Presidential Traverse 6/28/14

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
Pierce 8:15am.

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
Eisenhower: 8:53am

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.
Washington 10:53am

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.
Jefferson 12:48pm

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.
Adams 2:01pm

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.
Madison 2:52pm

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.

Mt Washington 6/21/2014

I volunteered to work at the 2014 Mount Washington Road Race this year.  I was working at the summit so I decided to go for a downhill hike after I was done. I got to the base of the auto road Saturday morning at 6am and hopped into an auto road van with a bunch of other volunteers and race staff.

Patty was our excellent and very experienced driver. Since the road was still closed and we were the only vehicle on the road between the base and summit she drove pretty fast hitting every turn at its apex, it was almost as exciting as I imagine riding up with Travis Pastrana might be.  First I worked parking at the summit with a bunch of great people including the wife of the runner wearing #1 (last year’s winner).  We packed the cars into the summit lots like sardines and then we waited for about an hour for the runners to start arriving at the summit.
It was about 30 degrees and clear at first but then the clouds and wind moved in for the rest of my time I was at the summit. It was pretty chilly even with my insulation layer and a storm shell on.

I worked at the finish line and got to watch Joe Gray win.  I was routing for the New Englander Eric Blake, but it was nice to see Joe win. He had been so close to winning the past few years and this year he won with a big lead.
I shot this with my cell phone so its a little shaky.

I took my hiking stuff with me so I could hike down after the race. Since I couldn’t count any summits towards peak bagging I decided to clean up a few sections of trails that I needed for my redlining map.  I took off down the Crawford Path  and dropped below the clouds at about 5500 ft.

I then took the Davis Path down to The Lawn.  I needed this little section of trail between Crawford Path and Camel Trail.  The Lawn is always a great place for pictures walking along with the Dalek looking Cairns.

The Davis Path from the Camel Trail to Isolation I had done before, but I needed to pick up the section of Glen Boulder between Davis and the Boulder.  I turned around at the boulder last time I was on this trail. So I descended that way.

The views into Gulf of Slides from the ridge were great.  I ski here every year, and it looks so much different without snow.

I passed quite a few hikers on Glen Boulder trail that were heading towards isolation to bag it for their list. I’m surprised that this has become a popular way to bag Isolation for first timers.  The Davis Path between Isolation and Glen Boulder Trail used to be a fairly quiet trail. I remember hiking it back in the 90’s and it being overgrown in spots from little use. I wonder if all the reports of people losing their way on Rocky Branch have made people think that this might be a better alternative?  It’s definitely not an easier route.
Back at the boulder I was on familiar trail again.

I descended towards the road until I came to the Direttissima Trail. I needed to redline this too. So I followed it back to Pinkham Notch.  The Direttissma was not peaceful due to it being close to the road and it being Bike Week here in New Hampshire, but it had some nice views from crags that were above the road, and it beat walking back on the road.  Once at Pinkham I asked around and quickly found a ride back to the Auto Road for my car.
This was the second year in a row I was on Washington for the first day of summer.  It wasn’t exactly a conventional hiking trip today but it was a lot of fun and the views were amazing.

Mt William Pond Paddling with Emily

My Parents came up and watched Jakey so Emily and I could get a little time off.  We headed up to Mt William Pond with our Kayaks, and I took my fishing pole too.  The Pond was nice and quiet as motor boats are not allowed.
We Paddled around and I did some fishing


I caught a nice trout on a trout magnet lure.

When we got home I fired up some charcoal and cooked him up.  Fresh trout cooked over hot coals is the best! Even my Patterdale Terrier thought so.

Climbing Rattlesnake Ledge with Lee

My sister Lee was visiting from Utah and she brought her shoes and harness with her.  We went over to Rattlesnake Ledge yesterday for a little climbing.  I lead the Dinosaur Route and then set up a Top Rope from the bolts up top.  The slab above the crux was pretty wet and slick so I actually had to take a little variation of the route which had me run out 6′ above my protection.  Normally that is not that scary but the rock at Rattlesnake is so sharp that any fall is like falling on a cheese grater, so it makes it a little more scary.
Me leading:

Lee climbing on TR

I went for one more climb before we left using the top rope.  I was really happy with how I climbed.
Apparently loosing 20lbs over the past 4 months has made me a better climber!

Poaching Pat’s on a 70 degree day

With Temps in the 70’s I skinned up Pat’s this weekend.
Its not everyday that you change from flip-flops into ski boots.

I skinned up Tornado which had full coverage top to bottom.

The Base was still over 2 feet deep in most places. Signs of spring were starting to show, like this crevasse.

I had a brew at the top, took a pic and then skied down the nice soft corn.

Earning a few turns with Jake

I really wanted to introduce my son to the outdoors early like I was, my dad had me skiing on my own when I was 3 years old.  Jake is 8 months old now and I wanted to get him outside with me again before the snow melted. So I loaded him up in the Kelty Carrier again and skinned up Pats Peak along with Emily.  Emily took some pictures and a little video.  I was super careful not tot catch an edge in the thick corn, so I skied very conservative.  Jake seemed to enjoy the experience, he only cried once when I stopped skiing.

So NH Early Spring Earned Turns

Last Summer a privately owned section of my favorite hill was pretty much clear cut with a few hardwoods left behind.  This was an area of the hill that  I really hadn’t accessed much before.  The spring snow pack was in peel-away corn mode today, with an inch of fresh snow on it that dropped this morning from a squall.  The squall came through at the border between a cold front and a warm front, and although it was pretty windy still, this afternoon was on the warm side of the border.  It was in the mid 40s as I skinned up. I didn’t have much time so I only planned on one run.

For the run I only skinned up to the top of the timber cut, peeled off my climbing skins and dropped in for some really fun turns

Although most of it was pretty plush there were a few spots where I had to ski through a menagerie of snow snakes

At the bottom I wanted more, so I skinned back up my same tracks. But this time I skinned all the way up to the northern ridge of the mountain.

At the ridge there is some natural little meadows that were fun. Ive hiked through this area several time before but never skied here

There’s also a few Glacial Eratic Boulders that are neat too.

After skipping through the meadows on my skis I bushwhacked my way through some brush to the area of the timber cut.  It once again did not disappoint.

2014-15 Seasons Pass: Pat’s Peak or Crothched? Hmmm?

Its that time of the year again for early bird specials.  I have had a Pats Peak Pass for several seasons now and am shopping for next season now. I have always preferred Pats Peak. However I am leaning toward Crotched right now because like many loyal locals I am frustrated by the Pat’s Peak Capital Improvement Plan’s lack of a faster lift to the summit and the fact that their operating schedule is set in stone no matter how stellar conditions are.  Last year they closed on Easter with 100% coverage and beautiful conditions, and this year they didn’t start night skiing until after Christmas despite some of the best early season snow storms, and powder skiing  in years.

Crotched Mountain Resorts Early offers:

Pats Peak Early offers:

Pats Peak is 26 minutes from my house and Crotched is 33 minutes from my house so distance isn’t a deal breaker considering Crotched has a faster lift.

This blog has promoted and reviewed several companies in the past in exchange for gear, Columbia being the largest company I’ve done gear testing for.  It would make my decision  easier if one of the Resorts would sponsor my 2014-15 seasons pass.



Uncanoonuc #500

A couple of weeks ago I summited Uncanoonuc for the 499th time in my personal quest for 1000.  I wanted to do something special for #500 so I decided to forego climbing Uncanoonuc until I had a mild day. Today it was sunny and in the 40’s and I had not yet taken my 6 month old son on a proper hike yet.  I loaded him into the Kelty Carrier and headed up the Mountain for #500.  Every time I looked back at him on the way up he had this look on his face like “Daddy, what are we doing?” And at no time did he fuss, in fact he was comfortable and warm enough that he fell asleep on the way down.  I had to balance speed with not jostling him around too much and it took me 42 minutes round trip which was apparently fast enough to pass several people on the way up and down. This was the kind of experience that was as amazing as I imagined it might be and I look forward to many more hikes with my son.
Loading my pack:

Happy Hiker

Going up the Red Dot Trail

At the Summit

Earned Turns 2/17 and 2/19

I climbed the local hill 4 times this week bringing my grand total of Mt U summits to 499.  My next trip will be a major milestone in my quest to climb it 1000 times.  Monday I met Andrew at 8am and made 2 runs.  Temps were in the teens. There was a spotty  4 inches of blower on a breakable crust over 2 feet of unconsolidated powder. Conditions were tricky, we were both on Icelantic Nomad skis which are pretty wide so we were able to float and get a few good turns here and there but most of the bluebird day was spent making survival turns in the crust.  The first run was down the TP trail which takes you far away from your car.  The climb back up became frustrating very quickly when one of my climbing skins slipped off and got covered with the cold sugar snow and refused to stick again no matter how much I scraped them off on my ski edge. Finally after tensioning my tail clips so tight I thought the straps might break I got them to stay on for the climb.  The second run was down the G which  had a harder crust on it and was rutted and postholed up by snowshoers, It wasn’t the best run but it was low angle and it took us back to our cars.

Nomads Convention on the Summit:


10 fresh inches of fluff fell on tuesday and it was snowing again Wednesday.  The crust was dead and buried! I left work a little early and drove home in a squall that dropped another 3 inches. I grabbed my AT skis (with freshly re-glued skins) and my split board this time.  In the parking lot I met Jonathan who was snow shoeing up with his board.  We chatted a bit and then met again at the summit, and then descended different trails.

Skinning up in the squall:

The G was virgin pow for my run alone on skis:
After my first run and back at the lot I converted to my Splitboard and ascended with Jon for another run.  This time we rode together for the descent. On both days in the same spot there was a heard of 5 Deer. Jon was super close to one of the Deer at one point while riding

Jonathan Dropping in on SOG: Jon had a Gopro and shot some vid and edited it.  It shows how awesome conditions were. Enjoy. The Deer run across at 3:10