There are two seasons in New Hampshire’s White Mountains: winter and all the things else. After six months of winter, a really lengthy winter, I’m able to hike on dust once more. However, this being mid-Might, winter remains to be hanging on above 3000 toes, whereas the valleys are moist with snowmelt, the rivers are working excessive and the black flies are breeding.
Which helps to clarify the situations we skilled on this lengthy hike up Mt Monroe, Mt Washington, and Mt Jefferson, that are the 4th, 1st, and third highest of the White Mountain 48 4 thousand footers. All of those peaks are adjoining to at least one one other within the Presidential Vary and make for a difficult loop hike that’s 11.6 miles lengthy with 5000′ of elevation acquire.
Ken and I met on the hiker lot at Marshield Station, the placement of the vacationer practice referred to as The Cog, which runs up and down the west aspect of Mt Washington. From there, we headed up the Ammonoosuc Ravine Path to the Lakes of the Clouds Hut on the foot of Mt Monroe. That is my most popular route up Washington as a result of it’s rather a lot simpler than mountaineering up the Tuckerman Ravine Path or the Lion Head Winter Route.
We naked booted to the Gem Pool on the base of the lengthy climb to the hut earlier than switching to Hillsound Path Crampons, that are aggressive microspikes. The floor underfoot was a mix of ice and moist slush, nevertheless it was nonetheless chilly sufficient to offer good traction as we climbed. That’s one of many causes we acquired an early begin on this hike as a result of situations would you should definitely deteriorate because the day warmed.
This path crosses a number of waterfalls on the way in which to the hut however these had been simply crossed regardless of the added snowmelt. However, the path turned tough to observe as we climbed into the krumholz beneath the hut as a result of the snow on the conventional route was rotten, with voids beneath, and wouldn’t maintain our weight. We opted to climb up a frozen watercourse and adopted that to the hut as a substitute.
Whereas the hut’s entrance door was nonetheless buried in snow, a lot of the above-treeline panorama was snow-free. Whereas we needed to cross a number of brief snowfields on the remainder of the hike, we had been in a position to bare-boot the whole route from the hut on, excluding about 500′ of monorail on the descent on the finish of the day.
After a fast meals and water break, we climbed as much as the summit of Mt Monroe, which is barely 350′ above the hut. We naked booted the climb, which solely required kicking some steps by a brief snowfield. After returning to the hut, we headed up the Crawford Path to Mt Washington.
Once more, the Crawford Path was largely snow-free and dry apart from a brief part close to the summit. It was a far cry from simply two weeks prior, when Ken, his spouse, and I had climbed up Mt Washington in a foot of melting slush. It’s arduous to imagine how a lot path situations had modified in that brief time.
The day warmed as we climbed Washington. We had been each carrying shorts, though we had been cautious to lather up with sunscreen and solar protecting clothes for this hike. I wore solar gloves on my fingers, one of many solar shirts I exploit for fly fishing and OR solar gloves, whereas gooping Neutrogena 45 on my knees, shins, legs, neck, ears, and face. I’d additionally had the foresight to hold an additional liter of water with me (3 in whole) as a result of I understand how sizzling it could possibly get above treeline when the rocks soak up daylight. It will attain 85 levels that day, which is completely exceptional in Might.
There have been a number of vacationers milling across the summit of Washington once we acquired to the highest, introduced up by the Cog practice, however the Mt Washington auto street was nonetheless closed so it wasn’t something just like the hordes that go to in summer time. There have been additionally a number of backcountry skiers who had climbed the height and had been planning to ski down the steep snow-filled ravines that encompass Mt Washington and the Northern Presidentials, together with the Nice Gulf and Tuckerman Ravine. It’s arduous to imagine that they’ll management their descent with simply steel edges on these steep slopes.
Climbing Monroe and Washington is a reasonably important hike, however including Jefferson makes it a a lot tougher day because of the added distance and elevation acquire. Typically we simply climb Jefferson by itself, particularly in winter. So we set off alongside the Gulfside Path in the direction of Jefferson, mountaineering alongside the Nice Gulf and skirting round Mt Clay to the Jefferson/Clay Col. From there’s its one other 700′ climb to the summit of Jefferson, previous the Sphinx Path Junction, and up a rocky ediface that all the time jogs my memory of the Protect Wall within the guide Dune.
This results in the Monticello Garden, a grassy expanse, on the foot of the Jefferson summit cone. This, together with the Bigelow Garden beneath Mt Washington are my two favourite spots within the White Mountains. I simply love trying on the traces of cairns that stretch throughout the panorama to mark the trail.
The climb up Jefferson was fairly simple, however I used to be tiring and we nonetheless needed to get down. We summited after which about confronted, girding ourselves for the climb again of Mt Clay and the Jewell Path Junction, the place we’d begin our descent. The higher a part of the Jewell is a rocky beast of a path, however when you get all the way down to treeline, it’s a very simple and quick path to descend and we made nice time heading down.
However there was yet one more impediment to beat once we reached the Jewell Spur Path resulting in the Cog Station. There’s a remaining water crossing of the Ammonoosuc River that’s often a benign rock hop on the finish of the path. After we reached it, nevertheless, the water was raging with snowmelt and there was no dry means throughout. The river right here is sort of excessive up and near its supply, so it isn’t a large crossing, nevertheless it took us some time to discover a midway respectable spot to ford the river. Fords don’t usually section me that a lot as a result of I put on mesh path runners that drain and dry shortly. However on this hike I used to be carrying waterproof, 200 gram insulated mids which stuffed with water and held onto it till I may take them off. After that, it took 3 days for them to dry on my boot dryer.
No worries. I used to be glad that we had been in a position to hike all three of those massive boys on one hike and it put a pleasant finish cap on a productive winter mountaineering season. This was the tenth month that I’ve climbed Monroe, Washington, and Jefferson, and I’ve a sense that I’ll miss them after I full my twelfth spherical for The White Mountains 4000 Footer Grid.
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