Last August, Boy Scout Troop 39 from Scarborough planned a trip over the high peaks in the Presidential Range of New Hampshire’s White Mountain National Forest. The idea came to us in autumn 2021 during a day hike on Mount Pierce (4,310 m). We were following a trail down past the Mizpah Spring Hut when we decided to take a break at the hut. We walked in and were amazed to see all the amenities you need offered in the mountains in one of the worst weather conditions on earth. The cabin included a full kitchen, multiple bedrooms, and a large common area. Intrigued by the idea of taking a trip to these cabins, we had a planning meeting with the Boy Scouts and we decided to plan a trip to the Presidentials.
One of the main things our squad focuses on is that it’s almost 100 percent youth led. Trips like this are almost 100 percent planned by teenagers, with adults only involved with the booking and final planning. Fast-forward a few months to June 2022, and we realized that not many of us were in good enough shape to tackle the trek. This resulted in three prep hikes to ensure everyone is safe and well prepared.
Before we knew it it was August and we all took our gear and backpacks to our scout barn to check them out and review every possible scenario that could happen so we knew what we were dealing with, especially when considering we tackled three days in one of the most dangerous mountain ranges in the United States. On August 26th at 06:00 am we finally set off on our great adventure.
Excitement flooded through us all. As we left the barn and headed west toward the mountains, it started to rain. Watching the rain made us all a little worried, especially given the patchy forecast for the mountain that day, with anything from snow to tornadoes possible. After an epic ride through the winding valleys, we arrived near the trailhead. We decided to tackle the Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail which was on the other side of the mountains.
When we started we admired the beauty. After many hikes we were all tired and took a break. Gazing at the stunning views, seeing the weather in the distance, we knew we had to hurry to get to the Lakes of the Clouds cabin, our first overnight stay. After finally making it to the cabin we were all feeling a little tired from the arduous hike with heavy backpacks but were in high spirits and excited to see our incredible home for the night. We all crowded into a smelly but hot and amazing dorm room. The view from the window of the top of Mt Washington above us was incredible. We decided to go out and explore the mountain, being careful not to step on alpine vegetation. We even decided to swim in the Lakes of the Clouds of the same name. We were then encouraged by the adults to go into the cabin as the storms we had been racing against had finally come. Watching the entire mountain disappear from the comfort of our dorm room in a matter of seconds was one of the coolest moments of the trip. After watching the storm we had a great dinner. The Croo, the cabin workers, entertained us with funny skits. We were surprised to learn that evening that the Lakes of the Clouds cabin can accommodate over 90 hikers. We finally went to bed with full stomachs and anticipation for the next day, as we were all looking forward to climbing the highest mountain in New England.
We woke up bright and early to a fantastic and delicious American breakfast. We were all looking forward to a 6.8 mile day of hiking over the high peaks and in the alpine zone. We soon received an update from the Croo about the dense fog and high winds on the mountain. At 8am, with all of our gear in our backpacks, we set off on the rocky trail that led to the summit of Mt. Washington (6,288m). We arrived at the summit completely enveloped in clouds and took a few minutes to embrace our accomplishment. We ate s and took photos with the summit sign.
We soon left for Madison Spring Hut. After an amazing day of climbing several high peaks including Mt Clay (5,532), Mt Adams (5,774), and Mt Jefferson (5,712), we arrived at Madison Spring Hut. We all really enjoyed being back in one of the cabins. After another great meal, we chatted, laughed and marveled that we were at 5,000 feet in the Presidentials.
Waking up to a bright and beautiful day on our last day, we slowed down. Breakfast at the Croo even included a makeshift birthday cake made of whipped cream and sprinkles, given to one of the scouts whose birthday was that day. After a short steep section to our final peak of the trip, Mt. Madison (5,367), we paused to finally see what we had accomplished over the past few days, with breathtaking views of the entire Presidential Range. We started our final descent into the valley where we did a shuttle and picked up the cars from our starting point and drove home. We were very excited to be home where we could take a hot shower and sleep in our own beds. We all felt super fulfilled as we had completed a journey of a lifetime and made some incredible memories along the way.