Alpine Skills Session

Date of Hike: 7/31/10

Caps Ridge/Cornice/Gulfside Trail: 3.1 miles
Sphinx Trail: 1.6 miles
Mount Clay Loop/Gulfside Trail: 2.4 miles
Crawford Path/Mount Monroe Loop Trail:2.1 miles
Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail: 3.1 miles
Jewell/Boundary Line/Jefferson Notch Road: 2.7 miles
Total Miles: 15 miles (5,850 elevation gain)

Trip Report:
- Earlier this year I adopted the Sphinx Trail in the Great Gulf Wilderness where my duties are to make sure all water bars are clear and properly built, clip back any overgrowth on the trail, make sure Cairns are properly built and visible, and try to make sure no one ventures off trail in the Alpinze Zone. But before I could work on the trail I would have to take a skills session and on Saturday I was finally able to learn what needs to be done and also take in a killer hike as well!
- Luckily the AMC Region Leader for the Northern Presidential Range (Mark) is the previous adopter of the Sphinx Trail and he was able to meet up with me at the Caps Ridge Trail and we hiked over to the Sphinx Col and he showed me all the ins and outs about what to do and look for while we hiked down about 2/3 of the Sphinx Trail.
- I picked up a lot of information along the way such as clear all smaller rocks that hikers stick into the rock cairns because when rime ice forms on the smaller rocks it doesn't have enough to expand and eventually makes the cairn fall down.
- The most important thing I learned was how to properly keep water bars clear and properly functioning so any rain water is able to swiftly leave the trail not clogging up the trail and creating a muddy disaster and ruining parts of the trail.
- As far as the hike it was a great day to be above treeline, the weather was above 50 degrees all day and the winds became light and variable as the day went along.
- Mark is also the trail adopter for the Caps Ridge and the Jefferson Loop Trail so once we hiked back up the Sphinx Trail to the Sphinx Col, he headed north back to Mount Jefferson and I started north over Clay, and Washington.
- The hike up to Mount Clay and Mount Washington was terrific as always. I had planned to take a break and get some more food at the observatory but it was a zoo up there, I had never seen it that crowded so I retreated down to the pack room to get away from the madness for a few minutes.
- Next I was off to the Lakes of the Clouds and usually I hike that 1.5 miles in about 45 minutes but this time I was lucky enough to hike with one of the hut crew kids. He was carrying 90 lbs of fresh produce on his back down to Lakes and it was pretty amazing how fast he went hopping from one rock to the next as the hundreds of hikers quickly jumped out of his way. It was the hikers equiviliant of following an ambulance through Boston on I-93. In the end it took just under 25 minutes to go from summit to hut!
- From here I made the quick run up to Mount Monroe's summit and took a break and chatted it up with a couple of people staying at the hut before heading back down the Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail.
- Now it was gut check time as I had to jump on the Jewell to the Boundary Line which is pretty boring then road walk up the Jefferson Notch Road to the Caps Ridge Trailhead. Unfortunately no cars came by until I was about 500 feet away from the trailhead so I was unable to hitch a ride.
- It turned out to be a long day above treeline but well worth it as I learned about how to maintain my trail, had pretty good weather, met a few interesting people, and had terrific views!

Pictures: Click here for all pictures

Caps Ridge Trail to
Mount Jefferson Summit
The Cog Train Descending Mount Washington
Lakes of the Clouds Hut Crew Member
Speeding Down to the Hut on the Crawford Path
Lakes of the Clouds and Mount Washington
Cog Train Crawling up Mount Washington
beneath Mount Clay

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