"Ridge of the Caps"

Date of Hike: 6/12/10

Jewell/Boundary Line Trail: 1.3 miles
Jefferson Notch Road: 1.4 miles
Caps Ridge Trail: 2.5 miles
Mount Jefferson Loop: .3 miles
Gulfside Trail: .6 miles
Mount Clay Loop: 1.2 miles
Gulfside Trail: 1.1 miles
Crawford Path: 1.7 miles
Mount Monroe Loop: .6 miles
Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail: 3.1 miles
Total Miles: 13.8 miles (5,200 elevation gain)

Trip Report:
- After taking a week off from hiking I was itching to get back above treeline and the Caps Ridge Trail which I had not hiked in over twenty years was the perfect hike to get back to.  Unfortunately the Jefferson Notch Road is still closed so I would have to hike over to the Caps starting from the Jewell Trail to the Boundary Line Trail and walk up the road to the trailhead.  Kind of a bummer but it meant I could try out a pretty cool loop hike up to Jefferson, Clay, Washington, Monroe, and down the Ammonoosuc Ravine trail.
- Left RI at 3am, on trail at 6:30am, Jefferson summit at 8:45, Washington 10:15am, Monroe 11:30am, finished at 1:30pm.  Temps were in the 60's below treeline, mid 40's above treeline, light and steady rain from first Cap on the Ridge of the Caps to Mount Clay Loop.
- The hike on Jefferson Notch Road to the trailhead was uneventful but went quickly, the only highlights were the road signs had all been peppered with bullets.
- The Caps Ridge Trail below treeline is a total mess, numerous blowdowns right from the get go, not as bad as the Six Husbands but pretty nasty.  Also the trail past the link junction is not trimmed and eventhough it wasn't raining yet I was soaked from all the fern branches, luckily it was warm out and had a changed of clothes and a rain/windbreaker if needed.
- I hiked at a pretty quick pace because I was fearful of getting caught above treeline in bad weather and wanted to make it above the minor rock scrambles on the Caps Ridge before it rained.  Of course it started to rain when I was within fifty feet of the first Cap! However the Caps were much easier and smaller than what I remembered and they were lots of fun scrambling up them!
- I figured I was out-of-luck and the rain would get worse and I was going to bail down the Jewell Trail later but when I reached Sphinx Col I decided to hike up the Mount Clay Loop and bail if need be. Within ten minutes the rain stopped and other than a drizzle it didn't rain again until I was below treeline on the Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail.
- From then on out the hike was awesome!  Mount Washington was in and out of the clouds, I got lucky and saw the Cog Train chugging over Jacob's Ladder (see pic below), ran into a bunch of hikers coming from and going to Lakes of the Clouds hut, and had great view of Mount Monroe and Lakes of the Clouds hiking down the Crawford Path.
- Along the way I stopped in at the top of Washington to get some food, warm up and change into dry clothes.  I also stopped in at Lakes of the Clouds Hut were they had FREE PANCAKES!!! (Take that IHOP, free pancake combo my A$$!!!)
- The hike down the Ammonoosuc was pretty slippery in spots and still steep as ever, the avalanche that slammed through in the winter snapped thousands of trees in the ravine and is a pretty awesome sight to see.
- The day turned out to be much better than expected and as usual it was another great hike!

Pictures: Click here for all Pics

Caps Ridge Trail
Cog Train at "Jacobs Ladder"
With Mount Monroe and Lakes of the Clouds
Mount Monroe and Lakes of the Clouds
Lakes of the Clouds and Mount Washington

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