Madison by Valley Way

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Jan 15, 2013
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Vernon, Conn.
Back in December 2015 I tried to climb Madison, which I needed for the Winter NH4K list. I turned around above the treeline but short of the summit that time. Last Friday I tried again and made it this time.

I lucked out in planning this; I had picked the date well in advance, and the weather conditions ended up being the best of the week. The temps were around freezing up high, and I guess in the 40s down low. The Mountain Forecast Website had predicted the chill factor adjusted temp at the summit at about 16F, which seemed about right. In any case, I wasn't cold at all the whole hike.

There was a foot or so of snow on the ground most of the way; less above the treeline. I was on snowshoes the whole hike. I started just before sunrise. Valley Way was well broken out but not completely packed down.

When I got to Watson Path, about half of the tracks went that way, so Valley Way, which I continued on, was less broken out, but still not bad. At one point a Francophone man and woman passed me. They said they were going to Gray Knob to spend the night.

When I got to the hut that couple was taking a break there. I layered up, as it was already getting windy once I crossed above the treeline. Then the others went west on Airline Trail and I went up east up the mountain on Osgood Path.

There had been one other person up and down Osgood Path since the last snowfall. I followed their tracks up the mountain, although the cairns there are so large and frequent that I would have been fine anyways.

I was in the sun on the way up, from the treeline to the summit. There were some huge lenticular clouds to the north, and other clouds on and around the other peaks. It was really beautiful up there.

The wind really kicked up when I got to the summit area. I didn't spend much time there. One the way down, not far below the summit, a cloud came over me, and I was in the fog the rest of the way above the treeline. I was still able to follow the tracks and the cairns down, though. At the hut I removed the extra layers I had added there.

Not far below the treeline I met a young man and woman going up. They said they were headed for Madison, but because it was late and foggy they might turn around at the hut.

About halfway down I was taking a break, and the Francophone couple came down past me. They said that they had lost the trail in a whiteout and had decided to abort their trip. Not long after the young couple came past, saying they had turned around at the hut. Those four were the only people I met on the hike.

I got back to the trailhead as it was starting to get dark, but before I needed to use my headlamp.

Madison is number 41 (out of 48) for the Winter New Hampshire 4000 Footer list for me.

Here are the pictures.



NE111 in my 50s: 115/115 (67/67, 46/46, 2/2)
NE111 in my 60s: 72/115 (50/67, 20/46, 2/2)
NEFF: 50/50; Cat35: 39/39; WNH4K: 41/48; NEHH 89/100
LT NB 2009; CT NB 2017

"I don't much care where [I get to] --" said Alice, "-- so long as I get somewhere," ...
"Oh, you're sure to do that," said the Cat, "if you only walk long enough."
- Lewis Carroll
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