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Sunday, June 14, 2009

Mt. Madison (#34) and Mt. Adams (#35), June 13-14, 2009 (overnight at Madison Spring hut)

Valley Way, Osgood Trail, Gulfside Trail, Lowe's Path.

Out-and-back, 11.2 miles.

We planned this hike over a month ago, and I later discovered that I had booked our hut stay for the same weekend BobC (VFTT and Rocks) was to complete his 48 -- on Madison! I was happy to know our trip coincided with his plans. Alex and I would get to be there for his finish -- fun!

There were many people hiking up Madison that Saturday morning, lots of folks wanted to be there for the celebration. There are many trails over the northern Presidentials, so people were coming in different groups and from all different directions. I decided the best way up for us was Valley Way -- the "easier" trail.

Susan (MadRiver's better half) would hike with us to the hut. MadRiver would accompany us to the intersection with the Randolph Path, then depart and ascend a more difficult route.

Here we are at the trailhead, ready to roll.

We hiked into the woods...

...and began our journey.

We hiked at a nice, steady pace. Susan and MadRiver joined me in playing Alex's name game, a trail favorite, most of the way to the intersection with Randolph Path.

Susan and MadRiver paused for a photo before MadRiver set out on his own.

Then MadRiver left us, hiking off into the distance.

We were sad to see him go.

Eventually we got our chins back up and continued on our way.

Every once in a while Susan and I would consult my guidebook to see exactly how much farther we had to hike.

Then something happened that slowed our pace for a good long while...Alex saw a couple of slugs that had been squashed by previous hikers. She pointed them out to me, and then started to hike at...well...a slug's pace. It took a while for me to figure out what was going on. Was she tired? Was she eating/drinking enough? Getting sick??

Then I finally saw what she was doing. She was scanning every rock before stepping down -- she didn't want to kill any slugs. Took me over half a mile to figure this out, and believe me it was a loooong half a mile with her hiking like that.

I asked her to tell us a story, to help keep her mind off the slugs. She initially protested, exclaiming that she COULDN'T step on a slug, that would be BAD!! I realized we were heading into OCD territory and at this rate we would reach the hut in time for breakfast the next morning.

I explained that she had to pick up the pace and just do the best she could regarding the slugs, without worrying TOO much about them. She finally agreed and launched into one of the chapters of a continuing story she tells on the trail. This chapter was all about slugs, of course -- but her pace picked up bigtime and we were back to hiking at a regular pace.

Scenes of Valley Way, up to the alpine zone:

We emerged from the trees, looked back, and enjoyed the view.

We continued on, into the alpine zone, now just a tenth of a mile or so from the hut.

Then we were there -- Madison Spring Hut!

Guess who we found just outside the hut -- Moosemaiden, Gwynna and DiamondRidge. They had also hiked up Valley Way, just 15 minutes or so ahead of us.

We heard some hollering -- looking up and toward John Quincy Adams (mountain between the hut and Adams), we could see a lone figure among the rocks -- MadRiver!

I went into the hut to drop some gear.

We had two hours before all the BobC groups were supposed to arrive -- we decided to give Adams a try. We took the scenic route toward Star Lake.

The lone kiltsman stood at his spot from on high and hollered for us to go the other way, that the way we were going was incredibly steep. We waved cheerily at him, not really understanding what he was saying, and continued onward.

Star Lake is small, but quite beautiful.

Here's Madison in the background...

Soon after the lake, things steep. The kids slowed down and seemed less than enthusiastic. Everyone seemed pretty tired. Alex said she was game for going onward, and I have no doubt she could have done it, but I think afterward she would've been too tired to hike up Madison with the crowd. Georgia said she was also game, but Gwynna and DiamondRidge made an executive decision that we should turn around and save our energy for Madison. It was the wise thing to do.

Seeing the Lake made the venture well worth the while, however. It's only a tenth of a mile or so from the hut -- well worth the effort.

Back to the hut we went. By the time we arrived, MadRiver had come down and was at the hut with Susan.

I waited for a while with everyone else, but dark clouds were headed our way so I decided Alex and I should head up sooner rather than later. On our way out we ran into Bob and Geri, Dave Metsky, and two other very nice fellows who had hiked over with them from Jefferson. They waited at the hut while we set out for Madison. I turned back at one point and saw MadRiver and Dave taking pictures of us, so I took one of them. :o)

Looking up at Madison...

...up we went. After a bit, I turned and took a photo of the hut...

...then we continued onward and upward.

Alex paused to take a picture of some pretty flowers.

I then took this picture of Star Lake, with Mt. Washington (left, in the distance) and Mt. Adams behind it.

We pushed onward...

...and soon arrived at the peak. Wendy and Jay were already there, waiting for BobC. Wendy offered to take our picture.

I then took a picture of Alex, with Mt. Washington in the background.

Views from the Rocks on Top:

Alex decided to rest for a while...

...then she got up and stood on the high point. She wanted to see if she could spot BobC and the gang.

The wind began to pick up, and there were dark clouds headed our way. We decided to descend and hopefully meet everyone else on the path or at the hut. We started to head down and passed MooseMaiden et al. on the way up. Shortly after we passed came Bob C and Company!

Congratulations, BobC!

We paused to offer him our sincere well-wishes. Alex gave him the best present ever (in her mind...well, in mine too) -- four bars of chocolate. Then DaveBear, who was hiking with BobC's group, gave Alex a chocolate bar and me a small bottle of alcohol...yea! Much appreciated, DaveBear!!

We exchanged pleasantries, then the group headed up and we headed down. We would see them again at the hut, before they all descended to the Appalachia parking area.

Shortly after we parted ways, Alex tripped and scraped up her leg. She was able to make it back to the hut without any problems, but she requested that I visually document her injuries.

MadRiver and Susan had already gone down to the parking area, since Susan wasn't feeling very well. We waited at the hut for BobC and Company to come down from Madison. MooseMaiden, Gwynna and DiamondRidge came first.

The rest of the crew came down and we again offered our congrats. Alex was her usual cheery, chatty self and took a bunch of pictures.

Here's PoisonIvy...

...and me...

...and DaveBear...

...and happyhiker...

...and Jay, Wendy and TrailTrotter..

...and the man himself...

...and NewHampshire!

Everyone stayed and chatted for a while, then we said our farewells.

It was such a pleasure to be a part of this event. We very much enjoyed meeting everyone -- so nice to put avatars and screennames to faces! A good time was had by all.

There was only an hour or so before dinner, so Alex and I went in, relaxed, and cleaned up a bit. Then came dinner and the antics of the hut croo.

Alex had a ball.

At dinner I had the pleasure of speaking with Phillip, a Canadian who spent the first half of his vacation doing a 5 hut traverse (this was his last one). The second half will be by the ocean. Now there's a man who does his vacations right.

Also met Ollie and his 15 year old soon, turning 16 the very next day. Cool, spending your birthday at a hut! The father-son duo were heading over the Lakes of the Clouds the next morning, hitting a few peaks along the way. These were two very nice guys, Alex especially enjoyed speaking with Ben.

It was a jovial evening -- a NH AMC group stayed over, as well as a group of ladies called the Painted Toenail Club, or something like that. I didn't get their whole story, but they were a very friendly, happy bunch.

Alex delighted in conversing with as many hikers as she possibly could. Everyone was very kind and supportive of her, she was practically floating on air the whole evening.

Went to bed early, and there was a lady who had fallen asleep wearing her headlamp...and it was on, light pointing at her ceiling (bottom of the bunk above). What is the proper protocol in this situation? Do you push the button on her forehead, perhaps waking her up and seeing you standing over her with your finger on her head? I took the coward's way out and left her alone. A few minutes later, someone else came along and gently pushed the button. She didn't wake. Call me chicken...

Next morning, Alex was dubbed a Junior Naturalist (she filled out her coloring book) and took part in a silly ceremony. She also received a patch, of which she is very proud.

We listened to the forecast during breakfast -- wind speed 5-20 mph, drizzle to light rain, temps in the upper 40s.

After breakfast, and after the hut sang Happy Birthday to Ben, we geared up for the weather and headed out toward Adams.

Quite a different looking day we are a tenth of a mile or so from the hut, looking back toward's in the picture somewhere...

Up we went on the Gulfside Trail.

Views toward the valley...

Continuing onward, toward the intersection with the Airline Trail...

We bypassed the Airline Trail and took a slightly longer, but more moderate, approach...Gulfside to Lowe's Path. I wanted to avoid steep climbs on wet, slippery rocks.

Continuing on the Gulfside Trail toward Lowe's Path...

Approaching Lowe's Path...

From here it was a moderate .3 miles to the summit. Looking in front of us, this was all we could see (forgive the white spot, I can't get it out of the picture for some reason).

As we approached the peak, two figures appeared out of the fog. It was Ollie and Ben, descending. They had come up the Airline Path. We exchanged pleasantries, I wished Ben Happy Birthday again, and we parted ways.

Shortly afterward, we arrived at the summit!

Here's what the summit of Mt. Adams looks like: a bunch of piled up rocks.

Alex and I touched the tops of all the boulders, then Alex decided to stand on what we thought was the highest point.

There was no wind and we were both warm and comfortable, so we actually sat and hung out for a while. It was fun, sitting in a cloud, unable to see anything but the few boulders right around us -- yet knowing we were atop the second highest mountain in New Hampshire.

Eventually we headed down back to the hut. We took a short break there, then descended via Valley Way. Both of us were tuckered out and ready to be back at the car. We made it down by 3:30pm, feeling sore but in good spirits.

'Twas a grand weekend.


  1. Great trip report Trish. It was a good move avoiding Adams via Star Lake. Sheep and I did that without reading the trail description and it was quite a climb. I had to boost Sheep over the last set of ledges and it was quite a challenge... fun but a lot of hard work. Congratulations on knocking off two of the toughest peaks on the list! Any idea what peak you'll be finishing on? Please tell Alex that Sheep says hello!

  2. Hi Bill and Sheep! How are the two of you? We hope to meet both of you again sometime! Meeting Sheep was one of the highlights of Alex's Lafayette/Lincoln trip.

    Now I'm doubly glad we turned back from the Star Lake Trail -- that definitely would have done us in for the day!!

    I don't yet know which peak we'll finish on. Maybe Moosilauke, maybe Flume.

    What are your upcoming hiking plans? Give Sheep a pat on the head for us!


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