Presidential Traverse, White Mountains: Madison Spring Hut (4800ft) rest day
We had pre-booked a second night at Madison Spring Hut and I think we were all happy we had. It was really nice to get up for the communal breakfast but unlike everyone else, we didn’t have to leave! We had a leisurely morning that, of course, included a nap for some of us. We also strolled around the grounds, visiting the nearby Star Lake.
This area is full of flora unique to this alpine region. There weren’t a lot of flowers but there were yellow-red grasses and low-lying plants of different colours. By the lake, there was also as a giant white quartz rock. Sitting on the quartz was pretty neat in the warm sun as the rock itself remained cool to the touch! Relaxing on this rock with friends under the bright sun and admiring how the very clear lake reflected Mount Madison, this was definitely a highlight of day three. There was also a nearby parapet from which we were able to sit and contemplate the mountainous layers in the distance.
We were able to buy bread and yummy soup at the lodge for lunch – good thing too, because without a view to remind me why I was eating a power protein bar, I wouldn’t have been able to choke it down. Afterwards, we climbed Mount Madison without our packs. It was tough going as it was very steep and much of it was clambering. Any time I tried to stand up straight, it felt like I’d tip over off the mountain. It was a very disconcerting feeling. The way up Mount Madison was pure boulders so essentially one follows cairns all the way to the top. There wasn’t any path so we had to put hands and feet wherever they fit. Of course, the view was amazing at the top, especially since we were able to see how far we’d come yesterday (Mount Washington). The only odd thing about this peak was that for some reason, it was covered with flies. My morbid brain wondered if there was a body buried under all this rock…
The rest of our afternoon was spent playing cards and making other people jealous of our laughter. We were apparently deemed “the fun table”. We also met people from all over the place – other American states and Canadian provinces, a woman with boots held completely together by duct tape, several braggers bragging about how many mountains they’ve done and how fast, and several Appalachian Trail thru hikers. The interesting thing about the male thru hikers was that we could spot them a mile away – the giant beards were a huge giveaway!
If you’re curious about these huts, here are a few bits and bobs about them:
- There is running water but only cold
- No showers but there are indoor toilets
- Rooms are co-ed bunks, so earplugs are a must and eye masks are a good idea
- Headlamps are useful for that nighttime bathroom trip
- Each bunk comes with three wool blankets and a pillow so you only need to bring a sleep sheet
- There is no electricity for your use so bring extra batteries or a power source for your electronics and camera gear
- Bring small bills to buy snacks or even certain gear (ie poncho, etc) in case you forgot or lost something. The people running the huts, called Da Croo, also appreciate tips.