Hut to Hut Traverse Run : 15 Hours 14 Minutes

Date of Hike: 7/3/15

19 mile Brook Trail: 3.8 miles  /  Route 16: 0.3 miles  /  Great Gulf Trail: 2.7 miles  /  Madison Gulf Trail: 3.0 miles /  Gulfside Trail: 5.0 miles  /  Westside Trail:  0.9 miles /  Crawford Path 4.4 miles  /  Webster-Cliff Trail: 0.8 miles  / Mizpah Cutoff 0.7 miles  /  Crawford Path 1.8 miles  /  Avalon Trail: 1.2 miles  /  A-Z Trail: 3.7 miles  /  Zealand Trail: 0.3 miles  /  Twinway Trail: 7.2 miles  /  Garfield Ridge Trail:  6.6 miles  /  Greenleaf Trail: 1.1 miles  /  Old Bridle Path: 2.9 miles  /  Lonesome Lake Trail: 1.6 miles
H2H Miles: 46.3 miles (15,950 feet elevation gained)  Garmin GPS 910 XT  /  Total Miles 51.5 (17,900 feet)

Trip Report:
- On Friday I headed out to do one of the most punishing trail runs in the country, the A.M.C. Hut to Hut Traverse.  This would be my fourth time doing the traverse, the first two times I hiked it shooting for an under 24 hour time.  Last year I attempted my first run of the huts with ultra runner friend Jesse Veinotte.  It was a rough go for me as lack of sleep and some health issues made me hit several 'walls' along the way.  However, I was able to rally over the last ten miles and finish really strong, coming in at 16 hours and 48 minutes, a two hour PR.  This year the goal was 15 hours.
- I had a few advantages coming into the Friday's run; I was 100% healthy going into the hike, Whitney lives a half hour away from the trailhead so I would get a decent night of rest, and I would be starting at first light meaning I could take the Madison Gulf Trail up to Madison Springs Hut bypassing my usual route of Osgood and the Parapet Trail.  The reason for this is Madison Gulf Trail has a few spots where it can be confusing to follow in the dark.
- I arrived at the Nineteen Mile Brook trailhead at 2:30 and hiked very slowly up to Carter Notch Hut.  I arrived there just after 4:30 and relaxed for a few minutes until it was bright enough out to start my run at 4:40.
- I had a nice run down the Nineteen-Mile Brook Trail, the trail was really wet for a few stretches but I was able to keep my feet dry and made great time down to Route 16.  From here I ran the road a few tenths of a mile to the Great Gulf trailhead.
- The next few miles I ran the Great Gulf Trail over very good footing and easy grades to the Madison Gulf Trail.  I had descended the Madison Gulf Trail twice before but never ascended it.  It's a wild and beautiful trail with a middle of nowhere feel to it.  The upper part of the trail is rough and steep, while the lower half has pretty reasonable terrain by White Mountain standards.  There are numerous water crossings, one of which I lost the trail at for a few minutes.  I consider myself really good at route finding so this was a bit puzzling, I was thankful I never tried this route for the H2H before dawn or I might have had some major issues.
- I kept up a good fast hiking pace until the last mile of the trail where it became relentlessly steep and rough.  I still felt strong and took my time ascending it knowing not to exert too much energy here just to shave off a minute or two for a mile split, (this ended up being one of two non hut break splits that came in over 30 minutes for the run).
-  Once I broke above treeline I was immediately greeted with blustery winds as I made my way a few tenths of a mile to Madison Spring Hut.  The hut crew were busy serving breakfast as I took a short break and prepared myself for the next leg of the run across the Northern Presidential Range.  I put on my hat, gloves, hoody, and restocked on water and refilled my electrolight drink in my handheld squirt bottle.
-  The next destination was Lakes of the Clouds Hut.  This section travels through the Northern Presidential Range over a boulder field, AKA knee-hammering rocks, it's pretty unforgiving terrain and it can be tough to get into a groove if you're not experienced with the technical footing of running from boulder to boulder.  Luckily for me it's a section I am extremely familiar with having been on these trails dozens of times.  Even so I to still had to throttle down while 'running' this section as a slip could have a negative consequence. I did well keeping a good pace between Madison Springs Hut and Lakes of the Clouds, 2 hours and 7 minutes.
- I arrived at Lakes of the Clouds Hut and did my usual five minute hut routine of restocking water and preparing my food & gels for the next segment, the Southern Presidential Range to Mizpah Springs Hut.  The terrain between these two huts improves dramatically, the boulders give way to dirt and becomes much easier to keep up a solid pace.  The only nasty part is the steep drop from Mount Pierce to Mizpah Springs Hut.  I felt really strong and made it to Mizpah in about 1 hour 20 minutes.
- After my five minute hut routine I headed for the halfway point, Crawford Notch at the Highland Center.  It's an easy run of 2.5 miles via Mizpah Cut-off and the Crawford Path.  The only obstacle was the amount of hikers heading up Crawford Path at 11 a.m. in the morning, there were dozens of them.  Thankfully they were all very courteous and moved over to the side of the trail as I descended. - I made it to the Highland Center in 40 minutes from Mizpah, and overall from my start at Carter Notch Hut in 6 hours and 45 minutes.  I was sore but felt really strong, I didn't hit a wall or bonk, or even feeling close to bonking.  Before I headed up out of the notch I texted Whitney with an update, changed my socks, and prepared my gear.  From here I need to run an 8 hour and 15 minute second half of the run to achieve the 15 hour goal.  I knew this was not possibly without risking hurting myself so I reset my goal to 15 hour and 30 minutes.  The second half of the hut to hut is pretty grueling, while the footing improves the elevation gain is over 9,000 feet compared to the over 6,000 feet from the first half.
- The next segment featured a climb up to the Willey Range followed by a nice descent down to Zealand Notch and over to Zealand Falls Hut.  I kept a solid but not quick pace up the the Field / Tom col and then had a decent sustained run down to the Zealand Trail where I headed to Zealand Falls Hut making it there from Crawford Notch in 1 hour and 45 minutes.
- I did the usual at the hut before heading out.  Sitting on the bench out front was Scott Jurek, he is currently trying to set the record for the fastest know time for a supported run of the Appalachian Trail.  He was ahead of the old record heading into the White Mountains, average 45 to 50 mile days.  The Whites are giving him a good test as the previous day and night he hiked/ran 50 miles ending up at Galehead Hut at 5 a.m.  It was around 1:30 p.m. when I saw him and he would end up doing less than 30 miles on this day.  Hopefully he bounces back in the days to come.  It's Pretty incredible what he is doing out there!
- From Zealand Falls Hut to Galehead Hut is seven miles of up and downs.  First, there is a steep climb to Zeacliff, once again I just kept a decent pace knowing not to push it so I could save my energy.  Once past Zeacliff the ascents to Zealand, Guyot, and South Twin are very tame, there is some rough footing heading up to Guyot but mostly the trail is in decent shape.  However, from South Twin down to Galehead Hut is a different story, it's a relentlessly steep 0.8 mile descent with some horrific footing.  It's not run-able and and the key is to get down without twisting an ankle or bashing a knee.  I made it to to Galehead from Zealand Falls Hut in 2 hours and 40 minutes.
- Now it was time for the crux of the run, the 'dreaded' Garfield Ridge Trail, it's 6.6 miles of up and downs, with one super steep climb up the the peak of Mount Garfield and then a tough slog up to Mount Lafayette from deep in the woods up the exposed north shoulder of Lafayette.
- I've been through here at least a dozen times over the past few years, it used to be my kryptonite but now I know it well and it's the reason why I throttled down and didn't try to push the pace on most ascents leading up to this point.  This is the section that wears a runner out, it's deceiving, if a hiker/runner is not familiar with it and looks it over on a map they often overlook it.  It can be a tough go on a normal day hike, just think of what it is like on mile 35 through 41 of a 47 mile day.
- I felt great leaving Galehead Hut and made good time until the steep last mile climb up to the summit.  Even though I saved my energy for this section I still had a plus 30 minute mile on this summit ascent.  From Mount Garfield the trail drops steeply down into the woods, I kept up a solid pace descending and over the numerous up and downs until the long last mile up the northern shoulder of Mount Lafayette, I was able to do a sub 30 minute mile over this part which I was thrilled with considering it's a butt kicker, it's not as daunting as the climb up to Garfield but it's a slog.
- Now it was the home stretch,  I stood on Mount Lafayette's summit 13 hours and 45 minutes after I had started.  I knew I would easily attain my 15 hour 30 minute goal but now I reset it for 15 hours and 15 minutes.
- From the summit was one mile descent to Greenleaf Hut, followed by a three mile descent to Lafayette Campground, with one last short 1.5 mile climb to Lonesome Lake Hut.  I ran a good clip down to the Greenleaf Hut, making it there from Galehead Hut in 2 hours and 53 minutes.
- It was going to be a photo finish for the 15 hour and 15 minute mark so I booked it down to Lafayette Place from the hut in under thirty minutes, leaving me thirty minutes to travel 1.5 miles to Lonesome Lake Hut via the Lonesome Lake Trail.  It's a very easy hike up the 'ramp' like trail to Lonesome Lake.  However, after 45 miles, it's a killer!  I didn't think I was going to make it as I reached the east end of Lonesome Lake at 5 hours and 11 minutes, from here it's a few tenths of a mile to the hut on flat ground over bog bridges.  I sprinted the final few tenths of a mile to the hut and up its stairs coming in at 15 hours and 14 minutes, (Lonesome Lake Hut from Greenleaf Hut in 1 hour and 8 minutes).  I was ecstatic and really happy at what I accomplished, and most importantly being able to stay healthy and strong throughout the whole day!
- I chatted it up with the hut crew for a few minutes before taking a break and having a bite to eat.  I then waddled down the Lonesome Lake and enjoyed the views for a few minutes, I wanted to jump in the lake from the dock but people were fishing from it.  I'm now 0 for 3 jumping into the lake after the run/hike!
- The walk back down to the car was slow going but I was in much better shape than the previous year where I had major issues back to the car and then afterwords.  This time I was 100% fine other than being really sore from running/hiking from dawn to dusk.  Back at the car I made sure to stretch for a solid twenty minutes before jumping in the car.  After stretching and changing into dry clothes I headed into Lincoln to McDonald's for my annual fast food and soda intake.  I don't care for fast food and never drink soda but after a H2H it hits the spot!
- I had a great all day affair in the White Mountains.  It was nice to run into Rob, Bob with his two dogs, Ed, and Kara along the way getting in some great hikes on 4th of July weekend.  It was funny to be asked twice if I was Scott Jurek, my reply both times were, "He's heading the other way!"  I don't look anything like him, must be the trail runners and ultra-light pack.
- At the end of the day I felt extremely accomplished for getting 15 hours and 14 minutes.  My original goal of 15 hours could be attained if I solely focused my training for mountain running but I feel this is the absolute best I could do without going that route.  I felt really strong throughout the whole day, I made sure to keep hydrating with water and the eloctrolight drink.  I'm pretty sure I consumed around eight liters of water and seventy ounces of the electrolight drink.  As far as food intake I mixed it up between solids and energy gummies.  The huts usually have baked goods for a buck or two so I indulged in those at each hut.
- This will be my final H2H run, I'll still do them in the future but I'll go back to hiking it in under twenty-four hours and starting at midnight. Enjoy the pictures :)

From Carter Notch Hut, 2 hours 38 minutes to Madison Spring Hut  / 2 hours 7 minutes to Lakes of the Clouds Hut (4:45 overall) / 1 hour 20 minutes to Mizpah Spring Hut (6:05 overall)  / 2:25 hours to Zealand Falls Hut (8:30 overall) / 2 hours 40 minutes to Galehead Hut (11:10 overall) / 2 hours 56 minutes to Greenleaf Hut (14:06 overall) / 1 hour 8 minutes to Lonesome Lake Hut (15 Hours 14 Minutes overall)

Around 4:20 a.m. at Carter Lake as the moon glows above Carter Notch 

 4:40 a.m. I start my run at the door step of Cater Notch Hut and down the Nineteen Mile Brook Trail

 After descending the Nineteen Mile Brook Trail and heading north on Route 16 I take the Great Gulf Trail, a nice hike/run through the woods

 After a few miles I head up the Madison Gulf Trail to the floor of the ravine

 The Upper floor of the ravine becomes excessively steep past Mossy Slide cascade

 After 10ish miles I reach Madison Spring Hut

 Madison Spring Hut and the summit cone of Mount Madison

 Heading south on the Gulfside Trail, it's a boulder field with technical footing, for the most part it's not steep but the rocks hammer at your knees

 Approaching Monticello Lawn below Mount Jefferson

 Heading down to the Sphinx Col and around the western shoulder of Mount Clay where the next hut, Lakes of the Clouds. comes into view

 The Cog Railway and the Southern Presidential Range from the Gulfside Trail

 Luckily the route does not travel over Mount Washington, instead it goes below it on its western side along the Westside Trail

 Lakes of the Clouds and Mount Washington from the Crawford Path

 The next hut, Lakes of the Clouds, sits just below what looks like a prehistoric dinosaur, Mount Monroe

 Heading south along the Crawford Path, the footing eases up dramatically as it heads around the eastern shoulder of Mount Monroe towards Mount Franklin

 The southern presi's is made for keeping up a good pace and making up for time lost in the northern half as it heads to Mount Eisenhower, passing over an alpine lawn that I refer to as Franklin Flats

 After passing around Mount Eisenhower on the eastern shoulder the Crawford Path descends and ascends easily to Mount Pierce (top).  From Mount Pierce one can look back to the northern presi's (bottom)

 From Mount Pierce's summit the Webster-Cliff Trail descends steeply to Mizpah Springs Hut

 From the hut the next stop is Crawford Notch, the half way point! 

 The second part of the hike/run goes up to the Field/Tom col via the Avalon and A-Z Trail where it then descends to Zealand Notch

 Zealand Falls Hut.  It was around 1:30 when I arrived here.  Scott Jurek who is currently attempting to break the A.T. supported speed record was taking a break with his crew members on the hut's steps

 From Zealand Falls Hut I head up the Twinway past Zealand Mountain.  It's kind of a slog, a steep up to Zeacliff, followed by a moderate ascent to Zealand, then a nasty drop to the Zealand/Guyot col until heading up to North Guyot

 After spending several miles in the woods the Twinway pops out to tremendous views across the Pemigewasset Wilderness

 From Guyot the Twinway heads to South Twin Mountain

 Looking back - the Presidnetial Range, where I was in the morning (top).  Looking ahead - where I have to go, Garfield Ridge to Mount Lafayette (bottom)

 Galehead Hut

 The crux of the hike/run.  After 35ish miles you're greeted with a 6.6 mile flurry of punches in the form of up and downs over to Mount Garfield and then Mount Lafayette

Looking ahead - from Mount Garfield over to Mount Lafayette (top). Looking back - breaking above treeline on North Lafayette (bottom)

 The final push up to Mount Lafayette

 Looking to the west at my last two destination, Greenleaf Hut and Lonesome Lake Hut

 It's fascinating how looking west the sky is becoming dark, but when you look east...

 It's still bright out.  Greenleaf Hut with Mount Lafayette

 The final few tenths of a mile, Lonesome Lake and its hut

 Lonesome Lake with Franconia Ridge rising high above it

 The hut signs!

 Trail signs spotted along the way

 Time, elevation, and route, click here for more information

 Splits (first half)

 Splits (second half)

My LaSportiva Bushido's.  I love them, they are light and comfortable but can't hold up over big miles on the terrain found in the northeast

Post hike picture at Lonesome Lake.  Happy as can be!


  1. Great run Chris! Loved the report and the pics. Worst part of that HAS to be the crazy descent off South Twin down to Galehead hut though!!


    1. Thanks, Max! I agree, every step of that descent hurts, my knees ache just thinking about it!

  2. Thank you for the report Chris. I always said that I will do the hut to hut and we never did. One day maybe

    1. Glad you liked the report and pics, Yvon. Hope you are able to get to do it in the future. It's a very rewarding hike and pretty freaking cool to be out on the trails all day and running into hikers going in all sorts of directions.

  3. Awesome, I should have joined you, I did the Pemi Loop on Friday. Did you see Scott Jurek?

    1. Thanks, Josh! I saw him at Zealand Falls Hut. I wrote a little about it in the report above. Hope you had a nice Pemi Loop run!

    2. I missed that, I clearly skimmed your report too quickly. I ran in to him as he was climbing South Twin at about 9am. He was looking pretty tired, the Garfield Ridge Trail had really taken it out of him. The encounter in made a great Pemi Loop run even better.

    3. Yeah, looks like the Whites slowed him down. It's going to be really close, hope he's able to get the record! Even if he doesn't it's been a joy to follow and an amazing feet!

  4. Great run and time ! You are awesome !! Nice pic at Lonesome Lake. Thanks for the report/pics !! - Wendy

    1. Thanks Wendy! Hope you had a great 4th of July weekend!! :)

  5. Great accomplishment!.

    Question: How do you take all those photos while running? Do you wear a GoPro or something?

    1. I just use my iPhone which is stored in a little pouch on my shoulder strap making it easy to quickly remove and snap a pictures. I use the few seconds while taking pictures as a breather!