Presidential Traverse

This was my first time heading up to New England and it sure is beautiful!  Nice rolling green hills and amazing views.  A few of us decided to do what is called the Presidential Traverse.  It is 7 summits with almost 9000 feet of elevation gain and about 20 miles long.  The summits are named after Presidents (hence the name) and Mount Washington was the tallest.  We thought it would be fun to do on the Summer Solstice so we started at about 4am on June 21st.  The weather can change quite a bit in this region so we had plenty of water and clothes for emergencies.  We also have all the normal survival gear just in case.  I tried hiking with poles for the first time and I didn't like them at the beginning of the day, but I relied heavily on them by the end (more on this later).

We started at the Appalachia parking lot and ended at Crawford Notch.  This meant we would start with Mount Madison as the first summit.  We started early with our headlamps and went nice and easy.  We decided to take the more direct trail instead of going to the hut first which was nice so we didn't have to backtrack. I was surprised at how much rock (and only rock) was above the tree line.  I felt like the majority of the hike was hopping from one rock to another.  This was fun at the beginning, but got old really quick.  The top of Madison was super windy and sooooo cold!  We enjoyed the view for about 2.5 seconds and got out of there to get shelter from the biting wind.  Once you head down the trail a bit, there is a hut with food and water.  We had delicious homemade bread and coffee cake.  Just enough to get us excited to start walking again.  The huts were nice so we didn't have to carry a ton of water.  As long as it is not hot, next time I would only take about 2 liters of water and fill up whenever I could.

From the hut, we headed out and started up Mount Adams.  After the excitement of the first summit, we just wanted to get to the top of each one and get it done since the views were basically all the same. From there we went up Mount Jefferson, then started the trek to Mount Washington.  At one point we crossed the tracks for the tram and the thought of getting on sounded like a nice treat to get off our feet (but that was not an option).  We got to the top of Mount Washington and it was freezing and cloudy.  We couldn't see a thing!  We had a bowl of chili and everyone was mentally and physically done.  Petrosky was the only one who wanted to finish since they didn't the year before so I decided to go with him so he wouldn't be alone.  We started down and all of a sudden Mike and Patterson came walking up behind us. There was a race going on so they would have waited more than 2 hours for the next ram so they decided to just hike down with us.  The problem was that the car was going to meet us soon and we would have not made it fast enough as a group so I went ahead and ran for a bit to make up some time.  I did pretty well till the last few miles and my knee started killing me so I had to walk again.  This is when the poles came in handy.  It was nice to have something to take some pressure off my knees.  I passed Monroe, Franklin and Eisenhower (very anticlimactic) and from there the trail seemed to last forever!  It was all downhill from there so it was not very easy on the body.  I finally made it to the parking lot and met our ride to retrieve the car. 

It was a fun trip and a lot more draining than I thought it would be.  Living in Florida does not give me the hill training I needed for all the downhill walking. We had a great time and I'm sure we will be doing something similar next year.


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