Roaming Around the Presidential Range: Jefferson through Webster Loop

Date of Hike: 6/16/13

Caps Ridge Trail: 2.5 miles
Jefferson Loop: 0.3 miles
Gulfside Trail: 0.7 miles
Clay Loop: 1.2 miles
Gulfside Trail: 1.1 miles
Crawford Path: 1.6 miles
Monroe Loop: 0.7 miles
Crawford Path: 1.4 miles
Eisenhower Loop: 0.8 miles
Crawford Path: 1.2 miles
Webster Cliff Trail: 4.0 miles
Webster-Jackson Trail: 2.5 miles
Mount Clinton Road: 3.6 miles
Jefferson Notch Road: 3.4 miles
25.0 miles (7,000 elevation gain)

Trip Report:
- It was finally time to start doing some really long and exhausting hikes again.  The forecast called for increasing cloudy skies with afternoon showers so my plan was to hike above the trees until the rain and wind came then drop back down into the valley and road walk back to my car.
- The fastest way to get above treeline in the White Mountains is the Caps Ridge Trail.  It is a fun trail with a few minor rock scrambles as you make your way up to the summit cone of Mount Jefferson. Views above treeline are pretty spectacular and I was on the trail early enough that I had them all to myself.  Anyone interested in hiking the Caps Ridge should now it's a real popular weekend trail, so expect swarms of hikers on it on a clear day, so get there early to beat the crowds heading up.
- I finally saw another hiker on the summit of Jefferson where I took a quick break before heading south.  Once on the Gulfside Trail I dropped down to Sphinx Col, then hooked onto the Mount Clay Loop Trail, once again having the whole trail to myself while enjoying the tremendous views of the Great Gulf below me. I watched the Cog Train chug up the tracks as I dropped down from Mount Clay and caught it again on the way up to Mount Washington, where I finally started running into more hikers just before crossing the tracks.
-  It got a little chilly so I put on my long sleeve and then made my way the last half mile to the summit.  The rock pile was crowded with the usual mix of hikers, bikers, and cog passengers so I took a picture of the sign and headed into the observatory building for a nice break.
- I was surprised that it was not crowded in the dining area so I grabbed a seat and relaxed while refueling before heading down to the pack room to change into clean layers.
- Next I stopped in at the museum to say hi to my friend Samantha, we chatted about hiking and she was nice enough to give me a tour of the meteorologist room and let me climb up to the weather observation tower where it was pretty windy but had amazing 360 degree views.  I have been to the summit close to three dozen times but never had a chance to see these things so it was a pretty thrilling experience.  Thanks Samantha! 
- Now it was time for part two of my hike, hiking southbound until the weather came rolling in.  I was well relaxed having spent an hour on the summit so I rocked hopped down to Lakes of the Clouds and then up to Mount Monroe.
- The bad clouds were holding off so I decided to keep on going and I hiked and trail ran over to Mount Franklin and over to Mount Eisenhower.  I didn't run into many hikers between Monroe and Eisenhower, maybe five or six, a couple of which seemed concerned about my well being.  I think they see the bumble bee colored LaSportiva Raptor sneakers, don't know they're for hiking/running and assume I'm lost or just derranged!
- The weather was still holding off as I hiked over my favorite stretch in the Southern Presidential Range.  It's a small rounded field just south of Mount Franklin, the trail is lined with rocks and views are phenomenal, it's Crawford Path at it's best!
- Once I made it to the the  Eisenhower Loop Trail I quickly hiked up to the top where I was sad to see that the magnificent summit cairn had been reduced in size by almost half of what it used to be. Hopefully it will get built back up over the summer so you can see it clearly again from other far off peaks.
- I was pretty much in the clear from hear on out to head all the way to Mount Webster, by the look of the clouds I knew I had about two hours before the heavy rain came.
- The hike over to Pierce was fast as the trail heads in and out of the scrub.  Along the way I made sure to stop and take pictures when I'd pop back up into the open.
- When I reached Mount Pierce's summit I took a break to enjoy the big views one last time before heading into the woods for good.  I was happy the weather held out for all of my hike above treeline and the summits stayed in the clear.
- The drop down from Mount Pierce to Mizpah Spring Hut gets steep with some bad footing for the last half mile.  Luckily, I have done it before and remember where to step and what trees to hug so I made it down to the hut in no time.
- Mizpah Spring Hut is the weirdest looking of all the huts, it looks like a tee pee and from the outside it looks big but really isn't once you go inside and walk through the hall where the bunks are.  Still, it's very cozy and a great place to stop and grab some baked goods for a buck!  I had a glass of lemonade and a magic cookie bar which hit the spot.  I had only been drinking water all day so the lemonade was very refreshing.
- After a nice fifteen minute break it was off to Mount Jackson and then over to Mount Webster.  There's nothing really too exciting about the Webster Cliff Trail between the hut and these two peaks.  There is an alpine meadow just north of Mount Jackson's summit which is beautiful and had some flowers blooming.  Views from both summits are great; from Jackson you get one last clear view of the Southern Presidential Range, and from Webster there is a view straight down into Crawford Notch and across to the Willey Range.  I haden't been on Webster in almost three years so it was nice to be back up there.
- By the time I made it to Mount Webster the wind picked up which was great because it got rid of the pesky non-biting bugs that stick to you.  I contemplated bushwhacking to the start of the Webster Slide but figured after all the miles I had hiked it was best to stay on the trails.  I made a good choice as it started to rain on my way down the Webster-Jackson Trail.  By the time I reached Route 302 it was a steady moderate rain shower.
- Now was for part three of my hike, seven miles of road walking back to my car.  The good thing about this was after about five minutes I was off the main road and back on old backwoods roads, Mount Clinton and Jefferson Notch Road.  The bad news was that the Highland Center, near were I came off the trail is at 1,900 feet and my car was at Jefferson Notch which is at 3,000 feet.  So over seven miles I gained another 1,100 feet at the back end of the hike.  It was like walking on a treadmill with a slight incline, nothing to it!
- I only saw three cars, one biker, and three other people on my road walk.  There was a couple out for a stroll in the rain walking under an umbrella.  I also ran into a hiker who I saw on the Mount Esienhower Loop Trail, she was soaked but had her rain gear on and was having a fun hike back to her car.
- I didn't mid the hike back to the car, it took just over two hours and the temperatures held just enough that a long sleeve layer with a hoody did the trick and I never got too cold.
- Back at my car I changed out of my soaked clothes and relaxed for a good thirty minutes.  As I relaxed two hikers popped out of the the woods having just descended the Caps Ridge Trail in the rain and wind.  They said it became very difficult and scary, which is what happens above treeline when the weather turns, which makes the Whites a very challenging and great mountain range!

Started: 7:45 a.m.  /  Jefferson: 9 a.m.  /  Clay: 9:45 a.m.  / Washington: 10:30 a.m.  /  Monroe: 12 p.m.  /  Eisenhower: 12:40 p.m.  /  Pierce 1:10 p.m.  /  Jackson 2:05 p.m.  /  Webster: 2:40 p.m.  /  Route 302: 3:35 p.m.  /  Finished 5:45 p.m.

 Caps Ridge Trail
 Pencil trees on the Caps Ridge Trail
 The Ridge of the Caps
 Glacial Potholes
 Sun shining bright above the ridge
 Caps Ridge Trail Junction with The Link, have fun with that trail!
 Outlook along the Caps Ridge Trail
 First Cap
 Second Cap
 Looking down at the Caps
 Castellated Ridge
 Caps Ridge / Cornice Trail Junction
 Mount Clay, Washington, and Monroe
 Morning in the Presidential Range
 Caps Ridge Trail
 Mount Clay, Washington, and Monroe
 On the summit of Mount Jefferson
 Mount Jefferson Summit Area
 Monticello Lawn, Mount Clay and Washington
 Monticello Lawn
 Mount Adams peaking out above Monticello Lawn
 Gulfside Trail to Mount Clay
 Gulfside Trail
 Sphinx Col
 Mount Jefferson and Adams
 Mount Clay Loop Trail
Turtle Cloud floating over Mount Washington 
 Mount Clay Loop Trail
 Mount Clay Loop Trail
 The Great Gulf Headwall
 Mount Clay Loop Trail
 Mount Clay Loop Trail
 Cog Tracks and Mount Monroe
 Cog Tracks and Mount Monroe 
 Northern Presidential Range
 The Great Gulf Wilderness
 Mount Adams
 The Cog Trail
 The Cog Train
 Lizzie Bourne Memorial
 The Cog Train
 Cog Train
 Mount Adams
 Northern Presidential Range
 'Waumbek'
Observatory 
 Mount Jefferson and Adams
 View above from the Observatory Tower!
 Summit
 Tip Top House
 Southern Presidential Range
 Mount Monroe
 Lakes of the Clouds and Mount Monroe
 Southern Presidential Range
 Crawford Path
 Mount Monroe
 Lakes of the Clods Hut and Mount Monroe
 Crawford Path
 Lakes of the Clouds and Mount Washington
 Lakes of the Clouds
 Lakes of the Clouds and Mount Washington
 Mount Washington from Mount Monroe
 Crawford Path as seen from Mount Monroe's Summit
 Mount Franklin, Eisenhower, Pierce with Tom, Field, and Willey behind them
 Crawford Path, Little and Regular Monroe!
 Mount Monroe from Mount Franklin
 Crawford Path, my favorite section!
 Presidential Range
 Presidential Range
 Mount Eisenhower
 Red Pond
 Maze of paths
 Mount Eisenhower
 Mount Franklin, Monroe, and Washington
 Mount Eisenhower Loop Trail
 Crawford Path
 Crawford Path
 Mount Eisenhower
 Summit of Mount Pierce
 Aliens Bots!
 Mizpah Spring Hut Info
 Alpine Meadow along the Webster Cliff Trail
 Mizpah Hut, Mount Pierce, and Eisenhower
 Tom , Field, Willey, and Avalon below (right to left)
 Presidential Range from Mount Jackson
 Presidential Range
 Summit of Jackson
 View from Mount Webster
 Mount Willey
 Crawford Notch
 Mount Willard
Some serious Rock Slab!
 Mount Willey
 Silver Spring Cascade
 Silver Spring Cascade
 Webster-Jackson Trailhead
 Sacco Lake
 Along Route 302
 Crawford Path parking
 Walking in the rain
 Mount Clinton Road
 Base Station Road
 Base Station Road
 Jefferson Notch Road
 Jefferson Notch Road
It never ends...Jefferson Notch Road 
 Boundary Line Trailhead
 The Ridge of the Caps buried in rain clouds above Jefferson Notch Road
This always cracks me up! 
 Almost there...Jefferson Notch Road
 Jefferson Notch
 Caps Ridge Trailhead
 Caps Ridge Parking Lot
Finished!

8 comments:

  1. Wow, wow, wow. So basically you did 25 miles in nine hours since you stopped at Washington for an hour. Incredible, and you still get all the great pics and write a nice report!

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    1. Thanks anonymous, when I hike solo I like to push myself but still take a bunch of pictures so I can relive the hike over and over again!

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  2. 2nd the amazing pace! What are you using for a camera Chris? Shots are always great!

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    1. Glad you like the pics! I just use a digital Cannon powershot.

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  3. Wow- Great report and pics as ususal Chris -Les

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  4. Great trip report and pics! It looks like someone partially dismantled the cairn on top of Ike.

    Will

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    1. Yeah, hopefully they'll build it back up!

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