One last hike before winter?

Posted on November 26, 2006 by Chris Lumens in .

I meant to go hiking on Saturday so I could spend today making beer. Instead, I decided to get to bed late Friday night and wake up several times so it was basically impossible for me to get up when the alarm went off at 5am. So I went hiking today instead. Of course, I also overslept today but not too badly. Luckily I already had my gear ready and was out in the car at 6:30am. My only stop was in Concord, NH for fuel, breakfast, and lunch supplies. By 9:30, I was in the parking lot at Crawford Notch getting my warm clothes on and my pack ready.

Pictures from this hike

This was a solo hike up the Crawford Path (the oldest continuously used trail in the country) to the summit of Pierce. It started by ascending alongside a stream and in between two rather low ridges. After passing a waterfall and bouncing back and forth away from the stream, it finally turned away for good and got steeper for a while. Luckily, the steep parts were never really that steep or too long. Before I knew it, I had gone the first 1.5 miles to the junction with the Mitzpah Cutoff trail. The climb was pretty steady to this point but never challenging.

From this junction, the trail alternated between long slow ascents and short steeper sections. There were also some brief spots of ice, but it never required the use of crampons which was good because I left mine on the back seat of my car. After another mile or so, the trail popped out on the exposed northwestern side of the mountain. Here I was finally out of the trees a little bit and the winds really picked up. The views over to Eisenhower, Monroe, Washington, and Jefferson were quite spectacular. I put on some extra clothes and climbed the last few tenths to the summit. It’s not really a very exciting summit - you can really only see to the north because all other directions are blocked by trees. But, that view was great and the trees provided shelter from the winds.

I spent about 30 minutes sitting up on the summit eating, talking to people, and taking in the scenery. Then it was time to pick up the gear and head back down. I briefly considered hiking the two miles over to Eisenhower and back, but the weather over Washington was getting steadily worse and I did not want to be caught in that. Aside from having to be careful navigating the ice towards the top, there was nothing much memorable about the descent. It was nice to have a slow, gradual descent at the end of the hike instead of the typical kind that destroys your legs. I got back down to the car around 2pm, packed up, and headed home. Total round trip hiking time was around 4.5 hours. I traveled about 6.4 miles and climbed 2400’.

Overall, this was a fantastic hike. I highly recommend the Crawford Path to anyone who has just been getting into hiking as it’s a very gentle introduction with a great payoff at the end. I’d like to go back up that way next year and walk all the way over to Washington and come down one of the trails on the west side. Spending all day above tree line on that hike would be a great time.