New Hampshire

Hiking the Presidential Range in New Hampshire | Photos from the Hike of a Lifetime

Two intrepid photographers trekked hut-to-hut across Presidential Range in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, discovering hardship, pain, beauty, and wonder along the way.

By Mel Allen

Jun 13 2016

Opener

Dom on his way from
Madison Spring Hut
to Pinkham Notch: “We were in the clouds as they enveloped and released us into the views of Mount Washington. We were in heaven.”

Photo Credit : Little Outdoor Giants
Dom on his way from Madison Spring Hut to Pinkham Notch: “We were in the clouds as they enveloped and released us into the views of Mount Washington. We were in heaven.”
Dom on his way from Madison Spring Hut to Pinkham Notch: “We were in the clouds as they enveloped and released us into the views of Mount Washington. We were in heaven.”
Photo Credit : Little Outdoor Giants

Late last August, when the adventure was over—after nearly 70 miles of ascending and descending mountain peaks and trekking along boulder-strewn trails, of clambering over rocks, of feeling sweat streak down their bodies, of hearing thunder boom along exposed ridges, of shouldering backpacks that chafed and bruised, of feeling that ache in the knees that was relieved only when they sank into icy mountain pools—when all that ended after 10 days, what Jarrod and Dom knew with certainty was this: how much they would miss it all. They had come here to photograph what many call the most beautiful yet arduous stretch of the entire 2,174-mile Georgia-to-Maine Appa­l­achian Trail: the White Mountains’ Presidential Traverse. They would cross 11 summits while sleeping at each of the eight Appal­achian Mountain Club huts, the oldest mountain-hut system in the country. The huts gave them history and tradition, but also bunks and camaraderie and home-cooked meals that tasted like no other. Each day Jarrod and Dom wrote and painted in a leather-bound journal, and at the end one wrote: “We knew it would be epic and hard and special and mysterious …

The White Mountains are not the majestic, far-off, exotic mountains I always wanted them to be, but now they’re even more special to me—they’re familiar. And they’re home.”—Mel Allen

Days 2–3 Day 2 was “a hard day,” but after dinner Jarrod “shot the sunset from the ridge above [Greenleaf] hut.
Days 2–3
Day 2 was “a hard day,” but after dinner Jarrod “shot the sunset from the ridge above [Greenleaf] hut.
Photo Credit : Little Outdoor Giants
Days 2–3 Hut-crew members (they call themselves “croo”) know that hikers crave fresh, hot meals.
Days 2–3
Hut-crew members (they call themselves “croo”) know that hikers crave fresh, hot meals.
Photo Credit : Little Outdoor Giants
Days 2–3 Jarrod and Dom dutifully recorded each delicious meal: “Steamy bowls of soup fogged up one bank of windows in the dining room, while fresh bread got slathered in butter …”
Days 2–3
Jarrod and Dom dutifully recorded each delicious meal: “Steamy bowls of soup fogged up one bank of windows in the dining room, while fresh bread got slathered in butter …”
Photo Credit : Little Outdoor Giants
Days 2–3 End-to-end AT thru-hikers like Griffin Doninger, here planning his route at Greenleaf Hut, often work a few hours in exchange for a sleeping-pad spot on the floor and fresh meals.
Days 2–3
End-to-end AT thru-hikers like Griffin Doninger, here planning his route at Greenleaf Hut, often work a few hours in exchange for a sleeping-pad spot on the floor and fresh meals.
Photo Credit : Little Outdoor Giants
Days 2–3 Elizabeth Yon heads north along the Garfield Ridge Trail toward Galehead Hut. She wanted to accompany Jarrod and Dom, but one hard trail, which, they wrote, “tossed us around with boulders and spat us back out,” soon took its toll, and she headed down. In a few days she rejoined them.
Days 2–3
Elizabeth Yon heads north along the Garfield Ridge Trail toward Galehead Hut. She wanted to accompany Jarrod and Dom, but one hard trail, which, they wrote, “tossed us around with boulders and spat us back out,” soon took its toll, and she headed down. In a few days she rejoined them.
Photo Credit : Little Outdoor Giants
Day 3 An exhausted Elizabeth Yon weeps into her handkerchief as she finally comes to the end of her “brutal hike” before reaching a place to rest at Galehead Hut.
Day 3
An exhausted Elizabeth Yon weeps into her handkerchief as she finally comes to the end of her “brutal hike” before reaching a place to rest at Galehead Hut.
Photo Credit : Little Outdoor Giants
Day 4 A hand-carved sign indicates that Zealand Falls Hut and its welcome waterfall-fed pools await.
Day 4
A hand-carved sign indicates that Zealand Falls Hut and its welcome waterfall-fed pools await.
Photo Credit : Little Outdoor Giants
Day 4 A thru-hiker with the trail name “Stretch” shows Jarrod his special salve for sore muscles and chafed skin.
Day 4
A thru-hiker with the trail name “Stretch” shows Jarrod his special salve for sore muscles and chafed skin.
Photo Credit : Little Outdoor Giants
Day 4 “Stretch” and “Pizza Man” share thru-hiker stories in the early sun at Zealand Falls Hut.
Day 4
“Stretch” and “Pizza Man” share thru-hiker stories in the early sun at Zealand Falls Hut.
Photo Credit : Little Outdoor Giants
Day 4 Sweet relief from heat and aches: “From the hut porch you could step out onto the smooth ledge and find yourself a cool pool of mountain water to soak your legs in.”
Day 4
Sweet relief from heat and aches: “From the hut porch you could step out onto the smooth ledge and find yourself a cool pool of mountain water to soak your legs in.”
Photo Credit : Little Outdoor Giants
Mount Washington’s summit rises above the clouds and Lakes of the Clouds Hut. Jarrod (pictured here) wrote: “Halfway through dinner the clouds began to part … I grabbed my camera and darted up the mountain. The view was breathtaking as the clouds shifted around and layers of clouds collided. Once dusk came on, you could see city lights on the horizon.”
Mount Washington’s
summit rises above the clouds and Lakes of the Clouds Hut. Jarrod
(pictured here) wrote: “Halfway through dinner the clouds began to part …
I grabbed my camera and darted up the mountain. The view was breathtaking as the clouds shifted around and layers of clouds collided. Once dusk came on, you could see city lights on the horizon.”
Photo Credit : Little Outdoor Giants
Days 5–6 Socked in by weather, they find restful quiet as one hiker, Cynthia Dow, paints with watercolors.
Days 5–6
Socked in by weather, they find restful quiet as one hiker, Cynthia Dow, paints with watercolors.
Photo Credit : Little Outdoor Giants
Days 5–6 Jarrod and Dom reach Mizpah Spring Hut, the AT’s newest, after a 12-mile walk from Zealand Falls.
Days 5–6
Jarrod and Dom reach Mizpah Spring Hut, the AT’s newest, after a 12-mile walk from Zealand Falls.
Photo Credit : Little Outdoor Giants
Days 5–6 Elizabeth Yon, who had rejoined the photographers, joins Jarrod’s nightly cribbage game.
Days 5–6
Elizabeth Yon, who had rejoined the photographers, joins Jarrod’s nightly cribbage game.
Photo Credit : Little Outdoor Giants
Days 5–6 After a day of gorp and peanut butter, hikers at Mizpah Spring Hut enjoy family-style dinner at 6:00 p.m.—sharp.
Days 5–6
After a day of gorp and peanut butter, hikers at Mizpah Spring Hut enjoy family-style dinner at 6:00 p.m.—sharp.
Photo Credit : Little Outdoor Giants
Day 6 Peter Nichol, a Concord, Massachusetts, science teacher, and his son Ayden arrive at Lakes of the Clouds Hut on Mount Washington, the highest hut along the entire AT, after a day hiking through rain and fog. ”No matter the weather, they were always smiling and enjoying the trek.”
Day 6
Peter Nichol, a Concord, Massachusetts, science teacher, and his son Ayden arrive at Lakes of the Clouds Hut on Mount Washington, the highest hut along the entire AT, after a day hiking through rain and fog. ”No matter the weather, they were always smiling and enjoying the trek.”
Photo Credit : Little Outdoor Giants
Day 7 To be a hut “croo” member means the chance to join one of the most revered mountain traditions, requiring endurance and a love of outdoor adventure. Carrying packs weighing anywhere from 40 to 80 pounds, AMC croos supply far-flung huts. Here Lakes of the Clouds croo pack fresh food down to their hut from atop Mount Washington. “I wish I’d done that when I was younger,” Jarrod said. “I’d encourage every college student to do that.”
Day 7
To be a hut “croo” member means the chance to join one of the most revered mountain traditions, requiring endurance and a love of outdoor adventure. Carrying packs weighing anywhere from 40 to 80 pounds, AMC croos supply far-flung huts. Here Lakes of the Clouds croo pack fresh food down to their hut from atop Mount Washington. “I wish I’d done that when I was younger,” Jarrod said. “I’d encourage every college student to do that.”
Photo Credit : Little Outdoor Giants
Day 8 Jarrod and Dom relax in their bunks at Madison Spring Hut. Each day they recorded observations from their journey. After sitting with two brothers at breakfast, Jarrod wrote: “I thought about what it would be like to have a brother to hike with all the time … I guess that’s why I have a Dom.”
Day 8
Jarrod and Dom relax in their bunks at Madison Spring Hut. Each day they recorded observations from their journey. After sitting with two brothers at breakfast, Jarrod wrote: “I thought about what it would be like to have a brother to hike with all the time … I guess that’s why I have a Dom.”
Photo Credit : Little Outdoor Giants
Day 10 AT thru-hikers were filled with stories and became compelling portrait subjects for Jarrod and Dom’s cameras.
Day 10
AT thru-hikers were filled with stories and became compelling portrait subjects for Jarrod and Dom’s cameras.
Photo Credit : Little Outdoor Giants
Day 10 Some 300 more miles lay ahead of them—days of sun and rain—before reaching the summit of Maine’s Mount Katahdin. Only then would they stop.
Day 10
Some 300 more miles lay ahead of them—days of sun and rain—before reaching the summit of Maine’s Mount Katahdin. Only then would they stop.
Photo Credit : Little Outdoor Giants
SEE MORE: High Huts of the White Mountains | Photos