The Home Stretch : Mount Madison & Adams

Date of Hike: 3/10/15

Valley Way: 3.6 miles  /  Osgood Trail:  0.8 miles  /  Gulfside Trail:  0.5 miles  /  Airline: 0.8 miles  /  Gulfside Trail: 0.5 miles  /  Valley Way: 3.6 miles
Total Miles 9.8 (5,000 feet elevation gained) Garmin GPS 910 XT

Trip Report
- With a Single-Season Winter 48 - 4,000 footers of New Hampshire in reach I took a shot to knock off two of the remaining three peaks left on my list, Mount Madison and Adams.  Mount Madison and Adams are the most northern peaks that make up the Presidential Range.  In the winter the Presidential Range is a harsh place to hike.  Most days the temperatures hover around zero, winds are whipping creating a hellish wind chill well below zero, and visibility above treeline is minimal.  I don't hike above treeline on days where there are high winds and no views, it's just not fun for me and room for error becomes really small which can lead to tragedy as was the case just over two weeks ago (click here for the story of Kate Matrosova).
- I was fully aware that with under two weeks of winter left I might not get a 'Presi Day' to hike Madison and Adams, and I wouldn't push the envelope just to attain the SSW48 goal.  However, Tuesday morning there was a window of promising weather above 5,000 feet.  Temperatures around thirty degrees and winds around 30 mph forecasted until early afternoon before the winds would spike and eventually double down by sunset.  So I headed to Appalachia and started up the Valley Way Trail at 7 a.m.
- I was pleasantly surprised to see there were fresh tracks from another hiker in front of me as I started hiking.  I was even more surprised that there wasn't a hint of wind as I hiked through the sheltered woods up the moderate grades of the Valley Way Trail.  The higher I ascended the more fresh snow covered the trails and I was happy that the upper part was broken out for me as I reached treeline.  I changed into dry layers and put on my wind breaker at the weather warning sign figuring the wind would be coming soon enough.  The wind finally made its presence known in the usually spot on the Osgood Trail  above Madison Springs Hut but it was not too bad, maybe a gust above 30 mph here and there but for the most part it was in the low 20 mph range.
- As I approached the summit I finally ran into the hiker who was in front of me, it was Monica who I had met before at Lincoln Woods in January.  She was hiking Madison, Adams, and Jefferson, with Jefferson being her last peak to complete her Winter 48.  Congrats to Monica and thank you for setting the tracks up to Mount Madison early in the morning!
- After parting ways I made the final push up to the summit where I took in the views and snapped some pictures before scurrying back down to the hut where I ran into Monica again.  From the hut I returned the favor and set the tracks up to Mount Adams.  I'm not a big fan of the Gulfside Trail between the hut and Airline trail junction when there's no snow but I love it when there's snow as a semi steep snow field forms just below the Airline junction which is fun to hike up.  Once I hit the Airline junction I stayed on the Gulfside Trail for another tenth of a mile before banging a left allowing me to bypass a useless PUD on the Airline.  The great thing about hiking in the winter is some places the rocks and scrub are buried well below snow and you can make your own way up to the summit which at times is easier than staying on the trail which can have exposed rocks and ice in places.
- I made it to the summit of Adams just after 10 a.m. and chatted with another hiker who was up there enjoying the warm weather.  After taking a few pictures it was time to book it back down the mountain so I could get to work.  I passed Monica just below the summit of Adams and passed three more hikers on the Valley Way Trail.  I wonder if the wind speeds picked up as they roamed around above treeline or if they remained calm.
- I made it back to the Jeep from Mount Adams in about ninety minutes.  The temperature at Appalachia was fifty degrees as a packed up my gear, it was the first hint of Spring this year!  I was really happy I got in this hike on such a perfect morning above treeline, with the warm temps and low wind speeds it felt like a mid spring or late fall hike.
- After packing up my gear I headed to five corners to meet Whitney who was completing here SSW48 with a hike of the Twins and Galehead.  Within a year she hiked the A.T. and all the 4,000 footers in one winter, how awesome is that, huge congrats!

Appalachia and the weather warning sign 
 Heading up the Valley Way Trail.  It's all in the woods until just before the summit where the snow levels creates a side slope making for some interesting footing.
 Breaking above treeline and yet another warning about not messing with the weather.
 JQ Adams from the upper section of the Valley Way.
 Madison Springs Hut
 Heading up the Osgood Trail to the summit of Mount Msdison
 Mount Adams and Washington as seen from Mount Madison
 Mount Madison Summit area
 Wildcat Ridge, Carter Notch, and Carter Dome
 Heading back down the Osgood Trail
 Mount Adams and Madison
 Madison Springs Hut and JQ Adams on a picture perfect day!
 Heading up the snow field on the way to Mount Adams
 Mount Adams summit
 Mount Jefferson, Clay, and Washington
 Looking down to Mount Madison from Mount Adams
 Views of the clouds breaking up above me and the hut
 Madison Springs Hut
 Back down to Appalachia on a warm winter day!
 Route for the day, click here for details
Above treeline section of the hike


  1. Huge congrats to both of you! Whitney for her fantastic hiking accomplishments, and you for supporting her and being so close to a SSW. This has been a tough winter temperature wise, so that makes the accomplishments that much sweeter.

    1. Sorry, not the brightest here, been a long week and it isn't Friday yet! Forgot to say: Good luck on finishing the SSW, hope your last peak is awesome on an awesome day!

    2. Thanks, Summerset :) It's been a pretty wild winter for all of New England. It definitely makes driving to and from the trailheads easier and safer since Whitney lives in North Conway. Hope you had a great winter hiking!