But for Saturday, I was invited to join Iquest and his hiking pooch Marlie in the Northern Presidentials. They were planning to take the Castle Trail up to Jefferson, which would be Marlie's second round finish, and then hit Adams before looping back down. But I conned them into going all the way to Madison and down to Appalachia from there (we had a second car after all). It didn't take much convincing.
We set off around 6:30 from the Castle Trailhead after leaving my car at Appalachia. The sun was just rising and it was still pretty chilly, but we quickly warmed up. Aside from me losing my balance on the only stream crossing on this trail (and not far from the trailhead I might add) and dunking my boot into the rather cold stream, the climb to the castles went smoothly and quickly. Until we hit the first castle I just kept walking in the wet sock and boot (my other foot hadn't landed in as deep of water so it was pretty dry). At that point I decided to put a dry sock on and stick a grocery bag into the boot around the sock to try to keep the foot dry(er) as I was worried about the colder temperatures above treeline. This fix worked beautifully all day. Glad I carry a couple of those bags on each hike!
|The section of the Link from the Castle Trail to its Western terminus is said to be pretty rough...hence someone "renamed" it|
|Bretton Woods ski area, Twins/Bonds/Franconias in the distance|
|Below the first castle|
|View from the first castle|
|The first castle from higher up the Castle Trail|
|Another castle from above|
|Rock-hopping up the Castle Trail|
|Washington from Jefferson|
|Adams from Jefferson|
|Survey pin on the summit of Jefferson|
|Jefferson's summit carin, BELOW the summit|
|Next up, Adams|
|Looking back to Jefferson from Edmands Col|
|Adams summit getting closer|
|Carters from Adams|
|Moriahs from Adams|
|Durand Ridge - Airline Trail comes up this|
|Madison waits ahead|
We carried on, as the day was getting late, and only took a short break at Madison Hut before taking on the last climb of the day to the summit of Madison. I was pretty well spent at this point and took a little longer to get to the top, but got there none the less. From there we didn't stop long, but took the Watson Path down.
|Carter Dome and the Wildcats|
|North, Middle, South Carter|
|Pine Mountain far below Madison|
|Crescent Range in front, Kilkenny Range in back left|
The Watson Path is a rock-hop for quite a while before it enters the trees and the terrain eases for a while until it nears Valley Way and becomes rough again. Below this stretch it crosses a stream at a nice waterfall, the only other water crossing for this hike. No wet boots this time.
|Icy waterfall on Watson Path|
While it was a long day, it was completely worth it. Beautiful late-fall weather, good company, and great views. Can't beat it!
Peaks: Jefferson (5716', NH4K), Adams (5799', NH4K), Madison (5366', NH4K)
Trails: Castle Trail, Jefferson Loop Trail, Gulfside Trail, Israel Ridge Path, Lowe's Path, Airline Trail, Osgood Trail, Watson Path, Scar Trail, Valley Way
Mileage: 12.6 miles
Elevation Gain: 6100 feet
Book Time: 9hr 20min