I'm continuing to test my new found confidence on trail... Originally, I was going to Isolation (via Glen Boulder) for today but I saw the forecast throughout the week forming something beautiful and well, I just hd to change my plan. So, what better way to challenge myself than to take on the Northern Presidentials, Madison and Adams. One of which, I am on good terms with and the other, I have some choice words for every time. I had plans to get up early to do this and that was mostly in order to give myself a comfortable time table and the ability to be out for as long as I could. You see, I have been missing my trail life from just the two weeks I was out on the Long Trail, I gathered so much more respect for the simple life that I really have been missing trail life. I have dreams about it and have also begun planning for next year because, I miss trail life. Who would have thought that it would have such a profound effect? So, back to today, I decided to test my strength and take on Madison and Adams. I'm not going to lie, I had several other plans that included splitting the difference and bailing all together. BUT, Isis and I got on the road and arrived at Appalachia by 7:30am. We actually got a space in the lot and for a holiday weekend, that was a plus. Getting ready was easy and the pack (even with the 3L bladder), was still what I felt was "cheating weight light". I had been carrying the 50lbs pack for so long, that I plan on liking this new weight for a long time. Probably until I go back to it for next years Long Trail completion.
So, Isis and I get underway and are stopped by 2 other day hikers who are taking about different well known hikers that hike the Whites and asking questions about Isis. they head up Airline and we head up Valley Way. Over by the falls, there are two guys camping. Not sure if they are going up or coming down but either way, they are in a peculiar spot for having stopped or started. We bid them good morning and keep going. Valley Way is well traveled and in great shape down low. The only thing I can note is that it's been so long since I've been on this trail that it feels new again. Not to mention the fact that I think the last time I was on it, it had snow on it. There's no mud and no blow downs to deal with. There are a few rocks as we gain elevation and hit tree line. One school group was coming down from a week long Presi and they were great. Very energetic for being out a week. Isis and I get ready to break tree line...
To borrow a phrase, "It's a beautiful day in the neighborhood"... There is zero wind and I'm immediately sorry for my Thru hiking friends who came through earlier in the 70+ MPH winds... I wished that they could have had this weather. Isis and I make it to the hut in good time (again, I am unsure what good time is anymore... It's just a phrase to tell myself that it's not close to dark!). So, I try and rest but a man with a dog has us make other plans. We move to a rock behind the hut and Isis has some water and snacks. I also have something to eat but figure I'll have lunch when we get back from Madison. So, Isis decides that she is ready to go up and since my pack is so light, I don't drop it. We head up and begin navigating the rocks. Since this truly is a "rock pile", I help Isis navigate and we find a lot of loose ones. She gets spooked by these and will often freeze. Plus, being little and some of these rocks big, she also needs a little help. We navigate together and while there is a little breeze, it quickly dies out. The climb takes less than an hour and when we get to the summit, we have it to ourselves. Some of the best views are from this summit. From Washington to all around the area and since the weather is clear (with low air pollution) , you can see a lot more.
We take a nice rest and enjoy the quiet... No people noise, no car noise, and only the sound of the occasional wind. Then we head back down and back to the hut for hopefully lunch, uninterrupted. We run into some guys coming up with another dog who looks like he's struggling just a little as he strained on leash and panted from the heat. the humans were in great spirits though some looked a little tired. We land back at the hut and I try something new for lunch... Salmon. It also comes in a pouch and seemed OK but it really didn't taste like Salmon... But, it was going to give me the Umph I needed to get up Adams. Some Thru hikers were milling about and Isis didn't really like them. So, we ate and got on our way. The weather was warming but still very nice to be above tree line. Going up to catch Air Line to the summit of Adams was pretty easy. One really steep part which we stopped and talked to a family (or at least the girls parents). Always nice to see people (especially a whole family) on the trails. There was not enough people to cause a big up swing in trail traffic so, today was still a quiet day for a start to a holiday weekend. Once we got to Air Line, Isis and I began navigating some pretty tedious rock hopping. This is not my favorite way to hike. This is not how I like to spend my time... Looking down at footings. I swear to myself that when we head down, we are getting on Gulfside... It's got flatter rocks. The climb up to the summit is also very tedious but we run into some nice people including two other Thru's that we shared the Long Trail/Appalachian Trail with. They seem surprised to see me and asked about the Long Trail as well as what I was doing here. I explained that this is my home state and I love these peaks... Love is used loosely with Adams.
On our way up the summit cone, we talk with a mom who is following her 13 year old son. They are staying at the hut and this is their first time on the summit. I warned them ahead of time about the bugs... And I also told her of my plan to catch Gulfside. The bugs are so bad on Adams that we never really stay long. I get my picture snapped because this peak makes you work for it. We head down to sit for a while out of the bugs. The weather continues to be phenomenal. We head down to Gulfside but first pass through Thunderstorm junction... Then we hook around on Gulfside which passes in front of Adams. It takes us no time to get to the junction of Air Line and then we begin to descend. It's time to head back home...
The walk down Air Line seems to take forever and for that I am happy and sad. I get mixed emotions heading back down from a day like this. I do look forward to my coffee on the way home and sharing my experiences but in order to do that, I need to get back to the car. Which means I need to get down off the mountain. It's a tedious down with some steep sections and I relish the flat dirt sections. There is even one mud section that makes me remember my Long Trail time... LOTS OF MUD! The sun is in fact going down but I am not worried. I can pretty much calculate when I'll be back at the car and even with a few trips and stops, we make that "good time". In the woods of the Air Line Trail, we are able to move at a decent speed and again, I am happy to be down... But I'm not happy to be down. At the car, I change and settle Isis in her passengers seat. We head down the road to retrieve my coffee from Dunks at Exit 28... I'm happy again.
If I make the trek out to Isolation this weekend (Sunday or Monday), for those keeping track, it would complete my 3rd round and Isis' 2nd... Just have to see how the weekend unfolds. Today, however was fantastic!