Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Rocks Part 2: The Presi-Traverse

If you missed part one you can view it HERE.

The Presi-Traverse

This is the Presidential Range of New Hampshire’s White Mountains. The “Presi-traverse” typically starts at the Appalachia Trailhead on US Rte 2. Runners then take any variation of Trails to the summit of the first and Northernmost Peak of the range, Mount Madison. From here, you travel south over the rest of the range. Runners are free to choose which peaks they travel up and over or you can decide to go around. Traditionalists like myself always go up and over each 4,000’ peak that counts on the AMC’s FTFC List. I also tend to get every bump in between.

Runners are free to decide which direction they travel. Some have been known to go from South to North. Southbound travelers have 3 decisions to make towards the southern terminus of the ridge. You can head down Crawford Path after bagging Peirce. You can head down after bagging Jackson. Or you can go all the way to Webster. The variation of mileages in continuing on to Jackson or Webster is minimal, however, the elevation gain and remaining sunlight is key in the decision process. I have also made the traverse longer in my times doing it, by running over to Isolation on an adjacent ridgeline and back. This easily made for a 31 mile day. The Traditional Traverse from Rte 2 to Jackson and down is 20 Miles with over 8,500' of elevation gain.

Factors: The Weather. 90% of the entire traverse is done above tree-line with little room for bravado. If foul weather moves in it will do so quickly. Not to mention that there are limited places for one to escape back down into the cozy confines of the Trees. New Hampshire’s Mount Washington is the highest peak in the Northeast and situated in such a way given the typography and movement of air currents, that it is home to the worlds worst weather. Average wind’s blow at hurricane force and of the 365 days of the year, the summit is in the fog for over 300 of them. Locals refer to it as THE ROCK PILE.

The geology of the range including and north of Mount Washington is vastly different than that of the range south of Mount Washington. On the north you’ll find rocks half the size of a luxury car. The rocks are sharp and jagged. They hurt to hold on to, they hurt to fall onto and you can’t avoid them. Moving is slow here except for the experienced few. From Rte 2 to Madison Hut Isn’t bad, but once you have to move between peaks, its an all out horror show.

To the south, the rocks are still numerous but more forgiving. Certain sections of the alpine gardens up high toss baby and chicken head rocks your way, perfect for ankle rolling. Moving briskly is a chore and should be done with care. Finally, the southern peaks (Jackson and Webster) are home to rock slab and krumholz. Back in tree line, you have to avoid a litany of roots and small rocks, stone steps and water bars as you try to run without breaking anything on tired legs.. to the terminus of the adventure.

I've done the traverse 3 times and you'll find one report below. I have also done many variations of the traverse. I've done the Northern Presi's Only, Southern Presi's Only and so on. I've trained here countless times and in all seasons. Just another day of running in the GRANITE STATE. I'll rely on these rocks also at MMT.
Here is a Presi-Traverse FAQ
Here is a Youtube Video
Here is another video
Old Report:
Report from 8/11/07