Fred Knight (2 days) and John Moores (1 day)
I wanted an end-of-the-snow-season overnight, and John wanted a good day hike. The scheme was to drive separately, park cars at both ends, and do the route that four of us aborted due to poor visibility, as it appears on the map (below) from that last outing. This time, the day was glorious. John and I made it to the Lakes of the Clouds Hut in 2.5 hours, where we ate lunch along with lots of other people. Then we did a somewhat off-trail, and at times steep but cushioned by snow, ascent of Mt Monroe.
Same location as 2012 hike.
Although the day started partly cloudy and below freezing, it was probably near 40 degrees with little wind and perfectly clear skies atop Mt Monroe. After some admiration of the views, John headed back, and I actually fell asleep in a cozy rock niche. About 2:30, I headed for the base of Mt Eisenhower, which took me a couple hours. On the way, I was passed by one solo guy doing the entire Presidential Traverse and then three more old geezers doing the same. They were magnificent! What stamina! I was wearing snowshoes, but the trail was bare in some spots. In addition, one tab on my microspike came apart on my left foot. The snowshoes did well because the snow was deep in protected spots and quite soft.
All pics are here.
At the camp we used last summer for the second night of the Presidential Traverse, I made a snow bed, tarp-less but with my usual Tyvek shell in the snow with nested bags. Actually, I wasn’t sure of the exact spot where we camped last summer; it looked so different in the winter. The night was clear until close to morning. I watched the Big Dipper rotate around the North Star through the night. The clouds came in before sunrise, and the wind picked up to become a real force. When I got up, I packed things while remaining inside my bivvy, keeping pretty warm inside the Tyvek shell. The night had been completely cozy. The only difficulty was actually sleeping that long.
I got going at 6:45, started up Mt Eisenhower but aborted due to the increasing wind. However, I lost the base trail and had to bushwhack slowly through the scrub to get the other side of Mt. Eisenhower and pick up Crawford Path. The bushwhack took 1.3 hours. From there back took a little over 2 hours. I even aborted Mt Pierce due to the wind. I met 4 of the AMC crew on their way to Mitzpah Springs hut; they were carrying boards and equipment for repair, but most of their gear came in by helicopter on good days. Today was a no-fly day.
John: Up to Mt Monroe and back on the sunny Sunday
Fred: ~10 miles over 2 days with a cozy overnight at the base of Mt Eisenhower.