…..aaaannnd we’re back! In real time I’m writing this post on the eve of our entry to Vermont. In blog-time I have to think back almost two weeks to our traverse of the highest ridge in New England. I’m hoping that I can avoid delays of this magnitude in the future – thanks for sticking with us!
Following our winter-esque passage of the Carter-Wildcat range we descended to the AMC’s roadside visitor center at Pinkham Notch where we gorged ourselves on real food and stocked up on snacks before our date with destiny in the Presidentials. From there we hiked to the Osgood Campsite at the foot of Mt. Madison. As luck would have it, the timing of our hike added some additional complexity to the logistics of crossing the Presidentials. In summer months, the AMC operates two huts above treeline in the Presis – Madison Spring Hut and Lakes of the Clouds Hut. A few days before our arrival, both of these huts served their last customers and closed for the season, leaving us with an especially long way to hike between legal lodging options. Being the law-abiding, low-trace campers that we are, we opted to complete the entire traverse from Osgood to the Mizpah Spring Hut in a single day. And what a single day it was…
The first two miles took us quickly to treeline en route to the summit of Mt. Madison. From here we would remain above treeline for twelve miles – the longest such stretch along the entire trail.
We spent an extra night at Osgood to wait for a suitably pleasant weather window for the traverse. Toward the top of Madison the clouds began to clear and we caught a glimpse of the Carters.
Blue skies: quite the improvement!
Rocks and grass. Lots of rocks and grass…
“The Big Ugly” – more commonly know as Mt. Washington, but a better name in my mind: easily recognizable from a distance by the hideous structures on its summit.
Cairns, or stacks of rocks, mark the trail above treeline. Their spacing only makes sense during whiteouts when visibility is reduced to a few feet. In good weather it’s possible to see twenty or more at a time.
Edmonds Col, with Mt. Jefferson in the background. You can see the trail snaking its way through boulders and talus.
Some sections feature beautiful rock stacking which creates an impressively flat walking surface.
Looking back at the Northern Presidentials from the shoulder of The Big Ugly. From right to left: Madison, Adams, Jefferson. Great Gulf Wilderness in the foreground.
The Big Ugly: complete with a road, parking lot, cog railway (pictured), observation station, snack bar, gift shop, post office, flushing toilets, and thousands of visitors…
We bought some hot dogs from the snack bar and continued on to the Southern Presidentials.
We finished our day well after sunset, leading to one of our most spectacular sunsets yet. The night hiking that followed was unpleasant due to a headlamp that was functioning at a less than satisfactory level. However, Caley saved the day with her spectacularly functioning headlamp and magnificent navigational skills. Then we slept at the Mizpah Hut. Sweet dreams!!!!!