Presi Marathon : Monroe, Washington, Jefferson, Eisenhower, Pierce, Jackson

Date of Hike: 2/28/15

Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail: 2.5 miles  /  Monroe Loop Trail: 0.6 miles  /  Crawford Path: 1.5 miles  /  Gulfside Trail:  2.9 miles /  Jefferson Loop Trail:  0.6 miles  /  Gulfside Trail: 2.0 miles  /  Westside Trail: 0.9 miles / Crawford Path: 3.7 miles  /  Eisenhower Loop Trail: 0.8 miles  /  Crawford Path: 1.2 miles  /  Webster Cliff Trail: 2.6 miles  /  Webster Jackson Trail: 2.5 miles  /  Route 302: 0.2 miles  /  Mount Clinton Road: 3.5 miles  /  Base Station Road:  1.3 miles
Total Miles: 26.8 (8,180 feet elevation gained)

Trip Report:
-  Winter hiking season in the White Mountains is long and can be brutal at times, however, there are a few days a month where everything weather wise breaks just right allowing you to stay above treeline for an extended period of time, and Saturday was one of those days.  Temperatures on the summit cone of Mount Washington were above zero, not by much, maybe four degrees at it's peak, with light winds of 20 mph and a wind chill around negative twenty to go along with sunshine and 100 mile views.  Basically, that's as good as it gets for February!
- I arrived at the Cog Railway at the end of Base Station Road and jumped on the Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail just after 7am.  It was a balmy -4 degrees out but there was absolutely no wind so I was able to stay warm as I made my way through the woods over moderate grades to the snow covered Gem Pool.  From the Gem Pool the 'Ammo' becomes excessively steep over the next mile and a half as it breaks above treeline until it ends at Lakes of the Clouds Hut.  As I made my way to treeline I had the whole trail to myself, except for the two guys sleeping in their tents off trail in the scrub.  I was shocked that there was absolutely no wind as the sun started to breach the ridge as I gained it.
- At the hut I headed up to Mount Monroe where the wind finally made it's debut.  Monroe is a good place to judge how the wind will be above treeline, if it's not too bad there then that's a good sign, and today was one of those really good days!
- From Monroe I headed back to the hut and relaxed in the sun for a few minutes.  It was probably around zero degrees but it felt much warmer.  From Lakes of the Clouds I made my way up to the summit cone over a mostly styrofoam snow with some rocks scattered here and there.  It was a great hike up to Washington with the wind lightly blowing the last half mile or so.  I reached the summit of Washington around 9:30ish in the morning and had the whole area to myself while I enjoyed the views.  It was my 46th time summiting Mount Washington and on Saturday it became the first peak I 'gridded' (hiking a mountain in all twelve months, over any period of time).
- Now I had a decision to make, going into the morning my plan was open ended as it all depended on the weather, and since it was very early in the morning and the wind was not a factor I decided to head north to Mount Jefferson.
- From the summit I hooked onto the Nelson Crag Trail down to the cog tracks and turned left where I snowshoe ran along the swath clearing next to the tracks to the Westside Trail junction and banged a right and intercepted the Gulfside Trail.  The Gulfside Trail curves below Mount Clay's summit by the trail junction of the Jewell Trail and I could finally see some other hikers a few hundred feet below me on the Jewell Trail heading up.  After getting around Mount Clay I dropped into the Sphinx Col and made my way up to Monticello Lawn where I finally ran into other hikers, one was a group of three Presi Traversing.
- The winds finally started to pick up quite a bit, but still there was no need for goggles, however the rest of my face was covered up to not get frost bite.  I made it to Mount Jefferson's summit around 10:45 a.m. and decided it was still too early to head back to the Jeep.  I didn't want to keep heading north since there were no bail out options back to my car northbound, but there were plenty southbound.  So I decided to head back the way I came, except I'd go around the summit cone of Washington via the Westside Trail.  The hike back south from Jefferson was uneventful, but I did start running into a number of hikers, one of which was Rachel and her dog Isis who were heading over to Jefferson.
-  It was a little colder and windier as I headed over to the Westside Trail but luckily this trail got me out of the wind as it curved around the west side of Washington's summit cone.  I haven't been on the Westside Trail in the winter, it was relatively easy as the two snowfields had decent snow with no ice so there were no issues.
- The Westside Trail ends at the Crawford Path a mile above Lakes of the Clouds Hut.  From here I bombed back down to the hut while taking in the awesome views.  At the hut I had another decision to make, head back over Mount Monroe or go around it and take my chances going across the Monroe snowfield, which like the Jefferson snowfield drops steeply several hundred.  I got lucky, just as I was heading around Monroe a group of three hikers where coming towards me, they head hiked up Monroe, went down the other side, and came back around.  This gave me a good snowshoe track to follow across the snowfield if I wanted to take it.  These hikers followed the trail across the snowfield, I went lower and followed day old tracks which seemed to be an easier route.  For the most part the hike across the snowfield was ok except for the last hundred feet where the angle became very steep, I headed up and found some rocks and scrub to help me out as I made my way back to the trail.
- From Monroe it was smooth sailing past Franklin and up to Eisenhower, it got warmer as I dropped in elevation which was good because the wind chilled me the worst during this stretch, although they were still low, maybe 20 mph at the max.
- Once I started descending Eisenhower the winds became non-existent again, however the people did not as there were hikers everywhere!  One guy clearly thought I was nuts as he commented on me running in snowshoes, and I'm pretty sure he thought I had brain damage when I told him where I came from and where my car was.  Anyway, it was a quick and beautiful hike over to Mount Pierce where I took in the views back north from where I came.  Was it time to go home yet, heck no!  Off to Mount Jackson!  I was very happy to see the trail broken out, even if it was beat to crap by a group of fifteen people, most of which didn't have snowshoes, luckily once I passed them the trail was in much better shape.  When I was about a half mile away from Jackson I caught up to another group, there were eight of them, the guy in the back said they didn't know if they were on the trail.  So I stayed behind them figuring what he said meant they were breaking out the trail.  However, after a few minutes I noticed no one was rotating, meaning no one was breaking anything out, so when they stopped they let me go by were I quickly made my way over the broken out trail to my last summit of the day, Mount Jackson.
- Finally it was time to head back to the Jeep...which was still about eight miles away, ouch!  The first part was a fast descent down the Webster-Jackson Trail, the highlight was passing a really cute Golden Lab with booties on wagging it's tail.  I hit Route 302 and walked over to the highland center to fill up on water and put dry layers on before I headed across the street and walked 3.5 miles ever so slightly uphill along the Mount Clinton Road.  The road passes by the trailhead for the Edmands Path which heads up to Mount Eisenhower, since the road is closed in the winter, the path gets little to no use.  It was just before 5pm when I approached the trailhead and it's one of the last places in the White Mountains I'd ever think I'd see hikers, especially as the sun was winding down, but amazingly I saw two hikers coming out just as I passed by, and more amazing is that I knew one of the hikers, Theresa, who I've hiked with before.  Her and her friend broke trail through deep snow all the way up to 4,100 feet.
- After chatting with them for a few minutes we parted ways and I slowly made my way out to Base Station Road were I has just 1.5 miles left uphill to the Jeep.  The sun was setting behind me as it dropped out of sight below Bretton Woods making for a nice golden glow over the road.
- Finally, I made it back to my car just after 5:30, ten and a half hours after I had started.  I was the only car left in the lot as it started to get really dark.  I was pretty tired but pumped up to get in such a great hike, not a bad way to complete my first grid peak!

Early morning at Marshfield Station at the end of Base Station Road
Lower end of the Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail heads through the woods and passed by Monroe Brook
About a mile in the trail crosses the Gem Pool then becomes excessively steep
The trees start to get smaller as it crosses high above the Gorge as it makes it's way up the ravine
Views up to Washington and down into the ravine
Great place to set up camp!
An old weather trail direction sign, in the winter the snow becomes so solid you can pretty much make your own trail up the ravine to Lakes of the Clouds Hut
Gaining the ridge and bypassing a small icy section
Lakes of the Clouds Hut
It's going to be awhile until someone can get into this place!
View from the Monroe Loop Trail of Mount Washignton
Heading up to Mount Monroe, view to the north of Mount Washington, view to the south of the Southern Presidential Range
Heading back to the hut and then heading by the weather warning sign by Lakes of the Clouds
Cool snow waves at Lakes of the Clouds
Looking up the Crawford Path to Washington, looking back to Monroe
Mount Monroe
Looking up at the row of cairns to the summit
Heading up a steepish snow field and looking back to Monroe
Approaching the summit and the Tip Top House
Summit of Washington
Heading down the tracks, looking back at the observatory and looking ahead to the northern Presidential Range
Bright sun shining above the almost buried tracks
Making my way north towards Mount Clay
Looking down at the Jewell Trail from the Gulfside Trail
Heading over to Sphinx Col
Monticello Lawn and up the Jefferson Loop Trail
Monticello Lawn and Mount Washington
An iced and wind blow snow free lawn.  It's too windy and the snow is too light to hold snow here right now
Running into Rachel and Isis on my way back around Mount Clay!
Passing below Mount Clay
Jacob's Ladder and Mount Monroe
Heading to and along the Westside Trail
Back to the Frozen Lakes of the Clouds
Heading around Mount Monroe, looking back up Mount Washington, and looking ahead to the Monroe snowfield
Wavy snow just below Mount Monroe
Looking back at Mount Monroe, the snowfield I crosses is in view on the right
Views from just south of Mount Franklin
Heading south to Mount Eisenhower
Looking North from the Eisenhower Loop Trail
Northern Presidential Range from Mount Eisenhower
Mount Eisenhower summit cairn
Heading down the Eisenhower Loop Trail
Looking back over to Mount Eisenhower
Mount Eisenhower
Heading south on the Crawford Path to Mount Pierce
Reaching the Webster Cliff Trail Junction
The Presidential Range as seen from Mount Pierce
Heading south on the Webster Cliff Trail
 Mizpah Springs Hut
Beautiful view from the Mount Jackson Alpine Meadow
Mount Jackson's summit
Heading down the Webster-Jackson Trail
Road Walk by Sacco Lake and a quick stop at the Highland Center
Nice late afternoon road walk over Mount Clinton Road
View up to Mount Eisnhower with the moon above it from a clearing along Mount Clinton Road
Golden sunset from Base Station Road
Passing by the summer lot for the Ammonoousuc Ravine and Jewell Trail
Night sets in on the drive back along Route 302


  1. Hell of a trip in the winter (or summer). Nice photos and writeup!

    1. Thanks Jessie, Looking forward to a hike/run with you soon. Enjoy your weekend up there :)

  2. I am tired just reading your report! It took me all day to hike up North and South Twin. Look at what you did in the same timeframe! Agreed, it was a great day to be above treeline and congrats on your accomplishment. ~ RollingRock

    1. Thanks! It sure was a great day, glad you got to do a hike with beautiful views as well. South Twin is one of my favorite summits :)

  3. Wow ! That's terrific ! You are a machine ! Looking forward to getting up there in summer :) Wendy

    1. Thanks, Wendy. Hopefully by the summer all the snow will have finally melted :)

  4. Thanks for the stunning photos!