Hiking Trail Conditions Report
Peaks Mt. Adams, Mt. Madison, NH
Trails: Air Line, Gulfside, Osgood Trail, Valley Way
Date of Hike
Date of Hike: Saturday, November 4, 2023
Parking/Access Road Notes
Parking/Access Road Notes: Plenty of room at both the beginning and end of the hike.  
Surface Conditions
Surface Conditions: Dry Trail, Ice - Black, Snow - Trace/Minimal Depth, Ice - Blue, Snow - Packed Powder/Loose Granular, Wet/Slippery Rock, Ice - Breakable Crust, Snow - Unpacked Powder, Snow/Ice - Frozen Granular, Snow - Drifts, Mud - Minor/Avoidable, Snow - Wet/Sticky, Leaves - Significant/Slippery, Snow/Ice - Postholes, Snow/Ice - Small Patches 
Recommended Equipment
Recommended Equipment: Light Traction 
Water Crossing Notes
Water Crossing Notes: Only major crossing (along Valley Way) was easily rock hopped. 
Trail Maintenance Notes
Trail Maintenance Notes: A few blowdowns on the mid-section of Valley Way. 
Dog-Related Notes
Dog-Related Notes:  
Bugs: Hah! 
Lost and Found
Lost and Found:  
Comments: T'was a tale of two seasons on the Northern Presis today!

When I started the hike, it was almost 50 degrees, with no snow or ice on Air Line until past 2,500 feet; after this point, it was intermittent small patches of ice until shortly before treeline, where small patches of snow came into the mix. Right before treeline was where the ice really became prevalent and snow steadily covered more of the ground, and at this point, I put on light traction for the first time this season (also layered up for the impending wind and cold blast).

Once above treeline, the amount of snow and ice on the ground rose sharply, the temps dropped, and the wind picked up considerably. Past the Air Line Cutoff junction, there wasn't much ice on Air Line, but there was much more snow and much more consistent snow cover; general depth ranged from 1-3 inches with some drifts as much as 6-12 inches. Lots of rime ice on signs, cairns, and rocks/boulders as well, which made for slower going on the last half-mile of Air Line.

Once on the summit, which was socked-in with no views, ground conditions were the same as they were for the previous 0.8 mile or so, but the wind was stronger than at any other point on the hike and knocked the wind chill down to single digits. Still felt amazing to be up there in winter conditions I'd been waiting for since 3/4 of the way through summer, so I spent about a half-hour up there before making my way to the Madison Spring Hut and the summit of Mt. Madison.

The short section of the Gulfside Trail I took to the hut was similar to the upper parts of Air Line in terms of snow/ice cover, with a little less coverage near the hut. The Osgood Trail heading up the upper cone of Mt. Madison didn't have quite as much snow and ice cover, and in the treed-in area near the hut, the snow was actually sticking to my spikes due to the rising temps. Not quite as windy on the summit of Madison, but unfortunately there were no summit views except for a short view to the south when the clouds broke briefly. I did, however, get views going back down to the hut on Osgood, so at least I was able to descend back into the trees with that note to end on.

The upper part of Valley Way was quite icy in a lot of spots, and there were still intermittent small patches of ice until relatively close to the Randolph Path junction. Took Valley Way to Fallsway, then hiked the rest of that trail to finish off the hike.

A really amazing day was had on the Northern Presis, but it also served as a reminder of why November can be one of the most hazardous times of year to hike, particularly for those who are inexperienced and un/underprepared. Just because it's mild with no snow or ice at the trailhead doesn't mean that will be the case at the summit; in fact, it's often the opposite, and today's hike was an extreme example of that.

Name: Spencer 
Date Submitted
Date Submitted: 2023-11-04 
Link: https:// 
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