Madison-Adams Combo Adventure
It was Friday October 6th, 2006, one of the last beautiful days before the Presidential Range start their nasty and deadly winter. After hearing this forecast of beautiful weather and clear wind I knew it was calling. One month after my wonderful experiences out west I was depress because outside of some smaller hikes I have not been able to penetrate the Whites. Knowing it might be one of the last times ever being in the eastern U.S. I knew it was time to take advantage of such a beautiful area. My higher power was looking out for me because he set up perfectly with my work schedule and the weather.
After a two and a half drive from Manchester, New Hampshire, I made it to the Appalachia Parking area. After drinking two liters of water (Lessons from the Cascades) it time to begin my trip up Mount Adams. It was 9:00 am and I had a ton of energy. I decided to start my trip up the Airline Trail. Outside of the fall foliage at the bottom of the trail there was nothing spectacular I was about to break timberline. Once breaking timberline this trail real opened up. Mt. Adams and Madison were up ahead, each summit having some rime ice. The Airline Trail had some GREAT Views of King Ravine, which was very impressive in its own right. There were a number of place where you could take some edge shots.
Once past the turnoff to the Madison Hut the Airline Trail started to become more of a boulder hop than a trail. Add to the obstacles was the rime ice on many of the rocks (I should have brought Yaltraks_. Though the mountain was way above timberline there were no airy or no knife-edges make it an easy mountain to summit. Once on top the views were gorgeous, and Mt. Washington stood out like magical mountains. And the best thing, NO WIND which is extremely rare. This mountain wasn’t Hidden Lakes Peak in Washington State, but it’s view rivals the best in the eastern United States period. Over to the east was my next conquest Mt. Madison. Its pointy peak was teasing me to death. So after striking a couple of poses, taking some pictures and enjoying the beautiful summit of Mount Adams, I headed of to Mount Madison.
Though must of the rime ice had melted I had to take my time going down Mount Adams. In places this is more of a cairned boulder hop and scramble than a trail. After reaching Madison Hut only to find it closed, I went for Madison. This cairn route, part scramble part steep hike was a blast. It was cool looking down at Madison Hut and watching it smaller and smaller. It was now that my mountain fever was finally being quenched. This time I was lucky and there was little in the way of rime ice. Once on the summit I looked out to yet more impressive views, which were almost as good as Adams. Oh yes on this summit there were only LIGHT WINDS, which a rarity. I sat up there to enjoy the wonderful views for a while and took some shots. Apparently I spent too much time on both peaks (probably a half to an hour on each) because when another climber finally headed to the summit and told me the time it was 3:00 pm. And sunset was going to be at 5:30 pm. (Luckily he was wrong!!)
I decided to take the Watson Path to head home quicker. Everything to this point I did right (i.e. water, winter gear, tons of gear). This route was my mistake. The Watson Path was very slow going. It made a much better ascending route than a descending route. While above timberline all it was a bunch of boulder scree marked with cairns. I was fantasying about the beautiful Class 2 slabs of Vesper Peak in Washington State while descending this route. After a long journey to timberline I though I would be well off. But that was not the case. Many of the roots from the trees were causing me slip quiet a lot on the Watson Path and I ended up on my butt a number of times. Add to the routes that this trail was steep (not precarious though) and in need of repair in other. It was very slow going and I really wished I headed to back to Madison Hut and took Valley Way down. But once I made it to the bottom of the Watson Path I was greeted by a beautiful waterfall. I took a break got something to eat and rested.
After rest my legs for a bit I check my time and realized I was running out of sunlight. So I cruised on the Brookside Trail as quick as I could. There were some small areas where I had to go slower but nothing like the Watson Path. Slowly but surely I was losing light on the trail. I brought a flashlight but would it be enough in case I got stuck. My legs were hurting (luckily not cramping) and the Watson Path ate up most of my energy. But as every ounce of light was diminishing I got quicker. I was determined to reach the bottom before all the light was gone. Finally around 6:30 p.m., I made it down to the bottom, with just enough light not to use the flashlight. I sat there and rested and was relieved that even if I had not made it, I had a flashlight and it was a full moon! Still it was another wonderful day and another motivator to go for higher mountains.