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Presidential Traverse Info. Needed
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Bill B
(bill123) - MLife
Presidential Traverse Info. Needed on 08/31/2007 09:42:10 MDT Print View

I’m planning a 3 day Presidential Traverse and am curious what the campsite options are like along the Traverse. I do not want to stay in huts and the AMC campsites are not located were I would like to stay.

What I’m trying to avoid is ending up at a spot in the evening only to find that with the slope and densely packed brush, I cant pitch a tarp or tent and I end up sleeping against a tree to keep me from rolling downhill.

I’m specifically looking at 2 spots

1. Below Madison Spring Hut, down Madison Gulf Trail just below 4,000’. The topo shows it as “flatter” than the surrounding area.

2. Below Lakes of the Clouds Hut down Dry River Trail at about 4,000’ (similarly “flat”).

If anyone is familiar with these areas I'd appreciate some recommendations.

Michael Davis
(mad777) - F

Locale: South Florida
Re: Presidential Traverse on 08/31/2007 10:19:09 MDT Print View

You may want to also tie yourself to that tree!
As the Beatles sang, “You know, it just ain’t easy.”

What you are actually looking for is a 10ft by 10ft piece of ground that is level which really isn’t going to show up on a topo map, although, your odds may improve in what appears to be a flat area.

Of course, there are the trees. Trees in the Whites seem to love flat areas even more than campers.

Then, there are a few open areas. These are exposed granite slabs. This in turn requires a free-standing tent. But then again, the Presidentials is one of the last places that you want to be in a tent that isn’t nailed down!

Have you considered a hammock?

I make a habit of looking for a camping site early before dark (I don’t push myself on hikes anyway). In the Whites, I’m not very picky about a site because if it’s good enough for me to even consider, it’s probably the best one I will see all day!

For all these problems, it is such beautiful country that it is worth these hassles. I was just up there for a week in July and looking forward to another week planned in October. Good luck.

Bill B
(bill123) - MLife
Presi. Traverse on 08/31/2007 10:54:17 MDT Print View

"I make a habit of looking for a camping site early before dark (I don’t push myself on hikes anyway). In the Whites, I’m not very picky about a site because if it’s good enough for me to even consider, it’s probably the best one I will see all day!"

I have a similar strategy and find that because decent sites in some places in the Whites are so scarce, I make a mental note of them when I see them. I was hoping that someone else may have as well.

john flanagan
(jackfl) - F

Locale: New England
Camping in the Whites on 08/31/2007 11:39:32 MDT Print View

Few thoughts - and assuming that you're not familiar with the whites. (oops - we crossed posts so I see that you are familiar and that I didn't read carefully enough - my bad. I'll leave this for what its worth)

IMHO Camping above treeline is an eco no-no except on snow...

You could drop into the dry river but its a brutally steep climb of at least 1500'(as indicated by topo - I've not done it). To illustrate, from the junction of Dry River Trail and Isolation Trail to Dry River Shelter #3 is about 3.5 miles / 2000 ft down and back. Last time I went through I kept half an eye open for the trail intersection near the hut and didn't see it. There was a restoration area marked off and I wondered if the trail passes thru - or I might have been tranced and walked right by.

An alternative would be to drop into Tuckerman's Ravine / Hermit Lake. Another would be to carry water from Lake of the Clouds and camp / bivy along the Monteblan Ridge - it's out of the way but if you want three full days of hiking certainly doable.

If you're before winter sets in (late September) and have a hammock with underquilt, it's a good option - but even then you do have to actively look for a spot where the trees are spaced well unless you drop fairly far into the sub-alpine forest... there is a bit of luck involved. The higher elevation forest can be unbelievably dense.

There are a couple of tent sites high on the north end of the range (Valley Way and the Perch) You can also start from Pinkham Notch, camp at or near the Osgood Tentsite (2-3 hours walk from Pinkham). Beyond the tent site, the trail is relentlessly steep until the top of the ridge. It is possible to bivy on the ridge in the sub-alpine, (in fact I noticed a spot that looked comfy near the crest of the traik to tuck into memory) but there is no water until you reach Madison hut.

On the south end of the range, I think that there is reasonable potential for stealth camping off the Crawford path not too far below the summit of Mt Pierce. Again - a hammock may be easier to find a site for than a tent. There is water fairly high up along that trail. Alternately there is the Neuman tent site near Mitzpah Hut.

FYI the northern summits and ridges are almost entirely above treeline - there is some krummholtz near peabody spring and thats about it. As you go south from Mt Monroe there's more vegetation - in good weather and careful no impact tech. you can bivy in the vicinity of Mt Eisenhower - no promises about comfort.

I've only done the traverse in single long days. Over three days, I would spend the first night at Valley Way, get a o-dawn early start and do the traverse to the Neuman site or nearby. Really 2 short and 1 long days of hiking.

Here's a good resource:

Edited by jackfl on 08/31/2007 11:44:42 MDT.

Heather Pisani-Kristl
(P-K) - F

Locale: San Diego
Camping in the Whites on 08/31/2007 12:01:26 MDT Print View

Hi Bill,
Have you posted this question on Views From the Top?

We have camped on the Dry River trail at the first official campsite (marked with a tiny knee-high wooden sign on the left side of the trail, about 1 mile or so after you descend from Lakes). That seemed to be the first truly level area that wasn't choked with deadfall and scrub. Our plan was to stay overnight and backtrack to Lakes/Mt. Washington the next day. It wasn't a *bad* idea, but... it rained for 7 hours that night and we didn't want to ascend the wet ledge/dropoff that we had cautiously crawled across on the way down. It wouldn't be a quick stop-off for camping; if you have a hammock, though, you may not have to descend as far. Then there's the 200-feet-from-the-trail rule... ;-)

Bill B
(bill123) - MLife
Camping in the Whites on 08/31/2007 12:09:59 MDT Print View


I actually used the website that you referenced to plan my trip. It's a good one. I really wanted to stretch the trip to 1 short & 2 longer days and was hoping that there might be a couple of small flat patches below treeline around Madison & Monroe that someone could recall. The topos certainly didn't show it, but I was hoping.

Thanks for the response,

Bill B
(bill123) - MLife
Dry River on 08/31/2007 12:16:51 MDT Print View

Dry River Shelter is probably the answer. I was hoping to avoid descending that far, just to hike back up the next morning.

Edited by bill123 on 08/31/2007 12:17:48 MDT.

john flanagan
(jackfl) - F

Locale: New England
Prezzie camping on 08/31/2007 14:44:48 MDT Print View

I'm more familar with the Great Gulf side - haven't hiked from the west so there may be something there. Problem to the east between madison and monroe is that all the trails drop steeply into Great Gulf or Huntingtons Ravine until you're quite far down. I've never noticed a site but truthfully never really looked. Haven't hike all of them either.

Another idea if you want to extend the hiking to 2 long days and you do end up in the dry river would be to re-ascend on the isolation trail, cross boot spur and return to lake of the clouds before continuing south. If the weathers good this is a great stretch of alpine hiking with an easy bypass of the mt washington fru fru (camel trail).

The total loop L of the C and back is about 11 miles with +/- 3500 feet elev change. Starting from the vicinity of the Dry River Shelter and ending below Mt Pierce is about an 11 mile day

Just a thought

Brian UL

Locale: New England
Re: Prezzie camping on 08/31/2007 15:17:45 MDT Print View

Lack of campsites/shelters above and near tree line is what makes the hut sytem sooo annoying.
The Mitzpah camp, Perch ($7.00) and Gray nob ( $12.00) are the only reliable spots near tree line. The only (legal) way I see to do it in more than 1-2 days is the Mitzpah hut camp and the perch ( move on to Gray nob if the perch is full and on Labor day weekend it surley will be).Obove tree line camping is very difficult to pull off and not really a good idea for both saftey and the alpine enviroment.

Brett Tucker
(blister-free) - F

Locale: Puertecito ruins
Re: Re: Prezzie camping on 09/01/2007 11:59:56 MDT Print View

The Sphinx Trail offers an option to bomb down to the Great Gulf for the night, with certain and probably legal camping prospects. The elevation loss via this trail is comparatively moderate.

Besides the other issues with above-or-near treeline camping, the climate is too unpredictable to plan such meager sites into an itinerary.