Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Tuesday Trip Report (2) -- Subway (King Ravine), Chemin des Dames, Airline -- June 10, 2012

Air Line - Short Line - Randolph Path - Short Line into King Ravine, Subway, King Ravine Trail attempt, Chemin des Dames, Air Line, Air Line Cutoff, Air Line (descent).

Finally, a decent weather day!  The girls and I were unusually chipper when we arrived at Appalachia; we'd been waiting to tackle King Ravine's Subway for weeks.

The hike into King Ravine felt moderate by White Mountain standards.  'Twas the typical rocks and roots trek.

Mossy Falls...

Heading into King Ravine...


Choosing the Subway...

Sage doing the only safe ten feet of the Subway trail... 

One of the many boulders we had to scramble over (my backpack is on the top)...

One of the many caves...

It took us an hour and a half to go through those 220 yards, but we did eventually make it!

Have to say, that tiny bit of trail was extremely difficult!  The actual boulders of the Subway aren't any big's the multitude of deep and wide gaps on all sides of those boulders that presents the real danger.  If one slips, there's the potential for a broken limb, death, or outright disappearance into the belly of Mount Adams.  I led the girls through the Subway at a snail's pace and I spotted each of them every time they went up or around anything.  I used my pack and my body to cover various gaps and holes, and I kept a hand on each of them during most of the scrambles.  We got through it, but it took a very long time.

From here, we attempted King Ravine Trail up the headwall, but I turned us around before we got very far.  The trail felt like the Subway in that there are boulders to climb with deep drops all around.  There was one particular boulder we could not conquer; I could not get myself into a secure position to spot the girls.  We looked, pondered, and discussed for long minutes before deciding to go back down and ascend Chemin des Dames.

Chemin des Dames was absolutely perfect.  It's the kind of thing we love -- hands and feet scrambling, but no precarious drops or death zones.  We ascended this gem of a trail quickly and in good spirits.

Takin' a break on the way up...

Sage emerging from the only cave on the trail...

Goin' up!

The climb's length felt just right -- not too short and not too long.  Just when we were ready for it to be over, it was.  There's the sign for Air Line at the top of the headwall.

Once over the headwall, we took a break.

Looking down Air Line before heading toward the hut (I'll never take Valley Way again!)...


The Air Line Cutoff is a flat-ish trail that connects Air Line to Madison Springs Hut.

We ate, we rested, we went back down.

We loved descending Air Line!  The views were spectacular!

A view into King Ravine, from the upper section of Air Line...

Down Air Line...

On the way down, we ran into Jamie, one of the Madison Springs Hut caretakers.  This was the third time I've had the pleasure of meeting Jamie; I first met her at Lonesome Lake Hut three years ago, then Alex and I saw her at Zealand Falls Hut last winter.  We stopped and exchanged greetings before continuing on our way.  Jamie was accompanied by a Greenleaf Hut croo fellow -- after we were out of earshot, both my girls shocked me by commenting on how good-looking this guy was.  Um, I'm not ready to hear that kind of thing just yet...the girls are supposed to be blissfully unaware of the opposite sex until they're at least 28....

We made it to the trailhead just as our feet decided to call it quits.

This was an excellent hike, one that we'll remember for a long time.  If you haven't yet been to King Ravine, go!  The Air Line - Randolph Path - Short Line approach is mellow by White Mountain standards.  You can always skip the Subway if you just want the views, and Chemin des Dames provides a perfect (to us) way to get over the headwall if you don't want to attempt King Ravine Trail.  Once you're over the headwall, you're a hop, skip and a jump from the hut.  Good times.  Just be sure to go on a dry and clear day.


melinda said...

Lovely post and pictures! We hiked the Air Line back in April on the recommendation of someone at Pinkham, and it was gorgeous! I remember standing at the intersection with Chemin des Dames and looking down...very impressed that you and the girls did it (though not at all surprised).

Arkie_in_CT said...

Nice post and pics. Thank you for sharing, Trish. The pose of the girls, flopped on the ground at the end, is darling. We've all felt that way at the end of a long hike, sometimes well before.

Just discovered your blog on reference from Alison Nadler's. Am new to the world of the 4000-footers of New Hampshire, having recently done Moosilauke and Lafayette. Am eager to climb them all.

-Chris Stratton/Arkie

Patricia Ellis Herr, Alexandra Herr, and Sage Herr said...

Hi Melinda,

Air Line is beautiful, isn't it? I'm so glad we descended that route. We've been up Valley Way four times -- VW is sheltered, so it's a nice escape route, but one should never use it on a lovely day. :)

Chemin des Dames isn't too tough or dangerous. It looks a lot steeper than it feels.

Hope to see you out there sometime!

Patricia Ellis Herr, Alexandra Herr, and Sage Herr said...

Hi Chris,

Welcome to the world of NH4K peakbagging! Moosilauke and Lafayette are two of the best -- what a great introduction to the Whites!

You're going to have a blast on your new quest. :)


Arkie_in_CT said...

Hi Trish:

I bagged another, the Big Fellow, Sunday via Jewell, Gulfside, THC, Crawford, Ammo. What a beautiful day, I never needed anything warmer than my shorts and tee shirt, synthetic, of course.

Was possibly the last trip my two-year-old Merrell Moab Ventilators will take, the right one is blowing out at the pinky toe and the left has an ever-widening gash above the big toe, speading leftward. They went something like 750 miles on trail - thanks, old soldiers.

It was my biggest hike to date, most elevation gained and longest, just a bit longer than a Greylock loop I did in April.

Not sure where I'm headed next - am thinking of something in the Pemi area - Bonds, Twins, etc. I love north central New Hampshire!

Cheers and well wishes to you as you mend, and thanks for the delight and inspiration you and your girls provide to me and to many a hiker.

-Chris/Arkie, West Hartford, CT

PS: I post publicly available albums with extensive captions on my FB stream. Still working on the account of this weekend. Feel free to take a look:

Patricia Ellis Herr, Alexandra Herr, and Sage Herr said...

Hi Chris,

Great photos on Facebook! Thanks for sharing the link.

Jewell/Ammo is a fantastic loop hike. Glad you had great weather for it!

For your next adventure...can't go wrong with the Bonds. The walk between Bond and Bondcliff is spectacular on a nice day.

Looking forward to seeing more of your photos!