My 1983 Appalachian Trail Hike in Photos

 

I wrote a ton in words in my journal as I hiked the Appalachian Trail. I also shot a ton of Kodachrome slides in that pre-digital age. I've scanned all my old AT slides and posted them with short text blurbs connecting them to their parts of the story. I'd never tried to connect all these slides with all these words before. It helped me remember details of that long-ago hike in new ways. These pages are a chronological visual journal of the hike. Probably one of the oldest thru-hikes on the Internet to get one.

 

More pics from my 1983 Appalachian Trail hike. Table of Contents is here.

 

Mount Jefferson, Presidential Range NH - Page Pond, Mahoosuc Range, NH

Crossing a flat alpine area known as Monticello Lawn on Mount Jefferson, just before the AT slabs around the summit cone. The two summits I would be hiking later that day line up in the background. Starting down from Jefferson, I began a long descent and an even longer ascent to Thunderstorm Junction, a spot where several trails intersect in a high saddle between three of the peaks of Mount Adams. From that spot I would be hiking Adams' summit loop.

 

Still September 9, 1983. Still Chapter 21.

I made my way to Thunderstorm Junction and turned onto Lowe's Path for the ascent of the main summit of Mount Adams. It was still a beautiful afternoon, and the views of Mount Madison, Mount Jefferson, and the surrounding valleys made the long side trip to the 5798-foot summit well worthwhile. Looking ahead to Mount Madison.

In addition to its impressive looks, Adams is also the second tallest mountain in New England.

 

Looking east to the Great Gulf and Pinkham Notch.

Looking north of the Whites, where the country flattens out quite a bit. You can see US 2 running through the valley of the Moose River.

 

Still September 9, 1983. Still Chapter 21.

The Mahoosuc Range, which I would be following through the last of New Hampshire and into Maine in a few days.

I hung out at the summit for a while before descending into the col between Adams and Madison.

Mount Adams from the north with its third-highest summit Mount Quincy Adams in the left foreground.

 

Still September 9, 1983. Still Chapter 21.

A hike for the morrow, looking across Pinkham Notch to the Carter-Moriah-Wildcat Range.

 

Madison Hut marked an important landmark on my thru-hike. I had covered all of the sections of the Appalachian Trail which I had previously hiked. Everything ahead was now unknown territory.

I stopped at the hut just long enough to check on the weather forecast. The A.M.C. weather sheet also was calling for rain tonight. In this col, the Gulfside Trail, which the AT had been following, ended, and the AT followed the Osgood Trail up Mount Madison. The Gulfside had been a nice trail, for the White Mountains, but the Osgood Trail was very steep, very rocky, and somewhat hard to follow.

High up Mount Madison, looking across the Great Gulf from the northern side this time at Mount Washington's massive shoulder known as Chandler Ridge. That's the Mount Washington auto road climbing along the ridge crest, a road I had travelled both the previous night and again in the morning.

 

Still September 9, 1983. Still Chapter 21.

At the summit of Madison, the ridge crest of the Presidential Range abruptly comes to an end. Southward are great views of Mounts Washington, Clay, and Adams. Looking north, the slopes drop precipitously away on all three sides, providing unsurpassed vistas of the Androscoggin River valley and the Wildcat-Carter and Mahoosuc ranges.

As I stood there on the summit, I noticed high clouds were moving in fast from the west.

The next few miles of the AT descended sharply along the crest of Osgood Ridge, remaining above tree line for another mile or so.

 

Still September 9, 1983. Still Chapter 21.

Hiking this stretch of trail ate up an inordinate amount of time. It was one long pile of rocks, and the grades were steep. I had to carefully pick my way along. I was running a record two hours late at that point, but I was frequently compelled to stop and crawl down smooth rock faces.

 

Still September 9, 1983. Still Chapter 21.

I took my last five pics of the day along Osgood Ridge, before twilight and then darkness closed in on my hike. Eventually, I entered the woods, dropping below tree line for the first time today. The rocks gradually petered out, but the going did not become much easier. I finally reached the floor of the gulf, where the AT turned onto the Madison Gulf Trail and followed it through the Great Gulf Wilderness.

I crossed a wide, rushing stream -- the West Branch of the Peabody River -- on a suspension footbridge, and at long last encountered a good piece of trail, where I pushed myself into high gear. It was already full dark when I crossed the Mount Washington Auto Road along the crest of a low ridge two miles later.

 

Still September 9, 1983. Still Chapter 21.

 

 

I passed a couple of nice viewpoints along that ridge before the AT began the final descent of the day along the Old Jackson Road, a grassy, abandoned woods road. It was flashlight time again with almost two miles to go. I made excellent time until the very end, where numerous other woods roads crossed the Old Jackson Road. This section of trail was poorly marked, and I wasted a lot of time hunting for white blazes with my flashlight.

Eventually, I began to be able to distinguish the lights from Pinkham Notch Hut flickering through the dark mass of the forest.

 

I arrived at New Hampshire Highway 16 in Pinkham Notch sometime after 8:00 -- more than one-and-a-half hours late. The forecasted rain had held off, although I hiked into the night.

 

End of September 9, 1983. Still Chapter 21.

Because the photographic aspect of my trip through the Whites had to be feast or famine, I took this one pic as I traversed the Carter-Moriah-Wildcat Range on September 10 and 11. It was a nice view of Mount Washington and the Great Gulf, shot from the cliffs as the Wildcat Ridge Trail climbed out of Pinkham Notch. After that, the clouds swallowed every viewpoint on what could have been another visual feast.

 

I was miserable September 10 and my journal reflected that. I had reluctantly agreed to one more day of day hiking, although this meant I would have to cover the entire 20 miles of this range in one day.

Although I managed to get out on the trail at 8:40, the ruggedness of the trail combined with the usual White Mountains inaccurate mileage estimates forced me to add another 4.5-mile big descent and then 4.5-mile big ascent to the now two-day hike, plus a 2-mile walk on the road to a pay phone.

 

September 11 was a better day, despite that extraneous big climb back up to the AT.

 

Here's another pic from September 9's hike, since I have no more Carter-Moriah-Wildcat Range pics to add.

Here's another pic from late on September 8.

Although every summit and viewpoint were still socked in with clouds and thick haze, my goal for the day was a lot more reasonable and I was able to enjoy the pretty scenery and arrive on US 2 near Gorham, New Hampshire about an hour earlier than planned.

 

This brings us to the end of September 11, 1983, Chapter 21 and my extended day hiking phase of the journey. On September 12, I would heave into a backpack again less than 17 miles from my final state and less than 300 miles from Katahdin.

I started on the trail at 1:45 the afternoon of September 12, 1983. After all the recent day hiking, my backpack felt like it was lined with lead. Somehow, I made the long climb from the Androscoggin River valley up to the main summit of Mount Hayes. The elevation was only 2555 feet, but there were sweeping vistas.

 

This begins Chapter 22 "Of Mice and Maine".

The vistas included this view of Mount Madison's north and east shoulders just across the Androscoggin River valley. In the background, its five peaks and massive web of ski runs made Mount Wildcat's Peak D easy to pick out, with Peak C on the left. The Carter-Moriah Range was enjoying a mostly sunny day (a day or two late for me); the massive, brooding hulk of Mount Adams in the Presidential Range (not in frame) was in and out of the clouds.

The weather forecasters had predicted a chance of rain for tonight, but the billowing white clouds which drifted across a deep blue sky were gradually breaking apart and dissolving as the day went on.

 

There was some steep, rocky scrambling down into the col between Mount Hayes and Cascade Mountain. Cascade Mountain was a visual feast.

I ascended granite cliffs offering more fine views of the Presidentials and the Carter-Moriah Range. The vistas expanded as I strode along the rocky, scrub-grown crest to the 2631-foot summit, unfolding into a 360-degree panorama. Before me, the Mahoosuc Range stretched out northeastward into Maine, the peaks waxing loftier as my eye followed the trail route forward.

 

Still September 12, 1983. Still Chapter 22.

Behind me were the Androscoggin valley and the White Mountains.

 

As usual after weather conditions in spectacular country caused a picture drought for me, the next beautiful hike got plenty of camera action.

Although I hiked a mere seven miles that afternoon, the climb up to the ridge crest was under my belt, and I was almost growing reaccustomed to my burden of supplies by the end of the day. And that seven miles put me less than ten Appalachian Trail miles from Maine.

 

Still September 12, 1983. Still Chapter 22.

Things were looking up. When I started day hiking, I enjoyed the feeling of an almost empty pack. Now I was enjoying my escape from the tyranny of the day hiking schedule, where I must make it to a certain point each day by a certain time. Time to carry my life with me on my back once again. 

Looking back on the day, the Mahoosuc Range had been purported to be one of the toughest sections of the entire Appalachian Trail. With that in mind, the climb up Mount Hayes had not been nearly as bad as I expected. It was a much better trail than those I had been hiking the past couple of days. As a matter of fact, it was the nicest piece of trail I had seen on a major climb since Vermont. A few portions were extremely steep, but most of the ascent had been fairly moderate.

Atop Mount Hayes, the Centennial Trail, on which the AT had climbed out of the Androscoggin Valley, had ended. The AT had turned onto the Mahoosuc Range Trail, which it would be following all of the way to Grafton Notch in Maine. This older trail was not quite as nice as the Centennial, but it still was not bad. It, too, was a lot better than the Carter-Moriah Trail.

 

Still September 12, 1983. Still Chapter 22.

After Cascade, a long, steep descent dropped into Trident Col, a deep cleft in the mountain range.

A fine view of the Carter-Moriah-Wildcat Range. I could only imagine the pics I would have shot there had either day been anything like this day, weatherwise.

At the bottom of Trident Col, I took the short side trail to Trident Col campsite. Secluded in a hushed grove of thick evergreens, my latest home featured carefully manicured beds of soft, rock-free soil at every tent site. I snagged the one closest to the water source and the latrine. It was easy -- I was the lone soul there the night of September 12, 1983. I arrived at the campsite at 6:00 p.m., pitched my tent, fixed my dinner, and sat back to observe the deepening twilight as nightfall descended upon the mountains.

 

With that, and the last few pics from Mount Cascade, we come to the end of September 12, 1983. The next day, I was going to attempt to cover about fifteen miles to Full Goose Shelter. If I made it, that would put me less than two miles from the famous scramble through Mahoosuc Notch and the subsequent plunge straight up Mahoosuc Arm. I could then tackle that killer stretch early in the following day while still relatively fresh. Whatever happened, tomorrow I would be in Maine, the final frontier.

 

Still Chapter 22.

My final night in New Hampshire was frigid -- colder than any since the Smokies. Gathering up the ambition to leave my sleeping bag was a major undertaking the next morning, September 13, 1983. I finally managed the feat at around 7:40. By the time I hit the Appalachian Trail, it was almost 9:00. Needless to say, I could no longer mess around like that in the mornings now that the days had grown so short.

From the campsite, the trail slabbed the east slope of the Trident, a three-headed mountain whose summits rose above the north end of Trident Col. There were many views along this stretch southeastward into the Androscoggin valley.

 

In one spot, the river widened into a large pond and a railroad cut across it on a long bridge. Mount Moriah, the last peak of the Carter-Moriah-Wildcat section of the Appalachian Trail rose in the background, with a maze of outlying White Mountain peaks and valleys stretching out towards the horizons.

The day was turning out at least as fine as Friday, the day on which I hiked the northern Presidentials.

 

Still September 13, 1983. Still Chapter 22.

This morning's trail continued to be a pleasant surprise -- a lot of ups and downs, but, for the most part, they could be covered while walking upright rather than scratching and clawing on all fours.

Open rock ledges was the theme of the morning.

 

Still September 13, 1983. Still Chapter 22.

The first highlight on the Appalachian Trail today was Page Pond, a lovely little beaver pond atop a high plateau surrounded by low peaks.

The water sparkled an incredible deep blue just a couple of shades darker than the brilliant blue sky. A distinct chill enlivened the air, contrasting with the warm sunshine.

 

Still September 13, 1983. Still Chapter 22.

I'm still not done. More AT pics here.