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Mt. Madison & Mt. Adams (continued)

August 9, 2004

The morning still had remnants of the night and we were socked in by fast moving clouds and wind gusts. The weather report looked good, so we took our time until we saw that Mt. Madison was in sunshine before we departed. We left our packs at the hut and climbed the 4 tenths of a mile to the summit. Itís very rocky and can be slippery when wet. Definitely grade this one as difficult, but it isnít even a half a mile and itís the wet rocks and scrambling that make it hard, but all worthwhile despite the 30 mph winds.

We had timed it perfectly and the sun came through to show us some fantastic views over to Washington and Adams, and incredible views over to all the Carters. Washington and Adams were still in the clouds, but every so often the clouds cleared enough to glimpse a couple of Adamsí summits and some of the gnarly trails to get there. We went back down to the hut and grabbed our packs to head for Adams. Most people would take the Star Lake trail (neat little lake just up the path from the hut that sits on the same col) or the Airline, but we decided to head around the summit (I believe this is part of the Great Gulf trail) and drop our packs at Thunder Storm Junction (a huge cairn between Adams and Jefferson) and then climb Adams without our packs. This was definitely and easier way to tackle this one as I found Madison to be a tougher peak to summit than Adams. By this time we hit the summit, Adams had cleared and the views to Jefferson and Washington, and back over to Madison were incredible.

Washington was just poking through the clouds and we had clear views to the observatory. What I thought was even better was checking out some of the trails. We could see parts of the Butress trail and Parapet trail (both very nasty looking), but then we turned back to the Great Gulf and looked to the infamous Six Husbands Trail...what were they thinking when they blazed this one?

On the opposite side of the ridge is the King Ravine, and we could see the Knife Edge we had planned to do the day before, plus parts of the Castle Trail, Israel Ridge, and the gnarly King Ravine Trail. Simply some fantastic views and well worth a few minutes to stop and soak it all in. We descended back to Thunder Storm and grabbed our packs to hit another of Adamsí summits. There are either 4, 5, or 6 summits depending on who you talk to, with 2 of them named (John Quincy and Sam Adams) and 2 others being numbered, plus the runt of the liter with no acknowledgements except a height.

We decided to grab Sam Adams while we were there, and I highly recommend this because you get a view of Adams that makes it look like a pyramid. Just be careful getting there and do not walk on the ďgrassĒ as itís not safe and you can easily fall through and hurt an ankle. We now needed to decide on a route to descend back to the parking lot to head home. We opted for The Spur Trail so we could grab some lunch at Craig Camp (an RMC hut set on a perch).

We could clearly see the camp when we started, but I was amazed at how long it took to reach. Itís a very difficult trail to descend for about 2 miles (1 to get to Craig and 1 more after it) until you hit the Randolph Path. There are several areas along the trail that rickety stairs due to steepness of the Spur, and several others that should have stairs. This is a very steep trail to say the least.

Once you get to Randolph there are a lot of trails crossing each other, so you need to be careful here. We ended up taking this to Short Line, then to Airline, and out. Itís fairly easy after coming down using the Spur and there are a couple of little falls and brook crossings, but nothing major. Overall this was a fairly challenging hike but the rewards from these summits on a clear day are some of the finest, and I highly recommend climbing Adams for the best views!

Equipment: boots

Special Equipment: Fleece hat, gloves, windbreaker, and a camera (as always)

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