Madison & Adams

When you shoot for the moon...


Mount Madison from Adams, covered in snow

… you still end up with an epic time in the Whites.

The plan was to do a Presidential Traverse — hiking all the way from Applachia to Crawford Notch. Our best hiking mate, Doug, turned up at the call of an epic adventure. We met and dropped a car at Crawford Notch, spent the (brief) night in a hotel in Gorham, then hit the trail bright and early for a big day ahead.

Happily, Airline trail was broken, so we opted to take that instead of Valley Way. We followed in the footsteps of the kind folks who came the night before until we met their tent around first light. From there, we (and I mean mostly Cody and Doug) had our work cut out for us. The snow was deep, and we had quite the climb left. Finally, we made it above treeline where the snow was crustier from exposure, and we were treated to a beautiful undercast making our ascent seem even more dramatic.

On the climb up Madison, we braved the wind and cut a new path up to the summit. I had all my gear on and was still chilled. Rye was clearly cold, having ditched her booties. I decided I would head down after Adams, if she could make it. We had tried to bring her up there once before, but the sharp exposed rock hurt her pads and we had to take turns reaching the summit. But this time, snow smoothed over everything so I was excited to finally check this peak (which holds sentimental value to us, being where Cody proposed to me) of her list.

Rye was rejuvenated when we made it quickly back down the mountain to the hut, and we decided to push on for one more Presidential peak. The hike up Adams was stunning, and much warmer in less wind. We walked in and out of the harsh rising sun as it pushed its way over the ridge. Fittingly, Rye made it to the top first. Though it was probably my imagination, she seemed to understand that she was conquering a peak that had previously foiled her.

We said our goodbyes, and I turned back as the guys went on to complete (!!) their snowy traverse.


Madison (5367 ft), Adams (5774 ft)




Airline Trail, Gulfside Trail, Valley Way

Total Distance

10.65 miles, 5,430 ft elevation gain


Start: 5:00am, 7:00 Round Trip


Undercast and frigid sun

Trail Conditions

Partially broken deep snow in the trees, textured crusty snow above.



Partners in Crime

Cody, Doug and Rye