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Two-day Presidential Traverse - Mid September

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Two-day Presidential Traverse - Mid September

Postby DukeJH » Fri Sep 02, 2011 5:30 pm

I'm looking for local advise and/or fatal flaws here. I'm flying from LA to Boston to do this with my brother over the weekend after Labor Day. Since I arrive around 0600, we plan to drive directly to NH and will have a late start. My brother feels he can do this in two days but one day is not possible for him.

We plan to start at Appalacia and take the Airline trail to the ridge and generally follow the AT south, finishing at Crawford Notch. The proposed route can be seen here: http://mapshare.delorme.com/consumer/v.aspx?p=5t0dqlzv

Bailout routes are plentiful so I feel comfortable with those contingencies should the weather go bad.

My concerns are:
1) Camping
The huts are full Saturday night and close after Saturday so they are not an option. I understand there is no camping allowed above timberline unless there is 2 feet of snow, which there won't be. So it looks like we will have to descend for the night.
- How likely are Randolph Mountain Club shelters to be available on a Saturday night after Labor Day?
- What about descending the Jewell trail to treeline? Are there any decent tent sites?
- Based on the topo, the Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail does not appear to be a suitable descent for a campsite. True?
- Can anyone provide any more information as to potential camping or "resting" on the AT in the Whites?

2) Water
- We will need to refill water and have cooking water. I understand water is available at the huts. True?
- Can we count on the streams shown on the topo for water?

Thanks in advance for your insights!
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Re: Two-day Presidential Traverse - Mid September

Postby adventurer » Fri Sep 02, 2011 6:11 pm

"When you travel, if you avoid the people, reject the food, ignore the customs, and fear the religion..... you might as well stay home"
James A. Michener
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Re: Two-day Presidential Traverse - Mid September

Postby kozman18 » Fri Sep 02, 2011 8:34 pm

The RMC huts tend to fill on the weekends. By the time you drive to NH and get on the trail, you would get to the huts late and might not find a bunk, especially if you take Airline -- which is on the north side of the King Ravine (you would have to ascend to the top of the King Ravine from the north, and then down to the huts on the south side). Since you would skip Madison in this process anyway, you might be better heading up directly towards the huts on the south side, either through the pentadoi to Crag Camp or via Lowes Path to Gray Knob. If they are full, you might find a spot at the Perch for a tent. The problem is that, if they are full up, you will have to descend to the Log Cabin or elswhere to find a campsite.

You could also head for the Valley Way tentsite (less likely to be crowded). Or, you could bring bivies and head below treeline . . .

None of these options gains much distance heading south. You would still have to climb back up to the ridge in the morning, and then all the way south to Crawford (long day). And, it's not really a true traverse if you don't hit the summits of Madison and Adams. You could hit Adams if you stick to Airline, but Madison would be a detour (couple hours).

Lots of bailout routes along the way, but they would put you a long way from your vehicle(s), especially if you end up in the Great Gulf.

There's a reliable water source between Crag Camp and Gray Knob. Pretty sure there's reliable water at Valley Way (I stayed there two years ago, but can't remember the source).

Hope this helps.
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Re: Two-day Presidential Traverse - Mid September

Postby DukeJH » Fri Sep 02, 2011 9:46 pm

@Adventurer
I've used the Chauvin Guides site pretty extensively in planning this trip. They do have lots of good information.

@kozman18
Great beta. We understand that if we bail we'll be a long way from the cars but that's nature I guess. Right now I plan to gain the ridge via Airline and head north to Madison and Adams then backtrack. What trail would you suggest to go direct to Madison without backtracking?

It sounds like it'd be best to just make a really long day out of it.
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Re: Two-day Presidential Traverse - Mid September

Postby kozman18 » Sat Sep 03, 2011 2:24 am

The most direct way to Madison is to take Valley Way (from the same trailhead as Airline). There is a tent platform off of Valley Way if you want to pull up short. Valley Way takes you straight to Madison Hut. If you want to bag Madison, drop the packs at the hut and run up to the summit. Unlike Airline, Valley Way saves you climbing up above the hut and then having to drop down and backtrack.

From Madison, I think its Gulfside that brings you up to Airline (it's pretty obvious which way to head), Airline takes you to the summit of Mt. Adams. From there, you can drop down to Thunderstorm Junction -- Lowe's Path will take you to Gray Knob, Lowe's to Spur will take you to Crag. Or you can head towards Jefferson, but now camping options are few/zero (it's very exposed -- all rock, and getting down to treeline is a schlep). If you head to the RMC huts, you lose about 1,200 feet in the drop from T-storm junction to the huts (which you will have to regain on day two to continue the traverse). If you decide to take a stab at the huts, I would suggest going to Crag Camp first (great views). If full, the trail from Crag to Gray Knob passes by the water supply, so you can get water on the way. If Gray knob is full, then continue on to the Perch (if you track down the caretaker, he/she may be able to give you a heads up on what's full and where to go).

It's a long way from the RMC huts to Crawford Notch (but a spectacular hike).

Have a great trip.
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Re: Two-day Presidential Traverse - Mid September

Postby AlexeyD » Sat Sep 03, 2011 10:33 pm

I would NOT recommend descending the Jewell Trail to find camping: it leaves the ridge almost from the summit of Mt. Clay (~5500 feet), and it's quite a long way to treeline. A better option is to descend the Sphinx Trail eastward from Sphinx Col; if I remember correctly it is possible to find sheltered camping spots in about a quarter mile from the Gulfside Trail. I am not sure about water availability: the map shows some sort of stream flowing into the Great Gulf from the vicinity of the col, but the trail does not appear to intersect it, and I don't know how reliable it would be in September. There is also a spring in Edmands Col (Gulfside Spring), which is not too far from Sphinx; I would probably fill up there if you follow my camping suggestion, just in case. Good luck!
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Re: Two-day Presidential Traverse - Mid September

Postby kozman18 » Sun Sep 04, 2011 3:10 am

Ditto on the Jewell. I have camped off the Sphinx as AlexeyD suggests, but it was early spring and there was snow, so water wasn't an issue (and we dug out a snow platform, so finding a campsite wasn't difficult ). Getting water at Edmunds is a good idea just in case.
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Re: Two-day Presidential Traverse - Mid September

Postby DukeJH » Tue Sep 06, 2011 12:15 am

Good info Kozman. I appreciate it.

Thanks for the heads up on Jewell Trail not being ideal.
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