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Stalking Tortoise & Smoking Sox Section Hike #35 - Crawford Notch to Pinkham Notch

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    • Stalking Tortoise & Smoking Sox Section Hike #35 - Crawford Notch to Pinkham Notch

      Pre-Hike

      So... less than one week to go! It's been over a year since we hit the trail and both of us are itchin' to take the first steps of Section Hike #35 from Crawford Notch.

      The plan is in place. All we need is for September 1st to arrive. We opted for leaving our vehicle at the Rattle River Hostel in Gorham and getting a shuttle down to Crawford Notch on the morning of the 1st.

      Sunday September 1st - Mizpah Spring Hut
      Monday September 2nd (Labor Day) - Lake of the Clouds Hut
      Tuesday September 3rd - Madison Spring Hut
      Wednesday September 4th (my 55th birthday) - Joe Dodge Lodge
      Thursday September 5th - Carter Notch Hut
      Friday September 6th - Route 2 / Gorham NH

      Other than the last day, the scheduled mileage is pretty light. All that's left to do is check the forecast and finish loading the pack. Long range forecast is for 30's & 40's at the summits.
      Trudgin' along the AT since 2003. Completed Sections: Springer Mountain to Winding Stair Gap NC, Max Patch to Franconia Notch NH and the Gale River Trail to Pinkham Notch NH.
    • StalkingTortoise wrote:

      Pre-Hike

      So... less than one week to go! It's been over a year since we hit the trail and both of us are itchin' to take the first steps of Section Hike #35 from Crawford Notch.

      The plan is in place. All we need is for September 1st to arrive. We opted for leaving our vehicle at the Rattle River Hostel in Gorham and getting a shuttle down to Crawford Notch on the morning of the 1st.

      Sunday September 1st - Mizpah Spring Hut
      Monday September 2nd (Labor Day) - Lake of the Clouds Hut
      Tuesday September 3rd - Madison Spring Hut
      Wednesday September 4th (my 55th birthday) - Joe Dodge Lodge
      Thursday September 5th - Carter Notch Hut
      Friday September 6th - Route 2 / Gorham NH

      Other than the last day, the scheduled mileage is pretty light. All that's left to do is check the forecast and finish loading the pack. Long range forecast is for 30's & 40's at the summits.
      That last day is going to be a big one, but I know it allows you to drop a lot of gear (large pack, sleeping bag, pad, stove, fuel, etc..). I hope and pray you have a good if not great weather. From my experience bad weather can really make a difference in the Whites.
      The road to glory cannot be followed with much baggage.
      Richard Ewell, CSA General
    • CoachLou wrote:

      I agree with that last day mileage..........do not be deceived by the lower altitude. You will have 4 stiff climbs in that 15 miles, and NO water from Carter till Imp site, or the north side of Moriah.

      Astro wrote:

      StalkingTortoise wrote:

      Pre-Hike

      So... less than one week to go! It's been over a year since we hit the trail and both of us are itchin' to take the first steps of Section Hike #35 from Crawford Notch.

      The plan is in place. All we need is for September 1st to arrive. We opted for leaving our vehicle at the Rattle River Hostel in Gorham and getting a shuttle down to Crawford Notch on the morning of the 1st.

      Sunday September 1st - Mizpah Spring Hut
      Monday September 2nd (Labor Day) - Lake of the Clouds Hut
      Tuesday September 3rd - Madison Spring Hut
      Wednesday September 4th (my 55th birthday) - Joe Dodge Lodge
      Thursday September 5th - Carter Notch Hut
      Friday September 6th - Route 2 / Gorham NH

      Other than the last day, the scheduled mileage is pretty light. All that's left to do is check the forecast and finish loading the pack. Long range forecast is for 30's & 40's at the summits.
      That last day is going to be a big one, but I know it allows you to drop a lot of gear (large pack, sleeping bag, pad, stove, fuel, etc..). I hope and pray you have a good if not great weather. From my experience bad weather can really make a difference in the Whites.
      I have studied the elevation profiles and quidebook descriptions for the section between the Carter Notch Hut and Route 2. More importantly, I re-read the journals of several hikers that I have followed through the years to gain wisdom from their experiences on this particular stretch of trail. I have a history of my pace through various sections in comparison to theirs.

      At that point of our hike, we'll only have clothing and one day's worth of snacks in the pack; we'll be ready to hike as soon as we finish breakfast. 08:00 - 19:00 gives us 11 hours to cover those 15 miles with around a 40-minute daylight cushion. We should be fine. Worst case - a bit of night hiking from the Rattle River Shelter to Route 2. Then we jump in the vehicle and grab dinner.

      Unlike many of my section hikes, I have been physically active over the past months and have been taking daily mountain bike rides to improve my leg strength & stamina. Climbing hills in a high gear while standing on the pedals is good exercise for climbing.
      Trudgin' along the AT since 2003. Completed Sections: Springer Mountain to Winding Stair Gap NC, Max Patch to Franconia Notch NH and the Gale River Trail to Pinkham Notch NH.
    • The nice thing about a big last day is you can empty the tank, knowing you don't need to save any energy for the next day.
      Also you should be able to finish breakfast closer to 7:30 if you have everything packed and ready to go and skip the Croo skits.
      The road to glory cannot be followed with much baggage.
      Richard Ewell, CSA General
    • Astro wrote:

      ...Also you should be able to finish breakfast closer to 7:30 if you have everything packed and ready to go and skip the Croo skits.
      Did I copy you on this afternoon's email to Smoking Sox? :P That's exactly what I typed in my reply to his message of "My buddy at work told me those last 15.2 miles are tough."
      Trudgin' along the AT since 2003. Completed Sections: Springer Mountain to Winding Stair Gap NC, Max Patch to Franconia Notch NH and the Gale River Trail to Pinkham Notch NH.
    • I don't put much faith in long-range forecasts, but here's one for Mount Washington for next Tuesday. I'll be crossing the summit in the morning and will be safely inside Madison Spring Hut that evening.



      The morning forecast has to be the unicorn of forecasts for Mount Washington - sunny with 0 mph wind. :thumbsup: I'm going in with the expectation of cloudy and brief occasional clearing. Just like my last visit. :thumbdown:

      Trudgin' along the AT since 2003. Completed Sections: Springer Mountain to Winding Stair Gap NC, Max Patch to Franconia Notch NH and the Gale River Trail to Pinkham Notch NH.
    • CoachLou wrote:

      Thursday- Lasagna!

      Lakes, last year was really really good. This year Madison, eh.
      Interesting that Lakes had the worst dinner for me this year. Could have been the menu (shells, where's the meat?), all croo leaders were there, or perhaps just that Mizpah to Lakes on a clear sunny (but windy) day was my easiest hike to a hut and not as hungry.
      The road to glory cannot be followed with much baggage.
      Richard Ewell, CSA General

      The post was edited 1 time, last by Astro ().

    • Got my last training ride in last evening - shaved three minutes off my best time on my 8.9-mile route. I actually feel physically prepared for this hike.

      Called Pinkham Notch Visitors Center this morning and confirmed my care package safely arrived. Just have to finish loading the pack and mow the lawn this evening, then it's an 8-hour drive starting early Saturday morning.

      w00t!
      Trudgin' along the AT since 2003. Completed Sections: Springer Mountain to Winding Stair Gap NC, Max Patch to Franconia Notch NH and the Gale River Trail to Pinkham Notch NH.
    • The mountain summit forecasts for Pierce (9/1), Washington (9/2) and Madison (9/3 & 9/4).



      That 36 F high temp on Wednesday night has piqued my interest. Wonder what Mother Nature has in store for Thursday & Friday. :huh:
      Trudgin' along the AT since 2003. Completed Sections: Springer Mountain to Winding Stair Gap NC, Max Patch to Franconia Notch NH and the Gale River Trail to Pinkham Notch NH.
    • i've been in the whites twice; the 2nd time the weather was perfect (sometime in the summer; don't remember when).

      on my thru i spent the nite at the lakes of the clouds on september 4 (really close to stalking tortoise's timetable) and on september 5 it drizzled, turned to a hard rain, and then to snow. on the morning of the 6th the wind was 88 mph, and the road to mt. washington was closed due to ice.

      never know what you'll get in the whites -- good luck!
      2,000 miler
    • Considering the possibility of a Thru Hike of the AT in a few years. Of course need to finish my section next summer before seriously planning.
      Would try to knock off the first 100 or so miles to Franklin during Spring Break, and then pick up the rest at the end of the first week of May and finish by second week of October. Of course weather through the Whites would be another concern. Much rather go through the Whites in August than September. :)
      The road to glory cannot be followed with much baggage.
      Richard Ewell, CSA General
    • It poured, poured rain there all day. The tough thing about having AMC hut reservations is if you don't use it, you lose it. Guessing the Tortoise slogged up through this stuff today to get to Mispah. Tomorrow looks better but gray.
      “Of all sad words of tongue or pen,
      the saddest are these, 'It might have been.”


      John Greenleaf Whittier
    • IMScotty wrote:

      It poured, poured rain there all day. The tough thing about having AMC hut reservations is if you don't use it, you lose it. Guessing the Tortoise slogged up through this stuff today to get to Mispah. Tomorrow looks better but gray.
      I had rain and hail on that section, but so grateful it didn't pour on me that day, like it did two days before on my way to Zeeland.
      The road to glory cannot be followed with much baggage.
      Richard Ewell, CSA General
    • Made it to Pinkham Notch on schedule. Then I called home and found out my father in law is in the hospital. Heading home tomorrow.
      Trudgin' along the AT since 2003. Completed Sections: Springer Mountain to Winding Stair Gap NC, Max Patch to Franconia Notch NH and the Gale River Trail to Pinkham Notch NH.
    • Leaving Pinkham Notch on Thursday morning, the temps were moderate and the skies were blue. Just checked today's weather and it was more of the same. Damn...

      But the father-in-law is doing better and should be discharged in the morning. Maybe another years worth of hikers will smooth out the trail a little more. :P
      Trudgin' along the AT since 2003. Completed Sections: Springer Mountain to Winding Stair Gap NC, Max Patch to Franconia Notch NH and the Gale River Trail to Pinkham Notch NH.
    • Saturday, August 31st
      .
      Up at 04:30 and on the road by 05:00. Made it to Hartland VT just after noon for lunch with my college friend and occasional AT shuttler Sue. Then it was an easy 90 minute drive over to Belmont NH to meet up with Sox for some pre-hike carb loading (pizza and fries) and beers around the lakeside fire pit. This is a picture from Sunday morning as we left for the Whites - a specific Deep Purple song was stuck in my head.

      Trudgin' along the AT since 2003. Completed Sections: Springer Mountain to Winding Stair Gap NC, Max Patch to Franconia Notch NH and the Gale River Trail to Pinkham Notch NH.
    • Sunday September 1st

      Today was a Class I day - sunny with mild temps and a gentle breeze. With only 6.4 miles to cover, we didn't have to rush or worry about hitting landmarks by specific times. We departed at 05:50 and pulled into the driveway at Rattle River Hostel in Gorham just before 08:00. Former thru-hiker Pelican shuttled us down to Crawford Notch and we started the hike just a few minutes past 09:00.



      Ascending to Webster Cliffs was a workout and had me wringing the sweat out my buff at every rest break. The reward was worth the effort.



      The trail up to Webster Cliffs and Mount Webster was a mixed bag.



      After ascending Mount Jackson, I stopped in my tracks and gawked at the view before me: Mizpah Spring Hut on the left, followed by Mt. Pierce, Mt. Eisenhower, Mt. Franklin and Mt. Monroe. Oh yeah... Mt. Washington was there too.



      I enjoyed one last view of Washington from an open boggy meadow north of Mt. Jackson then put my head down and knocked off the last few tents to Mizpah, arriving just before 16:00. Call it seven hours of very pleasant (and slow) hiking on a beautiful day.



      Trudgin' along the AT since 2003. Completed Sections: Springer Mountain to Winding Stair Gap NC, Max Patch to Franconia Notch NH and the Gale River Trail to Pinkham Notch NH.
    • Dinner was vegetarian. Sox and I made up for it by munching on some bacon jerky before the meal. :D





      The Hut wasn't at capacity but it was more full than I expected. Still, the croo did a fine job with the meals and the service. The 'blanket-folding / tip the croo' skit was the best I have seen to date.
      Trudgin' along the AT since 2003. Completed Sections: Springer Mountain to Winding Stair Gap NC, Max Patch to Franconia Notch NH and the Gale River Trail to Pinkham Notch NH.
    • Monday, September 2nd (Labor Day)

      Lynn Anderson sang the lyrics "I beg your pardon. I never promised you a rose garden. Along with the sunshine, there's got to be a little rain sometime." Today was rain day. But with only 6.4 miles to the Lake of the Clouds Hut, it seemed tolerable. In the end, it was about half miserable. Some trail pictures:



      I'll give Sox credit - he did the loop trails to hit the summits of Eisenhower, Franklin and Monroe. I saw no need to add extra miles and effort to stand higher up in the clouds. Just after the northern intersection with the Mt. Monroe summit loop trail, I ran into a pair of hikers and struck up a conversation. I pointed into the fog and said "The Hut has to be just ahead, right?" They laughed and said "Touch our skin - it's still warm. If you throw a rock in that direction, you'll hit the hut!" Three steps later, I saw it.



      I left Mizpah at 08:54 and arrived at Lakes by 12:56. The place was packed with an AMC Trail Crew, hikers who didn't want to go up & over Mt. Washington today, and folks like us that were doing the Presidential Traverse over four days. Everyone had wet gear and everything was still damp the next morning. There was too much moisture in the Hut and not enough heat. During the afternoon and evening, rain and winds pelted the Hut. I reminded Sox that he had considered starting a day later than me, hiking to Lakes in one day (hitting all of the 4000 footers), and hiking down to Pinkham Notch the next morning via the AT. He sheepishly thanked me for talking him into the 4-day plan.





      Here's a hint to any future Hut visitors - don't sit at the table with the Trail Crew members. We had a bad combination of a croo that was simply going through the motions and a Trail Crew that didn't follow the "make sure you leave firsts for everyone before you take seconds." Empty serving bowls made their way to my spot at the end of the table and croo members simply grabbed them and tossed them into the sink instead of asking if we needed refills. Fortunately, some of the Trail Crew members went table to table and collected any unused servings of BEFF and pasta so we did get our fill of some of the items on the menu.

      Sox asked to be in a different bunk room than me - he forgot to bring the plastic bag that gets placed over my head when I'm snoring. I slept great thanks to my Jim Beam Apple and a couple of Advil PMs.
      Trudgin' along the AT since 2003. Completed Sections: Springer Mountain to Winding Stair Gap NC, Max Patch to Franconia Notch NH and the Gale River Trail to Pinkham Notch NH.
    • Tuesday September 3rd

      I was up early and took advantage of an empty bathroom to complete my daily hygiene routine. After breakfast, the line stretched down the hall...

      We were in the clouds this morning with visibility of 1 to 3 cairns.





      The only option was to trudge on ahead following the cairns up to the summit. I knew I was close when I crossed the Gulfside Trail but I damn near smacked my nose into the weather observatory before I saw it.



      Trial and error got me to the actual summit marker where some folks who arrived via automobile were posing for pictures. They asked how I got there and were shocked to learn that there is a high country Hut less than 1.5 miles from the summit. The money shot:



      Sox and I spent a good hour at the summit, eating snacks, drinking Cokes, and getting intimate with the hot air hand dryer in the men's room. At 10:30, I started on my journey down towards the Gulfside Trail. Just outside the Visitor's Center, a strange shape loomed through the fog, Was it some type of coal-powered alien transport ship?



      Trudgin' along the AT since 2003. Completed Sections: Springer Mountain to Winding Stair Gap NC, Max Patch to Franconia Notch NH and the Gale River Trail to Pinkham Notch NH.
    • StalkingTortoise wrote:

      Saturday, August 31st
      .
      Up at 04:30 and on the road by 05:00. Made it to Hartland VT just after noon for lunch with my college friend and occasional AT shuttler Sue. Then it was an easy 90 minute drive over to Belmont NH to meet up with Sox for some pre-hike carb loading (pizza and fries) and beers around the lakeside fire pit. This is a picture from Sunday morning as we left for the Whites - a specific Deep Purple song was stuck in my head.


      “Of all sad words of tongue or pen,
      the saddest are these, 'It might have been.”


      John Greenleaf Whittier
    • I had heard that the trail between the summit of Mt. Washington and the Madison Spring Hut was like 'Pennsylvania with a view'. At first there was no view. But then the description was pretty accurate. Sox had departed well before me, but I caught up to him just after crossing the cog railroad track. The clouds parted and there he was just in front of me. He didn't admit to anything, but I'm guessing he took a wrong trail off the summit and had to Guthook his way back to the AT.





      And then, the clouds parted and revealed a most magnificent sight. The Great Gulf and Mount Adams.





      I passed Sox while he was bagging the summit of Mt. Jefferson but he caught up to me as I was ascending towards Mt. Adams. I found the section of trail after the Monticello Lawn to be challenging, especially on the descent from the Six Husbands Trail to Edmands Col. The section ascending towards Thunderstorm Junction didn't get much love from me either.





      As I arrived at the side trail to the summit of Mt. Adams, I found Sox in quiet contemplation. He really wanted to bag the summit, but the trip up to the top of Jefferson had left him spent. I wished him well with his decision and continued on my quest to reach the Madison Springs Hut.



      By this time, I was running out of gas. The rocky descent from Thunderstorm Junction to the intersections with the Air Line Trail wasn't technical, but I found myself moving slowly and deliberately. I stopped just before the northern junction with the Air Line Trail to capture this image of Mt. Madison.



      Then I strolled up to the cairn and saw the Madison Springs Hut in all of it's glory.



      Those last 0.3 miles were tough. By the way, Sox had wisely bailed on bagging the summit of Mt. Adams and caught back up to me for this final descent of the day. Note that I reached the hut first, proving that I was the superior hiker for the day. finger.gif


      Dinner was great and the croo was as hospitable as the kids at Mizpah. I really enjoyed my stay here, especially as the wind howled through the col overnight. We would have been at around 50% capacity but a group of 12 students and counselors came in just before dinner. They were very well behaved and added a different vibe to the evening. I sat next to a pair of flip-flop thrus from Lake Tahoe - Storytime & Rocket. They were pleasant company during dinner and breakfast.

      I had just enough time after dinner to head outside and capture a few images of photogenic Mt. Adams.and the valley below.

      Trudgin' along the AT since 2003. Completed Sections: Springer Mountain to Winding Stair Gap NC, Max Patch to Franconia Notch NH and the Gale River Trail to Pinkham Notch NH.