Northern Presidential Traverse
2011-03-21 21:17:54.000 – Mike Finnegan, IT Observer
Northern Presidentials Traverse
Today was my first full day back on the summit since Thursday. My options were either to take vacation or lose it, so, being the sensible person that I am, I took vacation. I took the second half of Thursday off and had a fine commute down the East Fields, across the Alpine Garden, and down Right Gully. All the snow was beautifully corned up, there was a bluebird sky above, and it was St. Patrick’s Day. Awesome. I couldn’t leave quite yet with such perfect conditions, so I hiked up the Sluice a couple times and had some of the best runs ever in Tucks. I ended up meeting a couple friends along the way back to Pinkham Notch and later ended up meeting with two other good friends, Dustin and Jameson.
Saturday I spent with two other friends, Tim and Martha, and went on a nice long hike around the Northern Presidentials. We started off hiking along the Great Gulf Trail and then on up the Osgood Trail. It was funny to be hiking away from Washington in the distance when were were in fact trying to reach that particular summit. As we neared treeline, we saw a little cloud factory overhead. Just above the trees a tiny, wispy cloud continually formed and dissipated. We eventually headed over to Mount Madison finding the snow perfect for crampons, far firmer than riding on Thursday. Summiting Madison, we headed down towards Madison hut and found Paul, a climbing guide friend of mine, and chatted for a bit. We soon parted ways and picked our way up to Adams, climbing fun snow slopes and clambering on rocks outcroppings. Heading down Adams, we walked the long stretch towards Jefferson. Along here we saw a couple ravens soaring around having a wonderful time. It was wonderfully still with hardly a breath of wind. We stopped for a time and stood, listening to the silence and admiring the beautiful Jefferson Gulf. Eventually we meandered on to the summit of Jefferson before starting the hike over Clay to Washington, a section of trail I have hiked many times. We walked by many familiar ski runs and saw the spectacular sun pillar portrayed in a previous comment. The beautiful late afternoon light combined with our legs growing tired was a dangerous combination, but we managed to continue on, taking in the scene as we walked. The sun set over the western horizon as we neared the summit of Washington and reaching the summit proper, saw a blood red full moon just cresting the eastern horizon. With the sun down, now on top of the summit, and no more uphill to hike, we dawned our puffy jackets for the hike down. As we hiked the moon turned from red to orange to bright white, illuminating the snow and making headlamps obsolete. As we approached Lion’s Head, the moonlight reflected off the ice on the trail, as though leading us along the path. The stars above shown brightly even with the full moon and Tuckerman Ravine looked surreal with the soft blueish moonlight falling upon it. One could point in any direction and say, “That looks amazing!” In time we made it once again to treeline and then to the Tuckerman Ravine trail where we wished there were skis to glide down the Sherbie on. Unfortunately there wasn’t, so we continued the rest of the way on foot, back to my car where we piled in and headed out. Even after many years of working here, this place can still amaze me in its wonder. We said countless times through how glad we were to be out hiking together and how lucky we were to experience such awesomeness. We truly meant it every time.
Mike Finnegan, IT Observer