Great Gully Trail King Ravine - August 25, 2018
I get a semi early start and arrive at the Appalachia trailhead it's 7:45 in the morning but it's already packed and I park on the side of the road. There's a ranger tent setup and lots of people milling around the parking lot. This is the exact opposite atmosphere I wanted so I quickly hit the trail and have a slight up tempo pace on the lower portion. I start following the Airline trail then Shortline trail towards King Ravine trail. I pass a few groups going up, but once on King Ravine it is much quieter. I'm trying not to push myself too hard because it is my first hike of the season although I feel some strain even before it starts to get really steep.
This route is shorter than coming from Lowe's Path and it's nice that I'm quickly on the ravine floor. The scenery gives me new energy and it's not too long before I am at the junction for the Subway. I passed on the Subway and Ice Caves last time I was in King Ravine and decided I would do Subway this time. Soon I was jumping across boulders where one slip and I would be stuck deep in a hole in the ground. I had expected more underground, the first half of the trail was almost all boulder hopping. At times the blazes are difficult to follow and I have to spend some time searching, there often isn't an obvious trail to follow and on this trail any obstacle is fair game for the trail to follow. The cave portion is equally tricky and navigating down and over safely took careful consideration, several spots had large drops to account for others you had to fit through a small and awkward sized hole. It's relatively short, though still took longer than I expected, and I'm happy when it's over.
Mossy Falls Stream
From there I go onward towards the Great Gully trail. The beginning is grassy and muddy and it slowly gets steeper and transitions to steep and rocky. The trail it is much more overgrown than many others on the presidentials, but it's also easy to follow since there is only one way forward and no misleading side trails. About halfway up I reach a couple and I hear them shout something, "I have a blade!". I was wondering what they could possibly be talking about and wondered if there was a problem, then I pieced together it was "I found a blaze!" and realized I hadn't even been looking for blazes.
Partway Up Great Gully
The Great Gully trail becomes very steep and except for a few places where it crossed the stream is not too muddy or slick. I splash some stream water on my face and take in the beautiful small water fall cascading down. At this point I'm going in spurts and feeling pretty low on energy, I rest several times and snack. Usually I don't get very hungry while I'm moving, today I'm glad to have extra food I picked up on the way. At some point I measure my heart rate at 192 and as long as I'm moving upwards it stays around 180. Soon from pictures I recognize the crux move on the gully trail, I was almost disappointed it wasn't the shear drop I had expected. I squeeze through that gap and keep going. Just above the crux there are a couple other sections with more slip potential along some small ledges although they did not have a large drop, these felt more dangerous.
Great Gully Crux Move
After I make it out of the gully and to the top of the ravine and still far below Mt. Adams I stop and rest for a while. Normally I like to push myself to rest as little as possible, but I'm actively trying to not over strain my legs and also I fear it will be a circus on the summit of the mountain, so I take as much peace and quiet here as I can. At this point I decide to only do Adams and not Madison as originally planned and to take Airline down.
The rest of the way to the summit of Adams is tiring and uneventful, there is a light breeze and it keeps me at the perfect temperature. As I get higher there are some clouds rolling in from the south. At the top the clouds come and go visibility stays pretty good but the far summits are obscured. There aren't as many people on the summit as I was expecting, maybe 8 people. Again I rest a good while here and eat a bit more, my muscles are feeling sore and tired, but I'm feeling otherwise great. As I make my way down my legs are noticeably shaky and I give Mt. Madison and the Hocker ridge in the distance one last look of consideration before continuing down Airline. While above the trees I stop and rest every so often and look out over the ravine, the weather is clear again. There are a lot of people coming up Airline even this late in the day which made me wish I picked something more remote to get back. The further I go and more tired I get the more content I am with my choice to take Airline down instead of something longer or more difficult.
As I get closer to the bottom my feet and calves are getting very sore, my knees start to hurt just a tad, but it's not the sharp pain I'd felt on my last several hikes the past season, so it doesn't bother me. The trail feels relentlessly steep and rocky considering I had it pegged as an easy trail in my mind. Finally the rocks give way to soft ground and it's not so steep any more. By this point I had passed a few people also descending but it's peaceful and quiet and nobody else is coming up. I have just enough energy to enjoy this portion of the hike soon I pass the familiar sections from the way up and then I'm back at the parking lot.
Full loop on google earth satellite view
Time: 7 hours
Cumulative Elevation Gain: 4476'