Thursday, 9 October 2014

White Mountains part I: Presidential traverse

Star Lake at Mt. Madison

I recently returned from beautiful White Mountains range in New Hampshire US. Thanks to my friend and hiking partner Steve I saw some of the nicest parts of the range and logged in some trail mileage accompanied with his lovely dog Lupus. The three of us finished what were supposed to be the hardest treks in the White Mountains range, Presidential traverse and Pemigewasset loop and here are my reflections on both of them in few series of write ups. Enjoy!
Vast forests of NH White Mountains range
Presidential traverse is a trek that goes over the summits in the Presidential range of White Mountains. Most notable summits in the Presidential range are named for former American presidents with Mt.Washington being the highest of them all at 1917 m. The mountain is know for its windy weather and it holds windspeed world record at winds blowing as hard as 372 km/h at the summit. And I sure felt what the wind was all about in White Mountains.

Presidential traverse day one: Appalachia to The Perch tent site

To do the Presidential traverse with one car only at the trail end we had to use Trail Angels Hikers Services (thank you Steve for the correction)  Hikers Shuttle to take us from our trail end (parked car) to the trail head at Appalachia. During the season Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC) offers Hikers Shuttle to help hikers get from trail heads/ends along the Appalchian mountains. The Hikers Shuttle operates daily from 4th of June through September 21st, and on weekends and holidays from September 27th through October 19th. More info on Hikers Shutlle  More on the service can be found here. The service was on time and the driver knew all about the Presidential Range as we had hoped for.

Disembarking Hikers Shuttle at Appalchia trail head we were at the start of our trek. The day was sunny but very cold (I think it was around 2C) so we had to start walking right away to warm us up. There are numerous trails climbing up to the summits of Presidential range with Mt. Madison as our first summit in three days trek.

Even though the day was sunny but cold we decided to start our trek following Brookside trail. Leading along very fresh mountain brook the Brookside trail proved to be our right choice. With fresh water readily available we kept our packs weight down to bare minimum so going uphill was lot easier for all the three of us. With numerous stops to pick up water and to enjoy the beautiful nature around us our climbing was slow but we gradually climbed higher and higher. 
Brookside trail
Soon we were over the brook and with steepness raising there was only one path but to start climbing higher and higher. I knew the climb will be very long but comming from subAlpine country myself I was surprised to feel how difficult the climb actually was.

Steep climbing. Steven and Lupus following me with ease
Forest around us started to change.With more pine trees in the mix I felt we are higher up and forest will soon change into mostly pine wood. Welcome to the Alpine zone!

Warning sign Alpine zone
At the Alpine zone entrance sign I felt surprised. No such thing in my neck of woods and I thought why would you put up a sign like this? Isn't it that we all know how to behave in most fragile Alpine environment? Soon I will learn why. Terrain really changed as we emerged from the woods and the horizons open up for us.

Climbing hard to the next boulder field ahead of us
Our footing changed from soft rooty forest soil to hardwearing rocks and boulders. Our going got slower but both of us felt tempted by nice and calm weather at our first summit glowing in the sun above us.

Looking back over at the long bouldering field Steve and Lupus still need to pass
Summiting northernmost peak in Presidential range Mt. Madison I felt tired but very happy to be there. With fantastic views all around us our spirits were high. Soon Steve and Lupus joined me. Cracking day up on the mountain!

Mt. Madison with Mt. Adams in the distance.

Steve memorizing the view.
As the wind picked up it was time to head on. Following the trail sign we started our short descent to the mountain pass down to the Madison hut.

Madison Spring hut operated by AMC.
Soon I learned that dogs are not welcome in some of the huts in Presidential range and I felt very sorry for Lupus. I thought we could all enter to enjoy it's cozziness. Have a snack inside. We filled up our water and soon the hut was left behind as our journey continued to the summit of Mt. Adams. 

Big, warm and nice but not very dog friendly Madison Spring hut
Entering the Great Gulf Wilderness at the Star lake we started to climb up our next summit for the day Mt. Adams. The bouldering field ahead of us proved to be to much for Lupus and his heavy bags so we took the bags off and help him to the top.

At Star Lake
Ice build up on Mt. Adams
It was cold and windy at Mt. Adams. Ice build up on the rocks proved it was cold night but that is not unusual for the White Mountains so I was told. The rocks were great to walk on and my Inov8 Terrocs gave me enough protection from the ground so I was able to descend over the rocks with ease. With day getting shorter it was time to find next trail cut off and start walking towards our campsite for the night. The Perch shelter and campsite it was.

The Perch Adirondack style wooden shelter. Restroom next to it.
The Perch shelter is log style cabin that can fit 8 people. It is located just below tree line and protected from the wind. There are four additional wooden tent platforms on which you pitch your tent. There's clean running water 10m away from the shelter. The toilet is water free. Once you are done with your "Poop" you simply chuck some wood mulch over it to speed up decomposing process. At the end of season all toilet made compost is used to feed the surrounding forest. When we reached the Perch there were few hikers taking up the space inside the log cabin but there was enough space to fit the two of us in.

Chef giving out the orders

With days shorter it was time for us to make warm dinner and get ready for the night.

Presidential travers day two: The Perch to Nauman tent site via Mt. Washington summit 

To be continued....

1 comment:

  1. There are some very familiar locations in those photos, looking forward to more.