May 20, 2009 at 10:53 am #1236442
My wife and I are just starting our planning for this summer. We are planning to hike the Laural Highland Trail in PA in late Sept early Oct. But we also want to do 5-6 days in the White Mountains as well.
I have a couple of questions. I haven't done much research on trails in the area and am hoping someone here could point me in the right direction.
We are looking for something between 40 and 70 miles at we can do in 5 days.
We are thinking about late July or Aug. When is the best time to go? Are bugs insane in July still? I know Black Fly season in the Daks calms down at the end of June.
We would like to do a few summits in there and hitting the top of Mt. Washington would be nice (or something else less populated.
Varied scenery is a bonus as well.
We only have one vehicle so we would need a shuttle for a point to point or need to do a loop. Recommendations for shuttles would be great.
Anyone have any suggestions for a trail that would be good for us?
Thanks for the help
–scottMay 20, 2009 at 11:16 am #1502463
Pemi Wilderness Loop
Presidential traverse starting on Mt. Webster or even further back in Franconia Notch.
If you are not set on the Whites, you might consider doing a stretch on Vermont's Long Trail around Mt. Mansfield in Smugglers Notch…May 20, 2009 at 11:56 am #1502473
We were actually looking at the Long Trail first, but my wife really wants to see the Whites.
I was looking at the Presidential Traverse and this looks like a great hike.
Is is possible to do a hike in this area without staying at the huts? Everything I have seen is describing sleeping in the huts and it looks like they have already been filled for the most part.May 20, 2009 at 1:14 pm #1502486
Check the National Forest website on camping rules but I think it's ok below treelineMay 20, 2009 at 1:24 pm #1502489
"Is is possible to do a hike in this area without staying at the huts? Everything I have seen is describing sleeping in the huts and it looks like they have already been filled for the most part."
There is the Nauman campsite next to Mizpah hut and a campsite at the base of Mt Madison. That will get you across the Presidentals but if you want to take it easy through it you can get off the ridge and go the Randolph Mountain Club facilities in between.May 20, 2009 at 5:06 pm #1502555
@mad777Locale: South Florida
I'll second the Pemi Wilderness Loop.
Less crowded than the Presidentials.
In the Pemi, Franconia Ridge and the BondCliffs are spectacular summits.
You are right, late July/early August is much better than June for the bugs.
Camping is not always allowed inside certain wilderness boundaries but it's easy enough to plan to be out of those by nightfall. I like to stealth camp. As a matter of fact, I'm switching to hammock camping due to the difficulty in finding prime tent sites in the Whites. With a hammock, every tree is a tent site … well … every two trees is a tent site :-)May 20, 2009 at 5:44 pm #1502564
>>I was looking at the Presidential Traverse and this looks like a great hike.
It's been 30 years since I did a Presidential Traverse, but but my friend and I started at Appalachia at the Northern end of the range, camped the first night in King Ravine, spent the second night at the Perch, the third night in the "Dungeon" at Lakes of the Clouds, and the last night at Naumann tentsite next to Mizpah hut. The last day, we headed down into Crawford Notch, where my parents picked us up. The climb up King's Ravine was incredible, and the views into the Great Gulf from the Gulfside Trail were spectacular.
I recommend getting the AMC's White Mountain Guide and Tyvek map set.May 20, 2009 at 8:21 pm #1502615
@surnailzLocale: White Mountains
If you are looking for something with a bit of a challenge, then the itinerary just above sounds pretty good. I haven't done it yet but I know many who have and if the weather is nice there is nothing like it. The Pemi loop is very good too. I've done most of it myself and it would be a good way to not have to deal with shuttles. Speaking of shuttles, the Prezie run could be ended at Crawford and I believe the AMC runs shuttles from there to Pinkham for the car, but that should be looked into. Back to the Pemi though, it has Franky ridge, Garfield, the Twins, the Bonds, heck, most of the good stuff you can do in the Whites, really. A number of 4k footers could be hit up and it could be done to taste so that it's not too strenuous. Hmmm, I may have to do the loop myself!
-jimMay 20, 2009 at 10:23 pm #1502646
I think I am sold on the Pemi loop. Thanks for all the help, I will be sure to post a trip report when I get back.
–scottMay 21, 2009 at 8:15 am #1502717
Here's a nice faq on the pemi loop: http://www.davidalbeck.com/hiking/pemiloop.html
Note that while some crazy people try to do it in a day, I would consider it a 2-3 day hike. You could combine this with a another 2-3 day loop over the Presidentials.
Another option would be to do a section of the AT. From Franconia Notch to Pinkham Notch is 54 miles. Continuing on to Gorham is another 21 miles.
I second getting the AMC White Mountain Guide. It covers most, if not all, of the trails in the Whites and comes with maps (although not the tyvek ones).May 21, 2009 at 10:32 pm #1502935
I have been looking into this AT section
It looks like the best itinerary is to catch the shuttle from Pinkham at 8am to the TH on 93 at 10:30am, hike in to the Liberty Springs Camp and spend the first night.
Day 2 = 7.4 miles to Garfield Ridge camp
Day 3 = 14.3 miles to Ethan Pond camp
Day 4 = 7.4 miles to Nauman camp
Day 5 = 8.9 miles to the Perch camp
Day 6 = 6.6 miles to Osgood camp
Day 7 = 4.1 miles back to Pinkham
Could combine the last 2 days and just hike out on day 6, which is probably what I would do.
I could also combine the first 2 days but am concerned about making a 10 mile day without knowing when exactly the shuttle will drop us off. If it is after 10:30, in unfamiliar territory we could be looking at hiking in the dark with the 1 MPH that much of this looks like it ends up being.
day three looks like a deal breaker to me.
w/o staying in a hut there are no closer camps along the AT after Garfield camp.
Is 14.3 miles do-able in this terrain?
I also will have my wife with me who is fit but cannot hike as many continuous miles as I can.
I really think this would be a spectacular hike but am again leaning towards a more relaxed Pemi Loop after seeing that 14 mile day.
Problem is I have to drive 8.5 hours to get to the whites and want to see as much as I can while I am there.
The idea that I could do almost all of the Pemi Loop plus most of the Presidential Range in one hike is just too tempting.
Those who have done this section of the AT… Are your knees still functioning?
Also, how much is weather a problem the last week of July?
Should I plan at least one rest day into the itinerary in case thunderstorms keep us off a ridge? How long to storms normally last? Is it like the Rockies where it hails for 30 – 60 minutes and then blue skies again or do the storms tend to last all day?
thanks for all the help guys, I picked up the White Mountain Guide at the local Barnes & Nobles today.
One more: Do you guys hang your food or use a canister? I would have to buy/rent a can if it is recommended. I have heard the bears in the Presidential area are getting very comfortable with humans.
–scottMay 22, 2009 at 5:13 am #1502953
>One more: Do you guys hang your food or use a canister? I would have to buy/rent a can if it is recommended. I have heard the bears in the Presidential area are getting very comfortable with humans
Scott — any of the prepared campsites/tentsites in the Whites that have bear problems will have either a metal box or cables, and possibly a designated cooking area. No need for a canister. At other sites I hang my food to avoid the mice and chipmunks. If you leave food in your pack, the mice and chipmunks will chew holes to get at the food (personal experience with that).
I would not try to to do the trailhead to Garfield Camp on day 1 unless I started earlier — the climb to Liberty Springs is fairly steep, and Liberty Springs to Garfield is a grunt (lots of ups and downs that are not quite apparent from the map). If you get to Liberty Springs early, you can always take a sidetrip to the summits of Liberty and Flume.
Day 3 should be doable — the trails to Ethan Pond are fairly flat after Zealand Falls hut. Of course, there is that steep climb up South Twin. Don't forget about Guyot campsite — I don't think it's on the AT, but it's not far off.
Also — there are places to camp other than the designated camping sites — just get a copy of the WMNF camping regulations.May 22, 2009 at 5:28 am #1502957
"Is 14.3 miles do-able in this terrain?"
Yes. Many people hike to the top of Mt. Washington tag a few other dead prez and hike back in a day from Pinkham. Some do the entire traverse in one push, sometimes in a day. It's no different than hiking in the Daks, except a bit more extreme weather is possible. If you are fit, 10 mile days should not be an issue here more than anywhere else in the mountainous cont. US. But that's if you are fit.If not, you will get spanked.
I've never seen a bear or evidence of bears in the Presidential. I climbed and hiked alot there from 2001 to 2007 for reference. That's not to say there aren't any. Hang or get a ursack, for good measure, but I don't know of anyone using bear cans in the Whites.May 22, 2009 at 8:48 am #1502990
I think I have a route pretty much nailed down.
Thanks for all the help.
I am still a little concerned about thunderstorms in late July though. The White Mountain Guide says that the height of summer is the worst time.
-scottMay 22, 2009 at 9:11 am #1502993
>I am still a little concerned about thunderstorms in late July though. The White Mountain Guide says that the height of summer is the worst time.
Personally, I think the White Mountain Guide tends to overdramatize the dangers of the Whites. It's not like the afternoon thunderstorms in Colorado Rockies during monsoon season, more like a front moving through. Just keep an eye on the weather if it develops, and be aware of routes off the exposed ridges/summits if you need to get out of a storm. I've had trips at that time of year with 5 days of warm, sunny weather and no clouds.
All of the AMC huts (and campsites with caretakers) will post a weather report and forecast at about 0730 each day.May 24, 2009 at 1:13 am #1503198
So we have scheduled this trip for July 21 and will be on the trail for 5 or 6 days.
I know this is a very busy time of the year and I am wondering about the established campsites filling up. We will be saying in tent site, no huts. Garfield, Guyout, Nauman, The Perch.
How often are these sites full and how easy is it to find another site when they are full?
Thanks, I've never hiked somewhere with crowds before. All of my experience has been in remote areas.
–scottMay 24, 2009 at 1:09 pm #1503247
Overcrowding is not that bad at the campsites, its mainly just the huts. They should be able to find you a spot somewhere. The campsite caretakers are usually pretty cool so I don't think they would tell you to go screw yourself and have fun finding another place to camp. They don't work for tips like the hut workers do.
Make sure you can make your tent freestanding, they have tent platforms so something that relies heavily on stakes like a lunar solo would be a PITA to use.
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