Trip Report - WMNF: 18-25 Sep
Went backpacking in the White Mountains for week. The trip was done in two parts. The first part Sep18-22 was solo. The second, Sep22-25 was with a partner.
Part 1 route:
Part 2 route:
Overall the weather was beautiful, except for 1 rainy night, and one cold, very windy night. Views were spectacular. Except for one day while hiking along a ridgeline, water was plentiful and not an issue. With the exception of the immediate vicinity of MT Washington, I rarely saw any other hikers.
Trail conditions (in order of my route)
The lower section of Dry River Trail was easily followed and well-maintained. It follows a river, so lots of available water.
The upper section of Isolation Trail was very overgrown with balsam fir trees, but the fragrance was fantastic. I felt like I was walking through an Elven forest.
Davis Path is on the top of a ridge, so no water, but easily followed and well-maintained. The breakout above treeline was very dramatic providing beautiful views.
Cutoff from Davis Path to Tuckerman Ravine trail was well marked with cairns. The trail is across a boulder field of very large, sharp boulders. Careful stepping required. No water.
Tuckerman Ravine trail to MT Washington summit had lots of day hikers as it was as a nice weekend day. Beautiful views. Water available inside building at summit.
Crawford Trail to Lake of the Clouds Hut. I accidentally took the wrong trail going North at the top of MT Washington, very easy to head off the wrong way. Water available at the ponds near the hut (hut was closed for season).
The upper part of Dry River trail was very steep and wet, poorly marked. Had to take off and lower my pack at one cliff. At one point, the trail literally turned into a running stream. I wasn't even sure I was still on the trail. The rest of the trail was very wet, with several sections having no way of getting across the wet areas without stepping in the mud (no rocks, limbs, or boards to step on). Clearly obvious that the trail is not used often probably due to the difficult terrain. However, the forest was absolutely beautiful. Saw no other hikers. Too much water.
Dry River cutoff to Mizpah Spring Hut, very nice trail. At one point, the trail looks like it turned left through a campsite. Spent about 45 mins trying to find the trail beyong the campsite, when it had actually turned right with no sign. Plenty of water along the trail and the hut was open for refills, also.
Appalachian Trail to RT 302. Very well marked and extremely well maintained. Beautiful views. Some pretty scary/steep parts in the Webster Cliffs section. Dry until almost at RT 302.
Avalon Trail to A-Z Trail. Well marked and maintained. Absolutely beautiful forest along the Avalon trail, especially leading up to the saddle between Mt Tom and Mt Field. Plenty of water.
Appalachian Trail to 302. Well marked and maintained. Gorgeous views. Highly recommend taking the 1/8 mi side trail to Thoreau Falls. Plenty
- Shelter: WBBB & 8x10 Equinox silnyl tarp - worked fantastic, except for one stupid night of user-error. The 4' sides of the tarp weren't enough to keep the wind away on the windy nights. The user-error was, one night, I didn't have enough room to fully extend the tarp on one side and forgot about the hammock's footbox, it stuck out from under the tarp. And wouldn't you know it, that's the night it rained. The hammock got good and wet. WBBB was as comfortable as could be.
- Sleep: JRB No Sniv with 1/2inch CCF underpad - No Sniv was plenty-fine down into the high-20's, the CCF pad was warm enough, but not wide enough. Cold shoulders. I loved the versatility of the No Sniv by being able to wear it.
- Footwear: Teva Dozer (enclosed-toe sandals) - FANTASTIC. This trip seved as kind of a check-ride for them. They performed better than I could have hoped for. Comfortable all week, no blisters, no sore feet, no foot slide inside the shoe. Dried quickly when wet. Sole gripped almost everything. They did slip a bit on smooth wet rocks, but careful stepping and use of trekking poles prevented any falls. I am very happy with my Teva Dozers.
- Pack: GoLite Pinnacle - I removed the foam support and used the CCF pad as the pack's support. Excellent pack. Fit well and comfortable. Pack weight was 50 lbs on the first part of the hike, and 35 on the second (I removed a lot of what I didn't need). Lost an empty water bottle when it rode up and out of the side pocket at the exact moment I was crossing a bridge with a 100' drop. I plan to tie pieces of shock cord to the compactor straps to hold the bottles in.
- Stove: cat stove. Worked Great! Absolutely no complaints. I don't understand why anyone would carry anything else during non-winter conditions.
- Water bottles instead of CamelBak. I used recycled 1-Liter soda bottles. I've used a CamelBak on previous hikes. I loved the convenience of the CambelBak's drink tube, but didn't like the water's plasticky taste, difficulty refilling, and lack of awareness of remaining water quantity. With water bottles, I can see how much water I have remaining, and they are soooo easy to refill at plentiful water sources. I could easily remove/replace the bottles from the GoLite Pinnacle's side pockets without missing a step so I never missed the convenience of the drink tube. I much prefer the bottles over the CamelBak.
- MSR Sweetwater: Completely failed without warning on day 4. It worked fine one day, the next it simply didn't. It did not freeze overnight. I did everything I could to get it working, to no avail. Thankfully I was carrying MicroPur tabs. Cascade Designs has agreed to take it back on warranty. I told them, in order to restore my lost confidence in the device, I need to know why it failed under seemingly ideal conditions.
- 1-liter Nalgene bottle with cozy - a multi-use item. Used as a hot water bottle for warm feet while sleeping, coffee maker and coffee cup, mixing bottle for breakfast and dinner beverages (see below). To make coffee, I simply put a cone-filter in the mouth and poured hot water over the grounds. Very slow and messy. But true brewed coffee. The cozy kept it plenty warm and easy to handle. I need to find a decent holder for the filter. All other uses worked perfectly. 1-liter is actually too big. I will try the 16-oz size on my next trip.
- Pitch the tarp with plenty of room for the asymmetrical hammock
- Don't use the PCT bear bag method: The first time I tried it, the stick went up to the carabiner, then went through the gate, got jammed between the carabiner and my pot-lid (serving as bear-bell). Got locked in that position, couldn't go up or down. Thankfully I had a cheapo WalMart carabiner that I could eventually bend with enough pulling on the rope. NEVER WILL DO THE PCT METHOD AGAIN.
- I need to rig some kind of attachment for my water bottles so they won't fall out of my pack's side-pockets.
- Packed WAY TOO MUCH food. Didn't eat any lunches. Breakfast and dinners only, and snacks throughout the day.
- NIDO with Carnation Instant Breakfast is excellent with breakfast.
- NIDO with protein drink mix is excellent with dinner.