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You think it’s cold? March 24, 2013

Posted by Jenny in hiking, White Mountains, winter hiking.
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Summit of Mt. Madison

Summit of Mt. Madison.

I’m sure you feel the same way I do—you’re sick of winter. It’s March 24, I’m in North Carolina, and there’s snow in the forecast the next couple of days. Today a friend and I had planned to go up Bradley Fork looking for the F-15 jet engine. The prospect of a wet chilly day decided us against it. Well, I suppose we have nothing to complain about compared with the folks in the Midwest.

I thought I’d share some old photos of winter hikes. Perhaps by looking at them, you will feel warmer by comparison. All of them were taken in the White Mountains of northern New Hampshire.

Winter hiking can actually be fun. We had a nice sunny day for this climb of Mt. Washington. No wind, and temps were above zero—not something you take for granted there in winter.

Bob climbs the Lions Head Winter Route on Washington.

Bob climbs the Lions Head Winter Route on Washington.

Above Tuckerman Ravine.

Above Tuckerman Ravine.

I make my way up ice near the top of Washington.

I make my way up ice near the top of Washington.

Observation Deck on Washington. Bob is posturing, as usual.

Observation Deck on Washington. Bob is posturing, as usual.

Conditions on a climb we did of Adams were really cold and windy.

I look cold. It was about three degrees and windy.

I look cold. It was about three degrees and windy.

Looking from Adams to Madison.

Looking from Adams to Madison.

We had “snow goblins” along the trail on a climb of Mt. Eisenhower.

Adam hikes along Crawford Path toward Eisenhower.

Adam hikes along Crawford Path toward Eisenhower.

I looked cold on Eisenhower, too.

Adam and I approach Eisenhower summit.

Below Mt. Jefferson.

Below Mt. Jefferson.

Sometimes the trip was long hard work.

I'not sure the summit of Middle Carter was worth the effort.

I’m not sure the summit of Middle Carter was worth the effort.

Bob crosses Lonesome Lake on the way to North Kinsman.

Bob crosses Lonesome Lake on the way to North Kinsman.

Adam tackles upper slopes of Lafayette.

Adam tackles upper slopes of Lafayette.

Bob and Pete on Moriah.

Bob and Pete on Moriah.

Mike and Bob on the Tripyramids.

Mike and Bob on the upper Sabbaday Brook trail, approaching the Tripyramids.

Oh, I forgot. This last one isn’t in the Whites. This is East Kennebago in western Maine—a bushwhack peak. I’m holding a moose horn we found.

Stay warm, and maybe spring will arrive one of these days!

East Kennebago---a canister peak.

East Kennebago—a canister peak.

An offbeat way to climb Mt. Jefferson August 2, 2009

Posted by Jenny in hiking, White Mountains.
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I approached the castles from the Link

I approached the castles from the Link

I often think of adventures as like books with various chapters, but this hike had sections so distinct that they seemed more like short stories in an anthology than chapters in a single-author book.  The whole strange concoction added up to 11.6 miles and 3700 vertical feet, and it felt harder to me than the 9-mile, 4200 vertical adventure I had earlier in the summer going up Washington via Boott Spur Link.

Here it is in a nutshell.  Started at Boundary Line trailhead on Jefferson Notch Road.  Road-walked up to Caps Ridge trail.  Left Caps Ridge a mile up to follow the Link trail over to the Castle trail.  Up over the castles to the summit of Jefferson.  Over to the Jewell trail, down to Boundary Line trail near the Cog base station, back over to car.

Jefferson Notch Road: 1.4 miles, 500 vertical.  Cars passing by may have wondered what the heck I was doing hiking up the road.

Caps Ridge trail: 1.1 miles, 700 vertical.  Just as I reached the trailhead, a group of about 15 college-age kids was walking toward the parking lot.  Try to stay ahead of them, let them go ahead, or get tangled up in the middle?  I opted for the first, going a bit faster than I would have otherwise.  Soon I arrived at the first outlook with views toward the summit.  The view at that point was nothing to write home about.

Murky view from first outlook ledge on Caps Ridge

Murky view from first outlook ledge on Caps Ridge

The big granite ledge had separate muddy footprints that led up to the best spot, as if they were indicating “Put left foot here, put right foot there.”  The college kids arrived and coalesced with a good-sized group speaking… Russian? Polish?  Amidst this sea of humanity a couple explained to me that they had been married on that exact rock, and this was their anniversary, and would I take their picture?  I was happy to, and a patch of sunlight appeared right at the moment the shutter clicked.  Then the sun disappeared again.

Link trail: 1.6 miles, 300 vertical.  A tenth of a mile past the rock I turned left onto the Link trail, and instantly left the crowds behind.  This is a trail that nobody takes from one end (Caps Ridge) to the other (Appalachia).  It’s a lateral trail connecting various major climbing routes:  Lowes Path, Israel Ridge, Castle Ravine, Castle, Caps.  The AMC guide describes this particular section as “a very rough pathway with countless treacherous roots, rocks, and hollows that are very tricky and tedious to negotiate.”  (I’ve always loved the way the AMC guide uses the word “tedious.”)  But the pathway was peaceful, embroidered with moss and ferns.

Mossy rill on the Link trail

Mossy rill on the Link trail

I saw my only wildlife of the day on this trail.

He looks very well fed

He looks very well fed

I noticed an oddball quartz boulder that was trying unsuccessfully to blend in with the granite ones.

Oddball boulder

Oddball boulder

It took me an hour and a half to do this section, which had very little climbing on it.   Just incessant turning, twisting, and clambering.  (Well, part of the slowness was because I discovered I had to delete some old pictures from my camera memory card.)  I caught my first glimpse of a distant castle between the trees, complete with turrets, but the picture didn’t come out well enough to post here.

Castle trail: 1.5 miles, 1700 vertical.  The Link hits it just below where the fun stuff starts.  I’ ve been on this trail twice before, and I knew what I was in for.  AMC:  “Rough with some difficult scrambles.”  One pitch had a cord tied to a tree that I guess you could hold onto, but it sure didn’t look strong enough to support any weight.  When I got to Castle #1, the hardest one, two women with two dogs were looking up at a difficult pitch.  Since they were not actually going up it at that moment, I went on ahead, thinking that might provide some encouragement.  The problem was, one of the dogs followed me and started standing on the places where I wanted to put my hands or feet… oh, well!  I ended up violating climber’s ethics and putting my knee down on one spot to get myself up.

Looking ahead at Castle #2--or was it #2A?

Looking ahead at Castle #2--or was it #2A?

The clouds streamed moodily across the ridge.  I used my knee in one other place when my calf muscle cramped up just as I was hoisting my foot up to the appropriate ledge.

Jefferson castle magic

Jefferson castle magic

After I successfully forged my way past the castles, I crossed alpine lawns that were covered with diapensia mountain sandwort (I saw this correction in a fine trip report covering the some of the same turf!).

The trail was lined with flowers

The trail was lined with flowers

The Castle trail is not very heavily used.  But I reached crowds once again the moment I got to the summit cone.

Jefferson Loop/Gulfside: 1.8 miles, 500 vertical (the climb out of Sphinx col).  Sunshine, crowds, views into Great Gulf.  Lots of boulder hopping.  Did I really ever do a Presi traverse?  (Yes, I did, in 2002 I think it was.)

Near Sphinx col---I like the way it drops off

Near Sphinx col---I like the way it drops off

Jewell trail: 3.3 miles.  As I approached the Jewell junction, I could see a steady procession of hikers making their way down the upper section.  It was tempting to cut across to it, but that is “against the rules.”  So I joined the line and wended my way down.  As on the Caps Ridge trail, I found myself going at a slightly faster pace than usual just so that I could separate myself from the various groups.  With a sudden surge of energy, I bounded along and passed absolutely everyone I encountered for the next hour and a half.  My legs felt like toast when I reached the bottom.  I hoped I would find the obscure Boundary Line junction with no trouble.

Boundary Line: 0.9 miles, a few modest ups and downs.  Same experience as when I turned off Caps Ridge.  Abruptly, no crowds, all green with very plushy mosses and ferns.  A few mucky quagmires lay in wait for unsuspecting boots.  The woods here featured a particular kind of moss that grows in a sort of filigree pattern.

Super-deluxe moss growing on base of tree

Super-deluxe moss growing on base of tree

Thrushes were singing, and the woods would have seemed enchanted were it not for the toast-like quality of my leg muscles.  When I came to the crossing of Clay Brook, I just waded across it with my boots on.  I was almost back to the car.

Clay Brook

Clay Brook

And sure enough, I soon saw the red color of my faithful little car shining between the trees, and a moment later I was back on Jefferson Notch road.