Date of Hike: 12/15/14
Valley Way: 3.8 miles / Osgood Trail: 1.0 miles / Gulfside Trail: 0.3 miles / Airline: 0.6 miles / Lowe's Path: 0.3 miles / Gulfside Trail: 1.5 miles / Jefferson Loop 0.7 miles / Gulfside Trail & Snow Whack: 2.5 miles / Crawford Path: 1.6 miles / Monroe Loop: 0.7 miles / Crawford Path: 1.3 miles / Eisenhower Loop 0.8 miles / Crawford Path: 1.2 miles / Webster Cliff Trail: 0.2 miles / Crawford Path: 3.1 miles
Total Miles: 19.6 miles (8,550 feet elevation gained)
- I took Monday off hoping that the weather would break just right for Whitney and I to get in a long hike. As the weekend wore on the weather above 4,000 feet called for clear skies, temperatures above freezing and audible wind. Perfect weather for a late fall Presidential Range traverse!
- We started hiking in the dark and in the clouds around 6:15 a.m. We instantly heated up as we ascended through and then above the clouds around 4,000 feet. When we reached treeline we were greeted with amazing undercast views of clouds below us resembling an ocean with the tops of peaks looking like islands in this ocean of clouds. It was quite the site to see throughout the day as the undercast slowly dropped in elevation revealing more and more of the mountains below while melting the snow capped pine trees as the undercast level dipped.
- Above treeline we both enjoyed the one in a million day in the Presidential Range. Other than heading up Mount Madison, there was barely any wind throughout the day. The sun was shining bright and powerful as we walked directly towards it, all alone, with the whole ridge to ourselves. We only saw other hikers on the summit cone of Washington. Every mile of our hike was just the two of us, the snow, the undercast, and jet planes leaving vapour trails in the sky!
- According to the calendar this was still officially a fall hike, however, it was full winter conditions at its finest. Almost all the rocks, roots, and boulders are now hidden beneath the snow meaning it's time for microspikes, snowshoes, and crampons depending on where you are heading. For our hike, Whitney wore her snowshoes from car to car for the entire 19.6 miles, I wore my microspikes from the car to the summit of Madison and back to the hut, then wore my snowshoes all the way until the last summit of the day, Mount Pierce, before switching back into spikes for the descent below treeline. Conditions were absolutely perfect for snowshoes between Mount Adams all the way to Mount Eisenhower, before that and after that the trails were packed down enough for light traction like microspikes.
- Instead of writing more I figure I'll let the pictures tell the story of a perfect day with perfect company on the Presidential Range, enjoy!
Route for the day, click here for details
Early morning at treeline on the Valley Way Trail
Looking down upon an ocean of clouds from the weather warning sign on the Valley Way Trail
Madison Springs Hut waiting for the sun to melt away the frost and rime ice
Whitney heads up the summit cone of Mount Madison on the Osgood Trail
A thick blanket of clouds covers the Great Gulf Wilderness and Pinkham Notch with the Carters and Wildcat Ridges rising above the clouds
Approaching Mount Madison's summit
View of Mount Washington from Mount Madison
Mount Adams from Mount Madison
Looking out towards the Kilkenny Range
Whitney heads up the Gulfside Trail below Mount J.Q. Adams
Whitney takes in the views on the Airline Trail up to Mount Adams
Whitney heading up the Airline Trail
Whitney heading up the Airline Trail
Whitney ascending Mount Adams with J.Q. Adams and Mount Madison behind her
Whitney captures the breathtaking views on camera
Osgood Ridge blocking the wave of clouds from spilling over into the Great Gulf
Descending Lowe's Path for a few tenths of a mile
Along the Gulfside Trail towards Mount Jefferson
Looking back up the Gulfside Trail
Following day old hiking tracks in the snow
Snow and rime blasted trail sign in Edmands Col
Whitney ascends the steep snow field below Mount Jefferson
Jefferson Loop Trail Junction
Summit mass of Mount Jefferson looks like another planet
Whitney makes her way up the Jefferson Loop Trail
Six Husbands Trail Junction
Looking south towards Mount Clay, Washington, Monroe, Eisenhower, and Pierce
Whitney takes in the views
Heading south along the Gulfside Trail surrounded by Nature's snowmen
Heading along the Gulfside Trail below Mount Clay
Undercast slowly dropping as the day moves along
The Cog Railway and Mount Monroe
Whitney charges towards Mount Washington
The sun melting away the snow capped tops of trees as the undercast drops it level
Whitney with Mount Clay behind her
Northern Presidential Range
Cog Railway disappearing into the clouds
Whitney with Mount Clay, Jefferson, Adams, and Madison behind her
Making her way up towards Washington
The snow covered tracks
An tower covered in rime ice at the summit of Mount Washington
Wildcats and Carter Dome as seen from the observation tower
Summit of Mount Washington
Tip Top House
This building needs to be chained down to protect it from the high wind speeds!
Starting the second part of the hike. Descending the Crawford Path towards Mount Monroe
Whitney heading down from the summit cone of Mount Washington
Bright afternoon sun shining over the White Mountains
Approaching Mount Monroe
Lakes of the Clouds!
Lakes of the Clouds Hut
Sun hiding behind Mount Monroe
View from Mount Monroe's summit
Heading down from Mount Monroe
Mount Monroe and Washington peaking up behind it from Mount Franklin
'Franklin Flats' AKA Presidential Lawn
Whitney hiking and enjoying the outstanding views
Undercast blankets the Dry River Wilderness
Whitney takes off towards Mount Eisenhower
Undercast at its finest!
Looking back towards the Northern peaks of the Presidential Range
One in a million day for views!
Last presi awaits, Mount Pierce
Crawford Path southbound late in the afternoon
Pierce - Eisenhower col
Sun falling fast behind the higher peaks
Whitney on Mount Pierce
One last awesome view of the undercast form Mount Pierce
The Presidential Range!
Back into the woods along the Crawford Path
Last stretch of hiking as night falls
The end of the day!