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This description of my 2001 attempt at a Presi Traverse is a supplement to the discussion in the Presi Traverse FAQ. I hope it will make the issues discussed there come to life.


I try to hike two or three days a week, both in the Boston area and in the White Mountains. I try to do one strenuous hike each week, either a long hike, or one with substantial elevation gain, or a shorter hike done fast (relative to my usual times!). I use my altimeter constantly when hiking, computing average rate of elevation gain (feet per hour), which I find to be a better indicator than speed (miles per hour).

The traverse was scheduled for around June 20th (subject to weather forecasts, we did it on the 25th), and in early June I started pushing myself harder:

I chose to do three hikes in the Northern Presis because I have always had difficulty going down the piles of rock that are so frequent in that area. Clearly practice led to some improvement, but it was clear that I would slow down significantly on several sections.

After the 17th I stopped doing anything strenuous until the traverse, to allow my body to recover from what had clearly been excessive training. For me four big hikes over twelve days is definitely pushing it!


Chris asked me to join a group of his friends on a traverse, they did most of the planning. Chris and I met at Crawford on Sunday PM, the day before the traverse. We left my car there, and drove to Gorham. We had been thinking of staying in the bunk room at the Hiker's Paradise, but since we wanted to go to sleep early and wake at the crack of dawn we decided to stay in their motel rooms. We asked when the neighboring convenience store opened in the morning, and to our delight were told that it was a 24 hour store.

We woke a bit before 4 AM, got coffee at the convenience store, ate some bagels and muffins, and drove to the trailhead, ready to hike at 4:45. Sleeping 15 minutes from the trailhead is a big win!

Food and Gear

We had decided that we were not going to eat at the summit of Mt. Washington, as experience has shown that this can consume too much time. So in addition to snacks (lots of gorp, one apple, candy for instant sugar) I brought a couple of bagels and most of a stick of cheddar.

I brought three quart water bottles. Since Madison Hut is less than four miles from the trailhead I only filled one before starting, refilling it and filling the other two there. This saved about four pounds on the climb to the hut, which is about 40% of the total elevation gain. The three litres lasted comfortably until Lakes, where we refilled again. I drank about four liters on the entire trip, others drank closer to six liters.

I used my heavy Limmer boots. Many people prefer to use something lighter for such a long day, but I feel that I need the sturdiest boots I own for the rough terrain. This is very much a matter of personal opinion.

I always pack for the worst possible weather when planning a trip with a lot of time above treeline. So I packed polypro top and bottom, fleece gloves, hat and jacket, Goretex top and bottom, and a light weight wind jacket.

Comments or Suggestions? Did you attempt a Presi traverse, or do you have any comments to make? That is what the Peakbagging Forum is for!

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