Appalachian Adventure 2002: Section 4
Kinsman Notch New Hampshire to Gorham New Hampshire

July 8, 2002 - July 15, 2002

by Papa Bear

(Photo of Washinmgton from Monroe)
Mount Washington from Mount Monroe
The Lakes of the Clouds visible in the col

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Introduction: The White Mountains

July 8: Kinsman Notch to Lonesome Lake Hut
July 9: Lonesome Lake Hut to Greenleaf Hut
July 10: Greenleaf Hut to Galehead Hut
July 11: Galehead Hut to Crawford Notch
July 12: Crawford Notch to Lakes of the Clouds Hut
July 13: Lakes of the Clouds Hut to Madison Spring Hut
July 14: Madison Spring Hut to Carter Notch Hut
July 15: Carter Notch Hut to Gorham

An Evaluation of the Hike


Introduction:

M

y partner and I have set out to do a series of section hikes this season starting at the Delaware Water Gap in April and ending at Katahdin in the early Fall, doing one hike of up to two weeks each month. This was our fourth of these section hikes, a little over 90 miles from Kinsman Notch to Gorham New Hampshire. We stayed at AMC Huts the whole way through the White Mountains. We were out 8 days from July 8th till July 15th.

(Photo of Mount Madison with hikers climbing)
Climbing Mount Madison
The White Mountains
Starting with Mount Moosilauke, done at the end of the previous section in June, we moved across all the alpine peaks of the White Mountains. The operative term was "Awesome". All the previous measures and adjectives had to be set down a level or two. What was "steep" before was downgraded to moderate after climbing the Whites (The St John's Ledges? - a gentle slope!). What was "rough" was downgraded to almost gentle (Agony Grind? - a Sunday afternoon stroll!). What was "exhausting" became merely a workout (Killington? - just broke a sweat!). Steep, rough and exhausting take on a new meaning in the Whites. But new meaning is also given to "awesome", "fantastic", "exhilarating". Of all the places I've hiked, this is one place where the pay back for very hard work is extraordinary beauty. From the stark beauty of the Alpine "tundra" above tree line, to the breathtaking view of range after range of mountains, to the truly awe-inspiring experience of climbing to the top of a rocky crag in 50 MPH winds and swirling fog, the Whites are truly the epitome. It doesn't get much better than this, certainly not on the Appalachian Trail. I'm told that the trail in Maine is wilder and rougher still. I look forward to measuring the trail in Maine against the Whites. Certainly the hiker can only win in that contest.

The AMC
The AMC was founded in 1876 and built it's first hut in 1888 (at Madison Spring in the col between Mount Adams and Mount Madison). So they have been around at least 50 years before the Appalachian Trail was in existence and their back yard, so to speak is the White Mountains. We decided to do the Whites by hut-hopping this section. This way we would carry no food, no shelter, no sleeping bag, no stove etc. For all practical purposes we were slack packing. But due to the unpredictable weather I actually took extra clothes. But I did the whole section using a 13 lb day pack. Mountaineering and conservation practices have varied over the more-than-a-century the AMC has been in business. At the start of the 20th century there was actually a hotel on the top of Mount Washington. I can't speak of the earlier era, but I know that for the last 20 years or so there has been a serious effort on the part of the AMC and the U.S. Forest Service to practice good conservation and to protect the fragile areas of the White Mountains from overuse, especially in the alpine regions. My opinion, and that of many others, is that the state of the trails and of the surrounding forest and tundra has actually improved in the last several decades, in spite of an ever increasing amount of use. I've heard that over a million people visit the Whites each year. I can't verify that number, but I know it is a lot. I have heard the AMC criticized for it's fee structure and the rules it imposes on camping in the region. But I know that without some rules this place could turn into a garbage dump, so on the whole I respect their approach.

The Huts
I think the huts are terrific. I am so glad we decided to do the hike this way. They concentrate usage in a few easily controlled areas, they provide a great educational component (they give hands on nature walks, etc.), especially for families with children, and they are very serious about conservation practices. And the huts themselve are esthetically attractive and fit well into the natural environment. The staff (mostly college age kids, called the "croo") is enthusiastic, hard working and fun to be around. They provide free food and lodging for a limited number of thru-hikers (called "work for stay") which they seemed to dole out quite liberally. The thru-hikers loved the huts: they connected very much with the croo. Several retirees who were thru-hiking were using the huts for pay and were happy to have them available. I was especially impressed by the families who brought young kids (like 3 and 4 year olds) up to experience this. Those kids had to hike several miles at least to get here and they were learning the beauty and wonder of the out-of-doors (and the fact that it's so much better when you have to work for it) where the average kid would be home sitting playing video games. The cost: for an individual it was $49/night including 2 huge meals (for a minimum of 3 nights). Certainly cheaper than lodging and restaurants down in the valleys. I realize this may be expensive for many, but I am so happy that we could squeeze this into our budget. It was a great experience. Interestingly, this type of lodging with the strong educational and conservation component, is close to Benton MacKey's original vision of the AT (before thru-hiking was "discovered").

The Trails
The state of the trails was unbelievable. There were exactly NO BLOWDOWNS blocking the trail all the way from Kinsman to Gorham. In no other section of the trail was that record even remotely approached. In fact in some areas in the mid Atlantic there seemed to be several blowdowns per mile. The stone work was awesome and the miles of board walk in sensitive boggy areas was equally awesome. One might criticize the roughness of the trail (what trail?) over some peaks above treeline (Washington, Munroe, Jefferson, Madison, Adams), but to me that just added to the wonder of the trail. Yes, sometimes you just had to scramble from cairn to cairn over huge boulders. But Mother Nature provided that environment. I certainly would not like to see this terrain flattened for the convenience of hikers.

(Photo of Papa Bear atop Mount Jefferson)
Mount Jefferson
The Climate Zones
Most of the lower areas were in the boreal zone consisting of Spruce and Fir. Above that (treeline) was the alpine zone. This is a tundra like area where the plant life is very low: stunted trees ("Krumholtz"), sedges, and numerous wild flowers. It was a whole other world. Some of the plant species (e.g. Mountain Avens) only exist in the White Mountains. Lastly were the rocky peaks. These were amazing. Washington, Munroe, Jefferson, Adams, Madison, and a few others were basically a pile of rocks. Look at the picture of me to the right at the top of Jefferson. Yes it really was like that. This was nature at it's most raw. Very little grew here except lichens and moss on the rocks, and some hardy plants down in the cracks. This was hiking at it's roughest.

Peak Bagging
We decided to do all the peaks we could manage, even though some of these were on side loops (blue blazed). Thus we blue-blazed over the peaks of Eisenhower, Monroe, Clay and Jefferson and were very proud of it. Sorry to say we missed Adams since rain was threatening at the time. Next year we'll get it. For peak bagging we managed no less than 20 peaks above 4000' and all the New Hampshire peaks above 5000' - except Adams (as well as a number of peaks that "don't count" since they don't drop down far enough from their neighbors. These would add 10 more 4000s.). Ironically the toughest climbs were on either side of the alpine peaks. South Kinsman to the south and Wildcat to the north were the toughest peaks we had yet to climb. Basically they went straight up over rock ledges for ever. If Maine is tougher than this, then bring it on!

The Weather
Statistics say that on 86% of the days, the White Mountain peaks (especially Washington) are cloud covered. That leaves 3 of 4 days a month on average for clear skies up there. It seems the mounains create their own weather. Even with a clear blue sky below in the valley, you will often see clouds just at the peak of the mountains . Well I consider myself extremely lucky on this hike weather-wise. We had the fun and excitement of fog and wind while crossing the Franconia Ridge, but after moving on to Mount Garfield, the skies had cleared and we got a great view of where we had been. Then while crossing the Presidential Range we were blessed with three days of clear weather. We had the best of both worlds!


Day 1: July 8, 2002

Kinsman Notch to Lonesome Lake Hut
Weather: 70°s, clear and a bit humid (in North Woodstock)

South and North Kinsman

W

e had stayed the night in the Woodstock Inn in North Woodstock NH. For the price ($89 for a double room) I would not recommend this place. The Cascade Lodge next door (although a tad run down) at $19.50 was a much better bargain! We got the local taxi/shuttle after breakfast and headed up Route 112 to the trailhead in Kinsman Notch.

(Photo of the Kinsman Ridge Trail)
Starting up the trail from Kinsman Notch

We got going at 7:46 AM. It was so great to be hiking with just day packs, but in spite of that we had a long day ahead of us. The trail started up a steep rocky slope. It was well built and we passed over a nice ridge to a view of Gordon Pond and onto the Gordon Pond trail. In this section, the trail is often not labeled as the "AT" - it goes by numerous local names. Remember these trails were here before there was an AT and have been maintained for over a century in some instances. We met a SOBO thru-hiker named Bill and chatted for a while. He had met Turbo and Sassafras in Andover Maine. We speculated that those two were probably done by now. We suggested he check out the Hostel in Glencliff when he made it over Moosilauke that day, and he thanked us for the advice. The day was humid and we had a few deer flies harassing us (I prefer them over black flies any time!).

We made it up and over Wolf Mountain , a fairly easy climb. The only annoyance was the humidity and the bugs. We passed 2 beat looking day hikers coming south. The second one (about 5 minutes behind the first) asked if his partner was "waiting for him". We said no. Sigh! We stopped briefly for lunch at the Eliza Brook Shelter and checked the register. The shelter is located on a pretty forest stream. There was evidence of a conservation effort to prevent erosion and over use by some signage and small fences.

(Photo of South Kinsman Rampart)
South Kinsman Rampart
over the marsh at Harrington Pond
Next came what was unexpectedly the major task for the day , if not the week. The climb of South Kinsman. Man! this was the steepest, longest, roughest peak in the whole of our travels. Later we would discover it was one of the toughest climbs of the entire White Mountain section. It basically went up and up and up over rough rock ledges, hand over hand, for ever! Well not forever. There was a flat boggy section with a pretty pond (Harrington Pond) part way up where we got some good pictures of Pitcher Plants , but then the slope got just as steep and as bad as before. We finally reached the South Kinsman summit and got someone to take our picture. Although not above treeline, the summit was an alpine environment with some of the wildflowers (Labrador Tea and Mountain Sandwort) found only in that zone. There was a flat saddle between this and the North Kinsman peak and lo and behold, we saw a couple of Spruce Grouse just moving along the trail beside us.

By the time we got to North Kinsman, the black flies started attacking us. On the down slope (also very steep), I had to put on my bug net. I was afraid I would lose my step (or lose my mind!) while climbing down with the bugs in my eyes and ears and nose!. This was a double attack of rough climbing and black flies. Misery likes company. Struggling down North Kinsman, we met Rocky and Moose (a trail dog) who were thru-hiking, going north like ourselves. We chatted briefly but moved on. Rocky had to move slowly since he was very careful that Moose could manage the steep ledges without injury.

Finally we got to Lonesome Lake Hut. I had thought the day would never end. It was a combination of first day exhaustion, and some truly rough terrain.

This was my first hut. Fresh Air had stayed in huts several times over the years but I had not. It was a great place. Lonesome Lake nearby was great for a cooling and refreshing dip and the other guests included a wide variety including families with young children. Some as young as 4 or 5. Until this point I had considered the huts a convenient way to avoid a heavy pack, but I quickly saw their true value was in education the public, especially the younger segment. These people (with a few exceptions) were not backpackers, but the experience they got here was wonderful. And they had to work to get here. These were not the "fat-people" we see getting out of their cars at the top of Bear Mountain in New York, or getting out of the ski gondola at the top of Killington. These people, like ourselves, had worked to get here. Even the smallest child was learning the value of hard work and the wonder of the out-of-doors. The "croo" had special nature programs for the kids as well as for the adults. And they were fun! This educational value of the huts, which we would see over and over again, gave me a very good feeling about this (admittedly small) segment of tomorrow's outdoor enthusiasts.

(Photo of Lonesome Lake Hut at Dinner Time)
Lonesome Lake Hut at Dinner Time

Rocky and Moose showed up and the croo offered Rocky "work for stay"; he only asked if he could buy dinner - he hadn't even known "work for stay" was available. Moose had to stay outside (with lots of attention from the kids) but Rocky was very happy to have a nice lodging and meals for a few hours washing dishes.

We bunked out with a couple of college age guys in bunkroom #7. They were having a great time rafting on the rivers, hiking and hutting (is that the word?) I rained on and off during the night but we slept very well. With a mattress and wool blankets no less!

Day 1 Trail Miles: 13.4
Peaks: East Wolf (3478'), South Kinsman (4358'), North Kinsman (4293')


Day 2: July 9, 2002

Lonesome Lake Hut to Greenleaf Hut
Weather: 70°s, cloudy.

A

fter a nice breakfast the "croo" gave a skit which was to be repeated in different forms at every hut. The lesson was 1) fold your blankets, 2) pack out your trash and 3) tip the croo. After seeing versions of this skit at the first couple of huts, I looked forward to what funny and ingenious variation I would see at the next hut.

(Photo of Cascade Brook
Cascade Brook - tough to cross
I went down to the pond for a look. There across the lake was the Franconia Ridge - our goal for today - covered in clouds! We got off by 8:00 AM and started down to Franconia Notch. The trail varied between a rocky stream bed, and relatively easy walking. One stream, Cascade Brook, was particularly tough to cross and I had to bush-whack several hundred yards upstream to find a place I was comfortable in crossing. When we finally got to the Notch, the trail actually went under Interstate 93 beside the stream under several bridges. It had been about 3 miles from the hut down to the Notch and we took a break to organize ourselves for the climb up Franconia Ridge. The weather was threatening rain.

We took a short break by the bridge that crossed the stream, just past (east) of I-93. This was the trailhead of the Liberty Spring Trail which would take us up the side of the Franconia Ridge to join the Franconia Ridge Trail just north of Mount Liberty. The weather seemed to indicate rain - I thought I felt a few drops - so I put my pack cover onto my pack. I did not put on my rain gear however since it was rather warm (mid to upper 60s) and it wasn't really raining as of yet.

The trail was very easy at first, following an old logging road. It soon got very steep and rocky as it started up the side of the ridge. The were many stone steps but not real rock scrambles. I would say it was rather steep and rather long but not as bad as South Kinsman by far (thank goodness). In this region steep long ascents were getting to be the norm.

Just before we reached the top of the ridge, we arrived at the Liberty Spring Tentsite which was directly on the trail. There was a huge wall tent adjacent to the trail and a young woman stepped out of it just as we came by. I said how the heck did you ever pack that tent up to this spot. She laughed and explained she was the caretaker and the tent and her supplies for the summer were actually air lifted in by helicopter at the start of the season. The effort at conservation was very evident here with little fences along the trails to the tent sites and to the spring as well as some signage. The result was also evident: the area surrounding the trail was very well kept - not the usual barren wasteland you so often see around your average camp site. My opinion of the use of AMC caretakers and the rules and fees imposed was rising after seeing the results in places such as this and around the huts. As we went up we passed a group of boyscouts coming down. Just seeing them and knowing how things usually go, I was doubly glad that this area had someone looking after it.

As we got to the top of the ridge the wind picked up considerably, but the slope eased off. To the right a short distance was Mount Liberty. We would not "bag" that particular peak since we were a little concerned with the hike along the ridge before us in the wind and fog. The AT turned to the left and proceeded along the top of the ridge. In a short while we reached a very brief but very steep rock climb just before the summit of Little Haystack. Little Haystack was the start of the Alping area - at 4760' it just rose above treeline. Since technically it was but a shoulder of Mount Liberty (which we didn't do) it "didn't count" as a 4000 footer. But we counted it. We were taking a break when a group of 3 men passed, moving along the ridge in the other direction. They were actually doing a day hike over to Mount Liberty from Greenleaf Hut, and we would see them again that evening. We were sitting down taking a break and as they went on by and got to the very steep rocks, they came back and asked does the trail really go that way? We said yes, pretty steep, isn't it? About 5 minutes later we got to the Little Haystack summit and we would stay above treeline for the rest of our trek today. The fog was thick and I estimated the wind at 30 - 40 MPH along the ridge. Luckily the temperature stayed at around 60, so we had no real problems with cold.

(Photo of Papa bear atop Mount Lincoln
Papa Bear atop Mount Lincoln
in the Fog
The ridge dropped down and then started to rise in a series of rocky crags. With the fog, the visibility was down to less than 50 yards. The roughness of the trail, and the wind and fog made this section rather eerie. Not dangerous, but certainly exciting. Each time we approached a crag, we would suddenly see the huge dark shape loom up before us like some kind of monster. And the sides of the crags were often sheer cliffs dropping several hundreds of feet. Eventually we reached the summit of Lincoln which at 5089' was our first 5000 footer. It was also probably the most wild and exciting peak we did due to it's raw rocky nature and because of the weather. What's Lincoln doing here anyway? You have folks like Webster and Sam Adams over in the Presidentials and here is Lincoln, one of our greatest presidents on the Franconia Ridge with Lafayette, a Frenchman? Go figure!

We moved on and approached our last and highest peak of the day, Mount Lafayette. Although higher (5249') it is actually much wider and rounder than Lincoln, so it was not quite as imposing. But the wind was rising and the summit was a rather steep cone of rocks so this was no easy peak. Just before we got to the summit, in a little protected depression, we suddenly came upon a group of 8 or 10 teenaged girls with a couple of leaders. The leaders were yelling at them to put on their rain gear and some of them looked like they weren't having a lot of fun. We didn't quite hear where they were headed, maybe Garfield or Galehead, but at least it wasn't Greenleaf (what do I have against big groups of kids anyway?) Since it was already about 1:00 PM, we worried a little that they wouldn't have the time and energy to make their destination in this weather. 2 days later we would hear the happy ending to that story. We climbed the last few rocks to the summit and met a couple who were coming from Galehead (where we were headed tomorrow) and going to Greenleaf tonight, as we were.

(Photo of Fresh Air atop Mount Lafayette)
Fresh Air atop Mount Lafayette
(Photo of Papa Bear atop Mount Lafayette)
Papa Bear atop Mount Lafayette

We chatted briefly, but since the weather was rather forbidding where we were standing we moved on down the side trail towards the hut. Of all the AMC huts, this is the only one well off the trail (1.1 miles down the shoulder of Lafayette). But this slope was supposed to be pretty easy and we had budgeted the time and the mileage so down we went.

(Photo of side of Mount Lafayette)
Dropping down below the fog
As we moved down it got a bit warmer and the wind dropped and after about 1/2 mile we suddenly dropped below the fog and found ourselves in a beautiful sunny afternoon. It was especially impressive to see the trail meander below us from cairn to cairn through the felsenmeer of rocks and the alpine vegetation. We also learned that moving down over rough rocks is every bit as hard as moving up. We met a number of day hikers moving up. They all seemed to ask how much further it was to the top. I don't think they realized how inhospitable the top would be when they got there. Most had on shorts and T-shirts. One group had 3 dogs, one of which (an older, overweight Golden Retriever) seemed rather tuckered out. I would say he had gone beyond his range - as had the people he was with. We never saw the end of that tale, since we didn't see them coming down later that day.

Eventually we reached the level of krumholtz trees where there was a bog and a sizable pond just before the hut. The hut was on a little rise beyond the pond so looking back from the hut there was a lovely little alpine vale with the massive shoulder of Lafayette rising beyond. The sky was beginning to clear above us and the peaks were alternately covered with clouds and blue sky. A beautiful sight.

(Photo of Greenleaf Hut)
Greenleaf Hut
We checked into the hut around 3:00 PM. It had turned into a warm sunny afternoon and eventually the whole ridge above us was clear. I think experiencing the fog and wind and then seeing the clear sky was much better than if it had been clear all along. I had time to just relax and read a little. My notes say "Such a beautiful setting looking out over the bog and pond to the Ridge beyond, sometimes cloud covered, sometimes clear". Amen! I made a note of the wild flowers I had seen in the alpine zone today; Wood Sorrel, Bunchberry, Clintonia, Goldenthread, Sandwort and Mountain Cranberry. I realized that this place is alive with life, although life adapted to a harsh environment. This is the true "old growth" area of the White Mountains. Those few "old growth" forests we love to worry about are hardly 200 years old (at least in the East where uncut forest land is next to non-existent). Some of the plant life here has been unchanged since the last glaciation. At one of the huts, the naturalist told us that scientists have use radio-carbon dating of the lichen on the rocks on the alpine summits to determine an accurate date of the last glaciation, and found some of this plant life is up to 15,000 years old!!

We found our places in the bunkrooms. The bunks here were 4 high!. Yikes! getting up there was like climbing Mount Lincoln. The group was as congenial and family oriented as at Lonesome Lake. However since getting here was harder, the children tended to be older, but equally enthusiastic and noisy!.

Around supper time, the 3 guys we had met on Little Haystack showed up. It turns out that the youngest of the 3 was actually an AMC guide who was available to guide small groups of less experienced folks over the mountain trails. After supper he was teaching them map reading and mountaineering skills. I never knew these private guides were available. I guess if you've got the $$, you can get anything you want, even above treeline.

The hut was laid out with a central dining room facing the mountain, and two bunkrooms going off to the rear. A construction project was underway: a new wing was being added with a completely new composting system for the privies and the kitchen compost. The construction workers were a group of 7 young (30s to 40s) men and women who worked for the AMC and who lived at the hut all week. They were roughing it like us: no showers, no ice cream no beer; not you average construction workers. I was glad to see how some of the money raised by the AMC was being returned to help this segment of the hiking public and which had a strong conservation component.

Just before the fog rolled in, we saw a beautiful sunset. Or rather we saw the sun on Mount Lafayette as it set behind us. The whole top of the mountain and the cloud above it turned a rosy red as the sun went down, in a phenomenon called Alpenglow. As the night came on, so did the fog. The temperatures dropped into the 50s. I slept well that night. It had been another great day to be alive.

Day 2 Trail Miles: 9.3, Extra miles: 1.1, Total: 10.4
Aggregate Trail Miles: 22.7, Aggregate Total 23.8
Peaks: Little Haystack (4760'), Lincoln (5089'), Lafayette (5249')


Day 3: July 10, 2002

Greenleaf Hut to Galehead Hut
Weather: Fog, 50°s below, 40°s above

W

hen we awoke the next morning the outside had disappeared. It was a cold 50° with fog so thick you could hardly see the trees standing near the hut. The hut croo give the 7:00 AM weather broadcast each day from Mount Washington: temperature 35°; wind 44 MPH out of the northwest gusting to 61 MPH; wind chill 19; fog. Brrr!

After breakfast the croo gave a little skit to reinforce the responsibilities of the campers: 3 mountain climbers struggle to the top of a peak. When they get there, rejoicing, one of them throws an empty maple syrup bottle away saying "well I won't need this anymore". The other 2 are aghast and convince him to go pick it up. When he goes to get it, he falls and breaks his leg. They try to splint it with a blanket but it only works if they fold the blanket properly. Then they discover his pack is too heavy: he's carrying too much money - don't need that up here. They agree they'll tip the croo and reduce the pack weight!

With such high drama so begins another day in the high mountains!

We had a relatively short day ahead of us - just over 7 miles along the ridge over to Galehead Hut, so we waited to see if the fog would lift. By 9:00 AM we got impatient. The fog was slowly clearing and it had warmed up a little around the hut. I decided to wear my full foul-weather gear with the temperatures expected to be low and the wind speed high.

As we started up we had some sun, but looking up there were clouds hovering over the mountain tops. We moved up the ridge line and as we passed above treeline into the alpine zone we took one last look back down at the hut. It was sitting in sunlight but there were swirling clouds all around. We climbed up higher and approached the fog. It was like going into an unknown abyss. When we got into the fog near the peak, wham! the wind hit us hard. The temperature was about 40 and so was the wind speed. I was glad I had warm waterproof clothes and a hood.

(Photo of Fog on side of Lafayette)
Climbing up into the fog

The Lafayette summit has 5 smaller crags stretching along the ridge line towards the north. As we crossed each one the wind seemed to increase. It was out of the northwest and so it was practically in our face. As we took each step the wind would literally blow our feet slightly to the right when we would put them down. We really had to be careful, but luckily the treadway was rather easy going here.

(Photo of Lafayette moving down into the sun)
Coming down off Lafayette
back into the sun
Then as we moved down off Lafayette, we passed out of the fog as suddenly as we had passed into it. There before us was the trail wending down the ridge, with views of the valleys north of Franconia Notch, and the sharp peak of Mount Garfield off to the right. Garfield would be the only real peak we had in front of us for today.

As we dropped down along the ridge to the low area between Lafayette and Garfield, we passed below treeline. With the sun now solidly out, and the wind blocked by the trees, we found ourselves rather hot. I stripped off my rain gear and was much more comfortable in shorts and a fleece shirt. We met a few SOBO thru-hikers: Bagels and Buns and Papa Huskers (from Oklahoma - of course). We inquired of Rocky and Moose who we had last seen at Lonesome Lake. They said they were a few hours ahead of us and had camped with them the previous night at the Garfield Ridge Campsite. Since we were getting close to that and it was well after 10:00 AM, we figured everyone had gotten a late start today.

(Photo of the Mount Garfield summit)
On the Mount Garfield summit
We climbed up Mount Garfield (4488'), which - true to form - was steep and rocky, but mercifully not long. We had asked Papa Huskers if it was clear on Garfield. He said "yes and no". We knew exactly what he meant. When we finally made it to the summit, we found the sky completely clear with 360 degree views! There was the Pemigawasset Wilderness (with Owl's Head on the left, and Flume, Liberty, and Little Haystack on the right), the Franconia Ridge, and the north country. After two days of fog on the high ridges, this was wonderful to see. The temperature had risen to about 50 and the wind had dropped to somewhere in the 30 - 40 MPH range. The summit was not quite above treeline, but since it was a rocky crag, it might as well have been. We took refuge in a little protected pocket just below the summit. My notes say it just the way I saw it: "Great day! Amazing country. How did I not realize how beautiful this place is!"

We moved down off of Garfield and the descent was also quite steep. At one point the trail went along in a stream bed. There were numerous ups and downs but like the ascent, the descent was short. The silhouette of this peak shown on the map was a sharp little peak like a sharp pyramid sitting on the ridge line. We met another SOBO named Playdough. He said there were a couple of his hiking friend who should be along shortly. It turns out that he was the first of 5 SOBOs we would meet who had been together off and on since their start at Katahdin. They called themselves the Switchback Gang and they had earned some notoriety on the trail. He said the Whites were easy compared to Maine, which surprised us. We figured he said this because 1) it was true, or 2) he had got into much better conditioning since he started out in Maine, or 3) he was just showing off with some SOBO-superiority ("Oh we've done much tougher things than you have"). Whatever the case, we would find out.

(Photo of Galehead hut from the Garfield Ridge Trail)
Galehead hut from the Garfield Ridge Trail

We arrived at Galehead Hut around 2:55 PM. It had been a rather short and easy hiking day, but with the wind and fog, one of the more exciting ones. The hut was beautiful inside and out. It had been rebuilt just a few years before and the inside was paneled in beautiful knotty pine. It was also in a great setting: in the col on the ridge between Garfield and South Twin and looking out over the vast Pemigawasset Wilderness to the south. I made note of the wildflowers I had seen today: Bunchberry, Wood Sorrel, Diapensia, Goldenthread, Clintonia, Sandwort, Labrador Tea, Dwarf Birch and Spruce. We finally figured out what Diapensia looked like - at first we had it confused with Mountain Sandwort (which in actuality it doesn't resemble at all). There is a great little book published by the AMC called Field Guide to the New England Alpine Summits, which is great. I bought a copy at the hut and it had just about everything you ever wanted to know about alpine wildflowers, geology, climate etc. I highly recommend it. And at 5.2 oz. it's light enough to carry!

I was feeling a little bit chilled so I changed into my camp clothes and managed a short nap and caught up a little on my reading and my journal. Late in the afternoon a couple of thru-hikers showed up and arranged work-for-stay with the croo. We chatted a while with them and it turns out they were 2 of Playdough's friends: Dr. Feelgood and Firefly, part of the Switchback Gang.
(Photo of group on erratic outside Galehead Hut)
Waiting for Sunset
This hut was the farthest of any of the huts from a road and it was mid-week, so there were only 8 of us staying over that night. So everyone got to know everyone else. There was the woman with her 2 nieces, an older solo hiker, a father with his teenage son, and the two of us. A crew of 4 and the 2 thru-hikers brought the total to 14. An intimate group in a very beautiful outpost.

After supper we experienced one of the most beautiful sights of our entire trek. Sunset over the mountains. Everyone got outside, bundled up and watched. The croo were huddled on the hut roof wrapped in a blanket and most of the rest of us were standing on a large erratic outside the hut.

Just as the sun went below the mountains, the clouds overhead lit up with a bright pink glow, illuminated by the setting sun from below.

(Photo of Sunset from Galehead Hut)
Sunset from Galehead Hut
We could now see clearly how the wind is funneled over the mountain tops - these pink clouds were literally racing by.

A great end to another great day!

Day 3 Trail Miles: 6.6, Extra miles: 1.1, Total: 7.7
Aggregate Trail Miles: 29.3, Aggregate Total: 31.5
Peaks: Lafayette (5249') (again!), Garfield (4488')



Day 4: July 11, 2002

Galehead Hut to Crawford Notch
Weather: Temperature 38°, wind 15 - 20 MPH, fog.

I

t was a chilly night, I'm glad they had given us 3 wool blankets. The weather from Mount Washington was: temperature 29°; wind 47 MPH out of the NW gusting to 62 MPH; wind chill 19°; visibility 200'; freezing fog. Thus the weather on the peaks was getting serious!

During the night I noticed a whirring sound coming from the hut, somewhere near the roof. One of the croo explained that it was the wind generator (it looked like a little propeller about a foot long, end to end). He explained that the hut was self sufficient in power: energy from the wind generator and from solar cells on the roof charged up storage batteries in the attic. They supplied enough power for the water pump, the refrigerator, the 2-way radio and the lights (which were used for a few hours a day). This seemed rather cool and altogether admirable!

Today's hiking was long on paper - nearly 15 miles - but the last 3 or 4 miles of the route looked to be very easy, so we were not too concerned. We had arranged to meet my friend Susan from North Conway at 4:00 PM at Crawford Notch and there was no way to confirm since we were told there was no cell phones signal in that area. One of the hut croo assured us that we would have no problem making it there by 4:00, but I was a little skeptical knowing how those guys move along. We managed to get off around 7:35, early for us. We had packed everything up before breakfast and with such a small crowd being served, we ate and got away early.

South Twin (4902') was our first, and the day's major obstacle. Guess what: it went straight up, steep and rocky. Why was I not surprised? The trail was called The Twinway which I thought was a cool name. We made it up in fairly good shape and found the ridge to be a nice even pathway leading over to Mount Guyot to the east. We could see the alpine ridge of Mount Bond which jutted off to the south from Mount Guyot. Ironically the Bond-Bondcliff ridge was above treeline although it lay lower than the Twins where we were standing. Clearly the direction of the ridge had a lot to do with it. The Bond-Bondcliff ridge was oriented approximately north-south (like the Franconia Ridge) whereas the Twins-Guyot ridge was oriented more east-west.

(Photo of Mount Bond and the Bondcliff Trail from Mount Guyot)
Mount Bond and the Bondcliff Trail from Mount Guyot
When we finally got to Guyot, the fog was clearing and we got some nice views along the Bond-Bondcliff ridge and into the Pemigawasset Wilderness. We met a SOBO named Sandia (a young woman from Sandia New Mexico), the fourth of the Switchback Gang we had met and, like the others, she asked if we had seen Playdough. The wind was substantial along the ridge from Guyot over to Mount Zealand (which we didn't quite bag as the summit was off the trail a ways). When we got near to Zealand, there was a short side trail with a fantastic view over the cliffs and down into Zealand Notch. We met a family of 4 moving up heading for Bond and the campsite along the Bondcliff Trail.

Next we met an interesting looking thru-hiker in a kilt with a set of fancy wooden staffs. These were the Moses-parting-the-Red-Sea variety so I said those look like impressive staffs you got there. He said yes they've served me well. Later we learned this was Strider, the last of the Switchback Gang. He was making for Greenleaf Hut. He asked was it far down off the trail and I said yes, over a mile but it was worth it (at least if he could get work-for-stay).

We started moving down off Zealand but it was still windy well off the ridge. My left hamstring under the knee was bothering me a bit, but we managed to keep up a good pace nevertheless. The downhill from Zealand was a moderate slope (for once!) and we had some great views. We were then surprised to meet the group of girls we had seen the day before yesterday at the top of Mount Lafayette. I had a little time to talk to one of the counselors. They were from the "Farm & Wilderness Camp" and she said they experienced both "Farm" and "Wilderness" in their program. Part of their camp experience was to do a 5 day backpacking trip, in which they were now on the fourth day. They had started at The Flume and we had first seen them (on the Lafayette summit) on their second day. She said, yes it was a long haul that day and there were "some tears" from the girls getting to the Garfield Ridge Campsite that night. She then warned us to avoid the Zeacliff Trail (which we weren't planning on doing anyway) - she said it was "straight down". It was nice to see them again and to know they made it safely off of Mount Lafayette.

Finally we made it to the Zealand Falls Hut. This hut was the only one we couldn't get a reservation at. It is situated an easy walk from the road (not the route we were taking) and was in a very lovely setting where a stream flowed over a rock ledge. Apparently it is popular with families and camp groups, so it was booked solid. We spent a nice half hour or so and partook of some lemonade and bread (AYCE) which they sold fairly cheaply to people passing through. It seemed like a nice hut and I'd like to stay there some time.

The trail to Crawford Notch bore to the right here onto the Ethan Pond Trail and actually went down through Zealand Notch. Thank goodness they didn't decide to take the "short cut" and go straight up the other side of the notch. This area had been heavily logged in the 19th and early 20th century and the trail actually followed the path of an old railroad bed which had been used for logging. It was very flat and level but was periodically interrupted by massive rock slides from the slope of Mount Whitewall which formed the left hand side of the notch at this point. We realized these slides, which we saw in numerous places, have not been here for eternity but that the mountains can change their face quite markedly on the order of decades or centuries.

(Photo of Rock Slides from Mount Whitewall)
Rock Slides from Mount Whitewall in Zealand Notch
(Photo of the Ethan Pond Trail)
Much of the Ethan Pond Trail
follows an old logging railroad rite-of-way

As we moved further down the notch we moved to the right side of the valley and entered a lovely area of forests and bogs. There were many board walks here and we passed another campsite on a pretty lake (the Ethan Pond Campsite). We met a SOBO moving up this last slope we were coming down. His name was Moose and he looked a bit beat. He asked how far to the campsite which we told him was just a few minutes more. It was he that told us that the guy with the fancy wooden staffs was Strider, the last of the Switchback Gang. We made our way around Mount Willey, down the moderate descent over its shoulder and out to Route 302 - Crawford Notch. We were done hiking for the day and it was only 3:40 PM! We had made very good time, especially once we got off the South Twin-Guyot ridge

While we waited for our pickup, I wrote down the wildflowers (and wildlife) we had seen today: Mountain Cranberry, Bunchberry, Clintonia, Mountain Sandwort, Wood Sorrel, Goldenthread, Star Flower, Labrador Tea and a Red Eft (Red Spotted Newt). I finally found out from my AMC book that what I simply called a "Red Salamander" and which we had seen by the dozens in our section hikes, was a "Red Eft", the land stage of the aquatic "Red Spotted Newt".

(Photo of Papa Bear and Susan in North Conway)
Papa Bear with Susan, our Trail Angel
We were picked up at a little after 4:00 by Susan (our Trail Angel for this section). She is a hiker whom I had met over the internet and in real life she is the new Episcopal Priest at the church in North Conway. She remembered how often in the past someone would pick her up or help her in her hiking. "What goes around, comes around" she said. We stopped at the Chippanock Inn in Bartlett where I left a note for my friend Gary who was coming in that night. We were planning to meet him and his daughter the next morning to hike the Presidentials.

We had a luscious dinner at Hooligans in North Conway, and Gary and his daughter Beth showed up and joined us. As usual, another great day! Of course, what else?

Day 4 Trail Miles: 14.7
Aggregate Trail Miles: 44.0, Aggregate Total: 46.2
Peaks: South Twin (4902'), Guyot (4560')



Day 5: July 12, 2002

Crawford Notch to Lakes of the Clouds Hut
Weather: (North Conway) Temperature 60°, clear. Summit of Washington clear!

W

e got up around 6:00 AM and Susan drove Fresh Air and myself the 10 miles or so from North Conway to Bartlett to meet Gary and Beth for breakfast. We all met at the Chippanock Inn where they were staying and had a scrumptious breakfast served by the proprietor of this lovely B&B. After breakfast Susan reluctantly went back to North Conway since this was a work day for her. The rest of us packed our stuff into Gary's car and headed up to the trailhead at Crawford Notch.

(Photo of ledge on Webster Cliff Trail)
One of the ledges on the Webster Cliff Trail -
View of Mount Willey across Crawford Notch
We got started up the Webster Cliff Trail just before 8:00 AM. The trail started out easy but soon we hit some steep rocky sections, which were punctuated by a number of rock ledges which had views down into the Notch and the peaks to the west. On one particular ledge we could look down almost directly at the park buildings below at the side of the road in Crawford Notch. Most of the elevation gain of the day would be in the first few hours of climbing. At around 10:00 we reached the top of Mount Webster, the last and highest of a series of rocky crags. We had been climbing roughly parallel to the Notch and continued to have great views under a beautiful blue sky and sun. After Mount Webster (3910') the trail starts to follow the long ridge which extends all the way to Mount Washington as it turns right roughly 90 degrees towards the east.

Now the elevation gain was mostly behind us as we moved along the ridge towards Mount Jackson. We crossed a number of boreal bogs and the trail had extensive board walks along these sections. Gary could not believe how the trail maintainers managed to get all that lumber up here and he swore it must have been air-lifted in. He may be right about that. Your AMC fees at work for you ! There was a steep scramble up Mount Jackson (4052') where we saw several groups of day hikers including at least 4 adults and 4 kids taking a break near the peak. Once off the peak, there were several meadows. We saw an unusual fluffy white flower here which we later looked up and found to be Cotton Sedge, an alpine wildflower. The weather was almost hot at this point.

We arrived at the Mizpah Spring Hut and were served up with some hot split-pea soup, which made a great lunch break. We discovered to our delight that Rocky and Moose were there. Rocky had done work-for-stay the night before and was taking a zero day since Moose had hurt one of his paws. We later found that one of the hut croo from Mizpah took them down to visit a vet the next day. I hope they are all right. I expect they are well on the way to Katahdin by now.

(Photo of Mount Pierce)
Mount Pierce, where we move
above treeline
We left the hut to resume our trek about 1:15 PM. The initial climb up Mount Pierce (Clinton) had some tough rock steps but soon the going got easy with some board walks interspersed with a relatively easy grade. Mount Pierce is the point at which (as they say in that ad): "Now it gets interesting". We suddenly found ourselves above tree line. The trail is relatively easy and the views towards Mount Washington are awesome. The vegetation consists of krumholtz, sedges and a variety of wildflowers. I noted in my log: Mountain Sandwort, Mountain Cranberry, Labrador Tea, Bunchberry, and Hawk Weed. We also spotted a Black-backed Woodpecker, a relatively rare (for a city bird watcher like myself) boreal species. To those of you who may have wondered how Bill Clinton, our last president, might have a gotten a peak named for himself in the Presidential Range: it's not him, it's the New York Governor Clinton, a renowned conservationist of the 19th century who shares the honors with Pierce for this peak.

At this point we had joined the Crawford Path, the trail that would take us all the way to Lakes of the Clouds Hut and to the summit of Mount Washington beyond. It was originally cut in 1819 and has the distinction of being then oldest forest trail in continuous use in this country. Imagine: it predates the Appalachian Trail by over a century! At one point it was graded for horses, but for over a hundred years now (after the hotel on the Washington summit burned down) it has been used only for foot travel.
(Photo of group on Mount Eisenhower)
Mount Eisenhower
Mount Washington beyond

It was our intention to follow the side trails to the peaks, so we took the blue-blazed Eisenhower Loop Trail when we got to it. This was a relatively easy climb which brought us about 200' above the Crawford Path (the AT) and added about .2 miles. We were amply rewarded by truly breathtaking views down into Oake's Gulf and of Mount Monroe and Washington ahead along the ridge. We met Amtrak, a thru-hiker there and he took our picture. He was so disappointed to discover that this was not the "official" AT. He asked plaintively: "but why doesn't the AT go up here? It's so much better?" We couldn't give him an answer and he reluctantly climbed back down the way he came up so as not to miss any of the Official AT. Ah, poor purist! Having no such purity ourselves, we proceeded ahead down the loop and gained a small advantage over poor Amtrak (which he would soon make up - he moved fast, as did most NOBOs we saw). We warned Amtrak about the loop trail over Mount Monroe which was ahead so he wouldn't make the same "mistake" a second time.

(Photo of group climbing Mount Monroe)
The climb up Mount Monroe
Meanwhile we quickly passed the non-descript summit of Mount Franklin (5004'), which in reality is just a shoulder of Mount Monroe, and took the blue-blazed side loop to that summit. Mount Monroe actually consists of two rock crags with a slight separation. The second one is the higher (5398') and affords magnificent views of Mount Washington and the col in between where the Lakes of the Clouds are located; to the right is the steep chasm of Oake's Gulf, and to the left is the more gentle but broad valley leading northwest to the Mount Washington Hotel at Breton Woods, with glimpses of the old cog railway. It just doesn't get any better than this. If the peaks are not shrouded in clouds, this would be the perfect way to approach this hut. The sheer enormity of the mountains and the beauty of the rock face and the green of the alpine vegetation is just a picture of a lifetime.

These peaks also illustrated the first real example of what I would call the "rock zone" which rises above the alpine zone. The peak is one huge pile of rocks. And the trail (what trail?) is just a series of small piles of rocks (the cairns) on top of the huge pile - which is the mountain.

Although the mountain was certainly a sheer block of granite after the last ice age scrapped it clean, the thousands of years of freezing and thawing since that time has split the surface rock into a myriad of small and large jagged boulders. The only vegetation is some moss and lichen on the boulders and an occasional hardy plant down in some crack between the rocks. The name for this is "felsenmeer", which means literally "sea of rocks". This is a unique and beautiful area. In a way, its sheer inhospitability is the only protection the mountain has against the intrusion of too many trampling foot steps. You really have to want to get up here to make the required effort. As one trail guide put it, in a bit of an understatement: "Trails across felsenmeer slopes can be difficult to negotiate with a big pack, especially in a high wind". We found that Mount Jefferson, Adams and Madison all had this characteristic pile-of-rocks peak. And of course Mount Washington is the biggest pile of rocks of all. (A common nickname for Washington is "The Rock Pile"). It's a little hard to visualize these raw peaks until you've climbed them yourself. So what are you waiting for?

(Photo of group descending Mount Monroe towards Hut)
Hiking down Mount Monroe
to Lakes of the Clouds Hut
We were getting tired from a long day and the sight of the hut, our destination for the day, gave us that needed extra little push, so down the rock pile we made our way, soon passing back down into the zone of alpine vegetation. The col between Washington and Monroe gives an extra measure of shelter and the vegetation was a bit more prolific here than along the ridge.

I was a little apprehensive about this hut. You'll recall that at Galehead Hut where we stayed the night before last, there were only eight of us staying that night. Lakes of the Clouds Hut (elevation 5050', well above tree line, "Lakes" for short) has a capacity of 90 and I was worried about the crowds. But I needn't have worried about overcrowding in the high mountains: somehow the construction of the hut and the magnificent views made all of us seem so insignificant that the number of guests hardly was an issue. There were about 65 guests that night, and of all the huts this one took the most work, over very rugged trails, to get to, so it was in fact a very good crowd. There was the retired thru-hiker couple Red Oak and Jam, there was big Pete (who complained he was getting too old for this sort of thing), his son little Pete (who was actually bigger) and his friend Eric, and lots of others. But once you moved away from the hut along the trails in any direction you were alone with yourself and the mountains as if the crowds were not there. The croo was also a super group, and the largest croo of any of the huts. I think there were seven of them (plus one on a day off) plus 4 thru-hikers helping with the work and as usual they were terrific.

Of all the huts, I learned the most about the alpine environment here from the presentations the naturalist gave. On a little pre-dinner hike that Beth and I took, we spotted Indian Poke, Mountain Sandwort, Mountain Avens, Bunchberry, Star Flower, Labrador Tea, Mountain Cranberry, Dwarf Birch and Canada Mayflower plus a Raven, a Dark-eyed Junco and a Gray Jay (a Canada Jay to older birders like myself). The Dwarf Birch in particular was incrdible: ths alpine variant of a Birch Tree was all of 2" high! We learned that Mountain Sandwort is perhaps the hardiest of the hardy alpine flowers. It colonizes eroded areas such as trail beds. One saying is that if you're hiking from "Lakes" to the summit of Washington and it's hard to see the blazes in the dark of fog or evening, just follow the white flowers of the Mountain Sandwort!

As always, the supper was enormous and wonderful and we slept well that night.

Day 5 Trail Miles: 11.2, Extra miles: 0.2, Total: 11.4
Aggregate Trail Miles: 55.2, Aggregate Total: 57.6
Peaks: Webster (3910'), Jackson (4052'), Pierce (Clinton) (4310'), Eisenhower (4761'), Franklin (5004'), Monroe (5385')


Day 6: July 13, 2002

Lakes of the Clouds Hut to Madison Spring Hut
Weather: 50°, clear sky, sun.

Mount Washington and Mount Jefferson

T

he Mount Washington weather report was 43°, winds 23 MPH with fog clearing. From the hut we could see that the summit would soon clear. Two days in a row; this was amazing and wonderful.

We took a pre-breakfast wildflower walk with the Hut naturalist and we learned a few new varieties: Diapensia, alpine Bluet, Three-toothed Cinquefoil, Rose Twisted-stalk, Bilberry, Blueberry, Bog Laurel and Map lichen, as well as the more familiar Bunchberry, Krumholtz Fir, Star Flower, Clintonia, Mountain Avens and of course Mountain Sandwort

Breakfast was the usual great feast and the skit of the day was a musical using Broadway tunes to make sure we 1) folded our blankets, 2) packed out our trash and 3) tipped the croo. I never tired of these corny but ingenious creations.

Today's trek was a comparatively short one: the 7 miles over the Presidential Ridge to Madison Spring Hut. But since we would stay a while at the Mount Washington summit, and wanted to do all the side trails to go over the peaks of Clay, Jefferson and Adams, we got started as soon as we finished breakfast. By now the peak had cleared of fog and we left with high spirits. However we were impressed that the first thing we saw as we started up the slope from the Hut was a huge STOP sign . It read "The area ahead has the worst weather in America. Many have died there from exposure, even in the summer. Turn back now if the weather is bad." It was easy on a clear day like today to take this warning lightly, but in my heart it was a sobering thought. We had some great views back down to the Lakes of the Clouds and the hut, but then we managed to take a wrong turn amid the confusing trails that seemed to go every which-a-way on the shoulder between he Hut and Tuckerman's Ravine below the cone of Washington. I think we got onto the Crossover Trail and then took a left on the Davis Path to get back to the Crawford Path, but I'm not sure. In any case we soon saw the familiar white blazes. Interestingly, although white blazes were painted on various rocks and some of the cairns, the tops of the cairns tended to be either painted orange (I'm told it's more visible in the fog) or the top rock would be a white chunk of crystalline quartz.

We started up the cone of the mountain, which was the biggest pile of rocks of all. The temperature was around 40 and the wind was picking up as we rose towards the top, probably to between 25 and 35 MPH. I managed to fall on the rough felsenmeer about 100' from the top. I swear my Leki pole did more harm than good, and I managed to bang my elbow. Luckily it was not serious, although it showed me that one has to be doubly careful in this environment. The mountain is just there. It really doesn't care if you fall and break something! As we reached the top, it was an awesome experience with views in all directions.

(Photo of group on Mount Washington summit)
The summit of Mount Washington

This elation was soon jarred as we passed over the last of the rocks to see for the first time the road, the cars, the parking lot, the cog railroad station, the whole reminder of what we had left behind at the bottom. I took some solace in the fact that all the development on these peaks was concentrated in this one small spot: the rest of the peaks were close to their pristine state and (except for the summits of the ski mountains) you had to work your butt off to get up to them. Plus there was that little surge of pride and superiority when we looked at these fat-people. We knew when they looked at us that they knew we weren't like them.

I must say about the cog railway, that it is so historic and charming (it was first opened in 1869) that I didn't mind it being here at all. With a real (smelly) steam engine and a whistle you could hear across the ridge practically to Mount Madison, it - like some headless horseman riding out of a Washington Irving story from another, earlier time - had it's place on the mountain top. After the requisite pictures we spent about a hour in the snack bar among the fat-people. I felt a strong since of guilt and embarrassment when I washed my hands in the restroom, used a paper towel and threw it in the trash. I had been conditioned by nearly a week in the huts to be aware of even throwing away an unnecessary piece of paper. Getting back to New York City will be quite jarring and I am not looking forward to that thought.

(Photo of cog railway and northern presidentials)
Cog Railway with (the flank of) Clay, Jefferson, Adams and Madison
When we left to continue our trek, the wind had picked up considerably to I would estimate 40 - 50 MPH. This would buffet us most of the day depending on where we were at a particular moment. It was generally out of the northwest. Ahead of us we could see the peaks of Mount Clay, Mount Jefferson Mount Adams and Mount Madison strung out along the ridge to the north. With the alpine meadow below Washington's cone in the foreground, and the cog railway, which in the distance looked like a tiny toy train belching it's steam and blowing it's whistle, it was a truly impressive scene. I had decided to collapse my trekking poles and trust the additional balance I would get from just my hands over this rough area. We made our way down the steep rocky cone and across the meadow which was especially rich in wildflowers.

(Photo of Great Gulf)
Looking down into the Great Gulf
We got onto the Gulfside trail which generally followed the rim of the Great Gulf, an impressive glacial cirque on the east side of the ridge. No - we didn't "moon" the train when we crossed the tracks. First off, the train was not in sight and secondly it was rather windy. The hike over Mount Clay (5532'), although a blue-blaze, was rather easy. The views down into the Great Gulf was especially grand from Mount Clay, although many spots along the Gulfside Trail also had excellent views of this glacial valley. The wind picked up between Clay and Jefferson. It was steady at about 40 MPH, enough to make it hard to place your feet casually. But we knew it could have been much worse than this on a bad day.

We arrived at the top of Mount Jefferson and found a surprising crowd of hikers in the little protected area below the peak. There was a colossal cairn here, about 8' - 10' high, and impressive views back to Washington and onward towards Adams. Everyone seemed to be taking a break here and so did we. I climbed the final rocky pile and bagged this peak (at 5715', the 3rd highest in NH).

(Photo of Mount Jefferson cone)
Mount Jefferson:
one huge pile of rocks
(Photo from Jefferson back to Washington)
Mount Jefferson looking towards
Mount Sam Adams and Mount Adams

The hike down from Mount Jefferson back to the Gulfside Trail was fairly typical, moving over rocky ledges and sometimes just expanses of rocks. The vegetation was naturally more prolific down from the peak and the trail meandered through areas of krumholtz and sedge and was in general more sheltered. The sky was getting a bit cloudier and we saw what might have been some rain clouds to the northwest. In the broad flat area between Jefferson and Mount Adams is a spot known as Edmands Col. Several trails come together here and being relatively protected from the wind the vegetation was particularly noteworthy. There was a memorial plaque honoring J. Rayner Edmands, an early trail builder and a member of the AMC from it's founding in 1876 till his death in 1910. It gave me a sense of how long a history these trails had to see this memorial, itself almost a century old. How many thousands have hiked here in all that time? How many tried to hide here from terrific storms coming over the peaks? How many perished on this spot?

Not wanting to be one of them, and seeing the possible onset of rain, we moved along the trail and decided to forgo the blue-blaze trail over Mount Adams and instead stay below on the Gulfside Trail and get to Madison Spring Hut. A short distance from Edmands Col is a trail junction with a large cairn (although not as large as the one on Mount Jefferson) called Thunderstorm Junction. Somehow, I didn't like that name so we didn't tarry. For some reason we will never know, the short section of the trail from Thunderstorm Junction, around the north side of Mount Adams to Madison Spring Hut was much better graded than the rest. Somehow, someone had flattened those sharp rocks or did some monumental trail construction here. It was an unexpected but welcome respite from the usual trail over this area. We got to the hut around 3:30 PM, just before a few sprinkles arrived. No - there was no horrific thunderstorm, but we were glad we came here directly and skipped Mount Adams. After all we must leave some goals for next year.

(Photo of Mount Madison and Hut)
Rounding Mount Adams to Madison Spring Hut, Mount Madison beyond

My notes show the wildflowers we spotted today, mostly between Washington and Jefferson: Mountain Sandwort, Bunchberry , Bilberry, Blueberry, Clintonia, Indian Poke, Canada Mayflower, Three-toothed Cinquefoil, Mountain Avens, Starflower, alpine Bluet, krumholtz fir and spruce, Dwarf Birch, Labrador Tea, Mountain Cranberry, Diapensia, various alpine sedges and Map Lichen.

Inside Madison Spring Hut at last, we found Red Oak and Jam had also made the trek across from Lakes. We talked to them a bit and found they had started near their farm in Virginia and were planning a flip-flop thru-hike so they would jump from Katahdin to Springer and then hike north, ending at their farm in Virginia. They were the only thru-hikers we met who were paying guests at the huts like us, but then again they were more our age then most of the other thru-hikers we met. Most of the others were about the age of the average croo member. They also, like ourselves, considered South Kinsman to be the toughest peak we had done yet.

We made ourselves at home and found that Pete, Pete and Eric had also arrived just before us. They had done Washington the day before however, so today they skipped the peak and took the Westside Cutoff Trail to avoid that. With about 45 other guests we had the usual huge and yummy supper and an early bed.

Day 6 Trail Miles: 7.0
Aggregate Trail Miles: 62.2, Aggregate Total: 64.6
Peaks: Washington (6288'), Clay (5532'), Jefferson (5715')


Day 7: July 14, 2002

Madison Spring Hut to Carter Notch Hut
Weather: Temperature 55°, clear sunny skies

M

ount Washington weather report: 51°, clear, wind 10 MPH, gusting to 41. It looked like another fine day and Gary and Beth were leaving the trail at Pinkham Notch so we got off soon after breakfast, shortly before 8:00 AM. Red Oak and Jam were trying to make the AMC shuttle at noon at Pinkham Notch so they had taken off earlier and were taking the trail which bypassed the Madison summit. They needed to go back to retrieve their packs at Franconia Notch. Gary and Beth also needed the shuttle to get back to their car but they figured if the missed it they would just hitch hike. Fresh Air and myself we continuing on to Carter Notch Hut so we were not particularly concerned about the schedule.

Mount Madison, like the other Presidents we climbed the day before, had a steep rocky felsenmeer cone that was difficult climbing. After a glimpse back down to the hut , we started up. As in a few other cases, there really was no trail at all. Just a route to follow from cairn to cairn. Little piles of rocks on a big pile of rocks. But it was not overly long climbing to the top and we had good views in all directions, especially back at Mount Adams, across the vale from the Hut. Three consecutive days of clear weather on the peaks was almost too much to ask for.

(Photo of Mount Washington and the shoulder of Mount Adams)
Mount Washington across the shoulder
of Mount Adams

(Photo of the Osgood Ridge of Mount Madison)
Working our way down the Osgood Ridge from Mount Madison
We made our way down the Osgood Ridge and slowly worked our way down through the alpine zone to the treeline. Of course it's not a line. The trees start out as krumholtz dwarf specimens, then they are up to your knees or waist and finally they are up to the level of your head. The ridge line itself, where the trail was, and which is most exposed to the elements was the last to fall below the trees. On the way down the ridge we met two SOBO thru-hikers moving up: Gentle Bear and Care Bear.

Then we met Red Oak and Jam coming around the trail from Madison Hut at the base of the peak. Although they were looking for a short cut, they told us it was the worst trail they had encountered yet. So rocky as to be almost impassable. They were worried about the shuttle. I pointed out that the trailhead at Pinkham Notch was actually close to Gorham via the road, and they could probably get a pick up from the Hostel there. They had planned to look for some place to stay in North Conway (and not stay in Gorham till they had hiked through the Carter Range) but this new plan appealed to them a lot, so they stopped worrying about the shuttle. We later learned they indeed had gone to the Hiker's Paradise Hostel that night and had managed to get their back packs back. Just as we were parting, I noticed Red Oak's day pack. It looked just like the one I had borrowed last month at the Welcome Hikers Hostel in Glencliff from Packrat when I slack-packed Moosilauke! I asked Red Oak, and sure enough it was that same pack. Cool coincidence!

As we moved below treeline, it became rather warm and we changed into lighter clothing. At a certain point the trail takes a sharp right turn onto the Osgood Cutoff Trail. At that point we heard a man screaming and cursing as we approached. When we got there we found a man sitting on a sleeping bag with all his pack's contents spread out on the ground around him. Most of the stuff seemed to be canned food: soup, raviolis, you-name-it. He was yelling at a young teenager, perhaps his son. Something about how he had to carry all the food and his pack weighed 70 lb and the rest of the group must come back and on and on. He seemed a very unhappy camper - to the point of derangement. We could only imagine what frustration and conflict we had happened upon. Lucky for him the weather had been so temperate. I would guess he could sit there for a good part of a week before starving. Assuming he had a can opener! The young kid took off into the woods, who-knows-where. Never did find out how that tale ended.

(Photo of the bridge over the Peabody River)
The Bridge over the Peabody River
We were now moving through a lush forest. Many streams were running out of the Great Gulf and Madison Gulf and the biggest, the Peabody River had a neat suspension bridge we crossed over. We then climbed one more scenic rock ledge (although a scenic rock ledge down here in the forest hardly compares to the magnificent views we had for the last several days above tree line) and crossed the summit road. The last few miles past the road were very easy, almost flat down what was called the Old Jackson Road. Since Mount Jackson was way on the other side of the mountain range, I don't know how it got it's name, but we didn't care.

We eventually came upon sure signs that we were near the road: a number of fat day-walkers. Not even day-hikers, just walkers, you have all seen them - not more than a half mile from their cars. We reached the visitors center in Pinkham Notch around 12:30. Too late for Gary to get the shuttle, but no one was worried. It had been a pleasant and easy morning of hiking, and Gary and Beth had had a rewarding 2 1/2 days of hiking. We all agreed we would do the huts again next summer and get more of our friends to join us.

(Photo of Mount Washington from near Pinkham Notch)
A last look at Mount Washington from
near Pinkham Notch

Carter Notch Hut, tonight's goal, differed from the other huts in that it was a "self service" hut. This basically meant we had to bring our own food and sleeping bags. The hut provides a kitchen and bunks (but no blankets). To plan for this, we put together a day's worth of food for each of us and planned to mail it to the AMC Pinkham Notch visitor's center to pick up when we got here. Fresh Air however decided to do some vacationing in the area prior to our hike, so he simply dropped by and arranged to leave the stuff the week before. We didn't want to hike the whole week with sleeping bags either, and we really didn't even want to drag them over the Wildcats and Carters if we didn't have to, so we each picked up a lightweight (6 oz.) bivy bag at one of the huts. Given the temperate weather and the fact that Carter Notch Hut was not in the high mountains (its elevation was "only" 3288') we reckoned this would solve our problem. So when we got to the visitors center, Fresh Air retrieved the food from the staff and we packed it into our day packs.

(Photo of Lost Pond)
Lost Pond from the Lost Pond Trail
When we finished eating lunch and said goodbye to Gary and Beth, we walked across Route 16 to continue our trek. The time was about 1:20 PM.

The first mile or so from the road was along the Lost Pond Trail, an easy trail that led along a brook and to a pretty little pond called Lost Pond. For awhile we found ourselves among some day hikers and fat-people but soon left them behind. A few rambunctious kids showed us how fast they were by surging ahead of us, but they too soon tired and we were by ourselves beyond the range of the walkers and into hiker territory. The AT then turned left on the Wildcat Ridge Trail and we soon started to climb.

At this point the trail guide then used a term I have not seen before: "an exceptionally steep ascent". We chuckled and figured the guy who wrote that probably had never hiked the trails we had been on for the last week. After what we had finished, what could be so bad? Well, I soon wrote in my log book a term I never have used before either: "Zounds!" Yes, it was very long and very steep. Maybe even very very long and very very steep! I wondered what came after "exceptionally steep"? Perhaps "incredibly steep"? or maybe "unbelievably steep"? Well exceptionally steep was enough for today. As I said in the introduction to this trip report, the two places that were the toughest climbs were not in the Franconia Range or the Presidential Range, but South Kinsman to the south, and Wildcat, right here, exceptionally steep Wildcat, to the north. But what can you do, just climb climb climb. Mostly rock steps and ledges where you had to scramble up hand over foot. But exceptionally steep or not, we eventually reached the top of the ridge and the first of the five Wildcat peaks known as Wildcat E.

(Photo of the Wildcat Ski gondola)
Wildcat Ski gondola
near Wildcat D summit
We descended easily and just before the next peak, came to the top of the ski gondola, which was operating. Thus once again the fat-people had an easy way up, but for some reason there were only a very few of them. They eyed us and probably wondered "how did they get up here?". As we hiked past the gondola building back up into the woods towards Wildcat D, we met two SOBOs (Popeye and Monster) coming down. With a smile in her voice Popeye asked "Did you take the easy way up?" I answered in the same tone "No, are you taking the easy way down?" We knew who we were, just on sight. No fat-people us!

Wildcat D had a viewing platform where a few folks who had come up via the ski gondola were checking out the view, but since we had so recently been there, where they were looking, we just went on by. It's not that we don't appreciate a nice view but we were a bit worn down and wanted to move along.

(Photo of Carter Dome across Carter Notch)
Across Carter Notch to Carter Dome (Lower Carter Lake and the Hut in the Notch)
We descended easily to Wildcat Col, a low area between E, and D to the south and C, B and A up ahead to the north. The official 4000 footers are peaks A (or just "Wildcat" at 4380') and Wildcat D (4063'). The others don't drop down sufficiently from their taller brothers. Some rock climbs and a fair amount of board walks brought us across this col and then it was up to C, then quickly down and up at last to B and A which were rather close together.

There were great view from Wildcat A: a steep gorge down to Carter Notch and the Carter Lakes and the rock face of Carter Dome across the Notch, one of tomorrow's big climbs. Brrr! Looks impressive. The trail down to the notch was gentler than I expected: it was well built and actually had switchbacks! However the easy trail was interrupted at one point by what looked like a very recent slide. Glad we weren't here then! Near the bottom of the climb we had a nice view north through Carter Notch. The U-shape of the Notch is a classic example of a valley gouged out by glacial action. I thought how fortunate we are that some of these notches such as Zealand, and Carter did not succumb to the fate of others like Franconia and Crawford and have highways built through them.

(Photo of Upper Carter Lake)
Upper Carter Lake near the Hut
At the bottom of the descent, in Carter Notch, we passed by first the upper and then the lower of the lovely Carter Lakes, and just a little beyond, the Hut. We met the caretaker Lydia who checked us in. There was a woman with her kids there and otherwise we had the place to ourselves. There was a big kitchen and lots of plates and utensils and everything you could possibly need. From the looks of it, I would guess this was originally built as a full service hut.

The bunkhouse was up the hill and we had a room to ourselves. We got situated and then went down to the main building and cooked supper. Gosh, I miss someone else making super large meals! Oh well, I'm supposed to be a camper, so I just did it. What does it take to boil water over a gas stove anyway? As we were eating, Sion, a thru-hiker (NOBO) showed up and they gave him work-for-stay. There was practically nothing to do, and furthermore Lydia gave him a huge amount of food that was stashed away here (possibly left by others). The hut croos have great respect for the thrus. Eventually two more thrus showed up, and 2 other hikers (after 10 PM) and they all got fitted in, but only Sion got the free stay. Still it was only $19 per night here so it wasn't too bad for the others and it was a great little place. Remember the regular campsites in this section are $8 per night anyway, so $19 for a real hut, with kitchen and bunks was not too bad. We asked Sion what his name meant. He said it was his real name. Now there's an idea! It turns out Sion did work-for-stay at Madison Hut last night but we never met him there. He went on at great length about how great the croos were and how much fun it would be to be on a croo next year. He was thinking he would apply to the AMC for a croo job: apparently being a thru-hiker is a big plus.

Coming down to Pinkham Notch today he told us he had taken wrong turn: he had failed to take the right turn at the Osgood Cutoff Trail (where we saw the "screaming man") and went all the way out to Route 16 - way to the north of Pinkham Notch. He did perhaps an extra 5 miles getting back to the trail (a total of 19 miles for the day - and unlike ourselves, he carried a full pack - minus food he didn't need since he was "working" the huts). As has been mentioned, the AT often does not appear on trail signs, just the local trail names do. But there are always white blazes if you are careful to find them. Don't get lost on this section! And yes, Sion had also seen the "screaming man" sitting by the side of the trail amidst his vast collection of canned food!

I read a bit and then got to bed around 9:00 PM. Need I say it was another great day?

Day 7 Trail Miles: 13.7, Extra miles: 0.1, Total: 13.8
Aggregate Trail Miles: 75.9, Aggregate Total: 78.4
Peaks: Madison (5363'), Wildcat E (4041'), D (4063'), C (4270'), B (4270'), A (4380')


Day 8: July 15, 2002

Carter Notch Hut to U.S. Route 2 (Gorham)
Weather: 60°s, warm and breezy, blue sky and clouds

Carter Dome, Hight, South Carter, Middle Carter, Lethe, North Carter, and Moriah

I

n the morning it looked and felt like a weather front was moving in. We were up early and cooked breakfast and were off by 6:45 AM before anyone else had stirred.

(Photo of Fresh Air on Carter Dome Summit)
The summit of Carter Dome,
Carter Range extends behind
We had a fair number of peaks to climb today, Carter Dome, all the Carter Ridge and lastly Mount Moriah. Carter Dome (4832') was the first and highest of the peaks. It proved to be a steep exhausting climb. Luckily we were doing it first off as opposed to late in the day. It was 1 hour to the summit . At this point we had an easy traverse along the ridge to Mount Hight (4675'), a secondary peak. The vegetation was definitely alpine with Mountain Sandwort, Canada Mayflower and Bilberry, although we were technically not above treeline. We got some good shots of both Balsam Fir and Black Spruce, showing the greyish Fir cones growing up, and the redish Spruce cones growing down. The views were very nice, mostly towards the northeast along the Carter Range, and back to the southwest to the Presidentials.

We descended steeply to Zeta Pass, a very pretty glen where there was actually a bench to sit on at a trail junction where we took a break. For most of the day we were hiking along the Carter Moriah Trail. We then climbed South Carter, the first of the Carters (not counting Carter Dome). This had a tree covered summit and it was hard to tell when we actually got to the top, but we found a sign indicating "South Carter" (4458') so that was it. There followed an easy walk along the ridge with numerous boreal bogs with board walks. We got to Middle Carter (4600') and met Rawhide, going south. He was actually a NOBO but had just taken some time off the trail in Gorham to get something fixed, and he was hiking back to Crawford Notch where he had left the trail.

We passed over Mount Lethe (4570'), really just an exposed ledge which was a shoulder of Middle Carter. At this point it started to rain lightly. We hiked over to North Carter (4530') (another sign) and as we started down, the rain increased so I had to put on the pack cover and my rain top. The rain seemed to intensify on the down slopes, making the tiresome downward climbing slippery and dangerous. We passed a father and daughter going up the mountain and they seemed pretty wet and not altogether having a great time. At the bottom of North Carter the trail got easier and the rain let up as we passed over a number of board walks. These were a relief from the usual rocky terrain since they were so easy to walk on.

(Photo of Papa Bear at the Imp Shelter)
Papa Bear at the Imp Shelter
We decided to take a lunch break at the Imp Shelter, even though at .5 miles off the trail it was rather out of the way. The trail down to the shelter was actually rather nice through some lush woods and the shelter itself was right up slope from a good north facing view over a steep cliff. There was actually a bench and a fence at the viewing spot, and the shelter, facing the same way, had a chair built in right in the middle facing outward. It resembled nothing more than a rustic throne. We checked through the register and saw many many familiar names, both NOBOs and SOBOs we had previously met.

We got going again, climbing back to the trail, and passed another area of boardwalks. We were approaching Mount Moriah, the last major climb of the day. We met Crater (or maybe it was "Critter") who was a section hiker moving south that day. He said he was jumping around the different sections of the Whites. Just before we got onto the trail up Mount Moriah, at the point where the Stony Brook Trail intersects with our trail (the Carter Moriah Trail) at a three way board walk intersection, we ran into a large group (maybe 12 or 15) of boys from a camp. I thought the leader said Camp Brooklyn (could that be right?) on Lake Winnapisauke. They were hiking up Mount Moriah today as well, and as we climbed slightly ahead of them we could hear the boys exclaiming at the wonder of each new view they came to.

(Photo of Garter Snake on rock)
Eastern Garter Snake on Mount Moriah, showing unusual coloration
Unlike the Carters, Moriah was a series of long sloping smooth rock faces. This climb was more like what we had seen in Vermont than the more recent climbs through the Whites. Shortly before the summit, on one particular sunny rock, we saw three snakes sunning themselves. One was a small garter snake and the others were a large brown and a large gray specimen. We later found that they were all color forms of the Eastern Garter, but it was wonderful to see such variety all on a single slab of rock.

We soon came to the place where a short side trail led to Moriah's summit. It started out with a steep rock scramble and I headed up to "bag" the peak solo, since Fresh Air had bagged this one some years ago. The trail was steep but thankfully short, and another trail from the north joined just before the top. Having bagged the peak, I quickly rejoined Fresh Air and we started down. The AT turns right onto the Kenduskeag Trail at this point and we descended over long tiring steps interspersed with board walks. Naturally since we were on a tiring down slope, it started raining again and the rain became quite heavy at times. Finally the trail leveled off and we crossed and recrossed the Rattle River (where the AT joined the Rattle River Trail) three times as it flowed down the mountain. We arrived at the Rattle River Shelter about 3:15 and since the rain had abated, we got out of our sweaty gain gear.

There was an older camper there who had pitched his tent inside the shelter and he went on a bit about his liver transplant and his hiking. Since the mosquitoes were starting to get ferocious, we left as soon as we could break away, and did the last very easy two miles rather quickly. We made it out to Route 2 at 4:35, not bad for the 16 or so miles we had done today.

I called Hikers Paradise on my cell phone and the guy said he'd be right over. Well, a half hour passed and he didn't show up and just then Sion showed up off the trail. He was glad to see us and was tired like ourselves after this long day (which he had done much quicker since I'm sure he didn't get going till after 9:00). He wanted to go to the Hostel too, so I called again and the guy double checked where we were. Seems before he had gone to the other trail head (about .2 miles up the road) where the trail comes in from the north, rather than where we were at the Rattle River Trailhead. This time he really did show up right away and we got the cook's tour of Gorham. He had been in this business for years and showed us every restaurant, which ones were too expensive, which ones were good, all the food stores, the bus stop, everything we needed to know.

(Photo of Hikers Paradise in Gorham)
Hikers Paradise in Gorham

After checking into the Hostel (only $14 including the free pickup) we went upstairs to the bunkroom ("Leave you boots on the porch under penalty of death") and met a whole bunch of other hikers. NOBOs, SOBOs, Sectioners, those off the trail with sore ankles, lots of them. Sion met an old friend and they all had a grand time talking trail talk.

After cleaning ourselves up a bit, we walked into town and had a nice dinner at the Pizza Restaurant. Sion came by on a bicycle (he "bought" it from the Hostel for $1) and we all unwound a bit. We were done hiking for now, but he was heading further tomorrow on up to Maine and ultimately Katahdin. Gorham was a huge milestone for all of us. We had finished (most of ) New Hampshire, one of the toughest but most rewarding sections of the entire trail and this was one big accomplishment. Everyone felt really high.

The next morning we would get the 6:55 AM bus to Boston and ultimately back to NYC. This section was done and we were very happy indeed.

Day 8 Trail Miles: 15.0, Extra miles: 1.1, Total: 16.1
Aggregate Trail Miles: 90.9, Aggregate Total: 92.5
Peaks: Carter Dome (4832'), Hight (4675'), South Carter (4458'), Middle Carter (4600'), Lethe (4570'), North Carter (4530'), Moriah (4049')


An Evaluation:

T

here was less equipment to evaluate since we just used day packs for this section. But there were still aspects that deserve some comments.

The Huts:
By now you know my opinion if you've read this far. The huts are great! If you can afford to cross the Whites this way, I highly recommend you do so. Not only will you be free of the burden of heavy pack, making and breaking camp, and cooking, but you will learn a lot and see young members of families being exposed to the great outdoors in a very positive way. Even if it's only once, do it. You'll be glad you did.

Conditioning, bodily complaints:
We were up for the arduous nature of this section, partly due to our having previously hiked the 500 or so miles of the AT from the DWG this season (although by doing it in sections you lose some of your gains between sections), and partly due to the fact that we used daypacks.

My left ankle bone on the outside got sore somehow about midway through. It wasn't a muscle soreness, more a bruise. I must have hit it on a rock but I don't remember when. It hurt like hell when my boot was tight against it, so I left my left boot rather loose, ordinarily not a good idea.

I was also probably taking too much vitamin-I (Advil). My urine got very dark the last day (which was scary) but when I stopped the Advil it cleared up after a day. Just don't overmedicate!

Camera:
I love my Nikon digital camera, but alas it stopped working after about a day and a half. The problem seemed to be mechanical, not electronic: the lens wouldn't open when you turned on the camera. I could still view the pictures and upload them to my computer. The camera is currently in the shop. Luckily my partners for this hike took plenty of pictures so there is a good pictorial record of our adventure.

All those peaks:
The AMC gives a certificate to those who have hiked all the 4000 footers in New Hampshire (which number 48 on their official list). A peak "doesn't count" if it does not drop at least 200' below a higher neighboring peak. This eliminates a few of the peaks we did such as Franklin and Clay. Here is the list of peaks we bagged (including Moosilauke from our last section hike). I have listed them in the order we hiked them, south to north. Those in brackets are the ones that "don't count".

Moosilauke (4802), South Kinsman (4358'), North Kinsman (4293'), [Little Haystack (4760')], Lincoln (5089'), Lafayette (5249'), Garfield (4488'), South Twin (4902'), [Guyot (4560')], Jackson (4052'), Pierce (Clinton) (4310'), Eisenhower (4761'), [Franklin (5004')], Monroe (5385'), Washington (6288'), [Clay (5532')], Jefferson (5715'), Madison (5363'), [Wildcat E (4041')], Wildcat D (4063'), [Wildcat C (4270')], [Wildcat B (4270')], Wildcat (4380'), Carter Dome (4832'), [Hight (4675')], South Carter (4458'), Middle Carter (4600'), [Lethe (4570')], [North Carter (4530')], Moriah (4049').

That's 20 official 4000 footer peaks out of 48, plus 10 that "don't count". Not bad, if I do say so. By the way, my legs think they all count.


Click here for a complete album of photos from this hike

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