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Thread: Adams & Madison, Winter Fun a Little Early, 12/1/2012

  1. #1
    Senior Member BIGEarl's Avatar
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    Smile Adams & Madison, Winter Fun a Little Early, 12/1/2012

    December 1, 2012: Adams & Madison

    Trails: Valley Way, Gulfside Trail, Air Line Trail, Osgood Trail

    Summits: Adams, Madison

    Hikers: Trail Trotter (Sue) and me



    It was another early start for a Saturday of hiking. I had an early start planned for Sunday and needed an early finish for the hike. Sue pulled in around 3:30am and we headed north. Our plan was to be on-trail by 7:00 Ė 7:30 and depending on trail conditions be finished by roughly 6:30pm. We got started a little later than planned with overcast conditions, a very light breeze, and a temperature of ~12 degrees. Not bad, thatís a couple degrees warmer than predicted. The forecast also predicted the winds from the south would increase throughout the day. We decided to head for Adams first and then visit Madison.

    The area received a couple inches of fresh snow overnight and the scenery was beautiful. The hiking conditions were a different story. Valley Way had areas of ice from end-to-end, increasing with elevation. The fresh snow cover hid all of the ice making for a dangerous hiking trail. We managed to bare boot roughly half of Valley Way before deciding to pull out the MICROspikes. Once we had them out we stayed with the MICROspikes for the remainder of the hike. The slipping and sliding we were up against for the first 1.5 to 2 miles was no longer a concern and we were able to just hike; the MICROspikes handled all of the icing conditions we encountered.

    Slowly we made our way to the treeline making the usual stops along the way. As we approached the treeline the conditions were cold and windy; we stopped to add a layer, get warmer mittens, and pull out mask and balaclava. Ready for a few hours above the treeline we stepped out of the cover and headed south on Gulfside to our first target, Adams.

    There were reports of significantly more snow and drifting than we found. There were perhaps four to six inches of snow and the few drifts we encountered were no more than three feet in depth, usually less. The areas that were most difficult, if thatís the correct term, were the sections of trail that were recessed. These were fully drifted in and a little more work to get through; usually only a few steps in ankle to calf-deep snow. Snowshoes were definitely not needed anywhere along the hike. We climbed to the ridge south of Madison Hut and were hit with a pretty strong south/southwest wind. Sue pulled out her goggles. It was good we were hiking Adams first because the winds were predicted to be much stronger as we went through the afternoon. At the second Airline Ė Gulfside junction we went left and headed for Adams. Visibility was no more than 100 feet; we couldnít see Adams but could usually see a cairn, sometimes a couple cairns.

    Having been there quite a few times we knew the route, that didnít make being unable to see multiple cairns feel any better. Our progress was slow. We worked hard to make sure we stayed on-trail. A short distance below the summit we lost the trail. Knowing we were very close to the summit we decided to simply climb to the top, get our summit pictures, and backtrack following our own tracks down from the summit. It seemed like a good idea at the time. We continued on and soon were back on-trail, complete with cairns, for the final ~100 yards. We hit the summit, got our pictures, and with no reason or desire to hang around made the u-turn and started back down.

    The blowing snow was no longer in our face and the descent from the summit was a little less uncomfortable. Unfortunately, our tracks were mostly drifted in and there was generally little trace of our route. In the places where we went through small drifts our footsteps were still visible and we were able to make our way back down on the same route as our ascent. The additional detail that made the hike difficult was the soft snow that had filled the spaces between the rocks and boulders. Step on one and there is no support; you simply drop in; at times youíre lucky and hit something solid, at other times there is no bottom at all. Poles were handy to use as probes and know where to step, and where to avoid. Eventually we made our way back to Gulfside and we were descending back to the Madison Hut.

    Once again below the ridge we were somewhat sheltered from the south/southwesterly wind. We enjoyed an easy walk back to the hut and just kept hiking onto Osgood Trail and our ascent of Madison. The climb of Madison had better visibility and we were always able to see multiple cairns all of the way to the summit. There have only been a few hikes where I led the way, this was one. Sue was a little sluggish and let me have the lead (I know, donít get used to it). As we made our way to the summit of Madison we climbed back into the strong wind. Times like this make me wish for a handheld weather station. It was cold, it was windy, and we had blowing snow and ice to enjoy. We worked our way to the summit, got the usual summit pictures, and headed back down. We both knew calmer conditions waited for us below the treeline and it wasnít far to the treeline.

    After a relatively slow and careful descent from the summit of Madison we hit the treeline and started our exit hike. Eventually we needed to make a stop to swap in more water, retire the mask and balaclava, and pull out the headlights. We had roughly three miles of headlight hiking with fresh powder everywhere, and a light snow falling. What a beautiful sight! Sue even took a shot at getting me to sing Christmas songs on the hike out. According to Sue, the only thing that was missing to make it a perfect hike out was Christmas music. I think she was right but the Christmas music ran around in our heads. Maybe if Brian was with us things would have been different, (yeah Ė maybe).

    Thanks Sue. It was a tough way to start December but weíve done tougher. Feel better soon.


    Pictures will follow.



  2. #2
    Senior Member BIGEarl's Avatar
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    Iíve posted some pictures from the day.

    Straight to the album on Facebook


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    Senior Member Sunshine Chris's Avatar
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    Great job folks. Sounds like it was an effort but you got the job done. Hope you feel better too, Sue. Loved the pics. They always tell a story. How many more summits do you need to do this month?

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    Senior Member KV's Avatar
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    WHAT?! No snowman?? Sue must've been off her game.

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    Since I am not a Facebook user, is there another way to enjoy your great photos after reading such thorough, well-written narratives?

  6. #6
    Senior Member Sunshine Chris's Avatar
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    I hope he does something about the pics besides facebook cuz your missing out on some great photos.

  7. #7
    Senior Member BIGEarl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by KV View Post
    WHAT?! No snowman?? Sue must've been off her game.
    Hmmm... Sue is never "off her game".

    The snow was way too dry to do anything with it. It was real fluffy stuff that wouldn't stick together at all.



    Quote Originally Posted by Pete Hogan View Post
    Since I am not a Facebook user, is there another way to enjoy your great photos after reading such thorough, well-written narratives?
    Sorry. I plan to get an account on a real photo sharing site soon. I realize Facebook is a very poor solution.

    According to the information on the site, if a photo album is set to "public" on Facebook it is viewable by non-Facebook users. Unfortunately, this feature stopped working properly a while ago and needs to be fixed.

    It's entirely possible that Facebook disabled this feature as a way to lure more people to sign-up to the site.

  8. #8
    Senior Member ChacoTaco's Avatar
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    I suggest google plus and picasa as well as blogger as a whole package deal. Great way to blog about hiking and have the social media part all intact with photo sharing all within reach and easy to access.
    Your pictures are spectacular as well as the narrative. I learned alot. Heading out early morning to climb the Hancocks, first December hike in New England.
    The day will come, the sun will rise, and we'll be fine- Avett Brothers
    http://teamchacopak.blogspot.com/

  9. #9
    Senior Member BIGEarl's Avatar
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    I have tentatively decided on Smugmug for my photo sharing site.

    The slideshow for this hike is located here.

    Please let me know if there is a problem accessing these images, or if you have any other comments relating to these photos.



  10. #10
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    Earl (and Sue)

    As a long-time admirer of your excellent trip reports and photographic narratives, thank you for the Smugmug connection. Seeing the photos truly enhances the written TR. The mountain adventures you and Sue share are always appreciated.

  11. #11
    Senior Member BIGEarl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pete Hogan View Post
    Earl (and Sue)

    As a long-time admirer of your excellent trip reports and photographic narratives, thank you for the Smugmug connection. Seeing the photos truly enhances the written TR. The mountain adventures you and Sue share are always appreciated.
    Thanks Pete,

    Everything that was posted on Webshots is now re-posted on SmugMug, plus the albums that were only posted on Facebook after the closure announcement. The galleries (aka albums by other sites) do not yet include captions but I hope to add them over time, starting with the most recent and working back.


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    Thanks Earl! What a terrific Christmas gift!
    You (and Sue) are a reliable and trustworthy resource for White Mountain hiking.
    I consulted your comprehensive TR's several times on my way to completing the 48 this past September.
    Happy New Year and continued safe travels in the mountains!

  13. #13
    Senior Member gram's Avatar
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    Let me add my thanks for putting your pictures on SmugMug. Your reports and pics are always terrific!
    gram

  14. #14
    Senior Member BIGEarl's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Pete Hogan View Post
    Thanks Earl! What a terrific Christmas gift!
    You (and Sue) are a reliable and trustworthy resource for White Mountain hiking.
    I consulted your comprehensive TR's several times on my way to completing the 48 this past September.
    Happy New Year and continued safe travels in the mountains!
    Quote Originally Posted by gram View Post
    Let me add my thanks for putting your pictures on SmugMug. Your reports and pics are always terrific!
    Pete and gram -

    Thanks, your positive comments are very much appreciated.


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