Hiking/Trekking - Our trekking blog Jeanne & Peter

Hikes

The Northern Presidentials

Posted on June 12th, 2012
by PeterD in Hikes

This was a 2-day hike, with a planned overnight at the Madison Spring hut. Knowing that AMC hut space fills up quickly, we’d planned/booked this hike in early/mid January. Of course, you never know what you’re going to get in the weather department, but clearly, we had someone smiling on us this weekend.

We stayed in the Woodstock/Lincoln area at a cute B&B – the Wilderness Inn. While the room was small, it was adequate for our overnight needs. The weather people correctly spoke of a friday evening thunderstorm, but Saturday broke dry and mostly sunny. The real surprise for us was the breakfast. Outstanding, so for us, the Inn was a nice find.

We were up and out shortly after 8 on Saturday, off to park near the Cog Railway and catch the AMC Shuttle to the Appalachia trailhead. We were on the trail shortly after 10am, and were off – off and running, as it turns out. Book time to Madison Spring hut via Valley Way trail was about 3hr40min, speedy Jeanne (in the lead most of the time) got us there in 2hr 30min!

Hut "Croo" carrying some supplies

On the way, we passed a few of the hut “croo” headed down to grab supplies. Truely amazing – we found out later, their time on the return trip “packing” (as it’s called) was 1hr42min!

After getting settled at the hut, finding some bunks and eating some wraps, we headed off to bag Mt. Madison (only .5mi, and 550ft gain). Doesn’t sound like much, but in the howling wind on Saturday – we heard afterward that Washington had gusts to 72 mph on Saturday! Probably in the 40′s or better on Madison (it was blowing from the north, hitting Madison first!); challenging to stay standing, especially on the peak, so we hurried down and had a relaxing afternoon/evening in the hut.

The later afternoon and evening was filled with downtime and getting to know some of our mates in the hut. One, bears mention. Sally and her extended family, was visiting the hut to remember the recent passing of her dear friend Ann [sic] (the daughter of Joe Dodge – legendary AMC hutmaster).    As we learned at dinner, Sally (79 years young), summitted Mt. Madison shortly after us that afternoon, and in her years, had completed the 48 4000′s five (yes, 5!) times with many peaks even multiples of that. We should all be so lucky!

Sunset at Madison Spring Hut

After being treated to a beautiful sunset, we bunked down under many blankets (even though it was summer, it was still pretty cold on the mountain and in the hut!) and awoke to a cloudless sky.

Day 2 was the big hiking day. The plan was to head over Mt. Adams, along the Gulfside trail, bag Mt. Jefferson, then head towards the Jewell Trail and back down to the Cog Railway parking and our car. In all, about 8mi of hiking, with about 2000′ elevation gain and 6000′ of descent.

Breakfast at the lodge was superb, oatmeal, some bread pudding/french toast thing and plenty of coffee. More than enough calories to start the day. Packed up our gear, on the trail by 8am, with long pants and a few long-sleeve layers because the temp was in the low 50′s.

Madison Spring Hut from Adams

Madison Spring Hut from atop Mt. Adams

After skirting Star Lake, we started climbing, along the west side of JQ Adams peak, towards Mt. Adams itself. Quite a bit of scrambling, Jeanne’s shredded fingers on her gloves to prove it! Looking downward and back toward the Hut, it was no surprise the 1000′ ascent to Mt. Adams took nearly an hour.  Yes, that’s the hut in the center of the picture there.  Oh, and afterward, we read that our eastern route was the more “sporting” way to summit Mt. Adams (for us, it was in the sun, and shielded from the wind coming out of the north west)…

It was only 9:15 or so, but the weather was really shaping up to be stunning – a cloudless sky with warmer temperatures – and visibility was 50+ miles.

Mt Washington from Adams

Looking southward from Mt. Adams towards Jefferson and Washington

We still had a long way to go for the day, but the big ascent was behind us, and mostly some “ridge walking” lay ahead.     Looking southward, there was Jefferson, yes, still with a bit of snow (!) and Washington in the farther distance.    We could also see cars on the Auto Road, slowly making the climb, so they could get the ticky-tacky bumper sticker, claiming their car made it up the mountain :-)

We continued to marvel at the views during the day, periodically running into a few other peak baggers.    And (amazingly) two of the hut “croo” veterans nearly sprinted by us as we were making our way to Jefferson, they were on their way to Lake of the Clouds hut. These are the ‘kids’ who worked at the Madison Spring Hut – we’d seen them the night before!

In all, a very memorable hike in the Northern Presidentials. We capped the day with an evening at the Mt. Washington Hotel, some couples massage and a very special dinner to celebrate our 5 years together!

Peter & Jeanne

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