New Hampshire’s White Mountains 10/17/17
This post is a few months in the making. I would have liked to have written it immediately after finishing but it I was too tired and then I started procrastinating and time got away from me. You know how it is. Let me set the scene a little. After spending the majority of the summer thru hiking the CDT, and then another 3 or 4 weeks of traveling and having adventures, I knew transitioning back to living in a civilized society wouldn’t be easy. Queen B wasn’t quite ready to be done hiking either so she ambitiously decided to try to hike all 48 of New Hampshire’s 4000 footers in 10 days(and succeeded). Hiking all these mountains is often undertaken as a goal to be completed over the course of a lifetime or at least a few years. 10 days isn’t any kind of record or anything but still pretty badass and spontaneous since she only thought it up about a week before starting. Supposedly she was going to write a guest post about her adventure on this blog but I’m still waiting. Anyway I wasn’t able to get away for the full 10 days but I joined her when I could and over 4 days I hiked 20/48 mountains.
Some of the 4000 footers can be done as just a quick out and back from a trailhead parking lot, some can be done 2 or 3 at a time and then a bunch can done in big traverses. 2 of the more notable hikes in the White Mountains are the Pemi Loop and the Presi Traverse. Both of these hikes summit at least 8 peaks and can be done as an overnight or an ambitious day hike. QB did a modified Pemi Loop during her first couple days on this venture extending the loop to bag 3 or 4 extra peaks nearby. When I joined her at noon on day 5 we went up and down Mt Waumbek, then drove over to Hale and quickly went up and down that one. She was halfway through this quest and had been sleeping in her car or the woods the last few nights so we got a motel room in Franconia, got some rest, and took full advantage of a pretty solid continental breakfast in the morning. With 2 cars we were able to get a little more creative with routes so the next day we dropped one car at the Highland Center then drove over to the Kedron Flume trail and went up and over Tom, Field, and Willey. Back at the Highland Center we retrieved a car and drove over to the base of Mt Carragain then hustled to get up that one to find the summit covered in snow and ice and the views socked in with fog. After we finished Carragain we ate a bunch of food then shuffled cars around in order to do the Presidential Traverse in one shot the next day. leaf peeping with a fresh shave and haircut I was feeling pretty aerodynamic
First things first we ate a bunch of food after hiking all day, then we dropped my truck off at the Highland Center, before driving over to the Appalachia parking lot where we spent the night in QB’s Mom’s CRV. There’s a handful of trails starting at Appalachia and because of that there was about a dozen other cars in the lot. I figured there were definitely other people sleeping in their cars so I tried to be quiet, although that didn’t stop me from setting off the car alarm when I got out to take a leak at 3 in the morning. We got going around 6 am and started up the Valley Way Trail then took a left on Watson Path towards the Mt Madison summit. Once we got above tree line I got cold, really cold(I need to start carrying a thermometer but those things are just such an extravagance). The mountain wasn’t helping as it was between me and the sun on the way up but right as I reached the summit the sun must have warmed me up 20 degrees. From the top of Madison we had a great view of the ridge all the way over to Mt Washington. It was a cold day but it was nice and clear with blue skies and low wind. We took a right onto the Gulfside Trail(which is also the AT) and walked southbound over to Mt Adams, then Mt Jefferson and eventually to the high point of the Whites, Mt Washington. Going up Washington we crossed the railroad tracks, took a minor detour and met one other kid doing a similar hike, John from Maine. At the top of Mt Washington we ate lunch at the cafeteria with John and all of a sudden there were lots of other people around. There’s an auto road and a cog railway that dump loads of tourists on the Washington summit, making it feel a little strange. Whatever, I’m glad there was hot soup and cold sodas and stuff. We took Crawford Path descending the south side of Washington after lunch. The temperature rose and it became quite a comfortable and pleasant afternoon. Following Crawford Path we climbed up and over Monroe, Eisenhower, and Pierce before stopping in the Mitzpah Spring hut to eat some of their muffins or whatever and check the AT logbooks for names of people we knew. From the hut we took the Webster Cliff Trail(still the AT) to the top of Mt Jackson where we ran into our friend John again. The sun was just setting which was really good timing since we were just getting below the tree line. Less than 5 miles later the three of us were out of the woods and back at my truck at the Highland Center. We gave John a ride to his car at Pinkham Notch and he ended up being a wealth of knowledge about Escalante, giving us some good info and tips for our upcoming trip to Utah. QB and I were famished so we stopped at this place Mr. Pizza in Gorham and it sucked. Usually even lousy pizza is decent, especially if I’m wicked hungry, but this place was memorably bad. After supper we shuffled cars again to prepare for our next day then crashed out for the night once exhaustion set in. I think the Presi Traverse is only a little over 20 miles but it’s notoriously difficult. With almost 9000 Feet of elevation gain the traverse is almost completely exposed above tree line. In lousy weather it can be extremely dangerous and often times deadly. I think somewhere it’s listed as the second best day hike in America(don’t quote me on that but that’s all subjective anyway). Whatever you want to call it I personally think a 1 day Presidential Traverse is something of a right of passage for anyone who considers themselves a serious hiker of the White Mountains. on top of Madisonwalking towards Washington
The following day Queen B and I did a traverse of the Wildcats and also the Carter Mariah Range. I was beat! Thankfully I had to work the next day and had a good excuse to return home but QB carried on. She was in full on crush mode and spent the next 2 days finishing up all 48 of NH’s 4000 footers. I’m legitimately impressed. Maybe someday she’ll write a guest blog post on here but until then you can check out her pictures on Instagram @sarahikes or mine @endlesspsummer.
Thanks for reading!