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debstepin
06-24-2014, 08:38 AM
Hi!
I'm planning on doing a Presidential hiking trip in mid-August over three days. I have hiked in the Whites and have 23 of the 48 4000 footers complete. I'm ready to knock off 8 more, but I also wanted to take in the beauty of the sights as I go. Since most people do the traverse faster, I've had trouble finding answers for my questions, which mostly focus on where to spend the night.

I'm a student, so I can't afford the huts. I have a solo tent and a camping hammock. Which would be better to bring? I know you have to camp below treeline, but can the trees support a hammock? Can you typically find a good spot to use a small tent below treeline? Is there a camping permit I have to get? Are there camping sites available at any of the huts? If so, do they typically fill up fast?

I would be doing two nights out. How is the weather in August?
And, finally is there a trail people would recommend for views, easier travel or anything else?

Thanks!

David Metsky
06-24-2014, 12:22 PM
It depends on where you plan on camping. It's tough to find good spots along the ridge without dropping down so you might want to use the few camping areas available to you. The main one is the tent platforms at the Perch, one of the RMC facilities on the side of Mt Adams. You hike Madison and Adams and drop to the Perch for your first night. A tent would be easier, not sure if there's trees suitable for a hammock there. If you wish to go further your best bet would be to go past Jefferson and drop down the Jewel trail, looking for camping spots below treeline. There are places for a tent although you might have to go a bit further than if you use a hammock. There is a tent site on the Valley Way below Madison Springs Hut, but I'd want to cover more ground before camping on night 1.

On the second day you can look for camping spots below Eisenhower on the Edmands Path or continue to Mizpah hut and use the Nauman Tentsite right next to the hut. If you aren't doing Jackson and Webster you're almost at the road anyway and may choose to skip the second night and just hike out. There's no camping near Lakes of the Clouds.

The weather in August can be anything. In hot weather thunderstorms are more likely and they can be really nasty up there. It's always a crap shoot in the Presidentials, prepare for the worst and hope for the best.

You're following the Gulfside Trail and Crawford Path for 90% of the Traverse, there aren't many options on the ridge except to go around summits or over them. Ascending to Madison probably depends more on your car spot, the easiest way is up Valley Way but you can choose any of the many routes up Madison to start.

hikerbrian
06-24-2014, 02:30 PM
The reason you haven't found much info on where to camp for a presi traverse is because there are few or no good options to be had. David has outlined the best options (IMO), and here's my response to a similar inquiry last year:
http://www.vftt.org/forums/showthread.php?49036-Want-to-do-a-Presi-traverse-in-Aug-but-not-in-one-day&p=394867&viewfull=1#post394867
There's some more info in that thread that may be useful to you.

nartreb
06-24-2014, 02:45 PM
Two nights is a great way to do it, and probably more common (albeit the subject of less online bragging or obsessive preparation) than a one-day traverse. Camping options are severely limited: it's a big detour to drop down to treeline in most places, plus the whole Cutler River drainage is a no-camping zone (except for the lean-tos at HoJos). Luckily, The Perch and Nauman Tentsite are conveniently placed and very affordable. They get lots of use but I don't think I've ever seen them fill up completely.

August weather is usually hot and very humid. Before you reach treeline you can expect to be sweating profusely. I'm told a spare bra to change into is a good idea. In deciding what to pack you want to be prepared for windy, rainy, foggy conditions above treeline with temperatures dropping below 50 F in the daytime. (Coincidentally, it's 50F on Mt Washington's summit right now, with light rain and 23mph winds.)

For views, you're above treeline on the ridge most of the way, so you'll either have spectacular views or fog. For easiest travel, the usual choice is north-to-south, starting with Valley Way. Doing the shorter traverse (stop at Pierce) lets you descend Crawford Path, a really gentle way down. Adding Jackson and Webster gives you more views over Webster Cliff. I haven't tried the Webster-Jackson Trail but that looks like a reasonable option; the Webster Cliff trail (A.T.) stays right on the edge of the cliff for a while for more views, and is well-maintained but a little bit steep.

Driver8
06-24-2014, 03:54 PM
I haven't tried the Webster-Jackson Trail but that looks like a reasonable option; the Webster Cliff trail (A.T.) stays right on the edge of the cliff for a while for more views, and is well-maintained but a little bit steep.

Webster-Jackson is a pretty trail and would be just fine for descent. It has stretches much steeper than the Crawford Path, which is pretty steady and gradual. W-J is more intermittent, with steep and then leveler stretches. For beauty, both Crawford and W-J are very nice - I enjoyed them a lot last year in May on a loop of Jackson and Pierce.

To the OP: I've not done the Webster Cliffs stretch, but I'd much rather go up that than down from what I hear and read.

I'd say, depending on weather and your conditioning and other factors, getting to Jewell Trail and descending to the tenting area, which is obvious, maybe 0.2 miles below tree-line, would be ambitious but a good way of breaking the hike into fairly equal-sized bits, with the toughest part first. Climbing back up Jewell to Gulfside would be a significant price to pay, but it's a very pretty hike and a gradual climb. Getting up Pierce's two main humps at the end of day 2 wouldn't be too bad, but some work, and the southern descent off Pierce South is quite rugged and steep, but the Hut/Nauman combo are right there and convenient. Mitzpah Hut is beautiful and right next to the Nauman site. On my stay there, caretaker-basis time early May last year, there was a fair amount of intermingling between hut and tent folk.

I'd be very tempted, were I you, to include Jackson to get that 8th peak day 3, and let my feet, ankles, calves, etc., enjoy the beautiful brooks on Jackson's northwest slope along the W-J trail. Would be an awfully nice refresher!

jfb
06-30-2014, 06:19 PM
I agree with the suggestions to camp at the Nauman tent platforms and at the Perch platforms. A solo tent would work fine at both of those places. There is good water and outhouses at both places. Camping at those sites is not free, $8.00 for Nauman and $10.00 at the Perch. I'd probably park at the Webster-Jackson trailhead and spend the first night at Nauman, second night at the Perch. That breaks up the elevation gain more evenly over three days than going the other way. The Nauman platforms are on the ridge, so there's no "dropping down to camp" required, and the Perch is only about 600 feet below Edmands Col.

If you end your hike at Appalachia, you may be able to find another hiker to give you a ride back to your car.

Mac
07-09-2014, 02:07 PM
An alternative to the Perch is Gray Knob cabin. It's only about 20 minutes further and would give you a roof over your head and mattress pad. Cost for non-members is $15.

marving
07-10-2014, 01:17 PM
I just did the presidential traverse over two days, south to north. We dropped our car off at appalachia and shuttled to the highland center on day one, then it was 6hrs on day one to lakes of the clouds, and 9 hours on day 2 to our car. We hiked all the summits, took our time, took photos, had lunch at mizpah and madison, etc.. took watson's path to valley way from the top of madison and webster jackson up from highland center. It is not rushed whatsoever

First everyone does it north to south, i don't get this, you're staring into the sun the entire time and the terrain gets more boring as you go. South to north is a gradual up hill, the sun is behind you, the views get better and better. I would do south to north, no brainer imo.

Second, 3 days is a long time, if I had kids that's how i'd do it but two days was perfect. One day would be really long and rushed.

You can stay at the huts for free if you're willing to do chores (dishes and sweeping), 4 people were doing this the night we stayed at lakes. If you do it in 2 days you would only have to do this one night, and at the most scenic hut. And obviously you save yourself having to haul camping gear and food which makes it an easy 2 day hike

As far as what trail you're basically on crawford path and gulfside the whole way, i recommend doing all the peak loops.

TJsName
07-10-2014, 01:40 PM
An alternative to the Perch is Gray Knob cabin. It's only about 20 minutes further and would give you a roof over your head and mattress pad. Cost for non-members is $15.

It's $20 for non-members now (at least as of April, 2014).

David Metsky
07-10-2014, 03:06 PM
You can stay at the huts for free if you're willing to do chores (dishes and sweeping), 4 people were doing this the night we stayed at lakes.
Pretty much that only applies to AT thru-hikers, and only a limited number per night, and only if the hut master wants to. This is not something regular hikers should expect, as they will be disappointed nearly all of the time.

marving
07-10-2014, 03:31 PM
Pretty much that only applies to AT thru-hikers, and only a limited number per night, and only if the hut master wants to. This is not something regular hikers should expect, as they will be disappointed nearly all of the time.

well at least two of the people the night we were there were not AT thru hikers, they were just doing the presidential traverse over two days like us, i know because we hiked with them from eisenhower. they had to do some dishes and swept up. ymmv i guess

David Metsky
07-10-2014, 09:22 PM
well at least two of the people the night we were there were not AT thru hikers, they were just doing the presidential traverse over two days like us, i know because we hiked with them from eisenhower. they had to do some dishes and swept up. ymmv i guess
That's not common, but I guess it happens. I haven't seen that but clearly some hutmasters allow it from time to time. I think it's less likely during thru-hiker season.

Mac
07-14-2014, 09:49 AM
It's $20 for non-members now (at least as of April, 2014).

Oops. My bad. Thanx for the update (for MY next visit).

debstepin
07-29-2014, 05:59 PM
You can stay at the huts for free if you're willing to do chores (dishes and sweeping), 4 people were doing this the night we stayed at lakes. If you do it in 2 days you would only have to do this one night, and at the most scenic hut. And obviously you save yourself having to haul camping gear and food which makes it an easy 2 day hike

This is some great info- would you happen to know a good place to camp in case the hut master was not allowing work for stay? Preferably within 2 miles heading north.

TJsName
07-29-2014, 06:07 PM
You can stay at the huts for free if you're willing to do chores (dishes and sweeping), 4 people were doing this the night we stayed at lakes. If you do it in 2 days you would only have to do this one night, and at the most scenic hut. And obviously you save yourself having to haul camping gear and food which makes it an easy 2 day hike

This is some great info- would you happen to know a good place to camp in case the hut master was not allowing work for stay? Preferably within 2 miles heading north.

Camping within 2 miles of LotC would likely mean you are heading down either the Jewell or Sphinx trails to find something below treeline. Having a hammock would probably help in finding a legal site. Sphinx gets into the trees a little faster, but it's steep and rough for tenting.

David Metsky
07-29-2014, 11:47 PM
If you are not a thru-hiker the hutmaster will in all likelihood not allow you to stay for chores, or even to stay without a reservation since they haven't prepared food for you. Do not go without paid reservations if you plan on staying there. Don't plan on camping anywhere near LOC or Madison huts, it's better to plan your camping at the Perch or off the Edmands Path which are better suited for camping.