Sunday, February 12, 2023
Start/End: Appalachia TH/Crawford Notch
Elevation gain/loss: 10,056′
Peaks: Madison, Adams, Jefferson, Washington, Monroe, Eisenhower, Pierce, Jackson
After a short but relatively cozy night sleeping in my car at a trailhead, I met up with two hikers at Crawford Notch at 5:15am to spot a car. We then drove around and started from the Appalachia TH just before 6am. The inital ascent up towards Madison hut wasn’t bad; the trail was well packed and I had to remove a few layers as we climbed. However, before we poked our heads above treeline, I added my layers back on. We stopped by the hut to drop our packs and add wind layers before climbing up to Madison’s summit. The wind was fierce, hitting 50+ MPH directly at the summit but settling down towards 20-30 further down. I lead the three of us to Madison and then over towards Adams, picking our way through rocky areas with some packed snow and quite a bit of ice.
The wind picked up as we climbed towards Adams, getting quite intimidating the closer we got to the summit. I’d guess the wind was blowing around 60-70 MPH. Within 5 yards of the summit, one of the hikers shouted for a huddle. He decided he did not want to continue and wanted to go back the way we’d come. He offered to move the other hiker’s car around to Crawford Notch, removing the need for us to drive back to Appalachia TH later. We thanked him, make sure he had what he needed, and then continued forward. I lead us from Adams over to Jefferson; thankfully, the wind died down as we descended Adams and it continued to ease over the course of the day. There were a few small sections descending Adams where we struggled to avoid postholing, but overall, the conditions were perfect for traction only; we carried our snowshoes all day. The ascent up Jackson was a little tough, with no clear path or cairns visible. We ended up cutting up the slope, which angered my already-inflammed heel even further. I struggled all day to keep a decent pace and not be visibly limping.
After Jefferson, we started seeing other hikers coming up from the Cog station; we were delighted to realize we wouldn’t need our snowshoes on the Jefferson lawn. Once we were close to the Cog, we cut over and paralleled it to avoid the steep drop-off into the Great Gulf since the wind was blowing us in that direction. The climb up to Washington had some increased wind, hitting perhaps 40-50 MPH, but it wasn’t too bad. We ate a quick snack behind a building and then headed down towards Lake of the Clouds. We encountered a lot of people as we descended – the Ammo/Jewell loop was seeing a lot of traffic today. We passed the hut and ascended Monroe, though the standard trail had been ignored with the packed track going straight up the mountain. Then we cruised down and over to Eisenhower; we had some trouble finding where the trail cut in but made the summit in no time.
Once we made it over to Pierce, we separated, with the other hiker heading down to his car and me heading over to Jackson. As with the last few Presis I’ve done, Mispah hut over to Jackson seems to take an eternity. But eventually I was standing at the summit, glad to be done climbing. I then descended to my car as quickly as my tired legs would take me. I made it back to my car right around 6pm.