After the Katahdin Hike last year, it was decided to do a more ambitious tour this year. BruceD is
well acquainted with the White Moutains in New Hampshire, and we did Lafayette last year
during the bike tour, so the decision was made to try for the Presidentials, which takes about 3
days and runs you by 3 of the AMC huts. We did 2 overnites in Madison and Lakes of the
Woods, with a lunch visit to Mitzpah.
Although 20 people signed up, only 15 made the final cut, mostly due to the MTT strike. The
official list: BruceD, BruceM, GordonW, JeffreyW, GregV, JeromeB, Wayne Banks,
Chris/Betty& friend Wanda, Ross/Kirsten, Ron/Claudia and Gabby.
The huts were booked last year, as was the Farm (Robert Sherburn's PineStead). BruceD had a
meeting in early July to get deposits and go over gear selection/maps, etc. I took my camping list
and re-worked it to get a better hiking list, and then a list specific to this type of hike. Since this is
so much cross-over, I think I will generate a big list with codes for hiking/ biking/ camping/
vacationing and then dump it according to the event. Maybe put it on the Web!
I spent a fair bit of time searching for hiking boots, as the sneaks won't do for multiple days of
mixed weather. Ended up with a pair of $100 US Rockports from Freeport. High sew-ups,
waterproofed, no maintenance leather uppers, Vibram soles, steeel shank and Gore-Tex liner.
Very comfy, a bit warm locally, but great in the mountains. I intend for them to be my winter
boots, on and off the bike, so it looks like a big winner.
As well, I got a new pair of work shorts from Cleve's (late summer sale), allowing me to use my
current work shorts on the trip. While in N.Y. I found a nice Supplex/foam hat that doesn't look
too gross on me and have been wearing it to soccer games and on sunny days. Another hit. Next I
replaced my Lifa top of 10 years, with a North Face top on sale @ $25. It was the mainstay of my
clothes selection for each hike day, and covered a lot of temperature range, as I did 90% of the
hiking with just it and a clean t-shirt. Big hit. Last of all, I picked up a medium weight pop-bottle
top in N.H. for $40 US (Woolrich Polar Fleece). Used it on rest stops on top of peaks, and at
night. Batting .1000 so far. Very pleased with all the selections. I should get a lot of use out of all
In terms of hiking, I picked up a new compass, and learned how to use it better. Not much use for
that, but I upgraded my skill a bit. I also learned a number of knots, showing a few to the camp
crew, as well as the hike crew. Also picked up the AMC hike book and maps while in N.Y. I
made a nice sort of collapsible walking stick, but it wasn't tough enough (camera tripod), so I
fixed up the ironwood one and took it. I don't like to use a stick, so it wasn't used much. Will
work on a foldable ski-pole stick for next time.
To get used to the boots, I got tohether a selection of poly-pro and wool socks, and started
walking to work to see how things would go. Definitely hot in August, but fine in the mountains.
I went with the combo each day, and now have about 60 miles in them, counting the 20 on the
trip. I have been having trouble with my inner ears, and don't feel safe on the bike, so the timing
worked out if nothing else.
My health has been sliding since February. Missing some hockey, and having a hard time on the
spring bike runs. Didi some running early, and got in Greenwood and the Cabot Trail, but as N.Y.
approached, I was falling apart. I ran the Gay Pride race, but didn't push it, fighting a bad chest
cold the prior week. I did some running and biking in N.Y., but was totally exhausted by the end
of vacation. Started coming in late and working lunch just to get past the awful first hour awake
each day. While this was happening, my ears stated giving me dizziness, forcing me off the bike.
All in all, a tough few weeks, as I was too tired to run, dizzy most of the day, and trying to get
ready for the hike.
I suffered a major dizzy spell the Saturday before the hike, spending 2 days lying down,
wondering ehat in the hell was happening. Missed the Cup, which I was going to skip anyway,
and missed Natal Day road race, altho I was there for a bit, and ensured that the kids did OK.
I bugged Dr. Olsen quite a bit and it looked like I was going to have to walk on the road, while
the crew hiked, and maybe meet them at Lakes of the Clouds, but Ron got hold of a specialist,
described my condition, and left me a note telling me that likely it was an inner ear thing, abd
would get better, rhather than worse. I left the final decision for Friday morning and was lucky
enough to be clear from mid-Thursday on and started the hike feeling good. Had a few rough
spots, mostly early in the morning, but was clear for almost all the hiking.
Not too busy, since it as just me going. Feeling pretty tense, but one Ron called, started picking
up in spirits. Really quite worried about putting myself and perhaps other people in danger, but
had to feel confident at some level. Slept out at BruceD. Jerome and Wayne did same.
Up at 3:30 AM and on the road, meeting everyone @ Elmsdale for coffee. Felt clear in car, but
dizzy walking. Long drive, but nice to get to the Farm. Had a shower, Betty's dinner, lots of
chatting and everyone early to bed.
Bit of rain when we got up @ 5:15 AM, but a nice day. I was very clear, and felt good. We drove
to MacDonald's for brekkie, took a group photo at the base of the Pine Link Trail, and headed
up. And up. Tough slog with 20+ pounds on my back. We didn't rush, and the views just kept
getting better. Everything felt OK, except my shoulders hurt, the pack changed my balance, and
my boots didn't feel like part of my feet, like my sneaks do.
The initial high view at the top of treeline was stunning. BruceD was feeling very poorly. He had
been canoeing/golfing all week and it was getting a bit muggy. Took him a day to recover.
Gordon carried his pack, I carried Gordon's water/camera. The group gelled nicely, and we
moved at a nice,easy pace. We all had trouble doing a sideways hike amongst lrger wet rocks later
in the day, and actaully had to go back and get Betty/Chris after a lunch at the hut. But it was a
nice, clean start.
Getting to the Madison hut was a treat. The only other one I had seen was Greenleaf, and this was
bigger, and very nice. We all got a bunk, and sat down for some lunch from our supplies. They
also had hot water, and great soup, so it was a real treat. Everyone took a light nap, then about 8
of us left the gear behind and did the Madison peak as the weather cleared. I brought a beer and
the view from the top was as nice as I've ever seen. Quite a bit of wind and lots of clouds. We
were looking DOWN on most of the clouds. The ones above us (Washington, Clay) were forming
and unforming at a furious rate, according to the temperature. The combined effect was surreal.
Best time I've ever had up on a peak. We stayed quite a while.
Once down below, we checked out Star Lake, and Chris and I went back for a dip. Not too cold,
but mucky. Lot of washing in cold tap water to get clean again. Definitely need one of thos space
blanket gizmos, as my towel was soaked the entire trip. Supper was big, if the space was a little
cramped. The 'croo (Amy, Beverly?, Ethan & Tom?) kept things moving fast, and Amy gave a
nice talk on the cabin, and Applachian rocks, while we waited for coffee. Too buzzed out to get
any reading done. Sat outside with BruceD and Jerome, hiving my nightly beer and watching a
once in a lifetime sunset, again with lots of clouds at high speed. Surreal again. Talked to some
thru-hikers going South. Very interesting, very cool. Bought the big 1;20,000 map, cleaned up a
little and went to bed (lights out @ 9:30)
Bit of a fitful sleep between 12:30 and 4:30, but not too tired. UP to Star Lake again to watch the
sun moving over the Parapet Trail. Nice stuff. Head a bit buzzy, but not for long. Breakfast was
large as usual. Nice to have hot tea, and cream of wheat. Reminds me of Israel. The 'croo did a
nice 'birdie routine to get the 3 hut rules across (no flame, carry in/out, blanket, tip) Weather was
nice. Not real sunny, not too cold. We hiked up Adam and were treated to wind and sun with a
spectacular view, both back to Madison, and ahead to Washington with a small cloud top. Next
peak was Jefferson, which actually looked better from below. Nice stop at Edmond's Col, but
hard slog to the top. Lots of people though. Kept seeing some of the same, as many were going to
same destination as us. Group getting along well, and moving at various speeds, but not that far
apart. Stopped for lunch at Monticello lawn?
Claudia having trouble with foot. BruceD getting better. Getting a lot of cloud, and cold wind,
but a nice day. Tough slog up Clay nad then the push to Washington. We got to see the train up
close after a bit of a wait. It looked scarier than the climb. The peak was a drag. Foggy, windy,
busy. Stopped for some hot food, souvenirs and off to the hut. Gordon sprains his foot a bit. I
race a bit on the small rock foot path. The legs feel good, the head is clear, and we're moving
down towards Lakes. The initial close view of the first lake is like a dream come true. Washington
clears up (as expected) and the scene is perfect.
I was worried that a 90 person hut would be a drag, but we got our own room. The view from the
dining room in the sun was fantastic. Chris, Wanda and I went for a very icy dip, got cleaned up
and went to dinner. I stepped off for a meal with a new table. A family from 3 states doing their
yearly hike, and a woman taking her nephew (Sam) up for a treat. Nice meal, if a bit loud. Great
food all around, and the 'croo of Beverly and Robert were fast. Robert gave a nice talk about the
hut and everyone introduced themselves. Lots of fun and it looks like a great experience for
anyone. No sunset to speak of. We played cards, bought some stuff (sorry, no t-shirt). I had my
nightly beer and all retired at 9:30
Hard to get good sleep. Lots of snoring/swearing in our room. I had a windows and tried for the
meteor shower, but was on wrong side. Quite cold/windy out. Got up at 5:30, put on lots og
clothes, and hiked up Munro (really cold and windy) to a slightly secluded spot. Washinton was
clear. Sat and watched the light grow until it peeked over the ridge. Another once in a lifetime
sunrise. Got back down and got warmed up and packed up. Head a bit buzzy, but not for long.
Breakfast was in lots of sun, and very good. Yoda skit for the hut rules was the best, and we
started up in cold wind, lots of sun. People were in a bit of pain, and a few walked around some
of the peaks. Munro, Peirce, and Franklin not really big. Great day for hiking, if a little cold.
Washington clear as a bell, of course.
We started to go more downhill, and moved into treeline. Everyone in a good moood, and once
the wind died down, it was a gorgeous hike. People getting sad already, and the trip was winding
down. Really nice downhill hike into Mitzpah. I was getting alittle buzzed out, but the hike was
great. Mitzpah hut was a real treat. I got a t-shirt, the best tomato bisque I've ever had, and a nice
rest. The hut is very beautiful (60 people). I wish we were stating there. Some people went ahead
for the cars. Wanda and I did a brisk hike to the highway (had to miss the falls, but couldn't swim
there anyway., got a shower in the hostel instead) Nice sunny wait at the train depot at Crawford
Notch. Everyone in pain, but quite happy.
Back to the Farm for some cleanup, beer, pizza and Scrabble. Saw a few meteors, talked to
RobertK on the phone (he sounded good) and got to bed around 10:00, which was late for most,
but Betty was telling some great jokes from nurseland. Fell asleep immediately upon lying down.
Up like a shot at 4:30. On the road. Group breakfast in Rumford at MacDonald's, then split up
for the day/trip. Lots of driving. I'm exhausted, and my ears are killing me. Skipped lunch after
the border, but made supper at Wendy's in Sackville. Everyone in our car (GregV, JeromeB and
Wayne) really tired and sore. We get to Bruce's about 9:00 and I drive Wayne and Jerome to
Halifax and then home.
It was a great trip. The event exceeded the expectations that had built for most of a year. The
group got along well as usual. BruceD had everything organized well, as usual. People helped out
when required, and we all had quite an experience. I'd do it again in a minute.What I would really
like to do is the shelters, where you have your bag/food/tent. Of course, that can be done locally
as well, like on the bike trip, so we'll see what the fall brings. One overnite would be really nice.
Once you see those mountains from the top, they look different from the bottom.