Foliage Weekend: Mts. Adams, Madison and Hale - October 1-2, 2022

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Rhody Seth

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Dec 18, 2015
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Charlestown, RI
I spent the previous weekend up in the Whites enjoying the splendid color. After missing the foliage the last couple years I definitely wanted to return this year. This was supposed to be a father/daughter trip but Ezri caught a cold just before and backed out. So made the drive up alone on Saturday morning, abandoning my sick child. :p

Things didn't start off great with my oil light flickering not long after I headed out. I checked the oil and it seemed alright but cars aren't my forte. It started flickering again near the MA/NH border and opted to find a quick oil change place. Turns out my oil was low and the oil change only put me back an hour. Soon enough I was up in flavor country and driving through the Whites. Ezri had wanted to hike Jefferson so I had booked us a room at the Mt. Jefferson View motel (cute) and it was too late to cancel. Since I was sleeping there I decided to hike Adams and Madison. I was starting in the early afternoon and figured I'd be finishing in the dark but at least it would be about a three minute drive to the motel. I opted to take Lowe's Path which I hadn't taken before.

Beautiful day and I was probably overdressed in pants but they would prove helpful. As I continued my hike, I didn't have an exact route in mind and opted to head into King Ravine. This proved foolish. Not long after I encountered my first scrambles of the route, I saw a giant rock to the side of the trail that looked to offer a view of the ravine and opted to hop over to it. Unfortunately my depth perception was completely off. Not sure if it was the slope of the rock or what but I completely misjudged the jump and landed about a foot short of my target and slammed my body into the side of it. I had a big bruise on one thigh, a scrapped up knee on the other leg and ripped up my palm. Thankfully I didn't hit my head and the wounds seemed superficial. I got very lucky on this one - it could have been bad.

After bandaging, resting and assessing I opted to continue. I immediately encountered more boulder scrambles which seemed to ask "are you sure" but I pressed on until I was in the ravine proper and the yellow foliage that encircled me was (almost) worth going this way. Now in mid-afternoon, I had to decide on a route up the ravine. I opted to head up the Great Gully Trail to Adams, then head directly to Madison and take Valley Way down. Great Gully was very steep and tiring but I'm not sure any of the other options would have been any better. It was a slog to be sure.

Once I finished that trail and reached Thunderstorm Junction, things got easier. There was absolutely no wind and temps were very mild - a really lovely day up high. I encountered a couple other hikers but with the late hour mostly had the place to myself. The wind started to pick up on the Madison summit and I didn't quite stay for sunset as I knew I had a couple hours of night hiking ahead of me. I hiked down Valley Way, legs tired but holding together and then took the Presidential bike path back to Lowe's. This trail is sneaky in that it pretty much climbs at a very mild grade all the way to Lowe's. Just enough to be annoying on tired legs.

Happy to be done, I made a quick trip to Gorham for food and supplies and then went in the other direction to my motel where I showered, tended to my wounds and pondered the maps to consider what I would have in me for tomorrow.

I woke up achy and sore. My legs seemed okay as did my palm but it was that hand's wrist which seemed the worst injury. Definitely sprained it mildly. Any plans I had for an epic Sunday were long gone and I was content to sleep in. Okay, I was out the door by 7 AM but that's late as far as I'm concerned. I opted to hike Mt. Hale which I hadn't done in some time but I decided to try heading up the Firewarden's Trail. I got one of the last spots at the North Twin trailhead but there were already plenty of overnighters parked along the road. The rushing water bordered by colorful trees was just what I was looking for.

It wasn't hard to find the Firewarden Trail and I enjoyed it's easy grades and beautiful woods. This was a quiet walk in the woods. I encountered a couple backpackers at the summit heading to Zealand Hut and had the summit to myself before another solo hiker appeared. I took my time on the return trip, encountering one family heading up Firewardens. I spent some time down by the river enjoying the views. After that I flew my drone a few more times along Route 3 before heading home.

Overall a good trip but definitely a wake-up call with the injury. I'm no spring chicken anymore and that could have gone real bad. A reminder how careful I must be going forward. Twelve days later and the wrist still isn't great. And now it's the leg with the scuffed knee that is concerning. Pretty sure I bruised the bone just below the knee - it hurts quite a bit when I move it in certain directions. I got X-rays yesterday which didn't show anything so for now I'm just taking it easy. Beyond the injuries, I made the mistake of getting cocky and not researching my route enough on Saturday. I enjoyed the beauty of King Ravine but the scrambles and steepness wore me out quick. And I didn't have time to enjoy the various features such as the Subway. A humbling weekend for sure.