MOUNT MADISON VIA THE VALLEY TRAIL
Mission accomplished! As Craig said.
On August 26, 2000 Craig, Terry, John and I climbed Mount Madison via the Valley Way trail. This was the first time all of us had climbed this trail and the first climb to Madison for everyone except Craig. Criag climbed the Boy Scout Trail to the top of Madison in 1967. How old are you Craig ?! I was born in 1967.
The trail to the top was 4.2 miles making trip a total of 8.4 miles. The trail up was actually a nice trail. You did not have to use your hands at all to pull yourself up. Along the first part of the trail there was several "side" trails that took you to water falls, ice caves, and river views. We did not go on any of these side trails but we did talk to a few people that had, and they said that it was very pretty. The people on this trail seemed more friendly then on other trails. There were not too many people, but enough that you felt that if something went wrong there would be someone that would help you.
Along the way up the trail we also saw the Hut Boys. The Hut Boys are the people that carry provisions to the hut and also bring down the trash. We saw 4 differnet Hut Boys and all were women except for one male. What they were carrying down was heavy but nothing like the weight they carried up the mountain. One women that was ahead of the rest was carrying 70 pounds (John asked her). Further down the trail we saw the male carrying about 80 pounds. Then there was a girl carrying a back pack with about 50 pounds. I said to them, "I guess I don't have to ask you what you do for a work out", they laughed and said "We don't go to a gym". John asked what was for dinner and they said it was spinach lasagna. Sounded good, but I was not going to follow them up for it. First time I have said "no" to food. Then the last hut woman we saw was carrying about 40 pounds. She looked tired. Craig asked to take her picture. She said "sure" and started to pose for the picture. Then Craig said "No, go ahead. I just want to take a pictue of your pack".
Finally, we made it to the hut. Time to eat smooshed sandwiches. I made the sandwiches out of a new type of roll-up bread like a tortilla, but they did not make it. This was finger food at its finest. But we were all so hungry we ate them, as we laughed, anyway. I had to change my shirt as it was soaked, like it was just finished with the spin cycle. The temperature up at the top was about 65 degrees and the wind was barely noticeable. There was a haze in the air, as Craig would say, but the view was unbelievable. Not too many days like this on the top of the Presidentials. There was a view all around you, as you can sort of see in the picture that I have included of John at the top. You could see all the tops of the Presidentials. Unbelievable! I could have spent hours up there just looking. This kind of day above the tree line is very rare and we all feel lucky that we had a great day to hike without weather dangers.
I have enclosed a picture of the top of Madison. In the picture is the Madison hut. From the hut there is another .4 miles to the top of the mountain. Now let me tell you that this picture is VERY deceiving!! The entire .4 miles to the top is made up of loose talis boulders. There is not a trail. You have to make your own trail by navigating the oddly sized, sharp boulders. The rocks were so sharp that when I was navigating my step so I would not step on the fragile alpine flower I "fell" into the rock in front of me and put a fairly deep cut in my hand. There are only kerns and blazes to guide yourself by. The Appalachian Trail goes over the top of Madison. To climb up and down this .4 miles to the top of Madison it took us an hour and a half. This was tough terrain.
Going down the first 1.3 miles was also tricky. The rocks were very slippery. I slipped four times onto my duff and luckily did not get hurt. My arms are sore this morning from catching myself. John fell once and when he did he smooshed the remaining lunch, the bananas, in his pack. This part of the trail took us an hour to get down. The farther down the trail the better it got, so we made better time after this first 1.3 miles. We started the trail at 8:30 in the morning and got off the trail at 5 pm. It was a long day and we were tired. When we got home we ordered take out food and opened a bottle of champaigne to celebrate. It was a great (safe) hike for all of us.
Madison stats: 4093 foot elevation gain. 5th highest (5367') in the state of NH. Book time is 8 hours 20 minutes. We came close to this time. The only other presidential that has more elevation gain is Mount Adams. It has about 400 more feet of elevation gain.
Mount Jefferson is our next major planned hike. Like all the presidentials you have to have a perfect day to climb. If anyone is interested in climbing with us just let us know.
- Kelley (edited by John)