You don't have to be a nut to think of perhaps doing a Presidential Traverse after getting up Washington once, everyone thinks the same thing. So it occured to me that I should take some of my track and cross country friends and try it I mean we are all distance runners so we're all in shape and can probably hike. I do my double digit mile long runs with Eugene so I let him in on it first. Then came Jeremy because he has a fair amount of hiking experience as well. Then went the email to the team which picked up Dufty the freshman. I must mention that in all honestly neither Eugene or Dufty had done any hiking or backpacking so it was going to be "fun" for them and I knew for a fact having introduced a dozen such people to the sport that they were going to underestimate it. Everyone does. Everyone thinks they are in shape and have a high threshold of pain and tolerance to difficult conditions. (After writing that I now realize that thats how people get hurt and die they think they are "above" the weather, the terrain, whatever.) But, I figured we had "the right stuff" so we could make it where others failed.
Lodging costs money, thus I thankfully have a van. A van that can accomodate four people tightly. 3/5 hours for sleep isn't that bad. Food, we each brought our own. I told everybody in an informal gear meeting what they should have and bring such as: warm clothes, no cotton, running shoes, gloves, stocking hat, raincoat, backpack, water bottles, extra socks. Well I had some extra stuff that I lent out and then thought that everyone had all that stuff. Yeah, right, like they would listen to me. I have to admit I never used to listen to gear lists I thought I knew more than the system. Now I know better. We left Jeremy's car the night before at Crawford Notch. We drove up to Appalachia trailhead and got to sleep in my van at the trailhead.
We woke up at 4:15 and left heading up the valley way and then proceeding to the Watson Path. I should mention now that Eugene who had opted to bring a duffle bag was beginning to have trouble carrying it. We broke above treeline and I then found out that his cotton shorts were all he had he hadn't brought pants or gloves which in the rain at 45F and 30mph winds was, an experience for him. As with many trips once the date is set its either then or wait until next year. But we made it up Madison for the token photo opportunity, and down to the Madison Hut.
We took like a 20 minute break then headed up to Adams. Its tought to convince yourself to get moving after stopping at a hut. Its warm and dry and there are people around with interesting stories.We headed around toward the Great Gulf and then curved back like a fish hook to get to the summit. It was out of the wind that way.
After summitting we headed off in the direction of Jefferson. Less than a half an hour before the summit it was quite a bit windier (Edmonds Col I think) like 40mph and everyone was getting cold. Jeremy said he might go down then. I think he was looking out for Euge cause Euge wasn't looking good. We did Jefferson and in my head I was thinking of how I could motivate them all to continue and do the whole thing. I was preparing a speech and all. I was also thinking the whole time how I was just plain uncomfortable and wanted to stop. My thoughts then collided and I knew we were heading down. The next time we stopped I told them and we all burst out laughing and the mood of our group lightened suddenly because we knew it would be over soon. The presidentials may not be big or difficult but the weather is really the biggest and to an experienced party by far the most important factor in determining success.
However, I put it to them this way, "The way I look at it we have two options, beg for a ride to our car or walk there." So Dufty and I still had energy left and agreed to run to the car when we got to the bottom of the Cog railway via the Jewell trail. We made our way down none of us disapointed we didn't finish cause we decided to head down at like 11am so we still had daylight. We finally marched our cold, wet boddies to the railway station at about 1:37pm which was to the minute 9 hours after we had left the parking lot.
After a 15 minute break we headed out on our 5 mile run to Crawford Notch. We ran like a mile or so then walked like 3 minutes or so. We made it in like 45 minutes. Then drove the road back to get our compatriates where we found Euge asleep and Jeremy just woken. We drove up to my van and then down through Pinkham Notch and ate at the Red Fox and had the most awesome waiter (one that actually came around every few minutes to fill our drinks and stuff) college kids usually don't get much service even though we tip as well as anyone. The drive home was long and uneventful arriving at WPI at like 9:30. It was a fantastic day with 12 miles of hiking in nine hours and then a five mile run to top it off.
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