We had a good lunch break on Porter's summit. The weather continued to be great, and the cool chill from before had gone away: it was toasty warm now. There were indeed several groups of people on Porter, and over on Cascade's big bare summit we could see scores of people. From this distance, they looked for all the world like ants crawling over the rock.
Like those smile-sad masks
Luke had originally done this hike with me way back in 1995
. He'd had a miserable time, with his feet turning into a painful mass of blisters long before the end of the hike. He'd been a little concerned about how well his blister-prone feet were going to do on this hike, but he happily reported that this time, his feet felt quite fine. A far cry from 13 years ago!
The day was getting on, and we wanted to be back at the trailhead by mid to late afternoon, if possible. So, we continued on, descending to the col between Porter and Cascade, and, not long after, arriving at the junction with the spur trail that led to Cascade's summit.
We couldn't pass up a quick trip up to Cascade's wonderful summit: it was only 1/3 of a kilometer (maybe 300 yards) away! It was really busy with people here, and there were several places where I had to wait quite a while just to let opposing traffic by. I was glad to reach the open rock of the summit and the extra space it offered.
We climbed to the top, Luke still doing well with his feet, and tagged the summit. There were people everywhere! I guess we were just as guilty as everyone else, contributing seven more to the total count on the mountain. Perhaps we should have picked something a little less popular. Still, one couldn't argue with the view, which was excellent, especially to the south. The entire Great Range and the central High Peaks were arrayed out before us.
After we summited, I noticed a team of uniformed people (I initially though they were rangers) showing pictures and forms to people. I sauntered over and inquired. It turned out that they were a group from the University of Vermont running a survey about the impact of people on busy mountaintops in the northeast (no surprise they chose this one). The researcher I was talking to, Carena van Riper, asked "would I be interested in participating?" We needed to head down soon, but I knew that our group would be heading down in a slow and controlled manner, so I agreed to take the survey, fairly sure I could motor along and catch up later. Everyone else headed down, and I remained to fill out the form.
It took about 15 or 20 minutes to complete the survey. First was a showing of alternative pictures of the same mountaintop, photoshopped in various ways so as to show extensive environment damage or no damage, with people or no people, and with trail improvements or no improvements. It was interesting, and some of the questions were hard to answer: for example, would I prefer a summit area without a roped-off walking path but with people walking willy-nilly over the delicate alpine plants? Afterwards came a more convential multiple-choice sort of questionnaire.
If you are interested in seeing the survey, click here
With the survey complete, I headed down, working as best as I could to overcome the distance deficit I'd built up while filling out the survey. The trail was filled with groups of hikers, making it sometimes difficult to pass. I'd say semi-running was the best way to describe my descent.
I was surprised at how bouldery and rocky the trailbed was on the way down. I felt a little guilty, too, because I had told Luke, Sophie, Asmir and Miriam how smooth the trail was on the way down (some in our group have a tendency to sore knees, and a rough downward trail is not super pleasant for them). I guess I've been doing this peak in the winter too often, and had associated this trail with a smooth, covered surface. I promised to apologize when I reached them.
Ouch - Should been more clear
I finally started catching up with our group, which had spread out considerably. I stopped to chat with each little sub-group, and when I got to Luke, we discussed the car shuttle. I'd go down ahead and catch up with Jenn, and then she and I would head down and retrieve the far-end vehicle. This way, no one else would have to wait much (if at all) at the trailhead.
All went according to plan, and Jenn and I fetched the CR-V and had it back and waiting for a good ten minutes or so before the final bit of our group arrived at the trailhead. An excellent hike (except for a couple of tiring bits of trail), and excellent company! Thanks to all of you guys for making it so!
Interactive Trackmap & Photo Points - Porter-Cascade Traverse - Click link below to expand
Porter-Cascade Traverse - Hike Data
* : +/- 75 feet
Total Elevation Gain:
Total Elevation Loss:
* : +/- 75 feet