Let’s begin by acknowledging the fact that hiking 16+ miles on any given day(s), sans coffee, is a feat.
And even though I was slow as molasses (One MPH? Seriously?), and I had a mini meltdown at one point (I thought we were hiking, not rock climbing?), and it wasn’t the most relaxing vacation I’ve ever had … I’ll admit that hiking a portion of the Presidential Traverse and summiting four 4,000 foot mountains in 1.5 days is fairly satisfying.
A little background:
The Presidential Range is a mountain range, located in the NH White Mountains, whose most notable summits are named for American presidents … and is rounded out by Mt. Washington, long home of the highest winds recorded on the surface of the Earth at 231 mph.
And thus, a Presidential Traverse is, quite simply, a hike that begins at one end of the range and ends at the other. And, in my opinion, it’s a bit tough.
According to the ever-wise Wikipedia:
“A Presidential Traverse does not merely require the absolute gain of some 4,500′ from starting point to the 6,288′ summit of Mt. Washington; it involves repeated gain and loss of elevation between individual summits along the way. …. A basic Presidential Traverse encompasses almost 9,000′ of combined vertical, doubled when difficult downclimbing is included.
I’ll admit – we didn’t tackle the entire traverse. We missed Madison, Adams, Jefferson and Monroe. But I’m still going to take credit for hitting Jackson, Pierce, Eisenhower and Washington.
Basically, we hiked the Crawford Path (the oldest, continuously maintained, hiking path in America) from the AMC Highland Center all the way to Mt. Washington, then descended via the famous Tuckerman Ravine trail . The total mileage was about 16 +miles. And did I mention this was all sans coffee?
- The caretaker at our campsite ended up being an old friend of Stranded Dog. Needless to say, ending the first day of hiking on the “porch” of a friend’s semi-permanent tent structure with some whiskey in mason jars was a nice surprise.
- When we finally summited Mt. Washington, the line to take our photo with the official sign at the summit was insanely long and packed with people who had taken the auto-road up the mountain. Where’s the express line for hikers?
- We kept meeting the same people along the trail, including an amazing 71-year old AT section hiker who had just kicked off the last few weeks of his trip. We wish him the best of luck … on the remaining 325+ miles to Mt. Katahdin.
Basically – We hit the peaks, slept in our tent, and enjoyed some time in the mountains. So far, 30 ain’t so bad.