The Prezzie Traverse 2012

We did it!

The forces were aligned, the rabble was roused and the ringleading succeeded!

One more Presidential Traverse completed. About 18 miles on the Appalachian Trail along the highest peaks (the Presidential Ridge) of the White Mountains of New Hampshire. 12 hours of stomping. We postponed on Saturday on account of the rain, but over the campfire, and over a few beers, we rallied and made the decision to get up early and still pull out a full traverse instead of a diminished (but still fine) plan of a shorter hike. It might be a long drive home on a Sunday evening…but it was worth it!!

It was a gorgeous day!

Above: from the top of my old friend Mt. Adams looking at Washington. Thank you to Steve and Amelia (the Maine-iacs) for pushing the agenda to fruition (see below):

This is looking up to Adams, one of our peaks, across the King Ravine. Lovely drop-off there!

I was just elated to be on this hike on this fine day! And with all the zinc oxide, didn’t even get burned.

Just past Madison Hut, you find a little pond known as Star Lake. In the background looming is Agiocochook (Mt. Washington), which was about the half-way mark of our trip. We did the first ascent to here in about 2.5h.Here’s the crew, Steve, Ameila and Tavia, heading up to Adams above . This was one mile straight up the rocks and took about an hour.Here’s Madison from its higher neighbor, Adams’ peak. I used to have a pic like this as a background for a while. Sorry for the tilt – it was hard to hold the camera in the wind!The next stroll would be to Mt. Jefferson – it took about an hour to go 2.5miles along the ridge. A lovely alpine stretch.

The last time I was on top of Adams, it was 20F with a 50mph wind – sustained. We had come up on snowshoes from the area to the right in this photo, looping through the middle and up the peak using a trail indicated by cairns on the left of the photo. Everything was white with rime ice and sharp with cold. Different story this fine day!I stepped off the path a bit (careful only to stand on rocks and not touch the fragile ecology) and enjoyed taking a few shots of the crew (and some other hikers) heading to Jefferson – the low point ahead is Edmund’s Col, then jam up Jefferson. Washington at upper left. The lump in the right of the photo is Eisenhower, the last peak on our route. Eventually!Alpine grasses – I should have taken video of this, it was positively gorgeous, undulating, scintillating, reveling in the sunshine.The path along the side of Mt. Clay toward Mt. Washington – the old cog Online Poker railway line cutting across the slope. One happy surprise was the train is now running on biodiesel rather than a coal-burning steam engine, so it doesn’t belch incredible smoke all day long. It was so obnoxious, we used to moon the train in the old days.Here’s another panorama of the southern ridge – Monroe, Franklin and eventually Eisenhower and Pierce (hidden behind Eisenhower. The last dark mountain in the photo is actually on the other side of Crawford Notch (our destination) – Mt. Willey.Now a few hours have gone by and we’re on the south side of Washington – I think I just forgot to use my camera so Steve will have to send a few over. This is at one of the Lakes of the Clouds. I am not sure I can believe it but I recall we were at the top of Jefferson at Noon and now this is about 3pm. Water was cold. Still gorgeous out!Here’s the Lakes of the Clouds Hut, run by the Appalachian Mountain Club (of which I’m a member of course). Some scientific experiments are in the right foreground. Mt. Monroe to the left. Someday I’d like to stay at this place instead of always barreling past in during the ridge blitz!This is a little bundle of plants in a pincushion formation known as a diapensia community – a hardy bunch that tolerate the worst weather and short summers of the high alpine ridges. Very cool stuff.More of the alpine – deer hair grass and some kind of azalea among other things. Looking east and southerly toward North Conway and Maine beyond that.Now standing up to note the nice trail we just walked on.The last bit of ridge, under Franklin heading to Eisenhower…It would take about 2.5h to go from the Lakes to the trail  descending to Crawford Notch just prior to Mt. Pierce. 1.5h down through the trees. But still, 8 hours above treeline in the alpine wonderland. I highly recommend it!Looking back at the ridge from the tail end of the hike: Jefferson, Clay, then I think two portions of Franklin in the mid-ground (Washington with the cloud on top). One thing I found I liked (unexpectedly) was that all the towers and construction on the top of Mt. Washington kind of give the peak a “crown.” I was thinking, it’s a rather gray lump otherwise. With the human junk resting up there, it kind of has some distinction from the rest of the troupe of big gray lumps. And a fine crowd to lord over, I’ll say.I have some other photos but maybe it gets a bit repetitive already. Thanks again to the crew and let’s try to get more photos up. Esp. where I’m goofing off!

All in all, a great day for a hike!

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