Start: Appalachia trailhead
Finish: Crawford Notch trailhead
Elevation gain: 8441′
With: Little Engine
We were awake at 4:45am, and waiting at the Crawford Notch trailhead at 5:30am. Our shuttle was late, so we didn’t start out from Appalachia trailhead until 7am. The parking lot was only 30% full when we headed up the trail. It was cool enough that we wore long sleeves as we ascended, sometimes rolling them up as we became warmer. We arrived at the Madison Springs hut right around 10am and then went up to tag Madison. Madison was very windy and the felt temperature was in the low 20s, and the rocky terrain slowed my partner down. My hands quickly became numb and affected by my Raynauds. We summited and then headed back down to the hut, where we ducked inside for a few minutes to refill our water bottles, use the bathroom, eat a snack, and warm up a little. My partner loaned me an extra pair of gloves he had and that helped my hands a lot.
From there, we headed up towards Adams. The mountains were still in the clouds and the wind was blustery. We made the summit of Mt Adams around 12:15pm, had another snack, and pushed on. Between Adams and Jefferson, the clouds burned off and the sun came out, warming up the temperature into the high 30s and low 40s. On the way up from Edmands Col, we crossed over the only snow on our entire trip – a 30′ section of soft, waist-deep snow on a steep mountainside that we needed to go across. Little Engine has vertigo on a good day, and snow crossings make it worse, so I pulled out my microspikes, put them on him, and then we slowly worked our way across. We successfully navigated the section and then continued on up the AT. We summited Jefferson around 3pm, and headed over towards Washington.
Around 5:20pm, we crossed the Cog rails and then headed to the summit of Washington, arriving around 5:40pm. We quickly went to the summit house, refilled our water bottles, went to the bathroom, washed our hands with warm water to get the blood flowing again, and then sat on some benches for a quick snack. We told the 3 college boys who didn’t want to descend the way they’d hiked up that nope, we didn’t have a car – we’d hiked here; the staff shoo’d them out with instructions to start walking down the auto road. We left the summit around 6pm, when they closed up for the night, and headed down toward Lake of the Clouds. On the way down, we saw two groups of 2 young men hiking up, and then we saw no one else for the remainder of the trip.
We summited Monroe by 7:45pm, put on our headlamps, and continued into the sunset. We passed by Franklin around 8:15pm and were able to watch a beautiful, alpineglow sunset over the ridge as we hiked onward. We summited Eisenhower by 9:30pm in the dark, and then started the long slow descent. We passed by Pierce at 10:45pm, and the intersection for Mizpah Hut at 11:45pm. We arrived at our car in the Crawford Notch lot at 1:15am. We piled into the car and headed back to our campsite at Dry River Campground for a hot shower and dinner!