Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Mt. Eisenhower, Mt. Pierce, & Mt. Jackson - May 1st, 2011

Well I am happy to add a little prelude to this trip report with some excited sightings not far before the trail head. While driving on Route 153 just south of 302, I came across 3 black bears coming out of the woods and onto a side road, just wandering. On Route 302, after I had stopped at the Irving and was headed to the trail head, I came across 2 large moose. The smaller of the 2 I saw is pictured. It was exciting to see the bears, and believe me, it was in the back of my mind, I could easily encounter one on the trail too!

The plan was to summit Mt. Eisenhower, Mt. Pierce, and Mt. Jackson. Everything about this trip was going great until I lost my camera between Pierce and Jackson. This was such a disappointing moment because with the beautiful weather, I had taken so many great photos and videos. Of course, I also look forward to writing about it and sharing those photos, so certainly I was pissed, but the only thing I could do was remain positive, enjoy the views for myself, and return safely.

I began at the Mt. Clinton Road parking area, and headed up the Crawford Connector around 7:20am. The Crawford Connector is a .4 mile section that takes you to the Crawford Path. Once on the Crawford Path, it ascends moderately all the way to Mizpah Cut-Off. After that, it is less moderate until the Webster Cliff Junction. The Crawford Path to the Webster Cliff junction was occasionally muddy in the beginning, and then mostly a wide monorail to the junction. I bare-booted as well as had to put on the spikes twice here.

Eisenhower in distance
The view was tremendous at the junction. Mt. Monroe and Mt. Washington looked so darn close from there, it was amazing. You should have seen what was going on in my mind! The Crawford Path to Mt. Eisenhower had a severely declining monorail, but the terrain is relatively flat until you begin the ascent up Eisenhower. Here though, the snow is gone, as are my spikes, and I enjoyed the ascent up Eisenhower, which offers man-made steps and a few naturally tricky rock slabs. I was rewarded with great close-up views of Monroe and Washington, along with sprawling and crystal clear views over the Dry River Wilderness and beyond. Great views from my 13th peak of the year. Thanks to Victor (who actually lives 2 cities over from me on the North Shore) for the sandwich-break chat about bagging the 48 and some his 14ers out in Colorado. Oh yeah, and thanks to the lady at the Irving on 302 for making that sandwich from scratch at 7am!

View from Eisenhower
So with the sun getting hotter, I headed back on the Crawford Path to the Webster Cliff Trail. The hike was uneventful through this section as I made it to the cairn at the summit of Mt. Pierce, my 14th peak of the year, without any issues. The views again were amazing looking back at Eisenhower. The trail between Mt. Pierce and Jackson got a bit more difficult. Going down the Webster Cliff from Pierce was a challenge in the melting snow. There was more than a monorail in this section, but easy to post-hole. The trail switch-backs a couple of times, evens out, then begins to ascend again. Here is where it got real tricky for me. Just like the last trip, I had trouble staying on the trail in a particular section.

The area where I missed the trail was before the final ascent of Jackson. I must have been off the trail about 50 yards or so. For some reason, I kept going a little bit longer than I should have, but the trees were fairly sparse, and I thought I would find a marker or the trail rather easily, but I was more than just a few yards from the trail, and then the spruce closed in. After a little bit, I decided to head back in the NE direction and ascend, knowing I had to ascend. I found a large rock, and then I was able to see other hikers ascending Jackson. It was a relief to find the trail, but I wasn't that far off. I essentially did a backwards C off Webster Cliff right before Jackson...somehow.

Through all this mayhem and thickening spruce, I lost my camera. It fell off my gorillapod and is somewhere on the mountain, and not near the trail, so no one passing through will find it. I did retrace my snowshoe prints back through the thick spruce to the last placed a took a break at and remembered having my camera. I then retraced back slowly looking out for it, but could not spend more time looking. I was truly disappointed. I have to make sure I find a way to secure the camera to me at all times. With every picture I had taken so far gone, I was devastated, but I took of my snowshoes and ascended to the muddy summit of Jackson, my 15th summit of 2011.
Me on Mt. Jackson
Mt. Jackson was the resting place for dozens of hikers when I arrived. A gentleman was nice enough to take my picture and a friendly couple and I found the Webster-Jackson Trail before I before I began to pick up the pace down. The Webster-Jackson Trail was a complete monorail all of the way down. The lower part of the Webster-Jackson was muddy in many places, and the rivers were starting to flow nicely. I stopped at the cliff view to take a rest before heading down to the highway. When I got to Saco

I plan to head back in a few weeks for an attempt to find my camera, which is waterproof, freeze proof and shock proof. The pictures you see with this post were taking from my Iphone, and I only have them because I had cell service and was able to provide my family and friends with photo updates via Facebook. 33 more peaks to go!