The Appalachian Mountains on the coast of North America run
from Maine to Georgia and the Appalachian Trail, serene and challenging,
attracts thousands of hikers each year. Within a region of the
Appalachian Trail are the White Mountains of New Hampshire.
The White Mountains are considered to be the roughest part of
the Appalachian Trail, they make up nearly a quarter of the state
of New Hampshire. Each year at least two people have died as
a result of exposure to the elements, and even in late May some
areas are still covered with snow and thrill-seeking skiers.
Last spring, college students from New Jersey spent four days
traversing the fantastic Presidential Mountain Range, a group
of peaks on the northeast within the White Mountains.
We were sitting around in the middle of the winter and began
looking over maps and reading books,” said Walter P.
Wilson, a former Boy Scout. He and his friends checked with
Forest Service, heard conditions could be rough and packed
accordingly, following safety tips from the park rangers. The
of something going horribly wrong was on their minds, but the
group was ready for anything.
Even in late May the weather in the White Mountains can be
unpredictable and temperatures overnight can get drop into
the 20s. Dressing
in layers is very important in such conditions and jeans don’t
cut it. “If you wear jeans,” said Jake Daniels, the
field medic of the expedition, “they act as a temperature
flare, meaning cold air gets in and heat escapes. It is important
to wear comfortable, warm clothes,” said Daniels. This
meant packing cold-weather camping gear, insulated hiking boots,
and other necessary equipment.
The White Mountains are a six-hour drive from New York City.
Pristine and beckoning adventure, they climb more then 5,000
feet into the air, cutting through the clouds and dominating
New Hampshire’s evergreen-lined highways.
The rangers had recommended a hike along Franconia Notch, located
in the Pemigewassett Wilderness around Lincoln, NH. The trail
began just off the Kancamangus Highway at a rickety wooden suspension
bridge. With rain coming in, the crew set up camp along the Franconia
At daylight they headed up the trail to Bondcliff Peak, a stunning
view at 4,265 feet. From the top they could see the full range
of the Presidential Mountains. They pressed on, across a valley
and up another 433 feet to the freezing summit of Mount Bond
at 4,698 feet.
We had gotten so tired, but then we saw an old man with a dog
who made us feel like wimps,”saidMatt Kippleman, who
also recalled seeing bear prints in the snow.
They descended from the summit to a log cabin halfway down
the snowy trail. “I couldn’t believe it was May 17th,
and we were walking on snow,” said Moiz Kapadia.
It began snowing and the crew had to hang a tarp over the cabin
doorway to block out the icy winds. Their preparation for bad
weather helped them through the night and in the morning they
traveled across a snow-coated alpine zone to the highest summit
on the trek, South Twin Mountain more than 5,000 feet above sea
The thin air was gray and cold and hugged the mountain peaks,” said
Wilson. “It made us feel insignificant,” he added.
With storms in the distance, the crew made a quick climb down
the other side and an eight-mile hike to another campsite deep
in bear and waterfall country, called 13 Falls.
“It is an amazing place to camp,” said Daniels.
Waterfalls roar through the night and are a spectacular sight when the sun hits
them in the early morning. Overnight, they had to hang all their food on tree
branches so that bears could not reach them.
Traversing mountains, valleys, and rivers, the group of friends hiked 28 miles
in four days, enjoying some wonderful sights.
Anyone can do this. All it takes is a little planning and a lot of excitement,” Mike
Christoff said on the drive home.
Photos courtesy Jesse
Hiking into the wild, cooking pots in tow.
Walter P. Wilson, navigating a good route.
Jake Daniels suspended over the Franconia River.
Taking a water break along Franconia Notch.
With some standing close to the edge, the
vrew withstands the windy summit of Mount Bond.