White Mountain Hut Traverse, Part 1

Debbie and I had a great Labor Day Weekend adventure in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. We completed a one-day White Mountain Hut Traverse, which had been on our “to do” list. The official time on my stopwatch was 19 hours, 48 minutes, and 9 seconds, but who is counting? Statistics on traverses vary. We started at Carter Notch Hut and finished at Lonesome Lake Hut. The distance is roughly 50 miles, but does that really matter? The total elevation gained is around 17,000 feet, but again who is counting? I think you descend even more than you ascend, which is bad for me. Needless to say, this is not your typical run/hike. We ran a little and we hiked a lot.

Honestly, if we had finished in our planned time of sub-17 hours, then I might dwell on the speed a bit more. After a spring and summer filled with triathlons, trail races, and a few bicycle races, I purposely wanted to do something that didn’t require pinning on a race number. We still had a time goal in mind, and we wanted to finish in time for dinner. That didn’t happen. Apparently, sprint triathlons don’t quite give you the strength necessary to do this sort of thing. I had a major bonk. Fortunately, and like many previous adventures, ultra-Deb was there to pull me through. That says a lot about why our relationship grows stronger every day, even after 10 years.

We hadn’t been away together without our kids since our daughter was born. Debbie’s mother delivered on her promise to take our kids for the weekend and we planned the trip. I’ll follow-up with more details, photos, and stats on the actual traverse when I have more time. We sandwiched this trip in between two insane work weeks (as usual) and my evening time is limited, so this post is relatively brief. Additionally, I need some rest!

If you want to learn more about the infamous White Mountain Hut Traverse, you can Google it. Also, if you check back, I’ll add more history and stories. Debbie and I are both longtime members of the Appalachian Mountain Club. We both volunteer as members of the AMC Board of Advisors. Our club is the nation’s oldest outdoor recreation and conservation organization. The club maintains a network of eight mountain huts in the White Mountains. They were spaced about a day’s hike apart and a fun trip would be to cover the distance in six days. We had been to all of them before, but just not in one day.

The last thing I’ll say in Part 1 of this story is that a Hut Traverse is challenging for the mental and physical strength required, but also for the logistics and planning required. We drove 4.5 hours from Connecticut on Saturday morning. We parked at Lafayette Place Campground in Franconia Notch State Park. We pedaled our cyclocross bikes 42+ miles to Gorham. We left our bikes and gear with a friend. We hitched a ride to Joe Dodge Lodge in Pinkham Notch for dinner. We got a ride back (in the dark) to the Nineteen Mile Brook Trailhead on Rt. 16. We walked the 3.8 miles up to Carter Notch Hut. We “slept” on the floor of the hut for three hours. We started the traverse at 1:38 A.M. on Sunday. We finished 19 hours and 48 minutes later. We spent the night at Lonesome Lake Hut. We walked the 1.6 miles back to our car on Monday morning. We drove back to Gorham to pick up our bikes and gear. We drove home in insane holiday traffic, which took five hours.

So, the Hut Traverse isn’t as simple as it sounds. Lessons were learned. Check back.  There is a lot more for me to say, and I’ll share more. Maybe readers of this blog are interested in plotting their own adventure.

2 Responses to “White Mountain Hut Traverse, Part 1”


  1. 1 Christine Woodside 7 September 2011 at 2:45 am

    What I like about this adventure is that you pushed on through the “bonk.” I know from “bonk.” I did that almost every late afternoon of my thru-hike of the AT. And what matters is: I kept going, helped along by my three companions, one of them my husband. Incredible how that works. So: congratulations to you both! Chris W.


  1. 1 White Mountain Hut Traverse, Part 2 (Full Story) « Life Adventures Trackback on 10 September 2011 at 7:11 pm

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