Last weekend, we got back to our beloved White Mountains of New Hampshire for some family hiking. With a busy summer schedule, it was a quick trip to the northern Presidential Range that reminded us what we have been missing here in Connecticut since we were last there a year ago.
You just can’t find hills like that around here, so the periodic drive north is well worth the effort. We made our usual stops in Vermont on the way up I-91 on Friday morning and arrived at the Appalachia trailhead around noon.
Since our 4-year-old daughter and 7-year-old son were with us, we opted for the direct route via the Valley Way Trail. Our destination was Madison Spring Hut, where we spent the night. Debbie and I have been taking our kids to Appalachian Mountain Club Huts since our son was nine weeks old. The only hut that the kids have yet to visit is Carter Notch, and that is next on our list.
Debbie and I have had many duo adventures in the White’s. We climbed all 48 New Hampshire 4,000 foot peaks back when we were kid-less, and in recent years, have fed our mountain desires with one day Hut Traverses in 2011 and 2013.
Madison Spring is the oldest hut (126 years) in the system, though it was rebuilt in 2010. It was our first overnight since the reconstruction, which was neat. Both kids grabbed bunks that were three high and they wanted the top. Our hike up was warm and humid, though our little girl went the entire four miles on her own power. We were darn proud of her, but knew she would be pooped from the exertion.
We didn’t arrive until 5:30 P.M. so it was a quick break to wash up and then dinner. We retired early and awoke to a fun breakfast. Overnight, remnants from Hurricane Arthur, which was offshore of the Canadian Maritimes, delivered intense rain and a lot of wind. In the morning, it was dry with patches of low clouds and fog, but the wind was whipping. It was gusting over 60 mph on Mount Madison. That made the 35 degree Fahrenheit temperature feel like 10 degrees, which is darn cold for July. We were as prepared as you can be with the right gear.
We wanted to give the kids a taste of that weather, so we went part of the way towards the summit before retreating. It is 1/2 mile from hut, but we were making slow progress and it was pretty sketchy. We had to hold them down when they were exposed to the sustained wind. Both kids were wild eyed as a result and its was a family decision to return to the hut to warm up, eat, and prep for our hike back to the valley.
Our daughter walked on and off, but Debbie carried her most of the day. I had the responsibility of carrying most of the family gear, though our son is pretty self sufficient. My sore foot was hurting, but I got through the trip without doing any more damage. Of course, just using it is a setback in the recovery process.
After returning to the parking lot, we headed over to the Highland Center in Crawford Notch. Debbie and the kids spent several hours at the playground and exploring the lodge while I went for a road ride. I pedaled on Rt. 302 to the junction of Bear Notch Road and back. The ride served its purpose and gave me some thinking time. It was early to bed after dinner and on Sunday we continued on to Loon Mountain for the USA Mountain Running Championships.
Traffic on the drive home was horrendous, which is the price you pay for traveling on a holiday weekend. Bridge reconstruction in Brattleboro forced us off of the highway. The only silver lining was that we got to eat at a new vegan restaurant called Super Fresh Cafe.
Despite the traffic and the hectic nature of the short trip, we can’t wait to get back to the mountains.