Hike Prep: 2-Day Presidential Traverse w/Hut Stay

DSCN0461Last June was my first ever hike in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, and I absolutely loved it. I spent two and a half days hiking across the Presidential Range. Many intrepid individuals will complete this as a single-day hike, known as a Presidential Traverse. I’d never been on that type of terrain before, so I took it easy. I only hiked the “minimum” 7 peaks (Madison, Adams, Jefferson, Washington, Monroe, Eisenhower, and Pierce) and stretched the trip into 3 days with two overnight hut stays at Madison Spring and Lakes of the Clouds. My pack was very light because I didn’t have to carry a shelter or full days’ worth of food, but at the same time I was a little wasteful. I carried a big camera, which weighed over a pound by itself, and I also packed my giant heavy (~5oz) headlamp. I didn’t really need these items, but I had room in my pack, so I filled it.

My confidence is a bit higher this time around. I’m still not feeling quite studly enough to conquer the traverse in one day, but I have whittled one night off of my itinerary. I’m also adding Mt. Jackson to my list of peaks, which will add a bit of distance and elevation. I’ve changed my outlook on gear selection quite a bit, and will be targeting a Base Pack Weight of 4lbs or less by leaving all non-essential items at home.

MY COMPLETE GEAR LIST – I may tinker with this list a bit as I start packing. It will be final on 6/15/14

I’ve chosen to carry my Gossamer Gear Quiksak pack. With approximately 25 liters of total volume, this pack is much smaller than the Gossamer Gear Murmur (36L) I carried last time around. The Quiksak weighs in at 8.1oz, which makes it almost 2 ounces lighter than the Murmur. I’m hoping that carrying a smaller volume pack will keep me from filling it with anything more than the bare necessities. If you’re looking for more detailed information on the Quiksak, check out the review I wrote about it!

UPDATE 6/10: Instead of my Quiksak, I’ll be testing a different pack from Gossamer Gear. I’m not at liberty to divulge any details, but I will add the weight to my gear list in order to keep things accurate. I will carry the Quiksak on my day hike to Mt. Osceola and East Osceola next week, and I will let you know how it works in my trip report.

I’ll be overnighting at Lakes of the Clouds Hut, so I won’t need to carry much in terms of sleeping gear. The hut provides guests with a bunk, which includes a plastic-covered mattress (no sheet), a pillow, and two wool blankets. I only plan on bringing two pieces of sleeping gear: a rectangular Sea To Summit Silk Travel Liner (4.9oz) and some sort of light pillow case. These items are only really meant to provide a barrier between my body and the communal bedding. I used a similar setup last year and slept cold, but it didn’t bother me for just a night or two. I can always sleep in all my layers to minimize the chill.

Weather is a pretty big variable in the Presidential Range and especially on Mt. Washington (actually all around the Whites). The average temperature in June is only 45 degrees, and the 27.6MPH average wind speed makes it feel much colder. Last year, the wind chill was 29 degrees on the day we summited Washington, and that was a pretty beautiful day. That being said, I’ll be packing a more comprehensive layering system than would normally be required for a June trip back home in Pennsylvania. For hiking, I’ll be wearing full-length running tights, running shorts, a Patagonia Capilene 2 Lightweight Crew top, and my Gossamer Gear/Headsweats sun visor. In some of the colder, windier sections, I can wear my The North Face Verto Jacket, which only weighs about 3.5 ounces but does a great job at breaking the wind (insert fart joke here). I’ll also have my Outdoor Research Helium II jacket for rain and my Stoic Hadron Down Cardigan for insulation. My famous pink beanie will be in my pack in case my ears get cold.

The hut will provide me with good-sized meals at dinner and breakfast, so I’ll mostly just be bringing snacks for this trip. Fritos, chocolate, nuts, and jerky will make up the bulk of my food selection. I mainly just need a few calorie-rich snacks to keep my energy up while hiking. I can also buy snack items from the huts or the snack bar on Mt. Washington, if the mood strikes me. Since nothing I’m carrying requires cooking, I’ll be leaving my stove and pot at home.


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