Adamiata picked me up at 5am and we carpooled to Pinkham Notch. From here our adventure began on a rather crisp July Morning with a temp of 43 degrees. We were both packing light and wearing trail runners, pretty stoked about the day to come. But the most important thing we had was strapped to my pack as it has been for the last 15 years during the 4th of July Weekend… it was Old Glory waiting to be unfurlled.
We walked along the Old Jackson Road at a moderate pace, stopping to enjoy any view as well as any random flora and fauna. We crossed many paths along our way including the auto road. We found ourselves on the Madison Gulf trail and began to wonder if our crampons would be needed. 😉 Once off Madison Gulf Trail we made it onto The Great Gulf Trail and finally started the real climbing.
The Great Gulf is a magical place. Adam and I have both been wanting to get in here for a long time and today was the perfect day for it. Aside from one lone hiker.. we saw no one and had the Gulf to ourselves. We sat on the rocks at Spaulding Lake and listenned to the stillness that was. A few birds sang, the water babbled by and not another sound was to be heard.
We left spaulding and started to climb the final .8 of the Gulf which ascends 1600.’ We scrambled along rock slides and ledge, picking our way carefully making sure to be sure footed. Soon we could see what looking like the ridge on fire… however.. it was just a TON of smoke from two cog trains both heading to the top. Every once in awhile we had to stop to enjoy the views looking out down the gulf into the valley below. Words cannot describe the word here and pictures do it no justice. This is truly a wild place. We scrambled more before emmerging over the top of the headwall and onto the rock garden. I took the flag off my pack and carried it overhead as we walked our final mileage to the summit.
Two cog trains went by and people waved excitedly to see the flag. Up above, a crowd of people had gathered at the edge of the Obs Deck, many taking pictures of us working our way through the rocks.. we had an audience. As we reached the summit, I held the flag high and let it wave in the wind. Happy Birthday America! Adam and I stopped for pictures as many others took pictures of us.. it was kinda weirding us out so we headed inside for some snacks.
While inside, a woman approached me and asked if I was the “48 guy.” We had great conversation about hiking in the whites, the Pemi and how her family has taken up peak-bagging. A wonderful woman and great to have met her!
Adam and I headed outside past the bikini top… 😀 and headed quickly down the Tuckerman Ravine Trail. Finally we began to see hikers coming from below. We hurried along at a good clip, stopped to admire the snow left in the ravine and then ran from Hermit Lake Shelters to Pinkhams. It took us an hour and a half to descend from the top of Washington.
Another great day in the whites with great company. We had an awesome time skirtting the east side of the mountain before heading up.. definately a long but enjoyable approach! And the run down was exhilarating.