Strange Coincidences on Madison Hike

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Sep 3, 2003
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Gorham NH
I had a plan to go for a hike on New Years day but the forecast had been shifting around a bit so I decided to wait until I got up in in the morning. That is one of the advantages of living in the Northern Presis. I got up later than planned and did a quick check of the Obs forecast and it looked like a nice day. I didnt want to haul my hardcore gear so took my normal winter pack and headed down RT2. The sun was hitting the summits and my goal quickly shifted to a hike up to Madison Hut and possibly to one of the summits. I pulled into lot a little past 8 AM and it was just about full. I quickly put on my gear and headed over to the trail and noticed a black Subaru that looked familiar. Turns out it was my friend the redliner who I had not seen or heard of since Covid clamped down. She is now an official redliner and had decided last minute to drive up north to do John Quincy Adams for one of the many lists she always is filling in. Normally I would have a hard time keeping up but she was up for slow pace so we decided to head up to the hut and then decide from there. Definitely strange that we both made last minute decisions to hike the same mountain and were running late yet ended up at the same parking lot within minutes of each other and I happened to walk by her car.

Conditions were great and temps were reasonable. I put on my new replacement Hillsounds while she had beater set of Kahtoolas. We passed several presumably sunrise hikers heading down. The traction worked well up to the general areas of the Scar trail where there were some fresh ice flows. My Hillsounds were fine but she switched over to Hillsound Trail Pro Crampons. I was surprised that even the normally snowy stretch above Upper Bruin was well beaten down. Soon we went around a corner and saw the very faded yellow turn back sign and right about there we finally broke out into the sun. The weather at the hut was sunny and warm, we took a break and that was the point where I wish I had my more extensive gear selection. I had some damp gear which was fine down at the hut in he sun but folks coming down off the ridge were indicating it was windier up high. I managed to get cold and had tough time warming up in the shadow of JQ. Unlike my friend I had no need to summit and when the winds started blowing down below the Air line junction I decided it was it for me. I could have dug out enough gear to summit but I would be pushing it and meanwhile she would be hanging around freezing so we said of goodbyes and I headed down.

Heading down I did pass a few late folks heading up. I even stopped near a big patch of blowdown that had been slowly settling making some PITA duck unders. I had my trusty saw and was planning to cut out the worst one but ended up taking out three branches that really helped. There are multiple trees across the trail that are just high enough to go under but as the snow pack builds up I expect they will become an issue so hope some other hiker carries a saw to do some more trimming.

As I hit the home stretch past the hemlocks along the brook I started to hear a group of kids on one of the local trails that run west of Valley Way. I was getting tired and didnt pay much attention. I got down to the Appalachia lot and it was busy with various groups and a state trooper parked in the lot. I headed over to my car to get my pack off. I thought I heard my name and turned around and it was the person I work for remotely. He lives in Cambridge Mass and was spending the holidays in the Burke Mountain area in Vermont. He was with the group of kids I heard on the parallel trail. Turns out his son apparently knows someone from Randolph NH (pretty rare given there are only 300 year round residents) and had convinced his dad to drive over to meet somewhere half way between Burke and Randolph and somehow ended up at Appalachia. He is not a hiker but somehow picked that parking lot to go for a walk in the woods but their walk was cut short by one of the kids getting wet. All of my work is on Mass projects and the only time we actually see each other is at project sites. I expect I will get a few more details next week.

I am wondering if I should go buy a Powerball ticket for tonight ;)

Overall a good start to a New Year. I have tried over the years to go out hiking on New Years Day (plus or minus a day to account for weather). I started in 1988 and probably have succeeded 95% of the time.