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Presidential Traverse

11 July 2015

Trip Report: 11 July 2015

Featured on every top hike list I have seen, Presidential Traverse is a unique gem in New England.

After completing Pemi Loop earlier this summer, I was ready for another big hike while my legs still can hike 31km over 14 hr, climb 2,444m to 7 peaks, & expend 3,500 calories.

Mount Madison

Views opened up at the top of Mount Madison, & remained that way for the next 20km. That was a great first resting point after steep climb for about 6km from trailhead to top of Mount Madison (lap 1).

Location: 44.328747°N, 71.27713°W

We had been awake since 4:30 to break camp at Moose Brook state park, drive to Appalachia trailhead, & start hike by 5:11.

My regular Theo Chocolate Coffee & Cream replenished some energy.

We took an extended break soon after (lap 2) at Madison Hut to adjust clothing layers & add water.

Location: 44.327339°N, 71.284729°W

Mount Adams

The northern presidential peaks from high to low are named in order of presidents:

  • Mount Washington, 6,288ft (1,917m): after George Washington
  • Mount Adams, 5,793ft (1,766m): after John Adams
  • Mount Jefferson, 5,712ft (1,741m): after Thomas Jefferson
  • Mount Madison, 5,367ft (1,636m): after James Madison

That leaves three peaks in different order:

  • Mount Monroe, 5,372ft (1,637m): after James Monroe
  • Mount Eisenhower, 4,780ft (1,460m): after Dwight D Eisenhower
  • Mount Pierce, 4,310ft (1,310m): after Franklin Pierce

Location: 44.320621°N, 71.291748°W

Mount Jefferson

Northern part was most difficult, slow, & high risk. We would calculate every single step, even though for only fraction of a second, as we hop from one boulder to the next to avoid slipping, falling, & twisting ankle.

Location: 44.304122°N, 71.315942°W

Rewards of continuous scenery suppressed most of the pain we felt. Too after Mount Jefferson, we looked back to see the three peaks we completed this far: Madison, Adams, & Jefferson:

Location: 44.276258°N, 71.310242°W

Mount Washington

Reaching the highest peak in New England was a relief in so many ways. We now had only three more peaks to climb, that are all at a lower elevation from where we were, all the while the trails get smoother than the huge boulders we had been walking on.

Location: 44.268536°N, 71.303665°W

While many people reach the top of Mount Washington by car & train, we did not even consider taking the easy option out. We had three more food supply points: restaurant on top of Mount Washington, Lakes of the Clouds hut, & Mizpah Spring hut. We were feeling much more optimistic about finishing the hike.

At this point, I was starving, more than ready for food supply. But the commercial fast food at top of Mount Washington is not appealing. Instead, I waited for four bowls of hot hearty potato soup at Lakes of the Clouds hut:

Location: 44.259538°N, 71.317122°W

Mount Monroe

Fed & rested, we quickly climbed the short distance to Mount Monroe (lap 8):

Location: 44.25515°N, 71.321404°W

Mount Eisenhower

Weather changes rapidly above tree line in the White Mountains. Even with favorable weather forecast, temperature & wind speed can be drastically different. It is almost impossible to plan such a traverse in advance, unless one is prepared to change plans based on weather conditions.

On the day of our traverse, weather forecast was clear skies, mild temperatures, & low wind speed. Yet, we carefully considered each section of our trip, calculating time & distance to one of many shelters when needed.

Location: 44.240654°N, 71.350334°W

Mount Pierce

The only peak without any views whatsoever. Therefore, this picture was along the trails, shortly before reaching Mount Pierce, looking back at our progress for a very long day.

Location: 44.228004°N, 71.364838°W

Highland Center

On the descent from Mount Pierce, we stopped briefly at Mizpah Spring hut, as neither of us had visited it before, to scout it for future trip with children:

Location: 44.219353°N, 71.369499°W

We accelerated our descent back to Highland Center in hopes of reaching it in time for dinner buffet. Exhausted, we arrived in time for a big meal.

Location: 44.219849°N, 71.411713°W



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