Tuesday, August 20, 2019

Mt Pierce and Mt Eisenhower

Today's hike: 10.6 mi | 6.5 h | 1.6 mph

I hiked up to Mt Pierce and Mt Eisenhower with Maggie's boy today. The forecast was about as good as it has been all summer, and it seemed like the perfect day to get the views from the summit of Eisenhower.

We started at the Crawford Connector. The hike up to Pierce is a steady, moderate, uphill climb through trees. You break out of the trees just below Mt Pierce, where there are spectacular views out to Eisenhower and off in the distance to Bretton Woods and Omni Mt Washington Resort.

view of Eisenhower from below Mt Pierce

view of Bretton Woods
You have to cut back uphill for a short jog up to the top of Mt Pierce. We found a couple of geodetic survey markers there - sweet!

"U.S. Geological Survey Marker Reference Mark"
"U.S. Geological Survey Marker Bench Mark"
The walk over to Eisenhower should have been easy. The col between the two mountains is not very deep. But it was tiring. It felt like a slog! Despite that, I enjoyed the mountain flora - interesting, tough little plants that looked a bit like broccoli. Even the lichen was beautiful!

flora in the alpine zone below Eisenhower
We stopped for a quick snack at the summit of Eisenhower, and enjoyed more amazing views - 360° around.

view of Mt Washington from Eisenhower
view of Eisenhower as you look back at it, heading towards the Edmands Path trail

We carried on hiking down the Edmands Path trail. I read somewhere that this is supposed to be a very well constructed trail. It was "okay". After descending the trail for about 30 minutes, we both were getting pretty tired. This may be the longest hike I've ever taken. So even though it was fairly easy, with moderate ascents and descents, I was pretty much ready to collapse by the time we got back to the road.

Yeah - the road. We made a big loop hike that's kind of shaped like a square. You start at the parking lot, hike east up Crawford Path to Mt Pierce, hike north to Mt Eisenhower, then hike back down and west to Mount Clinton Road where there's a second parking lot. Then there's a 2.3 mile hike back south on paved Mount Clinton Road to get back to the car. I perked up once I hit the road - that was easy going! Hiking such a big chunk of the trail on tarmac definitely improved our hiking time.

You couldn't ask for a better day to do this hike. I guess it could have been a little cooler. I'm not sure what the temperature was, maybe in the seventies. It was one of those still days, hardly even a breeze, even at the summits, which is rare.

A lot of other people had the same idea as we did. We crossed paths with numerous other hiking groups, and we had to share both Eisenhower and Pierce with others. That was okay, although I prefer more solitary hikes.

I've now hiked 26 4000-footers, so I've now crossed the halfway mark, w00t! Another fantastic day in the Whites!

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Mt Chocorua via Champney Falls Trail

Today's hike: 7.6 mi | 4.5 h | 1.7 mph

I went for a hike up to Mt Chocorua with a friend, today. This was my first big hike of the season!

The bugs are pretty heavy, currently. It's mostly mosquitoes, but also gnats and black flies. Not being a fan of DEET, we used "Human Nature Insect Repel". It seemed to work to keep the bugs away, although we did find we had to reapply it (it was applied a total of 3x during the hike). We didn't collect any ticks on this trip, which was a surprise.

We took the Champney Falls trail. It was unexpectedly wet. My boots are old and sporadically leak. Despite my damp socks, I didn't get any blisters.

It was a beautiful day, and the tourists were out, as well as the bugs. We were mostly able to avoid traffic jams, and the peak of Chocorua was actually not very crowded - just a few small groups were chilling at the top.

Champney Falls
Pitcher Falls or maybe another part of Champney
I've never taken the side trail over to Champney Falls. We did that this time... it was nice, but not spectacular. The sign to the side trail says "Pitcher Falls" and "Champney Falls". I'm not sure what we were looking at. Maybe we saw both.
Looking up at Chocorua
It's always fun as you approach Chocorua's peak. It's rather exposed, and gives my heart a little flutter.
Obligatory USGS Geodetic Survey marker
Awesome wiew from Chocorua!
It was another great day in the Whites! Looking forward to the hiking season...

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

the White Ledge trail again

Today's hike: 4.3 mi | 3.5 h | 1.2 mph

We snowshoed around the White Ledge Loop again, this morning. It was a fabulous, blue-sky day. We'd had some light snow yesterday, and didn't expect to see any broken trail. In fact, it looked like one or two people had been around the entire loop, either yesterday or today.
White Ledge Trail sign submerged in snow
I like to break trail, so it was a little disappointing. However, on a day like today, you can't stay grumpy for long.
Trail on the approach to the lookout. Animal tracks accompanied us most of the way.
We went counter-clockwise. Once you pass the lookout, you get to the really fun section, where there's wide open space, and you can pretty much make your own trail. It's a moderate downhill walk, and you're basically floating on deep snow. Super fun!
Make your own trail!
Nice hike! I hope the snow keeps coming so we can do this a few more times before the season ends.
narrow trail on the way back

Sunday, February 03, 2019

Boulder Loop Trail after the snow

We got some nice snow on Tuesday of last week. So we went back to check out the Boulder Loop Trail.

The parking lot has been completely plowed, now, so there's plenty of parking, once again. Thank you, government workers!

Driving in, we noted a team of perhaps eight people hauling 3-4 sledges. We thought maybe they were going ice-climbing.

Ever optimistic, we left our snowshoes in the car, taking only our Microspikes, and headed in. We passed the people with sledges, and asked what they were doing. Their plan was to go cook a meal, somewhere up on the trail where there's a view. It was quite an undertaking: they were carrying several heavy-duty pots and pans, and even a set of metal folding chairs!

After passing them and taking off on the left branch of the loop, the snow covering the trail began to get just a little choppy. We weren't post-holing, because the trail had been packed down pretty well by snowshoers over the last week. But our feet were slipping, creating divots in the snow, and the going wasn't easy. There were a few windswept areas where the snow deepened, too.

We got to the first lookout, then turned around and came back. In good weather, this would take us less than 30 minutes, but it took us about an hour. We encountered the intrepid team of winter chefs on the way down, struggling upwards with their sledges. I wonder what they made?
windswept Boulder Loop Trail

Friday, January 25, 2019

Boulder Loop Trail after the snow and rain

Today's hike: 2.8 mi | 2.5 h | 1.1 mph

I hiked around the Boulder Loop Trail with Maggie's boy this morning.

We got about a foot of snow here last Sunday. Then, yesterday, the temperature got up to nearly 40 F, and it rained and rained. So we brought both snowshoes and microspikes, not sure what to expect.

We had come here early in January, only to be turned back because the parking lot wasn't plowed, presumably due to the government shutdown (this parking lot is located in the White Mountains National Forest). Today, we saw that the short entrance to the parking lot had been plowed out and was now covered with a thick sheet of ice. I suspect this was due to "a guy with a plow who wanted to go ice climbing." In any case, I'm sending out a big "thank you" to whoever it was. This mini parking lot would probably hold about 5 cars, and there's some room for parking on the side of the Kanc too, if you don't mind risking your car that way.

"parking lot"

After hiking in for a few minutes, it appeared that the trail had been broken by a few people with snowshoes. We decided that microspikes were the way to go, and put them on.

We reached the initial "T" where the end of the loop meets the beginning of it. The snow covering the trail was broken going up left, clockwise, but the trail was unbroken on the return. It was clear that whoever had gone up before us had come back the same way. We decided to go clockwise too, and to try to get to the first lookout, and decide whether to continue from there.

We didn't hike far - just up to the big 30-foot sheer wall of rock - when we saw that the trail was no longer broken. We exchanged microspikes for snowshoes and went on.

pine needle carpet
Although the trail wasn't broken, it was fairly easy to follow. The rain from yesterday carried a lot of detritus to the trail. In places it was filled with dead, brown leaves from autumn. In others, the path was covered in a carpet of pine needles.

The snow was covered in a thick, supportive crust, no doubt formed after yesterday's rain. Our snowshoes tended to stay on top of the snow and not actually break through it most of the time. Overall, the hiking wasn't too difficult, so we decided to carry on to the top and complete the loop.

Perhaps this was a mistake. Getting to the top was easy enough. However, the second half of the loop was pretty difficult - actually, it was exhausting! Usually, I find the uphill going most tiring. However, we constantly post-holed through the snow on this side of the trail. There was a thick crust of ice over powdery snow, but it wasn't solid enough to hold our weight. I've never had such bad conditions snowshoeing before. I'd take a step forward, land on the crust, and then as I put my full weight onto that snowshoe, I'd break through the crust to fall another few inches or even get buried down to my knees in snow. Over and over again. Not easy!

Be warned: The trail will no doubt be a complete mess until a few more snowshoers come through and pack it down.

Although this was not a super-fun hike, it was just wonderful to get outside, for a change. We both have had cabin fever with the last few weeks of bad weather. It was a mostly cloudy day, but the sun broke through after we hit the first lookout, and we got some sun and blue skies for a big part of the hike.

Friday, January 04, 2019

another go at White Ledge

Today's hike: 4.3 mi | 3.0 h | 1.4 mph

I went snowshoeing around the White Ledge Loop with Maggie's boy today. We went clockwise today, too. It was another fantastic day! It snowed earlier this week, and no one had been out on the trail yet, so we got to break trail around the whole loop. It was about as good as it gets for snowshoeing, with about 5 inches of light, fluffy snow on most of the trail, with a thicker crust of crunchy snow underneath. The snow was thick enough to cover up the ice that was visible on my last trip here, which meant there was almost no risk of slipping and no need to go off-trail to avoid ice.

on the way up
on the way down
As we were leaving, we met a fellow heading in on snowshoes. A wise choice!

Note that with the current government shutdown, the driveway up to the gate has not been cleared. I was able to park on the shoulder of the road without any problem, fortunately.

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

I'm dreaming of a White Ledge Loop Trail Christmas

Today's hike: 4.3 mi | 2.9 h | 1.5 mph

Merry Christmas! It was a beautiful day for a hike in the Whites! I decided on the White Ledge Loop Trail, since I was feeling like a longer hike.

mixed conditions on the White Ledge Loop trail
I decided to go clockwise. Usually, I prefer going counterclockwise on this trail, because the first section in that direction is kind of boring, and it's better to get it out of the way first. However, I wasn't sure if the trail conditions would let me get to the view if I went that way today. So clockwise it was.

Since I wasn't sure what the trail would be like, I brought both my microspikes and my snowshoes. I started with snowshoes because the trail seemed a little soft. At about 30 minutes in, I thought "who am I kidding?" and switched to microspikes. The snowshoes probably helped with the two initial stream crossings; I could use them to bridge the streams without getting my shoes very wet. However, the snow was pretty well packed, and the snowshoes were so much useless decoration.

Trail conditions are rather peculiar. As I got higher, gaps appeared in the snowy trail, revealing a layer of dead oak leaves. There were sections of the trail where it appeared that running water must have cut through the snow, leaving it completely bare of snow or ice.
running water has cut a path through the snow
As I approached the peak, I found that microspikes were overkill: the trail was just bare. So I removed them. Shortly after that, of course, the trail became snowy again, and I put them back on. I counted: This happened about eight times over the course of the hike.

Chocorua in the distance
obligatory view from the top
It turns out that descending the peak clockwise is a bit of a nuisance. On the north side of the peak, apparently, there's just enough sunlight to melt the snow into sheets of ice, but not enough to heat it so it runs off and lets the dry ground show through. I was careful going downhill over several sections of thick slabby ice. Microspikes work pretty well, but they are not crampons. There were two places where I just moved off the steep, icy path, and descended over the easier snow to one side.
icy slab

more ice slab
river of ice

On the way down, I met a couple ascending the peak counterclockwise. That was a surprise! I didn't expect to see anyone out today. I guess the good weather was just too tempting for some other people, as well!

The rest of the trip was uneventful. The eastern side of the loop is a little bit boring because it's fairly flat. But on a beautiful day like today, that hardly matters!
a beautiful day in the Whites!
ice art