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Mt. Madison #47 Feb 22, 2013
Trip Report :This hike started off at Mt Isolation. I was saving Madison for last, but after struggling for 2 hrs trying to stay on and breaking trail on Rocky branch trail to Mt. Isolation and going knee deep or higher (with snowshoes) when I lost the trail, I finally realized I had no hope of getting to the peak before a reasonable turn-around time (or more likely - even at all) and I gave it up. I backtracked and returned to the trailhead and drove over to the Appalachian trailhead to try Mt Madison. The only reason I started up to Isolation was that the first part of the trail is shared by a cross country trail and fooled me into thinking the trail had been broken out.
I started up Valley Way trail later than I have ever started a hike (~0930). The condition of this trail was the opposite from Rocky Branch. The parking lot was full and there were probably more than a dozen hikers ahead of me that had broken out and packed the trail. I may have even gotten away without snow shoes but wore them all the way up to the Madison Hut (closed for the season). By the time I reached the Hut there were ~10 hikers hanging out on the porch. Some that had already done Madison, some that had just done Adams and were getting ready to do Madison, and some that had already done both. Following advice of those that had done Madison, I left my snowshoes at the hut and continued on with just microspikes. There was some soft snow going through a short dwarf spruce section before getting to the rocky area continuing to the summit, but most of the way up was just climbing over and between boulders with just a light dusting of snow. I had also dropped my pack at the hut and this part of the hike was more fun than work. I hadn't mentioned yet that the weather was perfect, maybe about 20 degrees with clear skies and only a little wind at the top. I hung out at the summit for 10 minutes enjoying the views snapped a few pictures then headed back down to the hut and took another break, tied my snowshoes to my pack and continued on down with microspikes. I probably should have used snowshoes going down for the first section below the hut because the snow had softened up and the down slope side of the newly packed trail was a bit unstable and collapsed several times when I got to close to that side of the trail. After the first half hour below the hut, the trail was more stable but had about 1/2 - 1 inch of soft snow on top so that my spikes weren't really grabbing. What I did find out was that it was just steep enough along many sections so that I could boot glissade (slide) down with my feet perpendicular to the trail much like riding a surfboard or skateboard. After teaching myself how to do this fairly proficiently, the descent was really fast. When I had left the hut I figured I'd be getting down 2-3 hrs after sundown, but I managed to get to the trailhead less than an hour after sundown. It worked out pretty good because by the time I lost sunlight I was out of the fir trees and in mostly leafless hard tree areas so that the starlight and moonlight was sufficient and I never even had to use a headlamp. I'm almost glad that I had to bailout on Mt Isolation, this turned out to be a perfect day to be in the Alpine area of Mt Madison. I got to spend that night at the Shapleigh bunkhouse at the AMC highland center in Crawford Notch. I had reserved a bunk because I knew it would be too tough to do the long Mt Isolation hike as a 1 day drive up-hike-drive back. It’s a pretty good deal at the bunkhouse, and it felt good to take a warm shower change clothes and have a warm place to get a good night sleep before driving back to RI. The price of the bunk includes a buffet breakfast at the highland center, but I got up early and headed out before breakfast.
One more 4K Mt. to do (Isolation) for my 48NH4K. Unfortunately I have to go on travel for work and won't get to it until March. I’d like to finish before the end of winter, but (as I found out) Isolation can be too tough if not broken out. I'm hoping for a good Monday after weekend hiking traffic. The nearer it gets to Spring I'm betting there will be a lot of traffic from people trying to finish up their Winter 48NH4K lists
Hard wood area at the start of the trail
Just starting to change from bare hardwood to fir ,
good views behind me when I think to turn around.
trail satrting into the firs, along the side of the valley,
snow on the downhill side is really steep and started collapsing on the way down.
This shows the trail sign for one of the many unbroken adjoining trails.
On the way down I noticed that most of the trails crossing Valley had been broken out since I had crossed them going up.
A few good views behind me even through the fir.
First peak at Mt Madison peak.
First sight of Madison Hut tucked in between Madison and the Adams peaks.
I had been there last spring when I did Adams but passed on Madison because it had started raining when I was on Adams and the lichen covered boulders were getting really slick.
Madison Hut all boarded up for the Winter
Starting up Madison. One of the Mt Adams peaks behind the hut
Once out of the dwarf Spruce its all boulders (just like Adams and parts of Jefferson)
with not enough snow to use snowshoes.
First cairn on Madison showing the primary wind direction. NE
First view of Mt Wsahington
lots of visibility today.
Interesting wind blown snow & rime ice formations.
View of Ski trails on Wildcat Mt
Zoomed in view of the auto road on Mt Washington. They now offer
rides on tread driven vans up to the summit in the winter to
offset reduction of government funding.
I thoought this was the summit cairn but it isnt.
Trail sign near the summit
I wouldn't want to be up there the day these rime ice formations were made.
wind was only 10 to 20 knots on the summit today and
almost nothing a short ways down from the summit.
#47 Mt Madison - I had left my face shield in my pack at the hut but had protection
with my thick wool scarf my wife made.
Other side of the trail sign.
Last picture I took before my batteries died.
Didnt take the time to stop and replace them.GO BACK TO THE INDEX.
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