* Partial traverse including Mts Webster, Jackson, Pierce, Eisenhower, Monroe, Washington, Clay, Jefferson, and Adams, but not Madison
With a trip to the Grand Canyon on the horizon, the question is how to prepare for the big 4,000-foot descent from the rim to the Colorado River — and the big 4,000-foot climb back up. An idea comes to mind: hike the highest peak in the northeast, New Hampshire’s 6,289-foot Mt. Washington.
While studying the map, this idea morphs and expands and eventually crystallizes into a plan to hike the Presidential Traverse, a 23-mile crossing of the enormous exposed granite ridgeline that features Mt. Washington and nine neighboring peaks. Memories surface from August 2004, when I’d completed the Traverse with my friend Andy and his wife Erin: we’d had a great time, except for the final descent through an unrelenting field of rocks.
It’s thirteen years and eleven months later as once again I pull into the AMC Highland Center in Crawford Notch, after a six-hour drive from New York. It’s a struggle getting out of the car, thanks to an inflamed piriformis (a muscle in the butt) — the result of too many squats earlier in the week. As I hobble across the parking lot the other issue weighing on my mind is the weather. I’ve been watching the forecast steadily deteriorate over the last few days, until it now calls for “Thunderstorm” with 100% probability of precipitation and winds from the west at 37 MPH. . . .