“It’s not always about the view from the top, but the adventure it took getting there”
Mt. Madison, the presidential range of The White Mountains. Recently we took a group of 5 campers and 2 counselors to hike in the White Mountains. We left camp early on a Wednesday morning and arrived in New Hampshire mid-afternoon. After learning how to pack in a backpacking pack, we headed into the woods for 3 days. The campers were excited to have a real backpacking experience accompanied with hiking to the top of a mountain.
Thursday morning we woke up, got out of our hammocks, and made a good ole fashioned oatmeal breakfast. The campers helped pack for the day before heading up Mt. Madison. It was a steep climb. We continuously passed AT (Appalachian Trail) hikers who had started hiking at Mt. Katadian and were headed south to Georgia. As we rose in elevation the climb became steeper and steeper. Once we were above the tree line we had about 10 minutes of a beautiful view of the valley before we were enveloped in fog and mist. We continued to climb up rock and boulders until we reached the top. The summit of Mt. Madison was not the typical summitting experience. The wind was blowing at a steady 50 mph with gusts up to 73 mph. The fog/mist was so thick that we could not see 30 yards in front of us. There were moments when campers would open their arms straight out and lean all of their body weight into the wind and they would be held upright. Even though there was no view at the summit, it was still extremely satisfying knowing that we had just climbed a mountain!
We began our descent towards a place called Madison Hut where we ate lunch and caught our breath before continuing down the mountain. As we were leaving the Hut we saw a trail for Star Lake and decided to hike to see it. It was a beautiful lake that was right between Mt. Madison and Mt. Adams. This is also when our view began to clear and we could see down into the valley. It was a beautiful sight so we stopped took pictures and just took the view in.
The rest of our hike was amazing as well. We hiked down a different trail which was essentially a creek bed. We eventually arrived back at our campsite exhausted, blistered, and hungry. Dinner was made and while we were eating we had an AT hiker come and sit down with us. He was 18 years old with the trail name of Young Blood. He was on month 5 of hiking the AT and was about finish in a couple of weeks. It was cool for the campers to hear about the trail from someone who was not that much older than them and to see him almost at the completion of a 6 month journey.
Overall this experience cannot be summed up by just one event but the entire trip as a whole was fantastic. Even though we did not get to see a spectacular view from the top of a mountain, we did get to see it from a beautiful mountain lake and get to hike among rocks and waterfalls. Each camper walked away with a new appreciation for the beauty of the wilderness and the excitement for adventure.