Saturday I headed up north to attempt to set a personal best time for the Presidential Traverse. I actually have done the traverse in different versions 4 times before, but never successfully in one day (death march style as I call it) and I’ve never done it going north. I attempted a north to south in a day a few years ago but cramped up really bad at Eisenhower and dropped off.
The decision to go north was actually made for me by the fact that my friend Clifton was doing a 3 day backpacking trip over the traverse heading south. The plan was to get his car keys from him when we passed and return to Crawford Notch with his car. I didn’t want to use the huts or state park for food at all so I carried 3 PB&J sandwiches with me and 2 Water bottles. Next time I do this I am going to source my own water too so I can do it with no AMC Hut support at all.
I left the parking lot and headed up the Crawford Path at 6:43am.
I made it to Mizpah Hut at 7:55am. I signed the log and filled my water bottles and made it to the summit of Pierce in 20 minutes
The weather at 4000 feet was perfect for making good time. Temps were in the 50s and it was just partly cloudy enough to have nice views but not get sunbaked. There was practically no wind at all, and the winds were calm all day long at all elevations. The only downside of the weather was that the lack of wind made the fly’s pretty bad. It seemed like I was fishing a bug out of my eye every 5 minutes or so.
Between Pierce and Eisenhower I made it summit to summit in 38 minutes. I ate my 1st PB&J on Ike
Between Eisenhower and Monroe I made a little mistake that cost me some time. I missed the Monroe Loop South Junction and didn’t notice until it was too late. But on the plus side I have always taken the loop and never the Crawford path for this little section so I was able to add this section of the Crawford Path to my redlining map. I made it to the Lake of the Clouds side of the loop at 9:45am dropped my pack and headed up Monroe. I made it to the summit of Monroe in 12 minutes.
Monroe Summit 9:57am
I was back down to Lake of the Clouds Hut in 13 minutes at 10:10. I signed in and filled one bottle of water and headed for The Rock Pile. 43 minutes later I arrived at the summit of Mt Washington.
At the summit of Washington I filled my water bottles and mixed in Gatorade and had my second PB&J while I watched the Climb to the Clouds rally cars fly up the auto road for about a half of an hour. I’m a big fan of Travis Pastrana and was pretty stoked when I noticed that he was walking around the summit area right after making a practice run up the road. I asked him if I could get a picture with him and he was really nice. His wife even took the picture.
I looked around the Summit to make sure Clif wasn’t there and then took off down the Gulfside Trail at 11:20am. I met up with Clif and his crew coming the opposite way at the northern end of the Clay Loop at 12:15pm. We joked a bit and I was able to get keys for my ride back from Appalachia to Crawford. If I had not found Clif by Mt Jefferson I was going to abort the traverse and head down Caps Ridge so as not to be too far from my car to walk back on the road if need be. A little relieved that the car key hand off worked and that we didn’t somehow miss each other on the trail I was now committed to finish the complete traverse as I headed off toward Mt Jefferson. The flies on the summit of Jefferson were the worst I had seen all day so I didn’t linger to enjoy the view at all.
As always, the trek between Jefferson and Adams took longer than it looks like it should on the map. I’ve done this section of trail 7 times now 3 times heading north and 4 times heading south. I’ve found that for some reason it goes a lot easier and faster heading south than north for me and I can’t figure out why. It took me 73 minutes summit to summit. I had a little chance to brag while on the summit of Adams when an older couple who appeared to have lost their bearings asked me which way I had come up in hopes of getting some directions back. I smugly smirked and said “The long way…I started in Crawford notch 7 hours ago.” After they told me they came up the Lowes Path I pointed them in the direction of Thunderstorm Junction and told them they would see the sign when they got there.
Heading down Adams towards Madison Hut I passed a lady with a dog who both had 4000 patches and she said the dog was on her second round. Even though I’m opposed to ever getting a patch for myself despite 3 + circuits, I’m always impressed when I see a dog with one. I made it down to Madison Hut in 33 minutes and grabbed my 3rd PB&J out of my pack and headed up Madison. I for the first time of the day felt like I was hitting a little bit of a wall on my way up Madison and it took me 18 minutes from hut to summit.
Instead of taking Watson Path down I returned to The Hut in 19 minutes. I’m not sure if I would have been able to shave a little time off if I had taken Watson Path down to Valley Way instead, but I liked being able to drop my pack at the hut and hike without it for 40 minutes. Back at the Hut I signed in and ½ filled a water bottle for the descent. I noticed there wasn’t a sign at the hut for Valley Way and several people were confused on which way to go down, even on my way down as I passed people 3 separate parties asked me if they were on Valley Way because they didn’t see a sign. My descent down Valley Way took 1 hour 41 minutes with temperatures getting much warmer as I descended. It was 85 degrees when I arrived at Appalachia at exactly 5:00pm.
Having no idea what car or where in the lot it was; I located my ride using the keyless entry looking for which vehicle’s lights flashed. I found I would be driving a Jeep back. Perfect for a drive up Jefferson Notch Rd! I headed back to Crawford Notch and did not see any other vehicles for the whole length of Jefferson Notch and Mt Clinton Rd. I was glad I didn’t have to hitch hike back to my car it would have been tough with no traffic.
I know this TR is a little selfie heavy so here are a few nice views that don’t include me :) Thank You for reading.
On a side note I have a picture from almost exactly a year ago wearing the same gear. What a difference a year of better eating and lunch breaks at Planet Fitness made.