• Laura Ventresco

Magnificent Mt. Madison

Peaks: Madison (Planned on Adams too but called it off)

Miles: 8

Hike Date: 10/01/2017

48 List #: 28/48

Summit Beer: Moat Mountain- Miss V's Blueberry

Luke (Little bro) and I taking cover from the wind on summit of Madison

Luke and I set out on an early Sunday morning with the intention of hiking both Madison and Adams. The last 2 mountains of the Presidential Range that I needed for my 48 list. I knew snow and treacherous conditions would be sweeping in soon, so I wanted to complete this hike while we still had sunshine-y and blue sky days. We already weren't off to the smoothest start - left the house late, and had to stop along the way for gas and breakfast.

After our 2 hour commute there, we finally made it and began hiking. For some reason my bag was EXTRA heavy on this day. I wanted to make sure I was fully prepared for a hike above treeline so I had packed extra layers, and was still adjusting to the new weight of carrying a camera with me. My little bro, Luke, helped me out and took some of the items from my pack to share the weight. What a great guy and trail companion! In addition to my heavy bag, I felt overall pretty sluggish and tired. (Note to self: do not eat deep fried PBJ sandwiches at a fair the night before then try to hike 5000 footers the next day.)

We both couldn't get of our own way, but ready to hike on anyways.

I love trail signs and junctions! It's very uplifting to get confirmation that you are on the right path and a check in on where you at in terms of miles.

This hike was a steep one and it definitely tested our limits. To put it in perspective- I had been hiking almost every weekend since the summer. Completing other strenuous hikes such as backpacking 18 miles on Owls Head and the Monroe and Washington loop hike (2 5k footers). Plus working out 3-5 times a week in between these weekend mountain adventures. I am at least moderately fit (still slow and asthmatic). Luke is also in great shape- hiker, mountain biker, and putting work in the gym. THIS MOUNTAIN KICKED OUR ASSES. Our plan was to complete Adams and Madison in a loop hike. Well Miss Madison, is a hard lady to conquer and she wanted us to ourselves. Don't worry Adams, we are coming for you in 2018.

"Uncle Lukie, are you going to share that?" - Luna & Blaze

We trekked on, conquering this trail as best we could. It was chilly, a hard layers game of constantly layering back up and down. This mountain also did a number on the knees. Mine do not usually bother me while hiking, but I felt it today. Perhaps the bitter cold, or pure steepness of the trail. Or maybe this is just what happens when you turn 25? We finally made it up out of the trees to yet another trail junction. Where we found a perfect rock to sit behind and enjoy some lunch. The wind is pretty bone chilling above tree-line, so having some shelter makes the world of a difference. Luke makes a killer homemade trailmix that he shared with me, and I had packed us giant tupperwares filled with pasta salad. (Best pasta salad ever, according to Luke.) I think I'll keep him.

The famous bad weather sign: "STOP This area has the worst weather in America. Many have died there from exposure even in the summer. Turn back now if the weather is bad."

Lunch Rock

We swear the top of the mountain kept getting further and further away. It always looks like its right there, but takes some patience and careful footing as the trail is all rocks at this point. The dogs did fantastic, both of them were off leash and loving every second. We finally summit! Gorgeous views, clear skies. Lots of hikers coming over from Adams (we apparently did this loop the wrong way). Looking at the time it was already after 1pm. Plus we were so exhausted from our steep hike up, we decided to save Adams for another day.

It's important to be open to changing plans. If we carried on to Adams we would've further pushed our limits of exhaustion as well as could very well have been hiking out in the dark. Plus the 2 hour drive home that was waiting for us just below at the parking lot. I was so tired I forgot to drink my summit beer (Who does that). We stopped back at our lunch rock to enjoy it. Can't waste it and my back thanked me for the lighter pack after.

This was the right call. Even our hike down took longer than we anticipated. Our legs were so tired we barely had control of them. We actually had to break on the way out. We were sitting in the middle of the trail, eating snacks to try and regain some energy. Very unusual for me- I usually run down no problem. But something about this mountain... She's a challenging one. Reminds you how much of an accomplishment it truly is to complete these 4000 foot hikes.

You will know you layered up correctly if you like a blueberry after. Had to rep my New England Patriot's hat, since I missed the game for this- worth it.

Oh happy days! We dragged our defeated bodies into the car, and started our journey home.

The best part of this hike:

We stopped for Five Guys on the way home. & rewarded ourselves with greasy burgers topped wth bacon and cheese and all the works of veggies. Cajun fries. My goodness, I have never been happier than in this moment. A warm meal after hiking truly replenishes your entire being. I bought the dogs a burger as well. They earned it.

Mt Madison and Five Guys Burgers and Fries for the win.

Happy Hiking!

- Laura the Explorer

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