By Kasandra Fleury -
The White Mountains are an amazing place. The terrain is as rugged and unforgiving as it is beautiful and probably one of the most difficult and spectacular spots in the NH Whites is the Northern Presidentials. It is here that the rocks become sharper and the mountain summits are simply piles of these sharp rocks stacked upon each other. When my older dog, Maggie, and I were chasing our first round of the NH48 last year, Mount Adams was the only mountain that intimidated me. We conquered it but I still felt as though the mountain got the best of me. The winds were howling that day and it was so cold that we had to put on our winter hats and mittens to keep warm. Maggie is not a fan of the strong wind so I remember she took refuge amongst some of the summit rocks. The funny thing is that although the weather was so angry on Adams, by the time we got to its neighbor, Madison, we were once again enjoying summer temperatures and had long lost the winter clothing. That is the White Mountains for you. One peak could be just a mile from another but the weather can make it feel like you are on a different planet.
On a recent return journey to the Northern Presidentials, Maggie and I were joined by my younger pup, Radar, my dad and a few other friends. We met at the trailhead as the sun began to heat up the world around us that morning. The Airline Trail that we followed up to where it intersects with the Appalachian Trail was gorgeous. It is steep and there are a lot of rocky scrambles along the way, but it is the White Mountains after all. We all hiked at our pace, stopping to check in with each other along the way. Maggie happily bounced up the trail ahead of me and Radar really impressed me with his hiking skills. He is just 9 months old and this was definitely one of the hardest hikes he has done to date. He and Maggie and their doggie friend crushed the hike. Once we were above the trees, the views were insane. Views for days you could say. Even the dogs stopped along the way to take in the scenery from rock perches along the trail. The sun was shining. The sky was bright blue. A truly amazing day to be in the Presidentials.
Then, it was onward to the Madison Springs Hut and up to the summit of Mount Madison. Radar sported his brightly colored dog booties to protect his pads from the super sharp rocks that we had to hike across, and of course, I had my trusty AKU Alterra GTXs to protect my feet. Maggie has been hiking for so long now that her pads are rugged. Just a smear of Mushers Secret to each paw and she was good to go. We reached the summit of Madison and the views almost took my breath away. It was so insanely beautiful up there. I found a nice spot to sit and Radar climbed on my lap to take a nap. Maggie cuddled close too and we took in the scenery together. These are the days I live for. Sitting on a mountain summit with my favorite trail pups and spending time on the trails with my family and friends.