Backpacker

PRESIDENTI­AL RANGE-DRY RIVER WILDERNESS, NH

Score solitude—and a sweet campsite—on this perch.

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Photograph­er John Welch cracked the code to landing solitude in the Presis: Avoid the Appalachia­n Trail, go out in May, and spend the night. Follow his formula on the 9- mile outand- back to the cliff top campsite on 3,468-foot Stairs Mountain, which overlooks a sea of peaks, including Iron Mountain (front), Thorn Mountain (middle), and Kearsarge North (back). This month, you may even luck into low- hanging fog in the valleys, like Welch did; May’s stillcool nights are a good recipe for the inversion eff ect. “Even on Memorial Day weekend, there was only one other party at the campsite,” he says of his favorite spot, which is some 5 miles south of the hordes on the AT’s Presidenti­al Traverse. “By mid- to late May, the valleys are leafi ng out in vibrant greenery, and the redbuds rival New England’s fall foliage.”

To get there, follow the Davis Path from US 302. Cross 3,119-foot Mt. Crawford near mile 2.2, then keep going to fi nd the summit spur near mile 4.4. Peel off to the east to find one of three dispersed tent sites (they’re dry; BYO water). CONTACT www.fs.usda. gov/whitemount­ain

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