Hike New Hampshire
Trips in NH

Mt. Madison, Mt. Washington, Mt. Monroe and Mt. Franklin

by Stephen Oleski

Hike Length: 3 Days

Trails: Airline trail, Gulfside trail, Tuckerman Junction to Lakes of the Clouds with a descent down Tuckerman's Ravine

Date: Aug. 16-18

On Saturday, August 16th we set out from Appalachia on the Airline trail, intending to go to Madison Springs hut. We could hear the wind when we were beneath the trees, but we were unexposed and therefore fine. However, the winds were around 40-50 MPH that day so once we were on the ridgeline, it took us about 2 hours to just get to the hut. We had planned to take Mt. Madison, but the conditions had worsened so we didn't risk it.

The next morning, right after breakfast (7:15) my father and I set out without packs to Mt. Madison. It was a 30 minute climb up and back with no trouble either way. Our biggest day of hiking was here however, so we prepared our packs and set off on the Gulfside trail, intending on making the summit of Mt. Washingon and then descending to Lakes of the Clouds Hut. It was relatively easy going until we hit Monticello Lawn. The fog rolled in, and the sky began to darken. We figured that we ought to push on, so we did.

Right after the Sphinx Dome and near Mt. Clay is when we hit a low-point. After taking a water break, my pack had gotten a strap stuck beneath a rock, and it took us a good 5 minutes to dislodge it. Normally, that wouldn't have been a problem, but our muscles were beginning to feel sore, and the weather was worsening. We pushed on until we began to climb on the shoulder of Clay. At that point we were resting after every cairn for 15 seconds or so, and I was just trying to stay focused. We finally made it past there, and were relieved to have done so. That said, we still had ways to go before the summit.

At this time, the clouds began to roll away some, but the fog stayed put, except for brief clearings. We took the summit of Washington without much trouble, but we were beginning to be pressed for time in order to make it for the Lakes of the Clouds Hut dinner. Instead of taking Crawford path to Lakes of the Clouds, we descended down the now slippery lichen covered slag heap in front of the summit! It took about 50 minutes to get down 4 tenths to the Tuckerman Junctio n. We then made our way down to Lakes of the Clouds Hut, taking us just under 1 hour and 10 minutes from the Junction.

The next morning, after breakfast we set out, without packs, to take Mt. Monroe (Gorgeous panoramic view) and maybe Mt. Franklin. We ended up doing both, and returned within an hour and a half. All that was left was to descend down Lion's Head, which seemed easier than Tuckerman's. On the way, we took the wrong trail from the Hut, so we crossed over, towards what looked like the other trail, only to find it as just abandoned. We then lucked out and found a cairn leading the right way. Once at the junction, Lion's Head looked a little too close to the precipice for comfort so we stuck to Tuckerman's Ravine and made the Hermit Lake shelter in about an hour.

From there we descended to Pinkham Notch in the normal monotonous, and painful way; taking us just over an hour. All in all, we took 4 5,000 foot peaks and ended up hiking around 20 miles. It was absolutely gorgeous and I would definitely reccommend this 2 night hike between the two huts (I prefer Madsion Springs Hut) to anyone looking to do it. We had a few novices on the hike, and they took longer, but did fine. For the record, all of the 4 peaks that we took were off of the original plan which was to just follow the Glufside trail.

Equipment: n/a

Special Equipment: n/a

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