Hiking Trail Conditions Report
Peaks Mt. Madison, Mt. Adams, Mt. Jefferson, NH
Trails: Valley Way, Osgood Trail, Gulfside, Airline, Lowe’s Path, Israel Ridge Path, Six Husbands Trail, Jefferson Loop, Jewell Trail, Jewell Link, herd path, bushwhack
Date of Hike
Date of Hike: Wednesday, December 15, 2021
Parking/Access Road Notes
Parking/Access Road Notes: Roads were all clear of snow/ice. Got some snow last night transitioning to rain but I imagine that they’re already dry. Plenty of room at Appalachia. Didn’t plan on coming down Jewell but $10/PERSON in your car to park at cog hiker parking and $5/day to park at USFS lot and come down Jewell proper. No cars around when we came down.  
Surface Conditions
Surface Conditions: Dry Trail, Ice - Black, Ice - Blue, Ice - Breakable Crust, Snow/Ice - Frozen Granular 
Recommended Equipment
Recommended Equipment: Light Traction, Traction, Ice Axe 
Water Crossing Notes
Water Crossing Notes: Trivial though we used the herd path/bushwhack near the end of Jewell Link to avoid that first potentially difficult crossing on Jewell Link.  
Trail Maintenance Notes
Trail Maintenance Notes: Valley Way is marked with the occasional, usually faded, blue blaze. Very well trodden and easy to follow though. Above tree line, there’s the occasional yellow (lead?) blaze but those will soon be covered with snow. In the majority of places above tree line snow is non-existent or minimal enough that 1) cairns are still visible and 2) trail signs are above the snow (the exception is Six Husbands Trail when I made the noob mistake of the century and missed the turn for Jefferson Loop). I don’t recall blazing on Jewell and Jewell Link but everything was easy to follow. One blowdown forcing you to walk around on Jewell Link (toward the middle I think but closer to the Jewell Trail than the Cog). Still evidence of last years blowdowns on Valley Way but now there’s a new one around the same area as well. At least one widow maker around here too. All in all, not bad.  
Dog-Related Notes
Dog-Related Notes: None seen. I might be worried about them on the ice below tree line, namely on Valley Way.  
Bugs: None 
Lost and Found
Lost and Found: Some water bottles and such on Valley Way in the morning. I think friends packed them out on their way down.  
Comments: And so it begins. The task of cleaning up the remaining grid peaks I didn’t get to accomplish last years goal. I’ve been waiting out good weather for a presi traverse. Seemed like a short window yesterday of so just decided to grab what I could with descent weather.

Wonderful company up to Madison with four people :) Starting temps were about 20F at 7am and we got some nice pink sunrise colors from the parking lot. Valley Way started off dry. I don’t think we began to see ice until 2400ft. And, if my memory serves me correctly, I think we out on spikes at about 3200ft? In any case, my friends were all in Hillsound microspikes that were pretty new and do well. I was in brand new Kahtoolas and had plenty of traction too. I would NOT do this with dull spikes though. Better off in crampons. In fact, some may prefer them once there’s consistent snow cover (3400ft??) but like I said, sharp microspikes will suffice.

I took my spikes off at the hut. A very short ways through the krumholtz where they would’ve been helpful but going up Madison they really aren’t needed and my friends soon took there’s off (I believe they’d all switched to rock spikes anyway for the ascent). A bit of ice here and there between the rocks but easily avoidable. Back at the hut, we split ways and two of us went down while the other three of us continued to Adams. Spikes (rock beaters) would’ve been preferable for a ways here. I bare booted but had to take care. Would’ve been easier in spikes which both of my friends wore. Once the ice disappeared, you didn’t need them again until the final ascent up the cone of Adams where they were useful. Once on the west side of the cone descending Lowe’s Path they certainly aren’t needed.

Once at Gulfside again, we ran into a group and I decided to tag along with them to Jefferson and get a ride back to my car at Appalachia while my other two friends headed back to Valley away along Gulfside to head down to Appalachia. Winds felt like they were just beginning to pick up again. Or maybe it was just that we were in a windier spot (between Adams and Washington always seems knarly to me). Between Adams and Jefferson had spots with snow a foot plus deep. Not worth bringing snowshoes for but expect some PITA footing. Microspikes, at times, were helpful again. I had crampons with me but had decided to leave my ice axe at home as a friend pointed out to me that there hadn’t been enough snow for snowfields to appear between Adams and Madison. He was correct, however, I was no going across to Jefferson with its fun snowfield. Now while there were steps kicked in and microspikes got plenty of traction here, the snowfield and snow (could see an icy tint below us) was such that if you fell, you could be falling a LOOONG way down into the boulders below. So, ideally an ice axe should be used here to self arrest just in case you began falling.

We soon came to the Jefferson Loop jct and like the noob I shouldn’t be I walked right past it and continued on Gulfside. Consequently, we went up Six Husbands instead. Oh goody, another snowfield. Not as dangerous as the Jefferson one but perhaps an ax would still be warranted. The snow was softer here though and some postholing was done. Luckily this was short lived as the snow field stopped and the boulder field soon began again. Wind was unpleasant on top of Jefferson. We didn’t stay long. Across to Jewell was less snow than between Adams and Jefferson but more than between Adams and Madison. A few spots with snowpack/postholing but not much. We left our rock beater spikes on for the rest of the day as our main objective was to get below tree line before the wind became a real issue but they probably weren’t needed most of the way between Jewell and Jefferson. Jewell below tree line began with more snow than ice. Down low it had more black ice but not the sort of ice floes seen on Valley Way. Microspikes were sufficient. We took the herd path/bushwhack down low on Jewell Link to avoid the potentially tricky water crossing at the beginning. Wonderful to meet Brei and hike with her and always a delight to run into and hike down with my dear friend Old Man and the Saw who was kind enough to introduce us to Postal Patty and drive us back to my car at Appalachia.

Praying for another good weather day for Pierce-Washington traverse to finally get this month gridded out.  
Name: Liam Cooney 
Date Submitted
Date Submitted: 2021-12-16 
Link: https:// 
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