Sunday, September 8, 2013

Presidential Traverse: Mt Madison and Madison Spring Hut

A place where adventures begin!
Yet another wilderness adventure in the beautiful NH White Mountain with Sarah! We decided to target Mt. Madison in the same Presidential Range as Mt Washington. This trip was no less exciting (or spontaneous) than the previous Mt. Washington hike.

As we are both very Type A, there was a lot of coordination to be done before this trip. We had to book the shuttle and reserve our nights in the hut, I had to book plane tickets and get time off from work. Closer to the trip we had to check for all our gear and its condition, test gear if we haven't used it before, plan our routes, get maps, and plan a menu. In case you didn't know, menu is code for peanut butter bagels, trail mix, and protein bars. Luckily, Sarah took care of most of this since I would be flying in and had limited space for gear. She brought her tent, packed all the food, snacks, maps, and other gear.

For our long weekend adventure I flew in late Friday night to Manchester Airport. Then we drove to just outside the White Mountain area where Sarah had already set up our tent. We slept for several hours and left early to the trail head by 7:30am to catch the shuttle by 8am.

On Gulfside Trail.
Yes we matched. What of it?! :)
Once we arrived at the visitor center we checked trail conditions, put on the rest of our gear, and found the shuttle. The shuttle (for a fee) drops you off at several trail heads. We started our hike at the Appalachia trail head.

While it is less than 5 miles to the summit, there is a substantial elevation gain taking you into the Alpine Zone, above the treeline. Madison Spring Hut is at an  elevation of 4,805 feet and the summit is 5,367 feet. So what does this mean? You should be able to run a couple miles to be comfortable on a hike like this at a pace that Sarah hikes :) Joking aside, I should have trained more and I would have been more comfortable on the trail.  It took us under 4 hours to get to the hut.

Madison Spring Hut is one of the lesser used huts due to the location and a more difficult trail. This means there were less crowds, an additional perk of the hut was that it was rebuilt a couple years ago and still new.

One of the few pictures below the treeline

Alpine Warning: The area ahead has the worst
weather in America. Many have died there from
exposure even in the summer. Turn back now
 if the weather is bad.

In the Alpine zone!
After some rock scrambles... we made it to the hut!

Madison Hut!

At the front door
We dropped off our packs at the hut then continued up the rocks to the Mt. Madison summit. By the time we got back to the hut it was time for dinner, sitting outside enjoying the view, and making friends with our fellow hikers!

The croo makes a hot dinner for the hikers this particular night a vegan was making us a turkey dinner! This was her first time alone at the hut and she set off the fire alarm....and no one knew how to turn it off! It was very loud if you were curious. But the turkey was great! After dinner Sarah and I hung out with the croo (all of them had these great mason jar coozies that I know Sarah is planning on making), and chatted. They had made these awesome musical instruments from items that were laying around the hut. This included a banjo/guitar made with strings and a large metal can that previously was used for tomato sauce.

View from the Hut

Our Cozy Beds with this clever tray
thing between the beds

After a solid nights sleep we had a hot breakfast and then wandered around Gulfside trail to see what we could see. We were able to check out the summit for Mt Adams and went part of the way to Mt Jefferson. There are no pictures from the top of Mt Adams either, but this excuse is that there were so many small black flying bugs that were landing on you and flying into your face that we didn't stay long. Overall, the weather was cloudy with patches of sun and bright blue sky. During one of the occasional blue patches we had a great view of Mt. Washington!

Heading to some new summits, hut is behind me

Living in the Clouds

We could see Mt. Washington!

We also found a nice perch for snacks and pondering the meaning of life while watching the clouds pass us by. When we were fidgety we left that spot and headed back towards Mt. Madison. On the way we found a pile of rocks we had to climb and so glad we did. It was just a tad off the trail so you couldn't hear the other hikers but the view was a fantastic unobstructed panoramic mountain view.

Could sit here all day and enjoy the view
After a full day of seeing the sights, we went back to the hut for a hot dinner, more friends, and then sleep.

Monday morning we woke up to pouring rain and had an epic scramble to get off the mountain, pick up the tent, and deposit me back at Logan Airport to fly back to Virginia. I felt bad for the people on the plane next to me. Although I certainly wasn't as bad as the man who took off his shoes in the hut...

The Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC) and the Huts 
The Appalachian Mountain Club (AMC) is one of the oldest outdoor groups that organizes volunteers to maintain trails, perform training, and publish books/maps/guides. The AMC owns and maintains the 8 huts (or this link) along the Presidential Traverse which coincides with the Appalachia Trail.

For a fee you have a roof, hot meals, running water (no showers or hot water), and a bed (with bedding!). Was it worth it? Yes. Because it also means that we didn't have to hike in bedding, additional meals, tent, extra water, etc. While at first the cost seems very high we saw very quickly how our money was used.

At the beginning of the season bedding and some of the gear is dropped at the huts by helicopter. But for the rest of the year all the food they serve and trash that is left behind is hiked in or out by the people who are working the huts. This means they hike up and down the mountain at least once a week. If they want to visit friends that are also working the huts? They hike to the other huts which are all several miles apart. Crazy right??
Happy hiking!

No comments:

Post a Comment