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Thread: Hut to Hut

  1. #1
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    Default Hut to Hut

    Hi New Englanders and seasoned trekkers: For a Hut to Hut hike through the Whites in late summer, it looks reasonable to me to hike from Madison Spring to Mitzpah Spring in a day and skip the Lakes of the Crowds (sic). Am I missing anything, i.e., major obstacles to covering that stretch in one day? (I'm not a fast hiker, but not a novice either.)

  2. #2

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    N.b. the weather is wildly unpredictable and you can have terrible weather even in late summer. I was up there on the last day of August in 2017 when a below-freezing storm blew through, covering the talus with rime ice and leaving a quarter inch of snow on Washington. Those are the days that kill people up there. And yet, the following day was one of the best weather days of the year: clear skies and warm (for Mt Washington).

    Assuming you're not lying about your experience*, if you're starting at Madison after breakfast, you can definitely get to Mizpah before dinner. It'll take about six or seven hours at a moderate pace, if you stick to Gulfside Trail -> Crawford Path and skip the Presidential peaks except Washington. (You can also skip Washington via the cut-over, but why would you do that?)

    You can sprinkle in the other summits along the way, or skip them, depending on your pace and how you're feeling. The good ones (IMO) are Adams and Eisenhower, if the weather is clear.

    * I led a group where one person wildly exaggerated their fitness, and it took all day to get from Madison to Lakes. We left Madison an hour after breakfast, and only arrived at Lakes an hour before dinner, even skipping Washington. Eight hours to go six miles. That was the last time I volunteered to lead a group.
    Last edited by blackmagic; 01-05-2021 at 15:22.

  3. #3

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    Dale I think that is a pretty reasonable expectation however it will be a full day. I would start at sunrise and would not do alot of dilly dally. I also say it is realistic considering the direction being southbound. I do not know that I would give the same recommendation if doing this section northbound...
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    Major obstacles? Like all the summits between here and there? I suppose you can go around them, but what fun is that? Even then, your not likely to do much better then 1 MPH and if you stop at the Mt Washington summit, that can suck you in for a good hour or more.

    Madison to Mitzpah is a very long and hard day for a section hiker who may not be in remarkable shape and/or very young. It's hard to get out of the hut early unless you skip the breakfast, so that shortens your day light hours. The sun sets fairly early in late summer, like 7:30 or so. The last 1/2 mile to Mitzpah is a very steep, knee crunching trail which has to be done slowly at the end of a long day when your tired and will be in shadow.


    I would spring for the lakes of the clouds hut so you can take your time and enjoy the views and the alpine zone (Please, please don't go off the trail!)

    Of course, at this point we don't know if the huts will be closed again this summer.
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    Look up the presi traverse as you are doing just short of one. I have done it as a dayhike on a couple of times and a few variants. Its a long day but if you do it early in the summer the days are long, as the summer goes on the days get shorter and hotter.

    Presi day hikers time their hike to leave just before sunrise from Appalachia and normally hit Madison hut during breakfast. You have burned a lot of daylight if you hang around for breakfast so get up early, manup and eat a poptart and head out early. In theory you will have already gone over Madison the day before so its long relatively flat (for the whites) over to Edmonds Col. The AT skips MT Adams which to most is a not miss summit so add in 45 minutes to do an out and back via a side trail to summit. From Edmunds Col then via the Gulfside you skip the summit of Jefferson on the AT to Jefferson Lawn . Jefferson is usually a not miss so add in another 45 minutes to out and back to the summit. Do the same with Mt Clay, again the AT skips the summit and the great views into the gulf so do an out and back on side trail (is this starting to make a pattern?). If you are strictly hiking white blazes you should be at the summit around noon. As mentioned the summit is a major time suck. Do the normal things that a thru hiker does and one hour mysteriously disappears. On a nice day the line to get a picture in front of the summit sign can be 45 minutes.

    So when you drag yourself off the summit, the AT is relatively all down hill but its still a long hike with absolutely zero shade hiking into the sun. Of course if you want the big views you have two more summits, Monroe and Eisenhower that the AT does not go over that are a 45 minute out and back via a side path both with some elevation included along for the ride.

    So in good weather if you leave Madison Hut early you can make it to Mizpah by supper but it could be pushing it. if you add on the extra non AT but worth the trip summits and hang around on Washington too long you will be getting into Mitzpah late for supper. They may take pity and give you leftovers if you get in late unless the work for stay thru hikers clean them out.

    Now for the bad news, if the weather sucks windy and wet even getting half way to LOC can take a long time. Wet equals slippery rocks and possible hypothermia (possible even in the summer) and if there is wind you can get thrown around and end up losing a lot of time. The one good thing is that frequently in those conditions LOC may have some last minute openings and all you do is hand them your credit card and a spot is yours. Of course you cant cancel at Mitzpah so you end up paying for Mizpah the next night.

    The other thing to consider is humping a pack up Osgood trail from Pinkham the day before is no cake walk. Unless you are in good shape and used to the steep rocky hiking in the area, you will be beat the night before.

    If you add in Lake of the Crowds then you can afford to take the time to do the options on the first day and miss the worst of the crowds on Washington later in the day. On nice day I could spend a hur or two on both the summits of Adams, Jefferson and Clay.

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    Blackmagic, I loved the part about "not lying about your experience". I once went on a spring break hike while in school and the trip I went on said it was only for experienced hikers. I had hiked about 200 miles on the AT at the time and had been hiking for 5 years. I really questioned if my experience was good enough. We hiked the smokies in mid-March. 6 feet of snow. I quickly found out that for half my group that this was their first hike. It ended badly, with half our group only lasting two days, taking a side trail to cosby.
    There are so many miles and so many mountains between here and there that it is hardly worth thinking about

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    AT North of Mt Washington the trail is much harder the the southern part (Crawford path). So you have the hard part out of the way first which is an advantage. The big problem is the weather, and it may be better to plan Madson and Lakes instead and push the last day or bale early if you have to, you can pick up the lower section later pretty easy, almost a loop.

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    Much appreciation for the advice on the summits. No point in missing out. However, I was planning on taking the side trails over the summits and skipping the white blazes to do so. You don't HAVE to do out and back do you? One more piece of advice to solicit: what are your opinions on the value of taking a zero at Zealand for a bit of day hiking and rest? As for experience, I did most of Maine in '19, but honestly, thinking of the Whites still scares the sh-t out of me.

  9. #9

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    You don't HAVE to do out and back do you?
    Nope, the summits are all loop trails so you can bag them or bypass them as you desire. Gaia / your map will show this.

    what are your opinions on the value of taking a zero at Zealand for a bit of day hiking and rest
    That's not a bad idea, but Mizpah is a full day away from Zealand and the big climb up to Mt Webster is no joke. Zealand -> Mizpah -> Madison is two long, hard days. You're better off spending a rest day at Mizpah.

    BTW, from experience, swimming at Zealand is really only tolerable if it comes immediately at the end of a long hot day. It's far too cold if you've been sedentary and just want to go for a dip.

    Mizpah is lovely: the hut has a cozy library in its own room, and the area immediately surrounding is clear of trees so you can lay out on the grass if it's sunny. It's a great place to take a day off.

    Also in case they don't already know, I love to inform people that though Mt. Jackson is often included in a Presi Traverse, the peak itself is mercifully NOT named after President Jackson.
    Last edited by blackmagic; 01-05-2021 at 20:24.

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    Dont shoot the messenger. I was careful to point out that the white blazed official AT route bypass many of the summits. Folks who have to walk past all the white blazes have to do the out and back via a blue blaze spur trail to "keep pure", someone with less literal translation of hiking the AT can take well established side trails up and over these summits. The reality is that the white blaze routes are foul weather bypasses of very exposed summits, if there is nasty weather around, the white blazed route is far less exposed. Of course everything is relative, no matter what with the exception of few scrub patches its darn close to fully exposed from Madison Hut to the south side of Eisenhower and not a nice place to be bypass or not.

    IMO, Zealand is a far nicer place to take a zero than Mitzpah. Mitzpah is surrounded by woods with no views. Zealand is next to waterfall with a nice view down the valley towards Whitewall mountain. The only downside is that Zealand is family hut,its gets lots of kids so it can be noisy.

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    Quote Originally Posted by peakbagger View Post
    Dont shoot the messenger. I was careful to point out that the white blazed official AT route bypass many of the summits. Folks who have to walk past all the white blazes have to do the out and back via a blue blaze spur trail to "keep pure", someone with less literal translation of hiking the AT can take well established side trails up and over these summits. The reality is that the white blaze routes are foul weather bypasses of very exposed summits, if there is nasty weather around, the white blazed route is far less exposed. Of course everything is relative, no matter what with the exception of few scrub patches its darn close to fully exposed from Madison Hut to the south side of Eisenhower and not a nice place to be bypass or not.

    IMO, Zealand is a far nicer place to take a zero than Mitzpah. Mitzpah is surrounded by woods with no views. Zealand is next to waterfall with a nice view down the valley towards Whitewall mountain. The only downside is that Zealand is family hut,its gets lots of kids so it can be noisy.
    Right you are, peakbagger - weather will definitely be a deciding factor. And I work with kids, so it might be a welcome change of pace. Thanks

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    No problem. BTW, there are not a lot of dayhike options that are not AT at either Mitzpah or Zealand. ZeeCliff is just off the AT southbound from Zealand Hut and its about a 5 mnute diversion off the AT. There is Lend Hand Trail that goes to Mt Hale. The bummer with Mt Hale is trees around the summit have grown high enough that there is no view. Its tantalizingly close in winter but in summer its just a wall of trees. There are some views to the south while heading back down but nothing like Zeacliff. About the only dayhike option at Mitzpah is down into the Dry River Wilderness. No views and the trail has the reputation of being very obscure in spots. This Dry River area got trashed during Hurricane Irene several years ago and since its wilderness area the FS just did the bare minimum to reopen the trails.

    BTW if you have hiked Western Maine or the Mahoosucs, the whites are not technically more difficult in good weather, its just more of it plus the exposure on the Presidential Ridge and to a lesser extent the Lafayette ridge.
    Lot to be said for inviting someone up to be a support driver and slacking some or all of the whites. At 100 plus bucks a night for the huts it can cover a some of the expenses. Using the autoroad shuttle, the presidential ridgeline can be cut into two day hikes, one north from Washington and one south.
    Last edited by Alligator; 01-27-2021 at 14:53. Reason: Off topic material removed.

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    Quote Originally Posted by peakbagger View Post
    Lot to be said for inviting someone up to be a support driver and slacking some or all of the whites. At 100 plus bucks a night for the huts it can cover a some of the expenses. Using the autoroad shuttle, the presidential ridgeline can be cut into two day hikes, one north from Washington and one south.
    The OP is from Florida, so that is probably not an option, unless maybe he's married and can bring the wife. And of course, that person needs to be housed and feed, so there isn't any real cost savings unless maybe they stay at a FS campground like Dolly Cop.

    Although with a rental car and the AMC shuttle, most of the Whites can be done as several overnight hikes, using either the huts or tent sites.
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    Great info - thanks!

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    Quote Originally Posted by dalekeppley View Post
    Great info - thanks!
    I am guessing you know you also know you have to make reservations to stay at the huts if that's your intention???
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    Sure do. I made them for 2020 - ha! Not sure if I'll try for this year or put it off and hike a different section. I'm trying to do the hardest section asap because my bio clock is ticking loudly at age 64. I'm also hoping to do the hut to hut through the whites with a downsized load - no sleeping or cooking gear, essential gear only. Thoughts?

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    Its the way to go if you have the cash. The distances between the huts is set up for a typical hiker to have plenty of time. You had best bring some earplugs.

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    Quote Originally Posted by peakbagger View Post
    Its the way to go if you have the cash. The distances between the huts is set up for a typical hiker to have plenty of time. You had best bring some earplugs.
    There's always at least one person who sleeps soundly - and loudly. The rest, maybe not so much. I don't find ear plugs all that helpful. Ear plugs dims the noise some, but not nearly enough to be of any real help. The huts generally have a big jar full of ear plugs on the counter for guests. But then, you maybe that one person who sleeps soundly and loudly...

    Hut distances - on a nice day you have plenty of time to sight see along the way. On a bad day you'll be glad you don't have to go any farther.
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    Quote Originally Posted by dalekeppley View Post
    Sure do. I made them for 2020 - ha! Not sure if I'll try for this year or put it off and hike a different section. I'm trying to do the hardest section asap because my bio clock is ticking loudly at age 64. I'm also hoping to do the hut to hut through the whites with a downsized load - no sleeping or cooking gear, essential gear only. Thoughts?
    The bunk rooms of the huts are not heated and do not have bedding. You will need to bring sleeping (bag/quilt) gear with you.

    I've found the huts to be useful in introducing friends to the White Mountains, without needing to full packs. I've done the scamper with and without the huts, but it was nice to have a bed and meal waiting for me at the end of each day. I have been lucky to have quieter bunk rooms during my stays, so my experiences have been enjoyable.

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    There's always at least one person who sleeps soundly - and loudly. The rest, maybe not so much. I don't find ear plugs all that helpful. Ear plugs dims the noise some, but not nearly enough to be of any real help

    i'm a really light sleeper.........

    and it's awful..........

    i hate sleeping in a shelter as a result of this, along with other issues...

    i typically get the best sleep when everyone else has left the shelter in the morning...

    which sucks for more reasons than one.....

    ear plugs for me just reduce the noise and not totally get rid of the noise, as you mention.....

    and im not at the point of wearing ear plugs and headphone ear protection....

    along with the snores and what not, i also feel the vibrations of people snoring........

    any little movement or noise will wake me up and then take me at least an hour or two to get
    back to sleep...

    i also need to use an eye shade to block the light......

    my last apartment, one neighbor on one side would just let her dog run wild, and the neighbor on the other side
    would let their dogs out in their fenced yard at 530 am everyday..........

    and yeah, you can guess it------the two sets of dogs would just be at the fence for hours barking back and forth....

    and this was essentially right outside my bedroom on the side of the house.....

    i typically would go to sleep between 2 and 3 am and have to get waken up by this after not much sleep.......

    every now and then, i would hear one of the owners shout "(whatever dog's name is)----settle down".....

    would work for 5 minutes before back at it......

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