Destination or Summit(s): Madison, Adams, Jefferson, Washington, Monroe, Eisenhower, Pierce. Trail Name(s): Valley Way, Airline, Crawford Path. Date of Hike: March 1st, 2019. Trail Conditions: Hard-packed snow, unconsolidated powder. Equipment Used: Snowshoes, micro-spikes. Trail Maintenance Issues: N/A Parking or Road Access Issues: N/A
Additional Comments: Our group of 4 left the Appalachia Parking lot at half past 5 on Friday morning with the intention of hiking a full Presidential Traverse. The Valley Way Trail was reasonably well packed until the last mile before tree-line where the path began to deteriorate from heavy drifting. I managed to get by with micro-spikes up until this point, but made the decision to switch to my snowshoes to avoid post-holing in the soft snow.
Once we passed Madison Springs Hut and got into the alpine zone, we were greeted with clear, but very cold conditions. A steady wind blew off and on across the entire Northern Presidentials, but finally came to a halt once we crossed Mount Washington and started toward Lakes of the Clouds.
The Gulfside Trail, our primary route across the Traverse, was a mix of hard-packed snow, ice, and rock, though our team was able to move just fine using only micro-spikes. There is so much snow across the ridge right now that in many cases, we were able to pick the most direct line toward the summit we were aiming for, disregarding the direction of the actual trail itself.
When we finally reached the summit of Mount Pierce, we were tired, sunburned, and ready for a little reprieve. Two of us briefly made an attempt to move on to Jackson, however we called off the effort due to slow progress from the high snow and buried trail.
All in all, it was an unbelievable day for a late winter Presidential Traverse, and getting it on the 1st of the month, for me, made it extra sweet.