Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Back to New England Hiking - Eisenhower, Pierce, and Jackson - August 17, 2013

Less than a week after getting back from a week-long hiking/touring trip in California, and fresh off my first 14,000-footer, I went back to New Hampshire. What can I say, hiking withdrawl stinks. Actually, what really did it was Theresa asking if I wanted to do a Franconia Ridge traverse on Sunday going up Skookumchuck Trail and down to Lincoln Woods. That had been on my hit list for a while. But I am getting ahead of myself.

As I pretty much never head all the way to the Whites unless I hike at least 2 days, I had to come up with something for Saturday. Looking at the weather (which was for sunny skies) and my remaining peaks on my quest for all the New Hampshire 4000-Footers in calendar year 2013 (a feat I did in 2012), I opted for a wandering trip through the Southern Presidentials: Eisenhower, Pierce, and Jackson. To spice it up, I wanted to add some new-to-me trails. Therefore, I found myself at the Crawford Path trailhead on Mount Clinton Road, hitting the road at the leisurely (for me) hour of 9AM (getting up early just wasn't in the cards this morning, but I had plenty of time).

First up was a 2.25 mile roadwalk (which took me 35 minutes this morning) on Mount Clinton Road to my first new trail of the day: Edmand's Path. One of the oldest trails in the White Mountains, it was reputed to have moderate grades and terrific footing the whole way. While I agree the grade isn't bad (it is flat early, then steady but not steep the rest of the way to the ridge), the footing isn't that great in my opinion. I've seen many trails with far worse footing, however, so it was fine. I made great time motoring up this trail, passing well over a dozen total people (something I rarely do at least on uphills), and making the summit of Eisenhower at 11:30.

View near the top of Edmand's Path

A rare cloudless Mount Washington summit

The final climb to Eisenhower from the Edmand's Path/Eisenhower Loop junction

Mount Franklin to the North

Mount Franklin from near the summit of Mount Eisenhower

A spiderweb of trails (many are actually herd paths people have trampled through the alpine vegitation) at the Crawford Path/Eisenhower Loop/Edmand's Path junction area

Cog Railroad car on the side of Mount Washington

Eisenhower's summit carin
While a little windy, the views were nice and I was a little tired from an aggressive climb to here (and the humidity - it was a LOT drier in California!), and it was snack/nap time. Naps on the 48, maybe that needs to be the next list I do!

The summit area of Mount Isolation on the other side of the Dry River Wilderness

Pano North from Eisenhower

Jefferson, Clay, Washington, Monroe, and Franklin to the North

Mount Monroe

A few fleeting clouds playing on Mount Washington now

I found the Washburn survey pin on Eisenhower! Only a few left to find now. (Hint: this one is not quite at the summit carin)
Nap time over, I made my way over to Pierce, following the gently rolling Crawford Path. The usual mud bogs were present in the various cols between the peaks, but recent trail work has replaced many of the bog bridges, so it all was fine. It really is a pretty mild trek to Pierce from here. There were a lot of people on Pierce, and I was thinking of baked goodies at Mizpah Hut, so I snapped a few pictures and bugged out immediately.

Eisenhower from the climb up Pierce

Summit cairn on Pierce

Mizpah Hut
Arriving at the always-busy hut, I found I was too late for baked goodies, as they were all gone. Oh well. Trail snacks and another short nap later, and I was on my way to Jackson. Greatly appreciative of the new (well, they are a year or so old now) bog bridges in the massive mud bog below the summit of Jackson, I made good time to the summit where I was shocked to find only one other person, who funnily enough was taking a nap. Taking the requisite pictures, I moved to another ledge and took my 3rd short nap of the day (what can I say, it was a nice day to just lay in the sun for 15 minutes at a time!).

Extensive bog bridging on the way to Jackson (some old ones are belly-up under the mud next to these!)

Mizpah Hut from Jackson

Northern Pano from Jackson

Jackson summit cairn (astute observers will notice the 2 people when I said there was only one there - this duo came up briefly while I was taking pictures and then left immediately)

Southern Pano from Jackon - Webster on the left, and Willey-Field-Tom next over
Nap over, it was time to descend. I had toyed with the idea of hitting Webster too, but I was tired and a long day loomed the next day, so down it was. I had forgotten just how rough the Jackson Branch of the Webster-Jackson Trail is for descent. It was less than pleasant, but eventually I was below the worst of it and on my way to the trailhead on Route 302. Reaching that, I hung a right along the road, and quickly hopped onto the Saco Lake Trail, my other red-line of the day. This trail is merely an alternative to the short roadwalk along the Saco Lake, but it was a pleasant and flat one, and one I enjoyed immensely. That over, it was just a short walk up the road to the Mount Clinton Road and shortly up there was my car. A beautiful, enjoyable, and somewhat leisurely hike (I was moving fast when moving, but the naps were enjoyable!) was in the books.

Crawford Depot from the Saco Lake Trail
Route: Mount Clinton Road walk, Edmand's Path, Mount Eisenhower Loop, Crawford Path, Webster Cliff Trail, Webster-Jackson Trail, Saco Lake Trail, Route 302 walk
Peaks: Eisenhower (4760', NH4K), Pierce (4310', NH4K), Jackson (4052', NH4K)
Mileage: 13 miles
Elevation Gain: 3750'
Book Time: 8hr 25min (actual: 7hr 40min)

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