|Hiking Trail Conditions Report|
||Mt. Washington, Mt. Monroe, Little Monroe, NH|
||Tuckerman Ravine Trail, Huntington Ravine Trail, Auto Road, Alpine Garden Trail, Tuckerman Ravine Trail, Crawford Path, Davis Path, Camel Trail, Monroe Loop, Dry River Trail, Dry River Falls Spur|
|Date of Hike:
||Saturday, September 26, 2020|
|Parking/Access Road Notes:
||Only two other cars at the Dry River trailhead just 4am. Lots of open spaces at Pinkham Notch just before 5am. Still lots of space roadside at Dry River at 7pm when we returned and at Pinkham Notch around 7:45pm. If still probably overflowed in the intervening hours though. |
||Dry Trail, Wet Trail, Wet/Slippery Rock, Standing/Running Water on Trail, Mud - Minor/Avoidable, Mud - Significant, Leaves - Significant/Slippery |
|Water Crossing Notes:
||It didn’t exactly feel like we were in a draught... all crossings were rock hoppable which of course meant that water was low in the Dry River but the crossings of the Cutler River and the brooks in Huntington Ravine didn’t seem low. The first crossing of Cutler River was rock hopable but you had to use some wet and slick rocks. Overall, I was surprised how wet things were. Water, while not high, was certainly higher than I would’ve guessed on the crossings in and around Huntington Ravine and there was also some wet trail and even running water down the trail. The Dry River side of things was drier but still involved some very wet and muddy sections of trail. Huntington Ravine, at least, must’ve seen a little rain the night before. Luckily all ledges the trail ascended were totally dry. All crossings of the Dry River were more easily rock hopable although note below that the crossing by Dry River Shelter #3 can be confusing in terms of trail finding. |
|Trail Maintenance Notes:
||I don’t think trails like Tuckerman Ravine Trail and Huntington Ravine Trail are blazed until around where they hit tree line. Then they were both blazed in yellow. I actually got off trail on Huntington Ravine Trail once or twice. Namely, where the trail diagonally crosses the boulder strewn slope known as “The Fan”. The trail reaches it and crosses it diagonally, hardly gaining any elevation, whereas I attempted to ascend up it. There are blazes guiding your way (and the lack of them after awhile alerted me to the fact I was off trail) so keep an eye out for them. There are some spots above the first slab pitch above the Fan (the one the book describes as probably the hardest scramble) where I wasn’t entirely sure where the trail went; a few more well placed blazes may be appreciated. The blazes that didn’t exist weren’t old or faded. Most of all other trails I was on were not blazed. Trails above tree line were marked with cairns instead and seemed easy to follow to me. There was a white blaze for the AT headed south along Crawford Path near the summit of Washington though. Dry River Trail is in the Presidential Range Dry River Wilderness for most of its length and thus is usually not blazed. I believe several old yellow blazes exist here and there on it and on other nearby trails though. As far as I recall, the only trail with blowdowns on it was Dry River Trail. All in all, not as bad as I thought it to be though. The blowdowns are in the usual area. Some partially obscure the trail but nothing that totally obscures it and makes the trail seem to disappear. One spot where we lost the trail was around a couple blowdowns with a herd path around that led to an open spot used as a campsite. The trail seemed to end so I checked Gaia and we were off trail. We used it to quickly get back on trail but never made sense of where we went wrong. There is a small cairn marking the herd path around the blowdowns right next to the open area...but this is off trail. In other words, I believe we were already following a herd path to the campsite, not the trail, when we came to these blowdowns. |
||Huntington Ravine Trail is not appropriate for the vast majority of hiking dogs. Most dogs can not handle these other above tree line trails either without proper paw protection given the rough, jagged rock. |
|Lost and Found:
||This was my final hike to close out the Mt Washington and southern ridges tab :) Didn’t always go as planned but a great day nonetheless! I also got two more peaks for my September grid and my friend got two new 4000 footers bringing him up to 36/48. Unfortunately my friend wasn’t feeling so hot when we reached Huntington Ravine Trail and turned around to decide if he’d just bail for the day or head up Tucks (easier than our plan to go up Huntington Ravine) and try to catch me at the summit of Washington. He ended up going to Washington (we were there at the same time but somehow missed each other) and onto Monroe. We happened to cross paths at the hut and headed down Dry River Trail together which was a great way to end the day :D |
Route: Tuckerman Ravine Trail —> Huntington Ravine Trail (entire trail) —> Auto Rd —> Alpine Garden Trail (entire trail) —> Tuckerman Ravine Trail fo summit —> Crawford Path —> Davis Path to Lawn Cutoff and back to —> Camel Trail —> Crawford Path —> Monroe Loop over Monroe and Little Monroe (entire trail) —> Crawford Path —> Dry River Trail.
The planned route was 20.5mi with about 6300ft of gain. That was with doing an out-and-back on the Alpine Garden Trail rather than using the auto rd which was a last minute decision. That choice likely increased the distance by a ten or two of a mile and possibly cut out a little bit of gain. The weather was terrific for above tree line hiking. Lots of people out. Note that there is no longer a water sticker available outside of Lakes of the Clouds Hut.
We started our hike just before 5:30am and it took us 45min to reach Huntington Ravine Trail. We took our headlamps off just before 6:15am. We already ran into a couple other groups with headlamps by this time. We parted ways just a couple tenths of a mile into Huntington Ravine due to my friend not feeling well. Huntington Ravine Trail’s footing gets pretty rough from the start and has a couple steep pitches before reaching the fire rd. Upon reaching the Fire Rd it becomes a little easier. Great views to foliage in the ravine and there’s a gorgeous foliage “corridor” of sorts along the fire rd when the Trail first comes to it. Note that at the second point where the fire rd and Huntington meet on Gaia, it shows the southern trail as being Huntington. This is incorrect; it’s the fire rd and there’s signs there indicating so.
The trail also got surpassingly wet here. Lots of slick, wet rocks that I slipped on and there was even some running water down the trail. I guess we did end up getting some rain the night before! Still, I was surprised at how wet things were given the draught and that if we did get rain the night before, they were predicting very little. Lucky for me (but further adding to my confusion) all everything above tree line was totally dry except for a slab of two which the trail does not go on. The trail stayed in scrub much longer than I would’ve thought. Per usual, the approach to the ravine with many awkward boulder hops/scrambles was more challenging for me than actually climbing up the headwall. When the trail comes to the Fan(the first boulder strewn slope you come to) note that the trail crosses it almost on the level and does not ascend up it. It then renters scrub and continues to climb steeply in scrub before popping above tree line for the final time. This section follows a brook and is also very wet. I wouldn’t recommend heading into the ravine unless water is low based upon how wet things were yesterday during a draught.
Once it comes above tree line again is where the real fun starts. The only real slab coming is the first thing you do and it’s not all that steep and is well marked with yellow blaze. If you’ve got strong enough legs you should mostly be able to hike it; very little rock climbing should be necessary! Remember to stand up!! If you’re scared you may be tempted to use your hands more and crawl but you’re only making your life more difficult. While I wouldn’t want to fall here I didn’t understand what people mean when they talk about a no fall zone and falling hundreds of feet. I’m sure that’s possible in winter but not in summer. Personally, I felt this trail was greatly exaggerated. And I’m usually a wuss ;) The guidebook calls this the hardest scramble but there are many more scrambles further along and they continued almost all the way to the jct with Alpine Garden Trail which took me by surprise.
The auto rd wasn’t busy when I reached the end of Huntington Ravine Trail so I jogged down it rather than do an out-and-back along that section of Alpine Garden Trail Alpine Garden Trail was nice but had tougher footing than I was hoping for at times. The trail was well defined at times and other times it was hard to see exactly where it went. I only mention this because I was trying to avoid alpine vegetation and at times it seemed to go right over it. Perhaps it’s a good sign if the vegetation is doing so well it’s growing into the trail though?! Tucks is pretty relentless from Alpine Garden to the summit but not as terribly steep as I thought it’d be given that it gains almost 200ft/tenth of a mile in that section. Saw lots of people on it and on Crawford Path headed to Davis Path. This section of Davis Path was pretty nice. My ankles started to give out on Camel Trail and I had to slow it down so I’d stop rolling them. Nice loop over and around Monroe. Although the hut’s closed (no water slicker outside) there were still tons of people congregating around it.
Only saw a few people once on Dry River Trail. The trail ascends a couple hundred feet from the hut before descending. It continues to have some rough footing with boulder hopping as it stays above tree line. Then, it remains somewhat rough below tree line with some ledge and a somewhat steep grade. It’s also pretty grown in which made it somewhat slow going. There are some beautiful sections though with some less common alpine flowers though which were really beautiful. I hope to get to see them in bloom someday! The trail becomes more gradual at times once you come near the blowdown section. We got off trail once here (see above). Below here, although the trail generally becomes more gradual, there were many tricky mud pits to negotiate. I’d hate to have done this in anything but a draught. I guess some things never come close to drying out. We met a guy who said he lost the trail for a half hour by the crossing of the Dry River by the shelter. We didn’t have any trouble though. The trail was a bit obscure at the shelter though. There was a path but we weren’t sure if it was the trail or just a herd path by the shelter. It became clear after following it a short ways it was indeed the trail. A couple washed out slopes fo negotiate along the way (the most difficult being the southernmost) but nothing very navigationally challenging. Just watch where you step where the trail is at the brink of the river!
||Liam Cooney |
Disclaimer: Reports are not verified - conditions may vary. Use at own risk. Always be prepared when hiking. Observe all signs. Trail conditions reports are not substitutes for weather reports or common sense.