Carter Hut to Lonesome lake
19 mile brook, Great Gulf, Madison Gulf, Gulfside, Westside, Crawford path, Avalon, A-Z, Zealand trail, Twinway, Garfield ridge, Old Bridal Path, Lonesome Lake Trail
49 miles timed (53 miles total)
This summer has been one of the most active I have ever had to date. Since taking a summer position with the AMC I have hiked nearly 100 4000 foot peaks. At the beginning of the summer I had hope of completing 4 major challenges. They included single day hikes of; Wildcat – Moriah range, Presidential Traverse including Jackson, a Pemigewasset loop including Galehead, North Twin, and West Bond, and finally a Hut to Hut traverse. I was about to end the season with a bang…
My friend Declan would join me. He is the backcountry caretaker for Imp shelter. He also finished the 36 mile Pemi loop with me in July making him a strong hiker capable of the charge. I hiked up to Carter notch after dinner to meet Declan and get a few hours of sleep. We woke up at 12 AM and were hiking by 12:20.
Tagging Carter we started our journey. Easy enough going down 19 mile brook we were at the great gulf trailhead in no time. Soon we reached the Madison gulf trail. This was a bit more demanding especially in the darkness. Reaching over the headwall and reaching the Parapet trail was a relief. We soon tagged our second hut around 4 Am. I forgot my camera at the hut which will explain my lack of photos coupled with the need to stay focused. After Madison hut we skirted around Adams, Jefferson, and Washington as we watched the sunrise on what was already a warm morning. We would drinkers of water through the humid daylight hours. On this trip I brought 5 pro bars of which I would eat 3. A handful of clif bar gels and a few other snacks. That with any food the huts could provide seemed like enough for this trip, and it was.
We reached Lakes of the clouds hut shortly after 7. They had just had breakfast. Declan and I were given a well appreciated breakfast by the croo of eggs bacon and coffee cake. It was a huge shot in the arm. We hiked away well rejuvenated. Again skirting around Monroe, Eisenhower, and over Pierce. We stopped only for water at Mizpah. We reached Crawford notch around 11. 10.5 hours after our start time
We were nearly half way.
Over mount Tom and on the A-Z trail it started to rain. There were sounds of lightning in the distance but not too distant. The rain was perfectly timed on the hot muggy day. Saoken wet we reached Zealand hut where the croo gave us gator ade and more coffee cake. We were still going strong but fatigue was beginning to take hold. Onward to Galehead.
The stretch between Zealand hut and Galehead was not as bad as I though. We we reached Guyot I looked across the ridge to Lafayette and my heart sank. Looking at my watch I made haste knowing that there was only 9.5 hours left to complete my challenge. The Twinway up South Twin was not too bad, but the decent off of South Twin was miserable. I stopped into Galehead exhausted and had a large hunk of bread. Garfield ridge was a nightmare. Up and down killing my legs. I though of bailing briefly when my head took over, willing my body to continue. Over Garfield to the final large hurdle, Lafayette. This is where I get a bit hazy. My mind was swimming and the body was sore. My feet were on fire. Climbing over the false summits of Lafayette as the sun was retreating over the mountains to the west would have normally been very beautiful, but I had no extra mental facilities to appreciate the landscape. On a single stop to rest I took this picture hoping not to miss the wonderful sight.
Finally I was a top the summit and I could actually see the finish line. My heart rejoiced at the sight.
The decent off Lafayette was painful as the bottoms of my feet burned and my knees ached. The speed record for a hut to hut traverse is around 12 and a half hours. Hiking at around 19 with nearly 5 more to go my mind can not wrap itself around that kind of time. A quick water break at Greenleaf. Declan was ahead of me and waiting my arrival. A group of folks at the door had heard of our attempt and they cheered me on as I entered. It was a great boost. I had a gel and a clif bar before making the final moves towards Lonesome Lake.
The hike down Old Bridal Path and across the highway went quickly. At this point there is nothing that would have stopped my friend and I from making our mark. It hurt, but never bad enough to stop. When we arrived there were two croo members and a though hiker named Colorado sitting in the dinning room. It was more of a relief than a finish. A victory to say we won the day. It was 9:15. It had taken us 21 hours 25 minutes and 48 seconds to complete. We stayed for a glass of Gatorade but were out the door and down to the parking lot. Big thank you to Charlotte for the ride back to dodge. I fell asleep as soon as she hit the highway. My day was finally over.
Today I sit at Camp dodge writing this before I help prepare the final cook out dinner of the season for the volenteers and the leaders. For this group summer is over. And with the chill in the mornings I believe it to be so. I look back fondly of the hikes and adventures of this summer and I am happy to know that I was capable of living in my dreams, if only for a season. A summer well spent.