Trip Report
Go With the Flow, A Modified Presidential Traverse.
Monday October 7, 2013 11:21am
Go With the Flow; A Presidential Range Traverse.

When I decided to organize a traverse of New Hampshires Presidential Range a month ago I had delusions of a bevy of friends queuing up to join in. When I made the initial calls I had six or seven probably's. Nice. Things are looking promising.

I posted an invite here as well and got some useful beta, which ultimately didn't need to be used, but it was encouraging regardless. I also got a resounding 'Hell yeah!' Sort of response from Wilbeer. So it was decided, Wilbeer would join my friends and myself for a two day traverse.

After all my local friends bailed, citing domestic duties and general laziness, Wilbeer and I figured out the details.


We left the trailhead at 6:30 and the grind up to Madison Springs hut is a great way to wake up. It's around 3800 feet in four miles, the last two being considerably steeper than the first.

It gets steep through the krummholtz.
It gets steep through the krummholtz.
Credit: Brandon-

Mt Adams summit from the hut. Looks deceivingly easy and quick...
Mt Adams summit from the hut. Looks deceivingly easy and quick...
Credit: Brandon-

At the hut, we relaxed, drank some water and talked with some guy who wanted to know where he could go to get food stamps. I powered down a gu and promptly puked it back up. No worries, I'm not a breakfast guy anyhow.

Wilbeer at Star Lake, before the steep 2nd/3rd class ascent up Adams
Wilbeer at Star Lake, before the steep 2nd/3rd class ascent up Adams
Credit: Brandon-

Star Lake, as the clouds rolled in for much of the rest of the day
Star Lake, as the clouds rolled in for much of the rest of the day
Credit: Brandon-

On to Mt Adams, which is the culmination of the large vertical. The trailhead is at 1200', summit at 5700', in around 4.5 miles. Nothing crazy hard, but a good warmup.

Summit of Mt Adams, the longest elevation gain is behind us now
Summit of Mt Adams, the longest elevation gain is behind us now
Credit: Brandon-


From there, we are completely in the clouds, whiteout style, for hours. The Presidential Ridge, while not as ragged and dramatic as ridges out west, is still pretty demanding physically. For miles you are only on talus, it's punishing if you're off the couch like I am.

Trail junction signs were welcome waypoints on the cloudy ridge
Trail junction signs were welcome waypoints on the cloudy ridge
Credit: Brandon-

Selfie on the ridge
Selfie on the ridge
Credit: Brandon-

Is that a person amongst the gigantic cairns?
Is that a person amongst the gigantic cairns?
Credit: Brandon-

Yup. It's Wilbeer
Yup. It's Wilbeer
Credit: Brandon-

Up on the ridge
Up on the ridge
Credit: Brandon-

Mt Jefferson was next, more one foot in front of the other sort of hiking. We didn't set a blistering pace by any means, but we were steady, stopping only at the Madison hut and on each peak to chill and drop the packs for ten or fifteen minutes.

This little spot kind of reminds me of the bouldering on top of Donner...
This little spot kind of reminds me of the bouldering on top of Donner peak, only different
Credit: Brandon-

This whole stretch is fairly level topographically but jagged in the small scale and this is where my knee began to twitch.

More signpost love.
More signpost love.
Credit: Brandon-

We cruised up to the summit of Washington. Ha! Cruised might not be the word. But we were hanging out in the cafeteria at 4:00

On the summit of Washington. From here to camp, the clouds started to ...
On the summit of Washington. From here to camp, the clouds started to be less persistent
Credit: Brandon-

At this point my knee is a huge problem and I'm using my hands to move over rocks and limping. I can't step down onto my right leg, or it will crumple underneath me.

We leave the summit to go and camp at Lakes of the Clouds.

Leaving the summit
Leaving the summit
Credit: Brandon-

Where I was able to ascend with only moderate pain and instability in my knee, I was less fortunate with descending. We trudged down 1000 feet and 1.5 miles of talus to the hut and bivied in the lee.

The camp is down in the clouds. It was a long hobble down this stretch
The camp is down in the clouds. It was a long hobble down this stretch
Credit: Brandon-

We got a few minutes of sun, it was brilliant
We got a few minutes of sun, it was brilliant
Credit: Brandon-

We were the only ones there and the clouds lifted, giving us a really nice sunset and views off to Mt Mansfield, Jay Peak, and Canada.

Clouds below, blue sky above, nice!
Clouds below, blue sky above, nice!
Credit: Brandon-

Lakes of the Clouds lived up to their name as we arrived
Lakes of the Clouds lived up to their name as we arrived
Credit: Brandon-

I doubt the veracity of this sign. Run, tourons, run!!!
I doubt the veracity of this sign. Run, tourons, run!!!
Credit: Brandon-

Ssshhhh...we were never there...
Ssshhhh...we were never there...
Credit: Brandon-

A small flat spot to walk around on was really important, and the scen...
A small flat spot to walk around on was really important, and the scenery didn't suck
Credit: Brandon-

The clouds lifted at sunset, as expected
The clouds lifted at sunset, as expected
Credit: Brandon-

When I woke up I took a short walk and weighed the options with my knee. Continue hobbling down four miles of steep, rocky terrain, possibly scrambling my entire knee? Or, limp comfortably up a mile and a half of steep, rocky terrain to the summit? Wait, what? There's an auto road to the summit?


I should say right now that Wilbeer is a rad partner for a trip like this. The dude drove up from western NY to backpack with some internet loser he'd never met and was ready to go with the flow the whole time.

So, when I decided that we'd hike back up to the summit and find a ride down, I wasn't surprised that the answer was a smile and a no worries.

Wait, you want to go back up that thing?
Wait, you want to go back up that thing?
Credit: Brandon-

Yup. Back to the top
Yup. Back to the top
Credit: Brandon-

A beautiful, quiet place
A beautiful, quiet place
Credit: Brandon-

And we're headed back into the clouds
And we're headed back into the clouds
Credit: Brandon-
Back at the summit, it was great to walk on flat ground again.

I'm guessing these people are sick of gapers
I'm guessing these people are sick of gapers
Credit: Brandon-

Fun fact
Fun fact
Credit: Brandon-

Pretty cool to hike someplace and be reminded of my grandpa
Pretty cool to hike someplace and be reminded of my grandpa
Credit: Brandon-


Coffee, a chat with personnel at the cafeteria, and we decided that paying $30 a person for a ride down was out of the question. I took a walk outside and sure enough, the first tourists I ask for a ride agree without blinking.

A ride to Gorham, some hitching, a serendipitous ride up a long ass hill, and we were back at the Vanagon.

Stock hitching photo
Stock hitching photo
Credit: Brandon-

The rocket ship
The rocket ship
Credit: Brandon-

Credit: Brandon-

In all, it was a great hike. We covered a lot of terrain and miles and went with the flow when things didn't go as planned.

I'd also say, having had a day to think about the trip, that bailing was a really good thing to do. I had a hard time accepting it, but I think I would have done far more damage to my knee if I had tried to tough it out.

And, if anyone's out in the Dacks, look up Wilbeer! I can't speak for his climbing, but he's a hiking machine and damn fun to share a trail with. He'd be a hell of a tour guide in the Dacks.


  Trip Report Views: 1,486
Brandon-
About the Author
Brandon- is a climber from The Granite State..

Comments
Did you like this Trip Report? Got something to say? Don't hold back...
Comment on this Trip Report
Michelle

Social climber
1187 Hunterwasser
  Oct 7, 2013 - 11:32am PT
Awesome! And anyone in a Cloudveil is my friend!
survival

Big Wall climber
Terrapin Station
  Oct 7, 2013 - 11:36am PT
Wow. AWESOMENESS is upon you!

So beautiful, so different from the normal fare here.
That evening/sunset hut shot hit me!

That made me miss the East.

Thanks a million for sharing this.
anita514

Gym climber
Great White North
  Oct 7, 2013 - 11:36am PT
wow, good stuff!
how is the knee now?
RyanD

climber
Squamish
  Oct 7, 2013 - 11:41am PT
Nice one, cool to see great views of an area I know nothing about. Those lakes are really cool. Good luck with the knee it's challenging when u are in limp mode far from the road.
hagerty

Social climber
A Sandy Area South of a Salty Lake
  Oct 7, 2013 - 11:48am PT
That sign that you doubted the veracity of is 100% correct. More people have died of hypothermia above treeline in the Presidentials in the summer than in the winter. An August thunderstorm can drop the temperature by 50 degrees within 20 minutes, then hit you with hail after you're soaked. The "worst weather" stems from Mt Washington having the highest ever (till recently) recorded wind speed of 234mph. March averages 22 days of winds over 100mph.

Nice TR!

PS: Mt. Adams is not even remotely 3rd class.
L

climber
California dreamin' on the farside of the world..
  Oct 7, 2013 - 11:52am PT
Great TR with photos! Loved the candid shots and especially that one self-portrait.

Two words you should remember when hiking: HIKING POLES. Not for old fogies anymore. Saves 40%+ of the impact on your knees downhill, and makes your arms strong as god's on the uphill. ;-)

Thanks again for posting up.
Brandon-

climber
The Granite State.
Author's Reply  Oct 7, 2013 - 01:04pm PT
Hagerty, We went around Star Lake and up Adams on that side. There were for sure some third class open books that we climbed just below the summit.
Timid TopRope

Social climber
the land of Pale Ale
  Oct 7, 2013 - 01:50pm PT
Beautiful photos. Take L's advice about trekking poles and find some neopreme knee supports. I got mine at a hardwood flooring store back when I was in the trade. Ounce of prevention, etc.
SCseagoat

Trad climber
Santa Cruz
  Oct 7, 2013 - 01:57pm PT
Just stunning! Seeing and reading that TR made me miss my East Coast roots, ALOT. And ditto the hiking poles. I rarely see many folks out here hiking without them anymore, young and old. They also make some super light weight ones now too. Thanks again, for putting this together. You have some CLASSIC pics.

Loved it

Susan
Brandon-

climber
The Granite State.
Author's Reply  Oct 7, 2013 - 02:15pm PT
Wilbeer can be thanked for around 80% of the photos. He's got a good eye, I'm glad he asked me to relinquish control of the camera.
Big Mike

Trad climber
BC
  Oct 7, 2013 - 02:52pm PT
Exellent photos Willbeer then! And nice work getting out of there Brandon. It sucks having your knee give out on you. Poles have been key for me coming back.

Looks like you had fun though!! Thanks for the report!
Deekaid

climber
  Oct 7, 2013 - 03:34pm PT
hey get some hiking poles


































just kidding good choice on turning back so to speak
Ezra Ellis

Trad climber
North wet, and Da souf
  Oct 7, 2013 - 05:23pm PT
Kool!!!!!!!!!
Thanks!!!!
wilbeer

Mountain climber
honeoye falls,ny.greeneck alleghenys
  Oct 7, 2013 - 05:42pm PT
Thanks for all your kind words.
When i left Mt.Washington last time.
When i left Mt.Washington last time.
Credit: wilbeer
Always wanted to hike up there.I have skied Tucks and the Gulf of Slides,never knew the Whites were so chunky. It is hard to tell when its covered in snow.
That said,I am a team player.
Bad knees have sidelined a climbing partner of mine for some time.I have told Brandon of him,and his dogged determination. In mountains,things can go bad ,fast .
It is best to error safely than otherwise.


2/3's of the Traverse,close to 6000 vertical going up and near 4000 going down,summiting Mt. Washington twice,and getting back to the van in a little over 28 hours was actually fun.We cherry picked the best and Brandon can still walk.

Thank You for inviting me up to the Granite State.
Credit: wilbeer

Brandon-

climber
The Granite State.
Author's Reply  Oct 7, 2013 - 05:59pm PT
Wilbeer, if you want to add anything, talk sh#t, whatever, feel free. I only told a slice of the story. There was that moose, and a lot of Québécois.
Leggs

Sport climber
Made in California
  Oct 7, 2013 - 06:00pm PT
Awesome photos, Brandon...


In deserts of Tucson, we don't have sights like that. Thanks for sharing!


:)
Ron Anderson

Trad climber
Relic MilkEye and grandpoobah of HBRKRNH
  Oct 7, 2013 - 06:07pm PT
Cool country,and Pics,,,, Brandon is that yur "game face" LOL!
Brandon-

climber
The Granite State.
Author's Reply  Oct 7, 2013 - 06:10pm PT
I only have a face, Ron.

I'm always on my game.
Reilly

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
  Oct 7, 2013 - 06:12pm PT
Looks like bloody Scotland!
10b4me

climber
  Oct 7, 2013 - 06:18pm PT
TFPU.
Descents kill knees.
wilbeer

Mountain climber
honeoye falls,ny.greeneck alleghenys
  Oct 7, 2013 - 06:20pm PT
Talk sh#t, aye.

Well ,if Hagerty,thinks a 40 foot ,75/80 degree corner leading to a ragged summit is not nearly 3rd class,I would like to know what is.

That Moose.

Creeping out of the woods,to the left,had to slow RTF down.Damn,massive beast,and i was closest to it.The Rocket Ship would not stand a chance.You had just said they were around,sitting in a van that damn thing was looking down at us.

All Good.


wilbeer

Mountain climber
honeoye falls,ny.greeneck alleghenys
  Oct 7, 2013 - 06:27pm PT
Reilly,I have never been to Scotland,but i have been to New Scotland[Nova Scotia]a few times.Some of my first comments above tree line was how much it reminded me of NS,Labrador.

Real cool alpine fix.
phylp

Trad climber
Millbrae, CA
  Oct 7, 2013 - 06:28pm PT
Thanks for taking us along for the hike via your TR.

Yeah, bad knees and hard descents are a bad combo.

Wilbeer sounds like a great partner.

Edge

Trad climber
Boulder, CO
  Oct 7, 2013 - 10:27pm PT
Sounds like a great adventure, and as the sign said in the gym of my kid's old elementary school, "If you had fun, you won!"

Thanks for the trip down memory lane in my old stomping grounds. That Presi fog can sure spin you around in a hurry. I remember getting lost in a Winter whiteout en route to Adams, and was saved by stumbling into the cairn at Thunderstorm Junction. For those who don't know, this cairn is maybe 15' tall, and I couldn't see the damned thing until I got within 10' of it. And yes, the endless walking on talus can wear you out in a hurry. Props to you both!

There's supposed to be a cairn somewhere around here...
There's supposed to be a cairn somewhere around here...
Credit: Edge
wilbeer

Mountain climber
honeoye falls,ny.greeneck alleghenys
  Oct 8, 2013 - 05:13am PT
"Endless walking on talus"

Edge, I could not think of a better description. Great photo . Those cairns are something.
hagerty

Social climber
A Sandy Area South of a Salty Lake
  Oct 8, 2013 - 07:11am PT
"...if Hagerty,thinks a 40 foot ,75/80 degree corner leading to a ragged summit is not nearly 3rd class..."

If you did something like that, than I think you guys missed a turn and weren't on the trail at all. I've done Adams numerous times, including with a 65lb frame backpack during a winter traverse BITD. I've encountered dogs and little kids on the summit. There is nothing like what you describe on the trail.

Not questioning what you did or its difficulty, but it is misleading to refer to Adams as a 3rd class peak.

Excellent photos! A lot of people wouldn't bother and complain there weren't any good photos because of the fog and overcast. You easily disprove that notion!
wilbeer

Mountain climber
honeoye falls,ny.greeneck alleghenys
  Oct 9, 2013 - 08:58am PT
After a few days to chew on it,I would like you all to know.

Brandon is no internet loser.He is a proud young carpenter from New Hampshire.A great person with a vigilant persona.We have a lot in common,and shared some great stories on this very worthwhile adventure.

Knowing what I know now,if I had a bad knee ,i doubt I would try such a hike.Vigilant,like i said.

I know this traverse would not add up to near as much as most here on the taco would have experienced,nor come close to many of the trips I have read about here.That matches most of the things I have done in mountains or on rock.The point being,it is as much about the character of the participants as the difficulty of the task .

Brandon showed me a side of the Granite State I was unaware of.He himself is a great guide. Thank You. Wilbeer

And I will be climbing in the Dacks the 17th.
anita514

Gym climber
Great White North
  Oct 9, 2013 - 07:31am PT
where in the Dacks will you be climbing?
wilbeer

Mountain climber
honeoye falls,ny.greeneck alleghenys
  Oct 9, 2013 - 08:32am PT
The nearest SW facing cliff to Keene,N.Y.,HA!
Looking at climbing Peregrine Pillar Area,camping up The Nun Da Goa ridge a few miles outside of Keene.

Adirondack Rock, guide has some Beta.[Lawyer,Haas]
Reilly

Mountain climber
The Other Monrovia- CA
  Oct 9, 2013 - 08:32am PT
Yo, Brandon, we should all have such a bum knee! ;-)
Jaybro

Social climber
Wolf City, Wyoming
  Oct 9, 2013 - 11:01am PT
Nice! Beautiful back up there! Thanks
Brandon-

climber
The Granite State.
Author's Reply  Oct 9, 2013 - 04:18pm PT
Thanks for the kind words Willbeer. We obviously make a great team.

But, I'm trying to maintain the image of an internet loser, you're ruining my smokescreen, dammitt!!

If the knee is feeling better I'll try to make it to the Dacks. Chapel Pond is probably the closest spot to my house, where are you headed?

I'll bring the goodies...
wilbeer

Mountain climber
honeoye falls,ny.greeneck alleghenys
  Oct 9, 2013 - 06:15pm PT
Brandon,I am heading to the Lost Pond leanto,at Nun Da Goa ridge.
It is 4 miles east of Keene ,N.Y.,off rt.73.
You would have to go right by it on the way to Chapel Pond.
2 mile hike up a small mountain to the leanto.
Once on the ridge[a nice cirque],you can access a good bit of crags.

Those goodies are special.
Sierra Ledge Rat

Mountain climber
Old and Broken Down in Appalachia
  Oct 9, 2013 - 06:57pm PT
Love that terrain and weather. I can relate to your knee issues, downhill is murder on my right knee. Now you got me interested in the traverse! TFPU!
Brandon-

climber
The Granite State.
Author's Reply  Oct 9, 2013 - 07:17pm PT
I've been thinking about the traverse, and it seems like it would be easier in one day, rather than two.

Having scoped it now, and thinking about our pace, rests, and loads carried, I'm pretty sure it would be easier and more enjoyable for a moderately fit person to just commit to doing it in a day.

Granted, this assumes good knees, so I can't prove it until next year.

Sierra Ledge Rat

Mountain climber
Old and Broken Down in Appalachia
  Oct 9, 2013 - 07:43pm PT
I hate rushing. I hate all of this car-to-car in a day bullsh#t. What's the point? Slow down, plop your ass down in the woods and hang out. Savor the scenery. Make it last a few days.
Brandon-

climber
The Granite State.
Author's Reply  Oct 9, 2013 - 08:02pm PT
I agree with you mostly. I like getting out and staying out.

But the length of the traverse is just long enough to be a long day hike as easily as it is a short two day.

All that said, when the clouds lifted at Lakes of the Clouds and we had a great sunset and excellent night sky up on a mountainside, I appreciated that as well.
anita514

Gym climber
Great White North
  Oct 9, 2013 - 07:57pm PT
+ 1 for bivying

what is Nun Da Gao like? I have heard about it, but never been. Can you bivy on top?
I usually hang out in the Keene valley area. if weather is not great for the Gunks this weekend, we will probably end up in the Dacks... always lots to do.
wilbeer

Mountain climber
honeoye falls,ny.greeneck alleghenys
  Oct 10, 2013 - 06:19am PT
Harry,it did not feel like rushing at all.We soaked up everything.Spectacular.Let me know ,I have unfinished buisiness there.

Anita,the NDG ridge,is ,well,fantastic ,you can bivy anywhere you would like in the preserve.Mostly established sites and platforms and you can even have a fire.

We are looking to snag the leanto at Lost Pond.It is first come first serve,but touron season is mostly over now.

The rock near Little Crow mountain is pretty damn good.
Credit: wilbeer
Credit: wilbeer
Brandon-

climber
The Granite State.
Author's Reply  Oct 17, 2013 - 01:43pm PT
I have unfinished buisiness there.

Me too, we should finish that thing this winter. Maybe do some skiing up there also.
wilbeer

Mountain climber
honeoye falls,ny.greeneck alleghenys
  Oct 17, 2013 - 04:49pm PT
I say yes.You could start at Tucks and ski the rest of it!
LilaBiene

Trad climber
Technically...the spawning grounds of Yosemite
  Oct 19, 2013 - 10:18pm PT
What a gorgeous trip. Next time, I want in! Snow? All the better,

Thanks for sharing, you guys. I love this part of the world we're in. ")
Todd Eastman

climber
Bellingham, WA
  Oct 19, 2013 - 10:33pm PT
Love that ridge! I spent may days winter and summer up there with my mom and dad and brothers when we were kids. Many bailed efforts, destroyed tents, groping through whiteouts, and thicketeering through the krumholtz. Ah, the fun!!!
mouse from merced

Trad climber
The finger of fate, my friends, is fickle.
  Oct 20, 2013 - 10:20am PT
All internet losers bitch about bad knees.

No pain, no elevation gain.

It is interesting to me and gratifying, too, that you posted up this TR and I posted my Brown Mountain TR.

Class II is very legitimate climbing, especially if you have poor health.

The point being that you got yourself out of bed, off the couch, out of the car, or away from the table.

Both you guys are swell.

Braces, braces,
Everyone's in braces
As we go...
--On the Upward TRail
eKat

Trad climber
Less than a second shy of 49 minutes
  Oct 29, 2013 - 09:29am PT
BITCHEN!

Youz dadz iz darling!

TFPU!

GET THAT FRIKKEN KNEE FIXED, YO!

:-)
Did you like this Trip Report? Got something to say? Don't hold back...
Comment on this Trip Report
Go