Thursday, June 26, 2014

AMC Hut Traverse

In New Hampshire's White Mountain National Forest the Appalachian Mountain Club operates a chain of eight High Mountain Huts. They are mainly located along the Appalachian Trail on the highest parts of the range, including the Franconia and Presidential Ridges. The huts are situated roughly 7 miles, or "a day's hike", apart. It's been a traditional challenge since the 1930's for strong AMC "Croo" members to connect all the huts into a single 1-day hike. With roughly 50 miles and 20,000 feet of elevation gain, over extremely rugged terrain, the traverse has also more recently become a fun challenge for hikers looking for something beyond the traditional 18 mile Presidential Traverse or 31 mile Pemi-Loop.

I first heard about the AMC Hut Traverse back in 1998. I had just started running and was talking with a fellow runner who told me he did the hike every year with a friend. They would start at Carter Notch Hut and run/hike the whole route East to West to Lonesome Lake - in under 24 hours. My longest hike to that point had been about 8 miles, to the top of Washington and back, so I couldn't conceive of undertaking that kind of endeavour. Well it's now 16 years later, and I've become a much better hiker. I've done the Presi, the Pemi, the NH 48 and 3 straight days on the AT. So, when I sat down to plan my hiking trips for this summer, the Hut Traverse naturally came to mind.

So, without further ado, here is my grand plan...

The FKT (or, fastest known time) for this route is just a few ticks over 13 hours. I have absolutely no desire to attempt coming anywhere close to that. But, based on my recent training, and the hikes I have done previously, I think I can complete the journey in just under 20 hours - or about 2.5 hiking miles per hour. We'll see. Much of it will be weather dependent. But if all goes well, I'll be starting at Carter at 3:30am on Sunday, July 6th and be cruising into Lonesome some time before midnight that same day.

Wish me luck!

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