Hikes,  White Mountains - NH

Presidential Traverse – Take 2

July 2017
We set off with the plan of doing a single day Presidential Traverse AGAIN, this time with a friend – Cait!
The presidential traverse is a 20+ mile hike across the presidential range in the White Mountains of NH.
Same start as last time, drive up after work, and start hiking super early.
This time we decided to drive to the trail head (Valley Way Trail Head), and decided that at the end of the day we could call a cab (We had previously used the Notch Taxi Service at (603) 991-8777) and get a ride back to the trail head, or hitch with some friendly hikers headed in the same direction!

We got on the trail before sunrise, around 4:45AM. We started hiking at a fair rate, but slower than we would have liked. Hiking on no sleep has proven to be more challenging than this group would have anticipated or preferred!
A wonderful reminder of how the weather on these special mountains change and a good reminder to always be prepared!

Slowly but surely we hiked, and hiked and hiked. As we continued up we took time to enjoy the stream crossings, and snacked on home made jerky. We hiked along the Valley Way Trail, towards the summit of Mt. Madison.
The weather was BEAUTIFUL, cool and the sun was coming up and it was looking like the perfect day!
We made it up to our first peak, Mt. Madison after 4,000′ of elevation gain,  ~4 miles and just about 4 hours of hiking.  (So many 4’s!) The view was SIGNIFICANTLY better than when Zack and I made our first prezi attempt!img_6981
You can see Cait is brilliant, and packed a little felt surprise! Signs marking each summit with its elevation!
We looked ahead and could see many of the peaks we planned on continuing across… disappointing to the group, we could also see the landscape… We are all a pretty happy cheery bunch usually, so we had a snack and continued on!
20246338_10155037407089671_2772730172482293647_n.jpgAs you can see in the picture above, the terrain is pretty rough, lots of large rocks/boulders with plenty of places to step wrong or trust a untrustworthy rock and roll  your ankle or worse, break something (or slip and fall on you face like I did on our last attempt…)
We made our way down to the Mt. Madison hut, we took a moment to reminisce on our last trip across this ridge, and the difficult decision to turn back last time.
Mt. Adams was our next summit… which we hit just after 10:15AM, about  5.5 hours into our journey. img_7014
I would say that the three of us are fairly intelligent people… we knew that being only 2 summits in at 10:15AM was not a great sign for completing the single day prezi. We all pressed on, hopeful that we might get a second wind, and that the rough rocky terrain might yield to smoother trails!

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20374363_10155037418754671_5491930792152031292_nAs the slideshow above shows, there was no shortage of rocky terrain on our journey from Mt. Adams towards Mt. Jefferson!
Between Mt. Adams and our next summit, Mt. Jefferson we decided to take our first real break of the day. We stopped right before the last climb up to the summit of Mt. Jefferson. As we sat for the first time of the day we could see how far (7.75 miles) we had come in the 9 hours we had been hiking! We sat for 15/20 minutes and having a well deserved snack! We started moving again and that rest did wonders for our knees and moral! We all moved quick up (retaliative, we moved quick for us!) the last push towards the summit of  Mt. Jefferson, summiting around 2:15PM.
I would say it was around this point that we were all well aware that doing this single day prezi was almost completely out of the question… None of us were interested in hiking out in the dark, and abusing our knee’s in the dark like that.
Zack and I hiking down, you can see Mt. Washington observatory WAY in the back! You can also see a little Mt. Clay peak laying in the middle!

We finally summited Mt. Clay!

We were all thrilled to be at the summit of Mt. Clay, excited to see how the rest of our day would go!
Easily my favorite photo from the trip! Summit of Mt. Washington in the back!

We all waddled along and as per our usual, got goofier as the miles continued…

A view of all of the previous summits for the day, on our final climb up Mt. Washington…. From right to left, and start to finish: Mt. Madison, Mt. Adams, Mt. Jefferson and Mt. Clay!

For those of you who are unfamiliar with Mt. Washington, there are a few options for seeing the top of the North East!
You can hike to the 6,288′. OR You can drive, hence all of those “This car climbed Mt. Washington”. OR. You can take the cog railway!
One of these methods will soon be our saving grace as we summit Mt. Washington and abandon our hopes of a single day prezi!
I want to point out, that we didn’t HAVE to decide to call it a day. From ALL accounts, everyone one I have spoken to and everything I have read, the summits we had covered were the hardest portion of the presidential traverse. Apparently the rest of the traverse is much easier. I have been told that it is easier terrain, however this group is working off almost no sleep, and we decided to summit Mt. Washington and call it a day!

We summited Mt. Washington at 5:15PM, after about 11.5 miles!
Our journey was not over… The original plan for the day was to hike to the Crawford Parking lot, and use a pre-arranged taxi to bring us back to the car at the Valley Way Trail head, where we started oh so many hours before. We decided to find a new way down the mountain. As a group we decided that we did not really want to hike down, and we also weren’t super interested in paying for the train down! We decided to see if anyone had room in their car and was willing to drive us down (AKA we hitch hiked!). We met two VERY nice gentlemen with a full size pick up and three spare seats! They were kind enough to give us a ride down!!!
A view of Mt. Madison and Mt. Adams from the road on the way down!

The drive down Mt. Washington is an experience in itself! The road is quite steep, and brakes have been known to heat up and warp if you don’t pull off and give them a chance to cool down! We stopped often giving the breaks and car a chance to cool.
At the bottom we parted ways with our new friends as we had to head north, and they were headed south!
We finally got some cell service and were able to call and let the Taxi driver know that we would not be making it to the Valley Way Trail head at our pre-determined time he was not thrilled with us, and did not want to come get us from the base of Mt. Washington. We walked towards the main street and did all we could do, stick our thumbs out and hope we didn’t look too disheveled for someone to want to help us out! After almost no time at all a very kind family from NH stopped and let us pile in and drove us back to our car! – Side Note: I think 95% of the people living in New Hampshire are overwhelmingly kind and I am so appreciative of that!
We piled into our car and started to head south for our next adventure… 20170722_201140.jpg

HIKE RATING: 8/10 ~ 12 miles and over 5,500 ft of elevation gain

Based on this experience, I would STILL recommend only attempting the prezi if you have good weather ahead! I would also recommend a full night of sleep before attempting this hike! We would have had a much better chance at completing this hike if we had all been well rested (and being in shape might have helped too…) I would also recommend always bringing some cash with you, if you wanted something from one of the AMC huts, or a train ride down, money is the way to do that! I would also suggest bringing the proper layers. After about mile 3 you are above tree line and completely exposed to the elements for the rest of this hike (until your final decent after Mt. Jackson if you are able to complete this single day prezi)

TECHNICAL: Attempted 7/22/2017

  • 4:45 AM – Begin Hiking up Valley Way Trail
  • We turned off to the Watson Trail
  • 8:45 AM – Summit Mt. Madison
  • 10:15 AM – Summit Mt. Adams
  • 2:15 PM – Summit Mt. Jefferson
  • 4:00 PM – Summit Mt. Clay
  • 5:15 PM – 11.5 Miles Later – Summit Mt. Washington


  • Always be prepared for the White Mountains.
  • Bring some money up with you, if you need another option down, you want to have it! Plus, hot coco or a cookie is a huge moral boost at one of the huts!
  • Slow and steady is the key in the rocks!
  • Enjoy the journey! Expectations and plans change… Going with a group and on no sleep means that you might not accomplish what you set out to accomplish… Your destination might change, and you AGAIN might not finish what you wanted, but as long as you are with people who make it enjoyable and everyone is safe you can still have an incredible time!

FYI… The whole presidential traverse (North to South, as we have attempted twice now) would go as follows…

  1. Mt. Madison
  2. Mt. Adams
  3. Mt. Jefferson
  4. Mt. Clay
  5. Mt. Washington
  6. Mt. Monroe
  7. Mt. Franklin
  8. Mt. Eisenhower
  9. Mt. Pierce
  10. Mt. Jackson


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