Hiking Trail Conditions Report
Peaks Mt. Madison, Mt. Adams, NH
Trails: Valley Way, Osgood Trail, Gulfside, Air Line
Date of Hike
Date of Hike: Sunday, April 18, 2021
Parking/Access Road Notes
Parking/Access Road Notes: Appalachia was not plowed, but was melting decent by this afternoon. Very few vehicles. 
Surface Conditions
Surface Conditions: Snow - Trace/Minimal Depth, Snow - Packed Powder/Loose Granular, Snow - Unpacked Powder, Standing/Running Water on Trail, Snow - Drifts, Mud - Minor/Avoidable, Snow - Wet/Sticky, Snow - Spring Snow, Snow/Ice - Postholes, Slush 
Recommended Equipment
Recommended Equipment: Snowshoes 
Water Crossing Notes
Water Crossing Notes: Minor rock hops 
Trail Maintenance Notes
Trail Maintenance Notes: Roughly a dozen blowdowns on Valley Way, some of which are significant (including a few large ones within the first mile). 
Dog-Related Notes
Dog-Related Notes: Microspikers/barebooters continue to go to the bathroom on the trail/immediate side of the trail, making it difficult to keep dogs out of human fecal matter. Disgusting. 
Lost and Found
Lost and Found: A buttslider dropped their spikes (in their Amazon shipping envelope) above the camp site. I placed it on a tree stump. 
Comments: Valley Way was initially bony with a minimal packed surface and perhaps 6" of wet powder adjacent to the trail. Initial couple of miles were too bony to snowshoe, but snowshoes would be needed for unused trails.

Above 3,000 feet, snowshoes were the way to go. Too soft/sticky for Microspikes, too slippery for efficient barebooting. Close to a foot of powder at this point, increasing with elevation. Full winter conditions above 4,000 feet. Barebooters really struggled in this area, particularly on the descent, falling off the side, postholing, buttsliding into trees, etc. What a mess. Still plenty of snowpack prior to the hut, with a few blazes at shin level and one just above the current snow line.

We had expected to drop our snowshoes for the ascent of Madison, but were surprised with how much snow was on the Osgood Trail. Often, this section of trail can be too bony for snowshoes in calendar winter. Today, there were knee deep stretches and lots of nasty looking postholes. Unfortunately the postholers decided to trample alpine vegetation and knock over scree walls in their effort to avoid the deeper snow. By not bring snowshoes, all of them with Adams on their itinerary (a few were planning Presi traverses without any winter gear!) had to abandon their plans. Though a little rocky in a few places, snowshoes were surprisingly the most efficient way to get to the summit today. Madison summit was the coldest, windiest part of the hike, but winds were not knock-over-strong.

With the unbroken snow, and only two other folks even carrying snowshoes, no one made it far from the hut in the direction of Adams. I broke out Gulfside, which was only bony in the stone staircase section (even then, not too bad). Tracks were drifting over in places. I opted to stay with Air Line kosher for the ascent of Adams, as visibility was too low to venture into the snowfields. Slow going, as I was wiping down cairns for safety (generally 2-cairn visibility with freezing fog); finding the summit is optional, but finding the way back is mandatory. I was surprisingly able to keep snowshoes on until perhaps 200-300 vertical feet below the summit, at which point the terrain gets rockier/steeper. Very slow going without the snowshoes, as the various crevasses were inviting postholes, and some rock faces were slippery. Summit was windy, but not quite as windy as Madison. No sign of any other visitors today on the summit of Adams (or on Gulfside for that matter).

Warmer temperatures down low with occasional sun, but the summits remained in the clouds for the duration of the hike. Temperatures hovered around freezing at elevation, so there has been minimal snow melt up there thus far. For ease of travel, and for safety reasons, I would not head up here without snowshoes for the time being.  
Name: rocket21 
Date Submitted
Date Submitted: 2021-04-18 
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