Opportunism might be one of the most overlooked and most valuable facets of my approach to the mountains. Even with best equipment, fitness, and local knowledge, it's easy to still find yourself in an unfavorable situation. Light and fast requires even greater flexibility and that's why I rarely settle on hard dates for any particular run or hike in the Whites. I have a general idea of what I'd like to do and the places I'd like to visit over the next few months, but conditions are ultimately the boss and because conditions change rapidly, I need to as well.
A winter Presidential Traverse was something I hadn't done in a while, but family life and work travel made for a tight window of opportunity this year. 110 mph wind gusts on Mount Washington ruled out enjoyable alpine travel, but when my friend Ryan texted me on a Saturday night that the Higher Summits Forecast for Sunday had been just been revised to include the words "winds diminishing rapidly to 25-30 mph", we made plans to seize the day. A fit, experienced group, slightly later start, and less-common South to North approach would give us the best chance for success.
And success is what we found. Moderate temperatures, bluebird skies, and winds mild enough that we were able to stay upright made for a day to remember. We could see the sun glaring off the Atlantic on the eastern horizon and the faint blue peaks of the Adirondacks off to west beyond Vermont.
Up, over, and down in a casual feeling eight hours, then home in time to put the kids to bed.
|The Atlantic Ocean appears as a thin white band on the horizon, 70 miles away to the east.|