Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Mt. Pierce and Jackson and I've got Peak Fever

It’s Day Two of the Presidential New Hampshire vacation. The sun is shining and we’ve selected a slightly less ambitious hike. Still two peaks but instead of 5300, and 5600 fters we’re gearing down to 4100 and 4500 ft. The idea being to take it a little easier today but still bag a few peaks and enjoy some fantastic scenery.

Parking at the Crawford Notch parking lot we started up on the Crawford Path. The sign at the trail head informed us that this was the oldest, most continuously hiked trail in the United States. Initially established as an easier means for Victorian tourists to summit Mt. Washington it was at one point expanded to a horse trail (making it even easier), until replace by the Cog Railroad, which was replaced, or put into competition with the road. (Can it get any easier to get to one of the harshest places on the East Coast? And why do so many people want to go there?)

But back to the Crawford Path. It is a nice 3.3 mile trail up to the summit of Mt. Pierce with a steady incline and no technical sections, but still an incline that was made more enjoyable with the use of hiking poles.

…and the view from the summit of Mt. Pierce is stunning. We arrived around 11:00, just as the higher clouds had lifted off Mt. Eisenhower to the North. The air was so clear we could almost see the cairn on the top clearer than we could yesterday when we were standing right next to it. As we stood and watched the clouds lifted off the top of the next mountain. We debated which mountain was Monroe, which Washington, which was Jefferson. With the final lift however, it became clear. Mount Washington stood tallest and we could figure the rest out from there. And it was then and there that I really decided...well, why not climb them all? See what the world looks like from each and everyone of them. Join the community that knows that, that shares a common language of peaks, of New England weather knowledge, an intimacy with the many trails that leads to each and every one of them. Be here in this part of New England, playing, peak after peak.

The view was so nice, so well deserved, especially after yesterday's fog fest that we decided to have lunch there on the rocks where we could take it all in. Two other hikers were there, a rabbit, a weasel (I believe one had lunch on its mind also) and two Gray Jays that were definitely in feeding mode. We enjoyed our peanut butter and apple butter sandwiches, and they enjoyed our raisins and peanuts. Right out of S’s hand. They’d sit in the firs right next to us and wait until he held out his hand with some goodies, then they’d take turns flying in and snacking. They weren’t in any hurry and would just sit in his hand and fill up taking as much as 5 good sized peanuts in the beaks (pouches?) before flying off. When we decided they’d had enough the continued to eye us but smart enough to not be fooled by and empty hand.

After lunch we headed east on the Webster-Jackson Trail realizing that in our calculations for today’s hike we (or maybe it was just me) hadn’t figured in the fact that’d we’d need to descend, then ascend between the two peaks. But it wasn’t that bad. The AMC's Mitzph hut, a trailside grouse that wasn’t phased by our passing, and a nice mountain bog added to the hike. Once on the summit of Mt. Jackson (named not for President Jackson, but rather for Charles Jackson a 19th century New Hampshire state geologist) we had another nice stop and some more amazing views of the Presidentials. I attempted to shoot a 360 degree panorama. We’ll see how it comes out.

On the summit we crossed paths with what could possibly be the last of the thru hikers. Four young guys on their way to Katadin, in a bit of a hurry).

The trail down, the Webster Jackson connector, was a bit steep, but have I mentioned that I have hiking poles?

1 comment:

Cliff Calderwood said...

I hiked Mt Washington in August with my son - second ascent in three years. The weather was not that great - cold rain - and it had rained most of the week before so everything was slippery. But once you get the Presidential Range fever it doesn't seem to matter you just go for it, and enjoy one of the most unique places in New England and the northeast.

Glad you're having a great hiking vacation. The foliage views must be stunning!