Home » 2009 White Mountains Backpacking Trip

Square Ledge, Pinkham Notch, NH

Saturday, June 6, 2009 - 3:00pm by Andrew
8 miles and 7 hours from our last stop - 1 night stay


View of Madison Hut from Mt. Madison SummitView of Madison Hut from Mt. Madison SummitThe caretakers wanted to make sure that the paying customers didn't wake up to Nik and I (two very grimy and filthy hikers at this point) sleeping under the tables that they were about to be eating a finely prepared meal at, so they woke us up as soon as they began cooking breakfast. We hung around for a while debating whether or not we should stick around for leftover eggs, but eventually decided against it and hit the trail. We only had 1/2 a mile to the summit of Madison, so we decided we'd head up there for breakfast.

Madison SummitMadison SummitThe climb up Madision, although short, was a bit tiring as neither of us had our morning energy source of coffee and oatmeal, which we had come to depend on. It was, however, a really nice change to eat breakfast on top of a mountain, rather than at our campsite. Before we continued on we managed to get a few pictures of the two of us thanks to an early-morning hiker passing by.

Breakfast on MadisonBreakfast on MadisonWe headed down Madison along the Osgood Ridge, which turned out to be pretty slow hiking because of the uneven rocky terrain, which we were both getting very sick of very fast. Every step forward required a great deal of thought. Eventually the trail flattened out a bit and we came across a river where we dunked out heads and scrubbed our bodies a little - the closest to showering we had gotten so far.

Chilling at Pinkham Notch Visitor CenterChilling at Pinkham Notch Visitor CenterAnother highlight of today's hike was crossing the road that leads hundreds of cars up to the summit of Mt. Washington. We designated a spot on the side of the road as our lunch spot where we sat passing back and forth a block of cheese and a jar of peanut butter. We spent a good hour or so watching cars drive by, staring at us two bums eating on the side of the road. Once again the contrast between families driving up in minivans and us sitting us on the side of the road shirtless was quite humorous.

Square Ledge from Pinkham Notch Visitor CenterSquare Ledge from Pinkham Notch Visitor CenterEventually we made our way to Pinkham Notch, another civilized area with a Visitors Center that looks up at the East Side of Washington with Tuckerman's Ravine. We had originally planned on staying at a campsite in Pinkham Notch, but we soon learned at the Visitors Center that there was no such campsite where one can legally stay for free. However, the nice lady we spoke to did inform us that there was a this overlook called Square Ledge about a 1/2 mile away that some people camp on. While technically not legal, she didn't seem to think that anyone would bother us. We loved the idea and decided to give it a shot. Before that, however, we decided to continue with the theme of the day - people watching. We sat on the porch of the visitors center for a good hour or so shooting the breeze and watching people hike by.

Washington from Square LedgeWashington from Square LedgeEventually we got ourselves moving again, and pushed on for what was a very steep 1/2 mile that lead us to what was to be our nicest campsite of the trip. The ledge provided an unbelievable view of Mt. Washington where we sat out for a while snacking before cooking dinner. The sky over Washington looked ominous and we feared that we had a storm coming our way. We decided that it might not be the best idea to set up the tent on the exposed ledge, so we headed back into the woods a bit and found a little clearing that the Agnes fit in perfectly.

Backcountry Tent SiteBackcountry Tent SiteWe had an unbelievable view and morale was high, so we decided to treat ourselves to some quality food - the overpriced Mountain House freeze-dried Chicken and Rice. Nik and I were very skeptical, but the meal turned out to be unbelievable. The ease of cooking, lightweight packing, and delicious taste almost made it worth the cost. Not to mention these meals are probably much healthier and more balanced than the traditional 4 servings of rice that we ate most of the other nights.

Snacking on Square LedgeSnacking on Square LedgeAfter dinner came Nik's moment of genius - a bear-bag technique that was so innovative that it almost canceled out our previous days' bear-bagging ineptitude. Rather than hanging our 4 ditty bags full of food, trash, pots and pans in a tree, we decided to hang it over the ledge. There were obvious risks that came with this, such as dropping all of our food and cooking equipment 40 feet off a cliff, but this was a risk we were willing to take. The bagging turned out to be a great success and was also by far our most effective protection of food from wildlife of the trip

It appeared at this point that the storm was going to miss us, but we made sure to keep our bags covered in the vestibule of the tent just in case. We went to bed early as usual, hoping to wake up early to get a good start on our last full day on the trail.

Square Ledge, Pinkham Notch location map

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