Madison (5367')
Adams (5774')

2003 August 30

The difficulty of any given hike is a relative thing. In some ways our hike up Madison and Adams was the most difficult hike we've done. In other ways it wasn't. On paper we hiked 10 miles and gained 5000 feet or about 500 feet per mile. With this information I would have expected the hike to take 2 hours less than the 9.5 hours that it did take. The extra clothing needed, rough terrain, and the 50+ MPH winds certainly contributed to making this our longest time on trail to date. Then again, had we attempted this hike with the gear we brought on our trip up Flume and Liberty a couple years ago we may have turned back after Madison, or sooner.

Elleing, Ash and I hiked from the Appalachia lot via Valley Way. Our trip started with a slight detour resulting from a slightly misleading sign in the parking lot. (Do not follow the sign that say "to Valley Way. Instead, look for the actual Valley Way trailhead.) This worked out OK since it gave us some time to hike along a picturesque brook. We stopped to give directions to a mapless group seeking Dome Rock then continued to the hut. By the time we reached the hut the conditions had already warranted warmer clothing and obscured Madison and Adams from view. We ate lunch then headed up Madison.

shroom.jpg in_madison_hut.jpg on_madison.jpg

The exposure from this point on undoubtedly had an effect on our progress. The winds were blowing hard and gusting even harder. We would get knocked around occasionally if caught by a gust while off balance. The terrain which is just a boulder field from this point until we got back below treeline hours later doesn't help either. We quickly reached the summit and took a rest in the shelter of a large boulder. This was a major milestone for Elleing and I as it marked the halfway point in our quest for all 48 4000 footers.

martian_summer starr_trail_elleing.jpg

We then hiked back down to the hut and out the Starr Lake trail to Adams. This worked out really well. We got a look at Starr like and the ridge sheltered us from the wind until we reached the summit of Adams. We were getting tired at this point and the trek up Adams took longer than expected. Ash's description of what we were hiking in as "Martian Summer" seems to fit very well. The winds at the summit were intense and maintaining balance on the very peak required a wide stance.

near_adams_summit.jpg Ash slowly scrambles over a boulder while Elleing casually hikes around it. elleing_ash_on_adams.jpg shawn_on_adams

From Adams we took the Airline trail back to the Appalachia trailhead. This allowed the wind to bear down on us for a long time because the Airline trail is a ridge with lots of exposure for a very long time. All views were completely spoiled above tree line, but the sight of clouds rushing up from King Ravine to the Durand Ridge where we were standing was a worthwhile trade. The awesome effect was captured by Ash in digital video.

On the way to the Common Man in Lincoln for dinner, we stopped to watch a remarkable sunset over the mountains of NH and Vermont

sunset panorama

[All Pics . . . ]