Monday, March 25, 2013

W48-in-1: Monroe & Eisenhower (Washington too) - 3/9/13


Saturday, March 9th was one of the best winter days on the Presidential Range. My goal for the day was Mt. Monroe and Eisenhower for #44 and #45 on the winter season. As I readied in the parking lot just below the cog, it was rapidly filling up with cars. I started off up the road to the start to the trail, ahead of a large group preparing to start. The trail was very nicely broken out, and it was a beautiful morning to be heading towards the top of New England. All along the way up, I had clear shots of the summit of Washington. This was just an awesome day to hike the Ammo Trail for the first time in winter. Loved it!
Mt. Washington from the lower cog lot 
Mt. Washington from the Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail 
As I neared tree-line, I noticed I had gone off the actual trail, and was left of it. The actual trail stays mostly in the trees until the hut, but I was following some previous days tracks. Although it added some difficulty, I got some unique views of the slopes, and had some wind because I was exposed. After that, I was happy to get to the hut for a quick break from the wind. Here, I put on snowshoes, which I had on for just about the rest of the time. The snow was awesome above treeline! The wind was making some blow across the slopes, which provided a really unique experience on such a crisp and clear day.

I elected to climb Washington as the out and back and take advantage of the momentum (decreasing elevation) all of the way to Eisenhower and down the Edmands Path. I was mesmerized by the views as I was climbing up Washington. The perfect looking slopes made me wishing I brought my sled. On the way, near the summit, I had some fun with my GoPro's, setting up a couple of shots of me heading up to the summit. I walked across the top marveling at the views I was seeing. I approached the vacant summit sign, and enjoyed my 5th winter summit of Mt. Washington in less than a year and a half. A nice fellow took my picture on the summit. We had a short chat about the mountains, and I was off.
Mt. Washington from near Lake of the Clouds - 1 mile to go
I wanted to go sledding! This looked awesome
Reaching the summit of Mt. Washington 
A cool shot of the guy snapping my summit photo - Thanks!

The Northern Presidentials from the MWO observation deck
But wait! I had walked out onto the observation deck to take some photos with my brother's Canon camera. I had left my pack near the summit, and returned. I don't know how I forgot, but I had left my Olympus camera sitting in the snow right in front of the sign. I made it part way down the cone (maybe .1 or .2mi from summit sign?) before realizing I was missing one of my few cameras I had that day. I couldn't believe it. I decided to leave my pack where I was and run pretty quickly up the steep last pitch to the summit, where it was still sitting there about 30 minutes later after more than a dozen people visiting the summit. If not, someone would have picked it up. Feeling ecstatic about the fact that I did not lose another expensive camera (lost one in 2011), I quickly headed back to my bag. As I was trying to find it, I hiked about 100 feet down further than it was and off to the right of it, which was frustrating, but no big deal. All of this provided me with some challenging decision making, increased heart rate, and it made me re-think ever leaving my pack somewhere for any distance above treeline.

Now back to the good stuff, I was on my way to Monroe. Whenever I look at Monroe from the Crawford Path, it always reminds of that morning on the back end of a Moonlight Presidential Traverse, when I was on my way to finishing the 48 for the first time. What struck me most about this view on this day was being able to see almost all of the Pemi peaks in the background, particularly Lafayette and Franconia Ridge. They looked so small compared to the elevation which I was standing at. Utterly impressive to say the least.

As I neared Lake of the Clouds, I went in a direct line to the Monroe Loop junction, crossing the other Lake of the Clouds, which was pretty sweet. I delayered at the junction as it was much warmer 1,000 feet lower than the summit cone. Because of the incredible forecast, which had the Presi's calling, and active Facebook groups, I was aware that there would be opportunities to run into a few other fellow hikers and bloggers, which I did. Here, I had the pleasure of running into Allison coming down from Mt. Monroe. She keeps her blog, One, Woman, 48 4000-footers which is certainly worth a look for more great reports and photos from the 4000 footers, especially from this same day. It was very nice to meet you.

After the chat, it was a nice climb up to Mt. Monroe. It's always fun, as the cairns wind up the steep summit cone, making you look in every direction on the way up. From the summit, one of my favorites, I continued to enjoy the incredible views in the warm sun. I had the good fortune of meeting another solo hiker on Monroe, John, who lives a few towns over from me, and we hiked most of the way to Eisenhower together. He completed an out-and-back to Monroe from the Highland Center that day, covering 3 Presidential peaks, just as I had.
Mt. Washington summit cone from Mt. Monroe
View southwest from the trail just before the actual summit 
Summit of Eisenhower, peak #45 on the winter 
Arriving at Eisenhower, there were more people enjoying another Presidential Peak. Eisenhower is like Moosilauke with a broad summit (and huge cairn). The Northern Presidentials loomed, but looked so great. After exchanging summit photos, and drinking some water, we parted, and I was off to a new trail for my descent, the Edmands Path. The views from the path below the summit were pulling me to a halt, but as I got into the trees, I was looking forward to getting this done so I could get the most rest for tomorrow. It was such a great day, I already spent way more time above treeline than I had planned for this hike.
Descending the Edmands Path in winter 
Edmands Path had some faint tracks on my descent. It appeared to be packed at times, but it was drifted over very well with a few inches of snow, covering all tracks at times. This proved to be difficult for me right at treeline. In the photo above you will see the ridge on the right. The trail goes over that bump before winding down to the Mt. Clinton Road. I found myself coming short of that. There are lots of spots that look like the trail. I was heading down one of them, and slipped. I let loose a bunch of snow, which covered my left leg up to almost my waist. I started to feel the pressure of the heavy snow tightening a tendon in my foot, which prompted an immediate reaction to the pain to dig myself out. You've got to be kidding me, I still have miles to walk out and my ankle (or the area on the top of the foot, near the ankle) felt like it had been torn by the pressure of the snow.
Lower Edmands Path 
Mt. Clinton Road with Mt. Washington in the background 
Base Station Road walk back to the winter parking at the cog
I babied the foot with light pressure for the rest of the way down to the closed Mt. Clinton Road, and all of the way for the 2+ mile walk back up to the Cog parking lot. It was killing - sharp shooting pain, and my relatively new mountaineering boots were not helping. I was wondering how it was going to be possible for me to hike 23 miles to the Bonds for my single season finish and begin the hike in less than 7 hours at about 1:30am. I took some Advil, picked up a nice chicken parm sub, and went to Lincoln Woods to eat, adjust my pack, change clothes, and get a little rest, especially for the foot.

Hike Stats
Trails: Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail, Crawford Path, Monroe Loop, Eisenhower Loop, Edmands Path, Mt. Clinton Road
Distance: 14.6 miles
Elevation Gain: 4,650 ft.
Actual Book Time: 11:25

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