Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Mt. Adams & Franconia Ridge Trail Weekend

Profile for the day

Day 1: Getting To Know Mt. Adams

Up until early June this year, the only time I had been on Mt. Adams was during a Semi-Double Presi Traverse a couple years ago, and that was only for a brief moment passing through due to high winds. When the opportunity came up to join a few others for some running on the Northern trails of Mt. Adams, I put it on the calendar to use as a long training run for my second attempt at the AMC Hut Traverse (a report on last year's attempt can be found here)

Starting the first real climbing of the day, up Airline

Starting from the Appalachia parking lot, I planned to spend the whole day on the mountain. My tentative routes were up Airline, down Valley Way for a couple repeats with a trip into King Ravine thrown in for good measure. Beginning the run with Tim Connelly, Mike McDuffie and Scott Traer, we made our way up the somewhat gradual first mile or so before hitting the steeper climbing. I ended up running with Tim for a good portion of the day, while Scott pulled ahead and McDuffie was a short distance behind us. Tim was using this day as a last big training run for Manitou's Revenge 54 miler in the Catskill Mountains of NY, a race I feel compelled to run next year. We reached the first summit in 1 hr. 45 minutes, which offered 50-100' visibility, cool temperatures, wet rocks and windy conditions, which made our quick decision to get down to the well-placed Madison Hut an easy one.

Top of the Gateway in the clouds

Tim and Scott making their way over John Quincy Adams, bonus peak of the day

Summit of Adams in the clouds

Up and down, up and down, up and down

Heading down the Valley Way Trail we made it to the parking lot in about 3:15 elapsed, about 50 minutes down from the hut to the lot. I found Valley Way to be pretty runnable vs. Airline so I figured we had made the right decision to go down that and up Airline. I would equate them to the comparison between Old Bridle Path (VW)/Falling Waters(Airline) on the Franconia Ridge Loop. After refueling at Appalachia, Tim decided it was time to head into King Ravine and I took the opportunity to follow him. I ended up having one of my most unique experiences in the Whites, with the steep ravine walls and clouds surrounding us, offering glimpses of sun and blue skies through the cloud breaks. Coming out of the ravine floor, you have to climb over and around boulders as you make your way to the "Gateway", then get dumped out on the Airline Trail on the ridge of Mt. Adams.

Shortline trail to King Ravine, not quite as runnable as Valley Way

Mossy Falls

Typical terrain in King Ravine

Some views were had

A little ice left in the caves

View back down into the ravine floor

Tim heading up the rocks

Sun trying to peek out

Looking up towards the Gateway

Tim navigating some rocks

Ran into Bob Najar at the top of Adams

Clouds clearing over by Mt. Washington

Madison Hut and Mt. Madison in the background

Mt. Adams

We made it to the second summit in around 5:40 elapsed time, considerably slower because we it took a while to pick our way through the ravine. Tim and I parted ways at the hut as he headed over to the Great Gulf to find the Adams Slide Trail and I continued down Valley Way to the base. I reached the lot at around 7:20 elapsed time and figured I had time and energy for another summit, so I headed up with McDuffie for his and my third summit of the day. Slowly making our way up Airline, I reached the summit at 9:40 elapsed while Mike continued to the summit after a quick trip to the hut. I spent a short time on the now cloudless summit all by myself, before heading down for my last descent of the day. I ended up stopping at the base, finishing the three summits in just under 11 hours and promptly sat in a chair to have a beer. Waiting for a few friends to finish up their runs before heading back to the campsite, we shared some of our accounts of the day's travels.

View towards King Ravine

Shoulder of Mt. Adams

McDuffie making his way up the Airline Trail

Looking towards the rest of the Presidential Peaks
Mt. Madison from my last summit of Mt. Adams

Statistics for the Day 1:

27.5 Miles
13,883 feet climbing
11 hours

I ended up having a great time and felt pretty good the entire day, which helps my confidence that I can actually finish the Hut Traverse this year.

GoLite Rush Pack (for all the layers)
Two UD bottles (refilled at the hut and base)
DarnTough Herringbone socks
Inov8 Roclite 295 shoes (old style)

Day 2: Franconia Ridge Traverse

Making our way up the slippery basalt section of Old Bridle Path
Elevation profile for the day
Looking back down from the climb up Lafayette

Phil near the top of Lafayette
My friend and running buddy Phil is working on completing all 48 4,000 footers throughout the month of June this year and joined us on Mt. Adams Saturday, so I thought I would tag along with him on the Franconia Ridge as he tagged all four peaks along that landscape. I wasn't sure before starting our run/hike whether I would continue to Liberty and Flume with him or just head down Falling Waters to complete the Franconia Ridge Loop. My legs were a "little" tired from the previous day's exploits and I could already tell at a mile into our route that it was going to be a slow day getting up to the ridge. This second hike/run of the weekend was designed to get me out on already fatigued legs to help prepare for the Hut Traverse later in the summer. Basically all my training I am working on now is preparing me for that run and I have tailored it as such.
View of the ridgeline
Owl's Head and the Pemi
Popping out at some of the overlooks as we made our way up the "agonies", there were expansive views on the beautifully clear day. As we arrived at the hut and threw on a long-sleeve layer, we remarked about how little wind there was at the time. After a quick refill of bottles, we were heading up the final rocky push to Mt. Lafayette. After the summit of Mt. Lafayette (we reached it in 1:53), we were starting out on one of my favorite sections of running in the Whites across Franconia Ridge. Since we arrived at the summit around 10am, we didn't have a lot of people to avoid as we picked our way across the rocks. Making the decision somewhere before Little Haystack to head down Falling Waters on my own, I wished Phil well on the rest of his treks and headed down the trail back to my car. Satisfied with the hiking and running that I put in over the weekend, I got ready to make the long trip back to Massachusetts after grabbing a bite to eat at the Woodstock Brewery.

Statistics for Day 2:
8.1 miles
3,899 feet climbing
3:33 elapsed, plenty of relaxing on this trip

Gear Used:
UD Scott Jurek Pack (significantly less layers needed for this trip)
Two UD bottles
Inov8 Roclite 315 shoes
DarnTough 1/4 Ultralight socks

Next up:
I plan on meeting up with Justin Contois for a run on July 3rd in the Whites. Our tentative route is to run up the North Slide of the Tripyramids out to Whiteface and Passaconaway and come down the South Slide, returning to the Waterville Valley area. This will be another good test run for the Hut Traverse and I am looking forward to connecting with him again and spending a fun day in the mountains. After that trip, I don't have too much planned in the way of runs until later in July for the traverse. I might try to get to Mt. Monadnock for a quadruple climb if I can find the right day for it.

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