Northern Presidential Traverse – Sept. 9, Day 6

(This will be the first of four short Trip Reports from last weekend’s campaign. We’re breaking down each day into a separate report so our friends at TrailsNH can more easily tag each individual hike. Enjoy!)

Big George - View of Mt. Washington from one of the Lakes of the Clouds lakes.

Sept. 9, 2011 – The second weekend of our campaign began with tagging the five highest peaks in New Hampshire in a long Northern Presidential Range traverse that encompassed Mts. Madison, Adams, Jefferson, Washington and Monroe, that last one in the dark.

The hike began at 5:30 a.m. at Appalachia on Route 2 heading up Valley Way, and ended at Lakes of the Clouds Hut on the south side of Mt. Washington at 6 p.m. After dinner at the hut, I climbed the .3 mile up to Mt. Monroe and watched the sun set from one of the highest places in the state.

Highlights:

Final Days – This was the final weekend that both Madison and Lakes huts would be open for the season, so Lakes was packed with happy, rowdy hikers enjoying one of summer’s final days.

Thru Hikers – AT thru-hikers were plentiful this weekend, and they filled Lakes Hut. At this stage of their hike, there are two types of thru-hikers, the mellow, trail-tired, peaceful types and the surly, bitter behind-schedule types. Both were present at the hut. Shout out to thru-hiker “Heading Home.” Good luck brother, can’t wait to see pictures of you atop Mt. Kathadin!

Trails – Valley Way was clear and nearly mud free. Gulfside Trail is one of the most spectacular in the world and was a joy, as always, to traverse these peaks in such wonderful weather.  I opted to hike up alongside of the Cog Railroad to Washington, instead of up the summit cone, which was a nice change of pace.

Conditions – Weather was beautiful. Just below the summit of Mt. Washington the wind picked up so furiously that I had to take cover behind a road sign and layer up, only about a 100 yards from the observation deck! The fierce wind continued all the way into the next morning, making my trip up Mt. Monroe in the dark pretty intense.

Unexpected – After tagging Mt. Monroe, and turning to return to the hut, I discovered much to my horror that the batteries in my headlamp were failing and the light would only shine for about 10 seconds before turning off. So, I had to shimmy my way down back to the Hut in 10 second segments. It took a while!

Complete untouched and untoned pictures from the day can be found here: http://danandmeenakshi.phanfare.com/5274981

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