Monday, July 9, 2012

Mt. Madison

Kodi had a great day yesterday, climbing his first 5,000-footer. We met up with three of our regular hiking partners--Kevin, Mike, and Jerry--to hike the Valley Way Trail to the Madison Hut and then up to the top of 5,366-foot Mt. Madison.
Srini and I have climbed Mt. Madison twice before, but this was our first time coming up from the north. The 8.4-mile round trip is the shortest and easiest route to the top of Madison, beginning at the Appalachia parking lot on Route 2 in Randolph. By 8:30 am the parking lot was already nearly full. However, there are many trails that lead from here up to the high peaks and other scenic destinations that the trail never felt congested with hikers.

Valley Way follows Snyder Brook with several side trails that take in a series of scenic falls. Kodi found deep, cold pools to cool off his black body and to slake his thirst.
Our hike was a slow, steady climb through northern hardwoods, then hemlocks, and finally through spruce and fir. We listened to black-throated blue warblers, Swainson's thrushes, winter wrens, and blackpoll warblers as we climbed.
Juts before emerging from tree cover, a few signs warn hikers to be prepared for adverse conditions and to help protect fragile alpine plant communities.
After four hours of hiking we emerged above treeline and arrived at the recently re-built Madison Spring Hut and looked up at the rocky cone of Mt. Madison. No longer protected by tree cover we quickly donned a few more layers including hat and gloves as winds whipped across the ridge.
We reached the hut at 1:00 pm; other hikers were heading up and coming down from the top of Madison. One couple just finished climbing all 48 4,000-footers and cracked open their champagne bottle at the hut. The 0.4 miles and 500 foot elevation gain from the hut to the top of Madison took less than an hour round trip. Kodi easily maneuvered up the slope among the huge boulders as we steadied ourselves against the wind, taking in the sweeping 360 degree views.

Looking down at the hut as we climbed.
A view north.
Cairns guide hikers through the mass of boulders to the top.
The windswept, delicate white flowers of sandwort grow among lichen-colored boulders.
The view south to Mt. Washington, with the auto road visible on the left flank.
Views from the top: the trail sign at the top;
Kodi and I celebrate our accomplishment with Mt. Washington in the distance.
As we descended from Mt. Madison we got a nice view of 5,410-foot JQ Adams
and the great mass of 5,799-foot Mt. Adams beyond.
Kodi takes in a final view as we descend back into the col
and to the hut, before the long hike down Valley Way and the end to a very fine hike.


  1. Ellen, what a truly excellent report about a truly excellent hike!
    And, how appropriate is it to hike along a trail that follows a brook named Snyder? :-)


  2. Thanks John. It was great to get out on the trail again and climb to such a beautiful place. I was particularly enamored with Snyder Brook :) I am using my iPhone and the camera+ app to to take photos since my SLR is on the blink (and too heavy anyway). So far, the $0.99 investment is worth it! Ellen