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- For most of the year it will be colder than you expect, especially at night. And especially if you are from Massachusetts or farther south. Bring the appropriate clothes and check the latest weather. I go on my first trip of the year during the 3rd week in May and there is always snow at elevation. A few years, we needed snow shoes. I pack a fleece jacket and a windbreaker even in August. This point can not be overstated. It gets cold in the White Mountains, and if you get wet, you could die. Don't believe me? Go to the Deaths Around Mt. Washington page. This is a true example... (Notice the date. August. Snow storm. Get the point?)
103. August 24, 1986:
McDonald Barr, 52,
died of hypothermia in a summer snowstorm on Mt. Madison.
- The hills are tougher than they look. Although most of the summits in the Whites aren't terribly high, the starting elevations are correspondingly low, and the overall elevation gain can be strenuous. Many of the deaths in these mountains can be attributed to over-exertion.
- Water can be very scarce in the summer. Be sure to pack enough. Lack of water can lead to #2.
- Summer humidity is worse than most people expect. Be prepared to sweat. A lot. Gallons even. Bring enough water (see #2 and #3) and be prepared to limit your activity if necessary. Climbing steep hills when it is 80 degrees out with 98% humidity stinks!
- Blackflies suck. Well, they bite really. And the bites itch like hell. Out in the White Mountains in Spring is no place for tie-dyed, sandal wearing, granola crunchin', sprout eatin', totally organic, natural fiber wearin', chemical fearing fools. Contrary to what you may have heard, Skin-so-Soft is only useful if you want skin that's, well ... so soft. To stay really comfortable, you have only two real choices. Either encase yourself in a complete mosquito net, or slather on the DEET, kidneys and liver be damned. Seriously. I never leave home without a supply of Ben's 100. You can minimize the risks by applying it to clothing instead of skin, or at least minimizing the skin you apply it to. And keep it away from the kids.
- Crowds usually disappear within 1-2 miles of most trailheads. I'm not sure why -- my guess is that most people are lazy and get tired quickly. (NOTE: this doesn't apply to Mountain Summits).
- There are many great hikes in the southern White Mountains. You don't have to head to the Presidentials. Look to the Kankamagus Highway and check the White Mountain Guide.
- There are a few special regulation areas in the W.M.N.F. (also called Restricted Use Areas) where camping is restricted. These are often posted at the trailheads leading into an area. Whenever possible is wise to call or check ahead before you bring the whole group into the woods, or else you may find yourself with night approaching and still be 5 miles from the nearest legal camping.
- The volunteer trail crews are amazing. The ice storm damage that most people heard about was almost completely clear within 5 months after the January 1999 storm. These people deserve our praise. Thank them at every opportunity.
- You absolutely have to stop at the Yankee Smokehouse on Rt. 16 in West Ossippee on your way home. It is the best post-hike meal in existence.
|Copyright © 1999-2008
Chris Oberg & Robert Havasy