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Lumberzac Hikes the Presidential Range, TR

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  • Lumberzac Hikes the Presidential Range, TR

    Bless me father for I have sinned. I hiked some mountains that aren’t the Adirondacks.

    Friday night I made the 4.5hr drive to the Whites and slept in the back of the Subaru. By 5:30 the following morning, I couldn’t sleep any long, packed up, and drove toward the Appalachia trailhead. As I drove east along Route 2 got a tremendous view to the north across a valley as I topped a hill. The entire valley was blanketed with fog and I really wish I had pulled over to take some pictures (I had plenty of time to do so), but my brain wasn’t functioning properly due to lack of coffee in my system. I ended up driving past the trailhead and ended up in Gorham, where I finally got my morning cup of coffee. I turned around and drive back to Appalachia where I ate breakfast while I waited for Artex to arrive. While I ate, I recognized a vehicle drive in as Little Sister arrived at the parking area. I talked with her for a bit and was introduced to Bob and Geri. Soon Artex drive in and after a brief discussion with the other VFTT group we were off.

    We made a quick stop at the Highland Center where I picked up a tyvek trail map (later on I would find out that this map was worthless as it didn’t have any contours on it; good thing I packed a paper map). After the brief stop we parked at the Webster-Jackson trailhead.

    The trail up Jackson didn’t seem that bad, but it did take me a bit to get my rhythm (it normally takes me a mile or so to get my breathing and stride right). Soon the forest opened up some and I caught my first glimpses of Jackson. It was time to go up the final pitch to the top. The view was incredible. There was barely a cloud in the sky and very little haze allowing us to see for miles. We only stayed on the summit for a short time as the summit started taking on more people.

    We quickly descended Jackson and made a quick stop at the Mizpah hut before climbing to the summit of Pierce. Mount Pierce also offered us fantastic views. We sat below the summit for a while and absorbed the scenery. Once satisfied, we made our way down and began the climb up Ike. As we started the final steep section on Ike, I started to get some minor cramping in my quads. When I made it to the top I made sure to eat some of my salty foods and Artex offered me some Gatorade. This seemed to do the trick almost instantly.

    All too soon it was time to go our separate ways, Artex had to return to Maine that night and headed back to his car while I continued on toward Mount Washington. The trail was above treeline from here on and I was constantly surrounded by panorama views. This made the going slow as I found myself stopping often to take pictures. Eventually I ended up passing one couple and we continued to leap frog with one another while we took short breaks. At one stop I sat and waited for a good 5 to 10 minutes after they passed me to allow them to get well ahead of me. At the base of little Monroe I ran into them again for the last time as I scrambled up to the top and didn’t stop until reaching the true summit of Monroe. From the summit I caught my first glimpse of Lake of the Clouds. I only stayed on the summit for a moment as the view of Washington, Clay, and Jefferson seemed to call me off the mountain.

    The descent down to Lake of the Clouds hut went pretty fast. Its position worked out great as I ran out of water in my platypus about 10’ from the door. I went in and it was a mob scene. There were crowds of people everywhere, which made me feel uncomfortable. I filled my water bladder and went back outside where I ate a snack before heading up the trail towards Mount Washington, my final summit for the day.

    Almost as soon as I started heading up the trail the cramping in my quads resumed. I was in agony almost the entire way up. I was ok were the trail would briefly level off, but as soon I would start climbing again the pain and tightness in my legs would come back. The only thing I can think of is that it was an electrolyte problem, although it seems strange that it would happen than and not on other trips where I was hiking in hotter weather, covering more mileage, and more elevation. Eventually I made it to the top of big George. The sun was still shining and the winds on top were a blustery 0 – 5 mph. The summit wasn’t as crowded at I expected, though it may have been do to the fact that it was now 4:30 and many people had already left, but I still had to wait in line to get to the actual summit.

    I hung around the summit for close to an hour moving from spot to spot occasionally talking with some of the other people up there; I think I may have talked at least one kid into trying to hike up the mountain some time. Eventually I decided to leave descending the way I came up. I then took the Tuckerman Crossover trail and then the Tuckerman Ravine trail down to Hermit Lake, where I found a nice secluded spot well off trail to set up my tarp for the night. I was glad I decided to bring my bear canister, because it gave me a nice level spot to set my stove on to cook dinner. I sat around, ate my dinner, and went to sleep just as it was getting dark.

    Sunday started off on the wrong foot. I slept through my alarm and ended up waking up two hours later than I wanted. Packing up seemed to take way too long; probably because I was in a hurry. After what seemed like an eternity I found myself slowly hiking up the Lion’s Head trail. It was another gorgeous day although I could feel that it was a little more humid than the day before and the views were a little hazier, but if Saturday was a 10, Sunday was a 9.9. When I made it to the top of the Lion’s Head, I planned to eat breakfast (a cliff bar), but a cold wind was in my face so I ate as I hiked. The entire hike up I was alone and didn’t see another person until I made it to the junction with the Tuckerman Crossover. From there I took the South Side trail. I didn’t like the South Side trail at all. The trail showed signs of little use and it was nerve wrecking to hike on, because often times I had to rock hop to avoid stepping on the vegetation. I was quite happy when I reached the junction with the Crawford Path.

    I then hiked along the West Side trail avoiding the big climb up Washington. The trail condition was great and I could really move along on it. Before I knew it I had crossed under the train tracks for the cog and was heading down to the col between Washington and Clay. I enjoyed the short scrambles one the way up Mount Clay; I don’t feel like I’m climbing a mountain unless I get to use my hands. Once on top I got a good view of where I planned on heading. Mount Madison looked so far away, I looked at my watch and it was at this moment that I realized the full effect of sleeping in that morning. I needed to be back to my car at a decent hour because I still had a 4.5-hour drive home and I needed to get a full night sleep because I had a lot to do at work Monday morning. I looked at my map and decided to head to Mount Jefferson and play it by ear from there.

    I practically ran down Clay, only slowing down for the really steep sections. I’ve learned over the years that going fast down hills is easier on my knees than constantly putting on the breaks. The col was a beautiful open meadow. There were a few clouds that rolled through form time to time, which gave some relief form the sun. The summit of Jefferson had disappeared behind some lower rock outcrops on my way down, but I knew I had a fairly sizeable climb ahead of me.

    Jefferson brought more scrambles and more great views. When I reached the top I found it already occupied by a number of hikers, which didn’t surpize me at all being such a nice day. I found a nice rock to sit on and at a snack. It was now 1:30 and it was clear to me that I would have to save Adams and Madison for another day.

    I descended down into Edmands Col and followed the Grey Knob trail to the Grey Knob cabin. The going became a bit miserable as the sun was beating down on me and there was absolutely no breeze to cool me down. To make matter worse I ran out of water partway down the trail. When I arrived at the cabin I was ready for a drink of water only to discover that there was no water at the shelter and I would have to hike an additional .2 miles to a spring. I dropped my pack, grabbed my water bladder and filter and walked to the spring. It was on the walk to the spring that I realized how dehydrated I had become. I was stumbling a lot, though I didn’t have a headache yet. I filled my water bladder, drank about a litter of water at the spring, and then topped it back off before walking back to the cabin. By the time I made it back I was feeling close to 100% again. I ate a snack and followed the Spur trail down to connect with the Amphibrach trail. I made it to the junction around 4. The Amphibrach trail was a pleasant surprise with its gentle grade, which made the final leg of my hike easy. By quarter to 5, I was changing cloths at my car and drove home.

    A man needs to believe in something. I believe I'll go hiking.