Franconia Ridge

Franconia Ridge

Saturday, May 21, 2016

A Hike Above Treeline to Adams and Madison

I've been wanting to hike both Mount Adams(5,574') and Mount Madison(5,367') and with a favorable weather forecast today it seemed to be the perfect opportunity. My route would take me up Valley Way to the Gulfside Trail over to Airline and to the summit of Mount Adams for my first summit. Then back down Airline and Gulfside with an ascent on Mount Madison via the Osgood Trail. My descent would take me back down the Osgood Trail and Valley Way.

The sun was just coming up as I left for the house this morning. When I arrived at the Appalachia Trailhead the parking lot was quickly filling up. It was a cool start as I started my hike. As the sun rose higher and I hit the trail it got very warm. I went down to shorts and short sleeves. The black flies showed up as I was changing so I had to move fast. Once I got hiking again the black flies were tolerable and as I gained elevation they went away completely.

When I reached the upper section of Valley Way there was a group of hikers sitting beside the trail that looked like they had spent the previous night here. I mentioned that it was nice to not need the traction, I spoke to soon. They said the ice starts right around the corner of the trail. Sure enough there was a monorail of ice but I was able to get past it without the spikes although traction would have made it easier.

I got to Madison Spring Hut and took a short break. It was getting cool with a slight breeze so I zipped on my pant legs and a long sleeve layer. After a snack I was on my up the Gulfside Trail to Mount Adams. I turned left on Airline toward the summit and it wasn't long before I was doing some serious rock hopping snd this would continue all the way to the top. It was along here that I was questioning whether to continue over to Mount Madison as I felt some pain in my left calf thinking maybe a muscle strain from coming up over the ice earlier. I would see how this progressed as the hike continued.

When I reached the summit I added a fleece layer but the temperature was still very tolerable. The views were spectacular under hazy sunshine and clouds that were moving in. After some photos and my customary panoramic video I began my descent. The same rock hopping on the way down. When I reached the hut again my calf was feeling fine. I ate some lunch and relaxed before my next summit. After this brief rest I was ready for my ascent to Mount Madison. 

The hike up Mount Madison is another rock hop. A half-mile ascent and I was on the summit. The reward was more spectacular views. I spent a few minutes getting some photos and my second panoramic video for the day. I began my descent and it was all downhill from here. When I reached the icy section of Valley Way I put my microspikes on and it took about five minutes to get past the ice before coming off. That was the extent of traction for the day. 

After a 4.2 mile hike from the summit of Mount Madison I was back at the Appalachia trailhead. It was warm, bordering on hot and there were a few black flies buzzing around. The cars were parked up and down the highway. I saw lots of hikers on the trail today. This was a great day for hiking and I was very glad to see that the ice is just about gone after dealing with some very icy trails this year. I'm looking forward to when I can lighten my pack and leave the traction at home.

Enjoy the photos!

 Sunrise as I leave for the trailhead

 At the Appalachia trailhead

 Crossing the old rail trail as I start the hike

 Bearing left onto the Valley Way Trail

Snyder Brook waterfalls

 First patch of ice on the trail

 Easy over blowdown

 Hike into the Danger Zone

 A look back at the first view from the trail

 Madison Spring Hut

 A small patch of lingering snow at the hut

 Taking a short break before ascending Mount Adams

 Moving up the Gulfside Trail

 Looking back at Mount Madison and the hut below

 Airline Trail to Mount Adams

 Durand Ridge

 Mount Adams summit straight up the rocks

Interesting patterns on a rock

Almost on the summit of Mount Adams

Mount Washington and Mount Jefferson

Mount Jefferson

Mount Washington and the Great Gulf below

On Mount Adams

Mount Madison

Standing on Mount Adams

Great Gulf to Mount Washington

A view of the Wildcats

Mount Madison and Star Lake below

Mount Washington auto road

A view into Vermont

King Ravine below

Gulfside Trail back to Mount Madison


A view from the Osgood Trail

Ascending Mount Madison

Glider over Mount Madison

On the summit of Mount Madison

Zooming in far below to the Mount Washington auto road entrance

Wildcat Ski Area

Star Lake

Mount Adams

Zooming over to the summit of Mount Adams

Summit of Mount Washington

Descending Mount Madison

Madison Spring Hut

Descending Valley Way

Last of the ice on Valley Way

 Painted trillium

 Red trillium


 Wild strawberry


Pin Cherry

Waterfalls on Snyder Brook

Having Fun in the Great Outdoors!

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