Friday, June 19, 2009

New Hampshire’s Presidential Range

ULTIMATE Direction
Originally uploaded by runpuffin

“Presi” (Presidential) Traverse, famed for its extensive peaks named after former presidents, demanding terrain and inspirational views.

The Details
"I made it" spent an EPIC day in the Presidential Range, sunny high 60's, clear as a bell, visibility was endless. I made the solo reverse traverse South to North Crawford Notch to Appalachia which I guess is not common but I think it was a time saving approach jogging/trotting/hiking/scrambling along the highest mountains in the east connected by a series of ridges, ravines and ledges.

Tuesday 6/16 Boston to Crawford Notch, NH
I watch the Boston city lights fade in the review mirror and glance at my watch it's already 9P.M.. With a heavy foot we make it in a quick 3 hours to our destination Shapleigh Bunkhouse part of the AMC Highland Center in Crawford Notch. The bunkhouse is a perfect spot for quick night’s rest single beds with linens and pillows provided. 6A.M. buzz and I'm slow to rise half sleep walking I double check my gear and make my morning commute to the trail head which is conveniently located directly across the street from the Highland Center.

Wednesday 6/17
The Crawford Path is one of the oldest continuously maintained hiking path in America built by Abel and Ethan Allen Crawford in 1819. It's 6:30A.M. and I get under foot enjoying my breakfast on the go a White Chocolate Macadamia Nut CLIF BAR. It’s a beautiful morning the sun rays poke through the spruce and birch old growth stand, as the sound of Gibbs Falls roar’s in the distance, I stop for a quick refuel at Mizpah Springs Hut

Mizpah means "pillar in the wilderness," an apt name for this hut nestled on the southern flank of Mount Clinton. The hut overlooks Montalban Range, the Dry River Wilderness, and Crawford Notch, and features large, south-facing windows, varied-size bunkrooms, and a separate library and game room” AMC

From here it's a steep 1.2 miles to timberline. With the late start I made the decision to bypass Mt. Jackson and I enjoy my first summit of the day Mount Pierce. Upon seeing the looong presidential ridgeline in full scope I briefly take a moment to ponder the magnitude of this undertaking. From here to Mount Madison the trail remains in the high alpine zone, uniquely void of trees and completely exposed to wind, weather and the most spectacular views one could imagine. I was on the move running most of this section with its crooked relatively un-rocky dirt trail surrounded by endless mountains this section lends itself to some of the best trail running I’ve experienced in the Northeast. "I'm in the ZONE". After Mount Pierce next along the Southern Presidential Range come Mount Eisenhower, Mount Franklin, and Mount Monroe and then dropping down into aptly named Lakes of the Clouds Hut

The highest and most popular hut in the chain, Lakes of the Clouds Hut is located on the southern shoulder of Mount Washington. This hut offers sweeping views, gorgeous sunrises and sunsets, and proximity to rare alpine flowers” AMC.

As I came over Monroe I witnessed a rescue helicopter in the ravine and later found out from a rescue team there was a search underway in White Mountains for Long Overdue Canadian Hiker. In this harsh landscape you’ve got to come prepared for the worst case scenario. 7 miles in I refuel and mentally prepare for the 1.5 mile climb to the summit of Mount Washington (6,288 feet) or as the Indians once called it Agiocochook. Yeah on top of the world with everyone else it's a weird thing up on top of ol' Washington to much going on for me, I wait in line to have this nice Harley dude snap a picture at the summit sign and look forward to the less frequented peaks out on the horizon. After exiting the BIGTOP I pick up Gulfside Trail which links me to the Northern Presidential Range Mount Clay, Mount Jefferson, Mount Adams and finally Mount Madison. Tackling this adventure solo was another challenge I started to feel the affects of but I keep moving and before I know it my spirits are lifted on Mount Adams. One more bump to go and it’s down to Madison Spring Hut

The present-day hut is constructed on the site of the AMC's first high mountain hut, built in 1888. Madison Spring occupies a commanding setting above the sheer walls of Madison Gulf, with spectacular 360-degree views of the Presidentials, Kilkenny, and Pilot ranges. It's a great base for observing the fascinating alpine tundra environment, including geology and plant life” AMC

I’m just in time for freshly baked chocolate chip cookies as I inhale the cookies I gaze out over the valley one last time I feel I’ll be hobbling down Valley Way Trail but I find a nice rhythm and run the last 3 miles of Valley Way in just 40 minutes finishing up around 2:40P.M.. I toss my pack on the ground rest my head; depleted with a smile from ear to ear I patiently wait for my dad, who set out on his own hike to Lakes of the Clouds Hut via Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail. We had both planned to rendezvous at the hut but with the aid of the two-way radio communication we missed each other, I was farther along in my traverse by the time he reached the hut. In the car by 3:15P.M.we leave Appalachia parking lot both replenished from the mountains and ready for home. I’m humbled 19 miles felt like a lifetime; this was one adventure short on time but long on memories.

"'Tis distance lends enchantment to the view,
And robes the mountain in its azure hue."
-Thomas Campbell