Franconia Ridge

Franconia Ridge

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Mount Madison via Valley Way


After heavy rain last night the skies were clearing this morning and the air was cool. Our destination was the Appalachia trailhead. The plan was to hike the Valley Way trail to Madison Hut then the Osgood Trail to the summit of Mount Madison (5,367 feet).


Trailhead

Going that-a-way

Snyder Brook

Crossing a brook

We pulled into the parking lot, there were about a dozen vehicles there and we had our choice of where to park. There was one other person that pulled in at the same time and it would be way up the trail before we met anyone else. The time was 7:51 and we were on our way up the Valley Way Trail.





The trail was damp from the night before but there was no standing water - at this point. There was a lot of water flowing down the brook beside us and it created some nice waterfalls! It was not until about the mile and a half to two mile mark that we started running into a very wet trail. The water was flowing down the trail but nothing our hiking boots couldn't handle.


Looking up at Mount Madison



We met a group of hikers taking a break and they told us about their harrowing day on the trail yesterday. They were participating in the "Flags on the 48" ceremony on Mount Jefferson. On their way back to Madison Hut they were hit by a storm front that brought in 80 to 100 mile per hour winds almost instantly. They had to hunker behind large boulders and pick their way across the trail, at times on hands and knees. Except for a few items that were blown away they were none the worse for wear after what sounded like a terrifying ordeal.

First glimpse of Madison Hut


View from inside Madison Hut

Starting our final ascent to the summit

Onward and upward we continued over the water-soaked trail. There were many hikers descending, most having spent the night at Madison Hut. As we got closer we met a lone hiker that said he had just left the hut 10 minutes ago and that we were almost there. I knew it must be close the trees were getting smaller. We caught our first glimpse of the hut. The tree line goes right up next to it and then is quickly gone replaced with barren landscape and boulders.


Putting on the windbreaker

Mount Washington in the distance

Looking back at Madison Hut

We went inside the hut, about a year old now, and were greeted by the caretakers that offered us free pancakes and various other items. I've met other hut caretakers on my hikes and they are all very friendly, accommodating and helpful! We decided to eat the food that we had brought in order to lighten our load just a little. The Madison Hut is open for one more week and will then be closing for the winter.


Wildcat Ski area and Mount Washington Auto Road



The hut is beautiful and well maintained. We sat down, relaxed and had a bite to eat. There were hikers coming and going but I wouldn't consider it crowded and actually expected more people than what was actually there.

Mount Washington

Mount Adams

Almost there and a long way down!

There's no more up, standing on Mount Madison summit!

After a brief rest we were ready to make the final ascent to the summit. I asked the caretaker what the usual round trip time was and he said one hour. We set out and were following a group of four hikers. It was not long before we had to pull out our windbreakers. There was a cool stiff breeze blowing.

Starting the descent

Rocks...

...and more rocks!

Clouds move in and over Mount Washington

The 0.5 mi. to the top was a scramble over rocks and boulders. There were plenty of cairns to follow. I took many photos. We reached the summit and found a spectacular 360 degree view! More photos, a 360 video and we were soon on our way back down.


Getting warmer...

...time to shed some clothes!

Leaving Madison Hut and down the Valley Way Trail

It was a quick descent to the hut. We were out of the wind and the sun was warmer. Before continuing down the trail we decided to go with shorts and short sleeves. We retraced our steps back to Appalachia via Valley Way. It took  two hours to hike the 3.8 miles back to the parking lot.




Watery trail

This was a great hike on a beautiful day! Another 4,000 footer...40 more to go!

video

Having fun in the great outdoors!

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