Madison via Valley Way and Osgood Trail

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NH Tramper

Apr 10, 2012
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North Conway, NH Avatar: Cannon Mtn.
Date of Hike: Mar. 7, 2013

Trail Conditions: There was two inches of new snow starting out and due to conditions what was left of Valley Way was buried by new and blown-in snow. It was easy to follow, and there was nothing in the way, but it was slower going and more work than we wanted since the plan of the day was a Presidential traverse. We made it to the hut, layered up a bit more, then ascended Osgood Trail and summited Mt. Madison. It was awesome. It was quite cold, and the winds were blowing a good clip, and due to the shroud of clouds visibility was from 20-50 feet. Good news, though, the cairns were easy to see, some bare rocks were visible offering something to look at, and while we certainly did get off the actual trail a lot up there, we re-found the main pack easily all the way up.

Special Equipment Used: We used snowshoes for the entire hike. Coming down we did see some others bare booting, and not doing too badly with it, but we had packed out the trail for them just a few hours before.

Comments: Hiked this one Bill Robichaud and while we came up way short on a full traverse, we had a good time. We were extremely well prepared for this hike (backup and a safety galore, even friends in high places, literally, that we were able to talk to... thanks guys), we pre-recorded our bearings (and back-bearing in the case of Madison) and were quite easily able to navigate the entire range as a bushwhack if need be (what we had done confirmed later by looking at a GPS track, taken for safety reasons), and we did need to bushwhack headed up to Adams. Here everything was white-er, very few visible rocks and only one cairn found. And that was no problem in of itself. I know my compass navigation well. The problem: We rose, the clouds thickened around us, but thinned above us and it got bright. Very bright. I couldn't see anything. Bill couldn't either, but he wears glasses and he fogged up and rimed up soon after we hit treeline, anyway. He essentially drafted me up Madison, blindly (sure and easy hiking surface, though). When it got bright I corrected for this by donning my tinted goggles (high-end ones with a fan so they never fog). Problem solved, for less than five minutes. My goggles are great at fog control, but they are powerless again rime. The best I could do is look down without the goggles, and we could have done that, use compass and go, but it's hard to route find the lumps and bulges looking five feet in front of you and was edging away from safe as a result, and it was fully off whatever "trail" is usually in use so it was a slog as well. Thus, I called it off and we exited the way we came, tracks already fading fast. Still a great time, though, and a good ten miles with almost 4k of gain so the day wasn't wasted by any means.

Mike "Tramper" Cherim
Nottingham NH

ETA: Here is the full trip report.
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