Thanks for the encouragement, Harry. I'm 87% done now! Although I've never,
ever wanted to quit, even on bad days, both Jim and I are ready to be done and
go home. It's been a long adventure and we're both pretty tired.
This is the last of three sections in the Gorham, NH area that I had to
finish before moving on to Maine. It was part of a 14-mile section across the
northern Presidential Range that I was attempting to run/hike on Sunday (Day
121). But that day turned nasty in this "worst weather in the world" area and I
had to bail out at the Madison Springs hut and take a side trail into the
Jim and I debated about the best way for me to complete this section. Going
north, I had a 5,200-foot drop in 9.3 miles (including the side trail's
2,800-foot drop over 3.7 miles) and only 700 feet in gain. Going south, reverse
I prefer going up. It's easier on my knees. But we were afraid this morning's
beautiful sunny weather might turn ugly, as it is wont to do on Washington, and
Jim might not be able to drive to the summit in the middle of the afternoon to
retrieve me if I finished there.
So we decided it'd be best to go north, the direction with the large drop.
Fortunately, none of it was as steep as other sections I've done (like some
of them yesterday).
I needed extra sleep after yesterday's grueling hike. I got up late and
didn't hit the Trail until 9:45 AM. We called the number for the auto road to
see what the weather was doing on Mt. Washington. The fella who answered told us
the summit was mostly clear (occasional thin clouds passing through) and the
day's forecast was excellent for hiking on the ridge.
Although it was in the 60s at our campsite in the valley it was only 47
degrees on the summit of Mt. Washington and quite breezy. We checked out the
visitor's center briefly, signed the hiker register, and noticed that some
thru-hiking friends had signed this morning (Santa, Snowman, Aslan, and
Godspeed). I didn't see any of them inside or on the Trail, but met two
flip-floppers now going South, "Frog" and "Driftwood," about an hour into my
I hiked today. There was no running on the ridge, only on the lower portion
of the side trail at the end (the bonus mileage on Valley Way Trail).
And I use the term "trail" loosely. During the four hours it took me to go
all of 5.6 miles between Mt. Washington and Madison Spring Hut, I was often
picking my way through piles of rocks and boulders scattered every which way,
following taller piles of rocks (AKA cairns) as best I could. In a few places
the trail designers were nice and placed some flat rocks to walk on.
There is no way I could have done that Trail on Sunday during the wind,
sleet, and fog. It took every ounce of concentration and coordination I possess
to hop on this dry day from boulder to boulder (few of which were flat). There
wasn't much dirt to land on most of the way.
Although the footing was difficult today it was sort of fun because it was
sunny and I didn't have to push hard to get done before dark. I slid a lot and
fell a couple of times, but didn't get hurt.
There were lots of day hikers heading up to Mt. Washington from the direction
of Madison Hut; I imagine they spent last night there. Others were going up to the
hut from Valley Way Trail as I descended it this afternoon. I stopped in to use
the bathroom before heading down to the valley. I noticed the bunks stacked four
high - wow! You'd need to be a real monkey to climb up and down from those
It was interesting to see the hut and Mt. Madison in the sun. I had such a
difficult time there on Sunday in the rain, sleet/ice, thick fog, and gale-force
wind! This is a photo of the hut with Mt. Madison in
If the "trail" wasn't all rocks and boulders I suppose I should want to
return to hike over Madison again on a nice day - but I don't! There are other
more hike-able parts of the Presidential Range (the southern half) that
are more user-friendly and have views just as magnificent as the northern half.
This is my last full day in New Hampshire. Five miles into tomorrow's
run/hike, I'll be in Maine - my last state! Can you believe it??