Dry River Wilderness Traverse

Date of Hike: 9/18/10

Davis Path / Crawford Path: 16.5 miles
Crawford Path / Monroe Loop Trail: 2.1 miles
Dry River Trail: 9.6 miles
Route 302: 2.5 miles
Total Miles: 30.7 (8,000 elevation gain)

 Trip Report:
- With fall beginning in less than a week it was time to head up to the mountains for one last marathon endurance hike of the summer.
- I decided to head to the Davis Path and when I told my old man of my plans he said "Davis Path that's a great hike up to Mount Washington, how you getting back down?"  I told him "I'm doing an out and back" his response "That's f**king stupid!".... So with my dad's blessing it was off to the White Mountains to beat feet up the Davis Path and celebrate it's one hundredth year as a foot trail.
- On Trail at 7am, Mount Isolation 11:10am, Mount Washington 1:35pm, Mount Monroe 2:45pm, Dry River Shelter #3 4:05pm, finished 7pm. Mostly clear with awesome views, temps in the 40's and 50's, light wind.
- I had only hiked the Davis Path between Mount Isolation and Mount Washington so I was excited to hike the rest of the trail.  The first two miles up to Mount Crawford spur path was a steady uphill climb that was pretty easy going.  At the spur path I headed .3 miles to Mount Crawford's summit over open sloping ledges.  The views into Crawford Notch, the Presidential Range - Dry River Wilderness, and Mount Washington were incredible!
- The next stop along the Davis Path was Stairs Mountain.  I took a nasty fall descending to the Crawford/Resolution Col but other than a few scraps was good to go.
- I made the quick .2 mile trip out to the view point from Stairs Mountain summit where I ran into the first hiker of the day.  He had hiked up by way of Rocky Branch and Stairs Col trails and was having a great time taking in all the views.  After a few minutes of chatting about the mountains I headed back to the Davis Path to continue my trek.
- From here I had over four miles until my next stop, the summit of Mount Davis.  This section of the hike absolutely sucked as I was trudging through messy boot-sucking mud along with pretty nasty footing with exposed roots and rocks and worst of all no views.
- When I reached the Mount Davis spur path I headed up to the 3,819 foot summit where I had the summit all to myself and enjoyed the terrific 360 degree views.
- Next I headed to Mount Isolation where the views were spectacular as well. While taking a break on the summit I started to rethink my plans of retracing my steps from Mount Washington back to my car.  I came to the conclusion that re-hiking the section between Mount Isolation and Stairs Mountain would be a drag so I decided to change my hike and head down to Lakes of the Clouds, up to Mount Monroe, drop back down to Lakes, and take the Dry River Trail back to 302.
- About an hour after leaving Mount Isolation I popped up above treeline on the Davis Path.  From here I would spend the next couple of miles hiking on what is my favorite sections of a trail in all of the White Mountains (especially the short part between the Boot Spur Trail junction and the Crawford Path) The cairns on this section are perfect and look magnificent!!
- I arrived at the summit of Mount Washington just after 1:30pm and it was a zoo!  I took a few pics stopped in at the cafeteria and quickly retreated to the pack room to get away from the crowds to relax, refuel, and change layers before heading down to Lakes of the Clouds. (side note - when I summited Washington it was the 100th official 48 - 4,000 footer I had stepped on this year)
- The 1.5 mile hike down to Lakes and the short burst up to Monroe went quickly.  I ran into all kinds of hikers, a couple of dogs, and one or two trail runners taking in the tremendous views along the way.
- Lakes of the Clouds Hut is now closed for the fall/winter and it was kind of relaxing that there weren't swarms of people popping in and out of the hut.  After a few minutes it was time to start the long descent back to Route 302 on the Wild Dry River trail.
- The first section of the trail is pretty cool, at the start you get unique views of Lakes of the Clouds Hut and the backside of Mount Monroe before dropping down below treeline.
- The long hike back out was pretty uneventful, the trail is even more of a muddy mess than the Davis Path but by this time I was caked in mud up to my shins so I could care less, plus the mud was such a relief on my legs which had been taking a pounding.
- Along the way I passed Dry River Shelter #3 which is in great shape, ran into a couple of hikers heading to the shelter, and a few others heading to the primitive campsites.
- When I reached the Dry River Campground I had 2.5 mile walk back to my car.  I didn't try to hitch as I was a muddy mess and probably smelled like a moose so I just hoofed it.  I got back to my car just as it became dark and was thrilled to take my disgusting muddy boots and socks off and relax after a kick ass long hike!

Pictures: Click here for all Pictures

 Oakes Gulf with Mount Monroe and Washington
 The Davis Path
 Boott Spur, Washington, Monroe
 The Davis Path north of Isolation
 The Davis Path above treeline approaching the Boot Spur
 Best cairns in the Whites!
 Lakes of the Clouds from the Dry River Trail
 Descending into Oakes Gulf and the Dry River Valley
 Dry River Shelter #3

Dry River Suspension Bridge

1 comment:

  1. My son and I were over on Jefferson the same day from about 11:30 to noon, and we could see quite a few cars going up the auto road, so I'm not surprised at the zoo-like atmosphere. Regardless, you had a grand finale to the summer marathon hikes!