We woke up at Madison Hut, had breakfast, and waited for the storms to clear. We decided that we would hike out at ten regardless weather the break came. The forcast called for the weather to clear by late morning. When the hour of ten arrived it was improved but still raining. We put all of our cold weather and rain gear and plunged out there. The ascent of Madison was not that long or steep but was completely rock bouldering the whole way up and down to the tree line. The rain and wind were pretty intense but nothing like the day before. It was enough to tear the pack cover off my pack and shredded my frog tog rain jacket. As we neared the summit the wind was really intense. We came upon a French couple huddling behind a small cairn near the top. We had to scream to be heard over the wind as I told them they couldn’t just stay there. I moved up toward the summit and they pulled in behind me. Dancing Bear was already passing over the summit. Not twenty feet over the summit the wind decreased substantially. Another twenty minutes bouldering down the slope and the wind practically quit all together. We kept picking our way down the rock piles and hit the tree line after another twenty minutes.
Under the cover of the trees the weather broke just like the forecast said it would. Thirty minutes later the Clouds moved out and the sun was shining. We hiked down toward the Notch — a seven mile descent. Inexplicably the weather kept improving until it was 70s and sunny a couple of hours later. A crazy transformation in such a short period of time. While we hiked down below the tree line the descent flattened out a little. Nonetheless, I stepped on a slick tree root (never trust a tree root ) and took a pretty horrific spill. It was one where I tried to catch myself by continuing down the slope picking up speed. I tried to slam into a tree to arrest my fall and only succeeded in spinning around off the tree, losing my footing, and hurtling down slope on my back headfirst until I hit a pile of fallen timber and came to a tangled rest. It was a miracle that I walked away from it with just scratches, bruises, and most of my cloths torn.
We made it the rest of the way down Madison and called for a hostel shuttle at the Barn in Gorham. When I arrived I learned that we were indeed the last hikers to attempt the traverse from Washington to Madison Hut. Everyone that followed got to the summit of Washington and called for a shuttle down. Wolfdog, Mona, Frodo, Gimlie, Samwise, Gravity, Stick, and Dove all went down the mountain. A couple went back up two days later and completed the traverse, the rest yellow blazed and skipped that section.
I have completed the Presidentals section of the White Mountains which is challenging from a weather standpoint. The next section of the Whites is known to be extremely technical rock climbing with steep ascents and descents– the Wildcats and Carters. Wildcat D is the steepest climb on the AT. In the meantime, the storms continue and I am going to zero two days to recover and get improved weather. Happy trails.