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Barry Pollock
(Barry1492) - F

Locale: Media
Backpacking the Whites - N.H. - advice? on 04/05/2011 10:55:31 MDT Print View

Hi,

After doing some research, I think I'd like to shoot for a 7 day trip backpacking the Whites in August. Can anyone give me some tips to help me get a jump on my planning. Here's what I'd like to be able to do:

7 Days at ~20 miles/day. I'd like options to shortcut out if I can't keep pace as well as options to tack on loops if I get well ahead of pace. Getting to my car a day or two early and then driving somewhere for an aditional 1-2 day loop is fine.

I'm looking for either a loop or a point to point provided that there is a reliable shuttle service (cost is not a big deal). I won't have two cars and don't want to hitch hike.

A mix of terrain (highland, lowland, bald vistas, tree cover) as well as a mix of crowd levels (popular spots and solitude) is ideal. Water sources are important.


PLEASE GIVE ME SAFETY TIPS. I understand weather can be dangerous there.

Any recommenadtions for trail maps, web sights, etc?


Thank you so much in advance for your help. I'm really looking forward to this trip!

-Barry

James Wyse
(Ravelyn) - M

Locale: The Somerset Hills
Backpacking the Whites on 04/05/2011 19:02:01 MDT Print View

I've backpacked in the White Mountains 5 or 6 times over the years, but I'm by no means thoroughly familiar with all of the routes. Having said that, I can highly recommend the Pemigewasset Wilderness area, which is just west of the Presidential Range. I especially like the hike along the Franconia Ridge from Mount Flume to Mount Lafayette. You could do a circuit of the Pemi and then continue on to the Mount Washington area. It's a beautiful spot, believe me.

I don't know where you do most of your hiking, but if you're not from that area you should be aware that the trails in the Whites have a tendency to go more or less straight up, as opposed to having a lot of switchbacks. That's because they weren't designed to handle livestock. So, you may find that it takes longer to travel a given distance, and with greater effort, than you're used to if you hike mainly in the West. But, obviously, that depends entirely on your fitness level.

If you're interested you may be able to spend some nights at the AMC huts. Makes for a nice break.

I don't think you'll have much in the way of extreme weather issues unless you're planning a winter trip, in which case you'd better be very careful if you're anywhere near Mt. Washington. The list posted at the summit station of people who've died on the mountain tells the story.

Good luck. Maybe some others will chime in with some other route suggestions.

John Whynot
(jdw01776)

Locale: Southeast Texas
Re: Backpacking the Whites - N.H. - advice? on 04/05/2011 19:12:46 MDT Print View

The Appalachian Mountain Club runs a shuttle service between a number of popular trail heads. You could leave your car at Pinkham Notch Visitors Center, use the shuttle to get to a trailhead, and then hike back to your car.

tommy d
(vinovampire) - F
Re: Backpacking the Whites - N.H. - advice? on 04/05/2011 19:17:47 MDT Print View

You have a bunch of questions here, so I'll try to hit up a few major points. First, I'd suggest joining the AMC. It's just $50 and it will get you some discounts on the shuttles and at the huts (should you choose to stay at one for a night). Also, you should pick up a copy of the book, Not Without Peril, before you go. Seriously, it will give you a great appreciation of the history of the area and it's just a really interesting read.

"7 Days at ~20 miles/day. I'd like options to shortcut out if I can't keep pace as well as options to tack on loops if I get well ahead of pace. Getting to my car a day or two early and then driving somewhere for an aditional 1-2 day loop is fine."

There are plenty of options in the Whites. You should pick up a copy of the latest edition of the AMC trail guide. Some of the older editions are too "poetic." I would STRONGLY caution you against planning to do 20 mile days in the Whites. The weather is too unpredictable and the terrain is generally too rugged. I've done 25-30 mile downs in the Green Mountains of Vermont, but unless you're an extreme outlier and extremely lucky with weather, 20 miles would be really hard to maintain. Look at some trail journals to get a better idea of mileage.

"I'm looking for either a loop or a point to point provided that there is a reliable shuttle service (cost is not a big deal). I won't have two cars and don't want to hitch hike."

There is a shuttle service. Here's the official link with a map and rates.

http://www.outdoors.org/lodging/lodging-shuttle.cfm


"PLEASE GIVE ME SAFETY TIPS. I understand weather can be dangerous there."

One of the best resources for trips in the Whites is the Mt Washington Observatory website. I always take a look before I hit the trail. Even still, the weather can turn on you in a flash. Last summer I was on top of Mt Madison in Class 1 hurricane strength winds. At one point, I was blown a good three feet to my left, even though I had my feet planted and trekking poles. This was on what had been a beautiful summer day an hour or so before.

http://www.mountwashington.org/weather/

I hope some of this advice and these links help! You may just run into me on the trail this summer.

Edited by vinovampire on 04/05/2011 19:20:13 MDT.

James Wyse
(Ravelyn) - M

Locale: The Somerset Hills
Backpacking the Whites on 04/05/2011 19:25:18 MDT Print View

Funny, I was going to caution you against planning 20 mile days in the Whites, but I didn't want to unintentionally insult you in case you're super fit and, as the other poster said, lucky. But, I wouldn't count on 20 miles a day for myself.

Guess I've been lucky in the summer/fall. Never ran into hurricane force winds, but there you go--it can happen any time.

I need to get back up there again. You're inspiring me to get my maps out.

Edited by Ravelyn on 04/05/2011 19:28:48 MDT.

tommy d
(vinovampire) - F
Re: Backpacking the Whites on 04/05/2011 20:29:48 MDT Print View

In addition to the weather, I think the biggest problem with planning to hike 20 miles per day would be the rocks. This is my buddy, Max, doing the old "rock hop." No matter how "in shape" a person is physically, it's hard to maintain any speed on this kind of terrain. The Whites have some wonderful trail and views, but there are some rough spots too.

White Mountain Rock Hop


PS: And this thread has got me plotting and planning my next trip in the Whites too. HA!

Edited by vinovampire on 04/05/2011 20:31:13 MDT.

Barry Pollock
(Barry1492) - F

Locale: Media
Pace on 04/05/2011 21:44:09 MDT Print View

Thanks for the tips about the terrain. This is the kind of info I need. I'll have to go more conservative and, as I said earlier, I'll leave myself room to add on if necessary.

peter tooke
(petersont) - F - M

Locale: NYC
hike the whites on 04/05/2011 21:49:57 MDT Print View

here's a resource, tons of info- http://hikethewhites.com/

I did the standar presidential tour years back and found the rock hopping mentioned above not some of the more pleasant walking I've ever done... the severe winter weather in that part of the country has dropped the tree line very low, so lots of rock...

Jeff Brown
(northshorehc) - F

Locale: New England
forums on 04/06/2011 04:40:12 MDT Print View

There are a couple of small forums dedicated to this area, but I forgot the names of them.

I spent a few minutes searching for them, but I didn't have any luck. Maybe someone here know what they are?

*Edit: Went back and found one!

http://www.viewsfromthetop.com/

Edited by northshorehc on 04/06/2011 04:43:47 MDT.

Michael B
(mbenvenuto) - F

Locale: Vermont
whites on 04/06/2011 05:55:38 MDT Print View

I am not aware of a good long loop in the whites, so I think you should plan to use the shuttle. I also avoid hiking in the whites in Aug, because as beautiful as they can be, they are overrun with hikers, particularly on the weekends. You are going to have give up any notion of avoiding crowds and consider planning around crowds, including finding places to camp, one of your major obstacles. Lincoln and Lafayette out of Franconia, and Mt Wash and that whole surrounding area get a lot of foot traffic. But don't let this dissuade you either, the hike will be well worth it.

I don't have my maps out, so I can't tell how far it is reasonable to go in 7 days, but you will be following the AT for most of the way. You certainly want to do the north presidentials, Jefferson, Adams and Monroe for sure, and so dropping down to a bus station there near Gorham is an obvious end point. Going past that point up over wildcat takes you into Maine, so probably farther than you want to go. Whether you start in Franconia notch or further "south" on the AT, I can't tell. If you want to get off the AT and away from the masses, you could do spurs off into the Pemi or into Dry River wilderness, but any time you come off the ridge of the AT you are adding a lot of up and down.

Good luck and enjoy the trip.

Barry Pollock
(Barry1492) - F

Locale: Media
Presidential Traverse + Pemi on 04/06/2011 08:26:41 MDT Print View

Someone recommended this as a loop. Does that sound reasonable?

Also, does anyone have links to maps or have recommendations for good map resources. I know the local REI has some good maps and I saw The Whites there, but I'm not sure how many maps the region will be broken into.

tommy d
(vinovampire) - F
Re: Presidential Traverse + Pemi on 04/06/2011 08:37:39 MDT Print View

This is what I use for the Presidential Range. I'd bet that your local REI would carry it too. This is my "go to" map for that area. You can also buy all four of these maps as part of the Map Kit offered by the AMC. It's about $30 or low $20s if you're an AMC member.

AMC White Mountains Trail Map: Presidential Range New Hampshire

Price: $9.95
Member Price: $7.96

http://amcstore.outdoors.org/amcstore/product.asp?s_id=0&prod_name=AMC+White+Mountains+Trail+Map%3A+Presidential+Range&pf_id=PAAAIACEMAPPEDEL&dept_id=3023

Also, I mentioned it before, but I can't help but plug this book again. If you're going to go hiking in the Presidentials, it's a must read. It tells some amazing stories about the development of the various trails and some of the major disasters and lost hiker stories.

Not Without Peril, Tenth Anniversary Edition: 150 Years of Misadventure on the Presidential Range of New Hampshire by Nicholas Howe $12.76
http://www.amazon.com/Not-Without-Peril-Tenth-Anniversary/dp/1934028320

Barry Pollock
(Barry1492) - F

Locale: Media
book on 04/06/2011 10:45:30 MDT Print View

If it's not too heavy I might bring it along!

tommy d
(vinovampire) - F
Re: book on 04/06/2011 17:04:05 MDT Print View

17.15 oz (486 g)..... seriously. :-)

Barry Pollock
(Barry1492) - F

Locale: Media
book on 04/06/2011 21:11:02 MDT Print View

Maybe I'll just rip out the number of pages I think I can read in a week and bring those. OR I can have them tattooed backwards on my chest and bring a 5 oz mirror.

Jason Delso
(zencarver) - MLife

Locale: DFW
Re: book on 04/07/2011 11:14:23 MDT Print View

5 oz is way too heavy for a mirror...