA presidents: Madison, Adams, Jefferson, Washington, Monroe, Eisenhower and Pierce. It passes over the highest peak in the Northeast. As well as the second, third, fourth and fifth highest. The traverse can be done in a day. This blog covers our traverse done as a multi-day, north to south hike.

Day 1
Mt. Madison (5,366ft) – Madison Spring Hut (4,825ft)
Trails: Valley Way, Osgood
On the day of our traverse, Tim and I met up at the AMC Highland center. Since we weren’t allowed to park at the center overnight, we parked in the Crawford Path trailhead and walked back the short distance to the center to catch our shuttle. At the Appalachia Trailhead, we started up the Valley Way trail. Two words for this day……hot and muggy! We took frequent breaks but I didn’t get enough to eat, and as a result, my left lower quad cramped up. With just 100 yards to the hut, I breathed deeply with every painful step. Eventually, the cramps subsided. But I wasn’t worried about the cramps. What worried me about this hike in hot muggy weather was my asthma. These type of temps/conditions can trigger an asthma attack and I was glad that I could breathe freely in this weather. So long as I maintained an even pace, I was fine. We checked-in and were put in the Adams Bunkroom (22-bunks). I quickly ate a bowl of soup/crackers and then Tim and I were off to bag the Madison summit.

Mt. Madison summit - Tim & I - my #30!
Presidential Traverse

Yes, I lugged my 3lb DSLR up & down for 3 days! Ugh!

Tim photographing another peakbagger

From the Madison summit

Also celebrating Madison! Frank for #41 and his buddy Gerry

It was very windy with some gusts up to 40mph! We decided not to bag Adams and a good thing too. 10 minutes after getting back to the hut, it started to downpour! This and high winds continued throughout the night. Sunday dinner throughout the AMC hut system was Pasta. Stuffed shells with soup, garden salad and dessert. I had the lactose-free dinner of pasta noodles and sauce. Interestingly, no meat for this meal! :( The next morning breakfast of coffee, oatmeal, scrambled eggs and bacon was served at 7am.

Madison Springs Hut

Madison Springs Hut

Log-in book

Madison Spring Hut Passport stamped!

Menu board

My bunk for the night!

Every stitch of space is used to dry wet gear

Day 2
Mt. Adams (5,774ft), Mt.  Jefferson (5,712ft), Mt. Clay (5,533ft) & Mt. Washington (6,288ft) - Lakes Of The Clouds Hut (5,012ft)
Trails: Gulfside, Lowe’s Path, Clay Loop, Crawford Path
From the Madison Springs hut we took the Gulfside Trail. I had found a blog that described that small section of the Gulfside trail between the Airline trail and Thunderstorm Junction as “almost smooth as a sidewalk.” And sure enough, there is a patch of trail that is, well, almost smooth as a sidewalk! Tim and I were so glad we took this trail instead of the Airline trail directly over the Mt. John Quincy Adams summit and then onto the summit of Mt. Adams! The stones in this section are indeed leveled making this section very easy going all the way! In no time Tim and I were at the Thunderstorm Junction. From here we hiked up the easy 0.3 mile to the Adams summit. Just how easy is that section, you ask? Well, Tim and I were at the Airline/Gulfside junction and there were 6 others....they decided to take Airline up over the smaller peak and then onto Adams. Tim and I took that "almost smooth as sidewalk" section and we were at the Adams summit before that group of 6! How's that for easy huh?!?!?

Goodbye Madison!

King Ravine from the Gulfside Trail

Thunderstorm Junction

Snuggling up to the Mt. Adams summit marker - #31!
Presidential Traverse

Tim at Mt. Adams summit

Onwards to Mt. Jefferson! That little section of the trail from the Edmund Col up to the Gulfside Trail junction was so fun. Easy-peasy rock scrambling with great views of the Jefferson Ravine! We had  a quick lunch at the large cairn just below the Mt. Jefferson summit. And since Mt. Clay didn’t count, we just “walked-thru” the summit and continued onto Washington. 

Bouldering, sort of, LOL!

Mt. Jefferson summit for the 3rd time
Presidential Traverse

Spaulding Lake

Last push to Mt. Washington summit

For me, that last mile to the Washington summit was the hardest! My quads weren’t cramping and I had no asthma flare-ups. But I was so sleepy and it was work to maintain an even pace.  Tim helped by telling me to just focus on one cairn at a time. I did and no time, we were at the summit! As expected, the summit sign had lines – two lines, actually! We got into the “hiker line” and there were some folks that let us go ahead of them to take our photos.

Mt. Washington summit
My #32 & Tim's #41!
Yellow Cog Train in the background
Presidential Traverse


After our summit photos we had a snack and visited the gift shop before heading down to the Lakes Of The Clouds hut. On the descent to the hut it was getting really chilly. We arrived at Lakes Of The Clouds hut just as the clouds were settling over the lakes. We checked in and set up our bunks and then the downpour began! It cooled things off a bit and we settled in for what I think was THE BEST dinner EVER! White Rice, Ginger Chicken, sour soup & bread, garden salad and double chocolate fudge brownies. I had the lactose-free Peaches & cinnamon for dessert. I couldn’t finish my dinner so I made a sandwich with the bread and chicken I had left over. Didn’t want it to go to waste plus this would be great for lunch the following day since the huts don’t provide any lunch or sandwiches!

From the Mt. Washington summit to the Lakes Of The Clouds hut

Lakes Of The Clouds sign

Lakes Of The Clouds

Sunset at Lakes Of The Clouds (2)

Lakes Of The Clouds Hut Passport stamped!

Lakes Of The Clouds hut

Day 3
Mt. Monroe (5,372ft), Mt. Franklin (5,001ft), Mt. Eisenhower (4,780ft), Mt. Pierce (4,310ft)
Trails: Mt. Monroe Loop, Franklin Loop, Mt. Eisenhower Loop, Crawford Path
I got up early, at 4:30am, and couldn’t go back to sleep. In the dining room there were 4 thru-hikers still asleep in their bags. They had come in after the 9:30 lights out/quiet time. One of the croo members were already up and in the kitchen prepping for breakfast. I dressed in my new “High Huts” fleece pullover and my ice climbing fleece beanie and took my DSLR and iPhone outside. The weather was overcast and the outside air chilly. But it felt good to sit in the silence. Slowly the others in the hut woke and I quickly grabbed a cup of hot coffee and snapped more photos.  Breakfast was hardy oatmeal, scrambled eggs and bacon.

Good Morning Mt. Washington!

Mt. Washington Hotel

6:30am wake-up serenade performed
every morning by the the hut croo!

Day 3 would be the only day with ‘bad weather.’ Unlike the 2 days before, it was overcast much of the way. And since Tim and I had already bagged the southern peaks, we decided that we would “walk-thru” the southern summits. At the Monroe summit we quickly located the pin and tapped it with our toes and descended onto Franklin for our summit walk-thru. The same for Eisenhower and Pierce. I couldn't believe how socked in those two peaks were. Such a disappointment since I had carried my 3-pound DSLR along in hopes of getting photos of the southern Presidentials. I had originally planned to go onto the Mizpah Springs Hut to get my AMC Passport stamped. But I was feeling tired and decided I could save it for a solo hike on another day. So at the Pierce summit we tapped the cairn and headed back down to the trailhead. We lunched in the middle of the trail on our sandwiches made from dinner we had the night before. It was delicious and hit the spot. I’m so glad I listened to Tim when he told me to use all the chicken! ;)  At the Gibbs Falls we stopped for a few so that I could wet my bandana and dip my hands into the ice cold water. It was such a welcomed relief since the last part of the trail was annoyingly hot and muggy. 

Mt. Monroe from Lake Of The Clouds hut

Mt. Franklin

Mt. Eisenhower

British Soldiers Lichen


Cotton Sedge

Gibbs Falls

This traverse was more than just hiking 21 miles and bagging peaks. For me it was about the exhilaration of being in the mountains for several days. Enjoying the gorgeous landscape above treeline. And experiencing all the joys and challenges that the mountains have to offer. I started somewhat anxious about the traverse but was quickly calmed when I looked at it as 3 days of hiking. This traverse was also a learning experience for me. The fact that I have EIA (Exercise Induced Asthma) did make for some extra bit of thought in my planning, but it didn't worry me at all. As long as I kept a pace that I was I comfortable with, hydrated well and used my inhaler as needed, this would not be a handicap that would cut short my traverse. Except for a scratch on Tim’s shin, we were fortunate that we remained safe during our entire traverse. And finally, this traverse was about being thankful. Thankful that God has given me the opportunity to experience every mountain, in His presence.

The views and the exposure above treeline are truly amazing – Tim and I were also fortunate to have such good hiking weather! And we weren't the only ones hiking a traverse. We met many hikers (solos & groups, men & women of all ages) on the very same journey, some traveling in the opposite direction.

The Presidential Range….so beautiful yet so unforgiving – but by far, my favorite hike!

There were 3 sections of this traverse that was the hardest for me:
1) Day 1 the last 100 yards to the Madison Springs hut when I got a cramp in my left quad; 
2) Day 2 the last mile to the Washington summit; 
3) Day 3 the last mile of traverse when my backpack felt its heaviest.

** I went a long time not realizing I have asthma and my favorite activities were limited and not fun because I wasn't aware of the symptoms of EIA. I even blamed myself for not being fit enough. Check out this article from the American Academy of Allergy Asthmas & Immunology and help spread the word!

AMC Hiker Shuttle Map & Schedule

Marc Chauvin Presidential Traverse Escape Route Plan

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

2013: A Year Review

This has been one amazing year for me! My husband and I were in Hawaii to visit with my family and celebrate Christmas 2012 and the New Year 2013! Not only did I get to work on my NH 48 4000 footers list, but I got to go on a lot of hikes while in Hawaii and do some pretty cool climbing in New Hampshire as well! It certainly was a busy year for me, I was fortunate to get valuable climbing education and I met a lot of wonderful people along my hiking and climbing journey - mahalo nui loa for making this an unforgettable year for me! Here are a few 2013 events highlighted:

Bringing in 2013 was an unforgettable day! I celebrated the New Year 2013 by hiking with the Hawaiian Trail and Mountain Club. Every New Year their members hike the Koko Crater - Kohelepelepe (not to be confused with Koko Head). And my cousin and I joined a small group to hike to Haiku Stairs via Moanalua Middle Ridge. When I returned home to the east coast, I took an ice climbing clinic through the Mt. Washington Valley Ice Festival. Hiking in Hawaii to ice climbing in the Whites, it was a wild winter, but sweet! 

One of the things I really wanted was to get some training through AMC’s Rock Climbing Program. Not only did I learn how to set TR (top rope) anchors, but I learned to second a Trad leader and met some pretty awesome folks! I also had the opportunity to take an AMC Self-Rescue course.

The summer was a very busy season for me! I completed my Belknap Ridge hike and applied for a Belknap Ridge Hiker badge.  I participated in my first Seek The Peak 2013, went Waterfall Rappelling for the first time, and in August I spent 3 weeks on Oahu and got in 10 hikes! 

Fall is usually the time I to try to get in as much rock climbing as I can. I attended the Northeast Craggin’ event by the American Alpine Club and learned how to set Multi-pitch anchors.  Rhonda and I took a Technique Class from Mike Thompson at Vertical Dreams and it was this class that got me started on Bouldering. Where I was only climbing once a week, I now climb 3-5 days per week (indoors & outdoors) and designate two days per week just for Bouldering practice. And I finally became a member of the Hawaiian Trail and Mountain Club!

More climbing opportunities opened up for me as the year is coming to an end. Rhonda and I tested and passed the Lead Test for leading indoors at Evolution Rock + Fitness. I became a member of “EVO” as well and started attending their Rockin’ Ladies clinics which are valuable in getting feedback on my climbing technique. And I have all new ice climbing gear which will, no doubt, be put to use on a regular basis. At this writing, I just received an email from AMC stating that I've been accepted into the Boston Ice Climbing Program 2014! Woot!

Looking ahead - 2014!
The year 2014 is going to be a busy one for me - I have several goals. For climbing, I plan to do more ice climbing and have scheduled ice climbing practically every weekend in January and February. I continue to climb indoors and hope to do more outdoor sport climbing and Trad seconding after the winter season. For hiking, I have 20 more 4000+ footer peaks to hike and hope to finish at least half this year. I’m also working on my 52 With A View list and I plan to visit Oahu again getting in as many hikes as I can. I'm looking forward to continuing my climbing and hiking education. And I'm also looking forward to sharing my adventures, experiences and photos with you!

What are your hiking/climbing goals the year 2014?

YouTube Channel - Hawaii Girl Adventures

Check out my YouTube channel at:  Hawaii Girl Adventures I will eventually be phasing out blog posts and be posting videos of my climbing, h...