White Mountains Direttissima Trip Report
**Disclaimer about the categorization as unsupported** I took water from the AMC Huts and used their composting toilets. I deferred to the judgement of the folks who run Fastest Known Time about whether my hike should be considered Unsupported or Self-Supported, and it was decided that the huts are a White Mountains tradition, and that using the free services at the huts should not disqualify from being unsupported.
About 70% of my calories came from Infinit nutrition powder, and the other 30% came from power bars. I didn’t bring a cook system on my hike. Additionally, I left my backpack and carried a hydration pack for all out and back sections. When I mention doing an out and back section, you can assume that I was using a hydration pack.
Finally, I am aware that SPOT devices kind of suck in New Hampshire, and my GPX files from the SPOT device from obvious holes in them. I hope that this trip report, my Strava tracks, and the SPOT GPX files create a bullet proof case when put together. I also have pictures of my watch with the date and time at the top of almost every mountain, if anyone wants to see those.
7/24/2020 – Day 1
I set out for my first out and back up Moosilauke at 4:23am. Rain had come through the day before and the trail was damp, but other than being cloudy the conditions were fine. I summited Moosilauke at 5:34am. I then set off towards the Kinsmans. The trail conditions were solid and I made good time, reaching South Kinsman at 10:19am and North Kinsman at 10:44am. From there I hiked down to the Lonesome Lake Hut where I grabbed water before heading up Cannon. By then the weather had become nice and mostly sunny. After grabbing Cannon at 12:48pm, I made my way down to 93 and headed up the Falling Waters Trail to Franconia Ridge.
After getting to the top of Little Hay Stack I took a long out and back to Liberty and Flume, peaking them at 4:22pm and 4:42pm, respectively. I then went across Franconia Ridge to Lincoln and Lafayette, reaching those peaks at 6:04pm and 6:27pm, respectively. I decided to go around Garfield Ridge rather than trying the Lincoln Slide bushwhack, so I kept on going to Garfield. After peaking Garfield at 7:54pm, I went into the Pemi Wilderness and finished the day at the 13 Falls tent site.
7/25/2020 – Day 2
I set out for the long out and back to Owls Head at 5:35am, reaching the summit at 7:19am. After backtracking I headed to Galehead, reaching the summit around 10:30am. After grabbing water from the Galehead Hut, I took the steep climb up South Twin to the summit at 11:32am. The weather was crystal clear all day, and this was the one time on the trip that I applied sunscreen. I did the out and back to North Twin, grabbing the summit at 11:58am before continuing along the pemi loop. I did the out and back to Zealand, grabbing the summit at 1:33pm.
Continuing along the Pemi loop, I made quick work of West Bond, Bond, and Bondcliff, grabbing the peaks at 2:25pm, 2:48pm, and 3:17pm, respectively. I then headed down to the East Branch of the Pemi River, which is a wide and rocky river that I needed to ford in order to get to the trail that leads to the Hancocks. I continued on to the Hancocks, summiting South Hancock at 7:13pm and North Hancock at 7:39pm. I continued beyond the Hancocks and stealth camped near Kancamagus Highway.
7/26/2020 – Day 3
I began day 3 at 4:28am by climbing up the Osceolas, reaching East Osceola at 5:51am and Mount Osceola at 6:16am. Another glass day weather wise, but I was concerned because my phone showed possible thunder storms set to roll in the next morning. I continued over to Tecumseh, peaking it at 8:53am. I headed down to the base of the ski area and then started a road walk over to the Tripyramids. Middle Tripyramid was one of the 4000 footers that I had not hiked before, and it was much more difficult than I had expected for a mountain in the Sandwich Range. I got to the top at 12:19pm before doing an out and back to North Tripyramid, grabbing the peak at 12:34pm. I then headed over to Mount Whiteface and Passaconway, reaching the summits at 2:19pm and 3:44pm respectively.
After descending Passaconway I headed towards Carrigain on the Sawyer Pond trail. After a few easy and flat miles, I stopped at the Sawyer Pond campsite sometime between 7:15 and 7:45pm.
7/27/2020 – Day 4
Technically day 4 started during day 3. I was concerned about the thunderstorms that were supposed to roll in mid-morning on day 4, so I decided to night hike. I slept from about 8:30pm-11:15pm on day 3, and then I got up and got back on the trail at 11:52pm. I went up FR58 toward Carrigain, which has evidently not been a fire road for many years. It was incredibly overgrown and difficult to follow at night. Eventually I made it to the Signal Ridge Trail and summited Carrigain at 2:45am. Carrigain was the last NH 4000 footer that I had never hiked before, and I found it rather anticlimactic to finish the NH 48 in the pitch black.
I kept going towards Zealand on the Shoal Pond Trail, which may be my least favorite trail of all time. Even though it had not yet rained the trail was soaking wet, muddy, and overgrown almost the entire length. I saw four different moose during this stretch and was startled by a fifth large animal somewhere to my right that I could never lay eyes on. I started getting rained on as a reached the Zealand Hut, where I grabbed water and then did an out and back to Hale, grabbing the peak at 7:49am. I did not document exactly when I hit Field and Willey because I was still under the impression that I was racing thunderstorms, but the weather began to clear right before I hit Tom at 11:31am. The thunder thankfully never arrived.
I headed down to the Highland Center where I took a break and allowed my shoes and socks to dry out as the sun had come out. I then headed up Crawford Path to the Mizpah Hut. I set up my tent nearby and did a quick out and back to Jackson, reaching the summit at 5:25pm. I got some great sleep that night to make up for the short sleep the night before, sleeping from about 7:30pm to 4:00am.
7/28/2020 – Day 5
The next morning, I was again nervous as there was a chance of thunderstorms from mid-morning on. I got on trail at 4:59am and traversed the southern presidentials as quickly as I could manage, summiting Pierce, Eisenhower, and Monroe at 5:22am, 5:55am, and 6:42am respectively. I then went up and summited Washington as quickly as possible, hitting the summit at 7:30am. From the time I summited Eisenhower almost to Isolation I was in the clouds with very strong wind and moderate but sideways and pelting rain. Again, luckily the thunderstorms never arrived. I took the Camel Trail over to Davis Path, which I followed to the peak of Isolation at 9:17am.
The day had turned from rainy to partly sunny by the time I reached Route 16, and for that I was extremely thankful. I then headed up the Wildcats, hitting Wildcat D and Wildcat at 1:03pm and 1:47pm respectively. The climb up Wildcat is another that is sneaky difficult, but I did this climb on my AT thru-hike last year, so I knew what to expect. After watering up at the Carter Notch Hut, I continued along the Carter-Moriah Range, hitting Carter Dome, South Carter, Middle Carter, and Mount Moriah at 3:43pm, 4:21pm, 4:46pm, and 6:25pm, respectively. I then descended on the Stoney Brook Trail to Route 16, where I road walked over to the start of the Daniel Webster Scout Trail.
One important note here: the Dolly Copp campground is at the base of the DWS Trail. I found a stealth spot nearby as I felt as though it would be against the spirit of the hike to stay at a paid campground.
7/29/2020 – Day 5.5
I got on trail the last day at 3:43am, reaching the top of Madison as the sun was rising at 5:32am. This last day was absolutely sublime weather wise. I made my way across the northern presidentials, hitting Adams and Jefferson at 6:12am and 7:01am. I then descended on the Caps Ridge trail and took the long 12-mile road walk over to the beginning of the Star King Trail. I was pushing myself pretty hard through these last miles as I wanted to put down as good a time as I could. I summited Waumbek at 12:43pm and then began the lengthy and overgrown hike on the Kilkenny Ridge trail over to Cabot. I finally reached the summit of Cabot at 4:04am, making my “trailhead to last summit time” 5 days, 11 hours and 41 minutes. However, tradition is to use the “trailhead to trailhead” time as the official time, so I motored down Cabot to York Pond Road, reaching my final destination at 5:28pm, giving me a time of 5 days, 13 hours, and 5 minutes.
Day 1 – Moosilauke through Garfield https://www.strava.com/activities/3835393088
Day 2 – Owl’s Head through Hancocks https://www.strava.com/activities/3835406415
Day 3 – Osceolas through start of Tecumseh https://www.strava.com/activities/3835415277
Day 3 – Tecumseh through Sawyer Pond https://www.strava.com/activities/3835422547
Day 4 – Sawyer Pond through Highland Center https://www.strava.com/activities/3835429844
Day 4 – Highland Center through Mount Jackson https://www.strava.com/activities/3835432047
Day 5 – Pierce through Moriah https://www.strava.com/activities/3835442373
Day 5.5 – Madison through Cabot https://www.strava.com/activities/3835452329