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bikehikeskifish
07-05-2008, 12:51 PM
We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal... solemnly publish and declare, That these United Colonies are, and of Right ought to be Free and Independent States... And for the support of this Declaration, with a firm reliance on the protection of divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes and our sacred Honor.

Exactly 232 years ago, the Declaration of Independence, authored primarily by Thomas Jefferson, was adopted by the Continental Congress. In honor of Independence Day it seemed appropriate to hike Mount Jefferson (and Mount Adams) for my #39 and #40 respectively. I took along a parade flag to commemorate the occasion.

Larry and I met Kevin (no Judy or Emma) at Bowman shortly after 7am and by 7:20 we were under way. The plan of record was up Jefferson via the Castle Trail, over the castles, hopefully meet with Mats & Co. on the traverse, and then visit Adams, returning via the Israel Ridge Path. After a night of thunderstorms, the ground was wet and the air was humid. The forecast was for the humidity to let up throughout the day, which it did, and we were treated to a warm, dry, with (almost too) little wind. I brought sandles in case the Israel River was high. I left them at the crossing as they were unneeded. While these trails were in great shape, they appear to be less-popular than other routes. We saw nobody going up or down. Note that crossing under the powerlines goes through some tall grass and wildflowers (raspberries) and is prime tick country--I pulled one off me on the ride home.

The first 1.3 miles to the Castle/Israel Ridge split are fairly gentle and wide and we made quick work of it. It follows the Israel River and I enjoyed the sound of the running water. At the split with Israel Ridge Path, the Castle Trail bears right away from the river and begins to climb over the flank of Mount Bowman. It continues more steeply until over Bowman where it flattens out nicely and crosses a fairly open birch and spruce forest with ferns, bunchberries, and bluebead lillies carpeting the floor. After crossing The Link ("The Dink"), the trail becomes steeper and rougher as The Castles come into view.

I picked this route specifically because I wanted to visit The Castles. None of us had ever been this way before. The views live up to their reputation. The Castles themselves are pretty cool, tall and spikey granite arranged like ramparts over Castle Ravine. A bit of scrambling is required to get over and around them. At the First Castle, we broke out lunch, drinks, and took lots of pictures. After a bit the black flies found us, and we packed up and kept moving. At the Second Castle, the view is only improved, in no small part thanks to the First Castle in the foreground. Kevin mentioned that the rest of the ridge offered numerous false summits, and not to get our hopes too high. Well, he was right.
http://inlinethumb08.webshots.com/40007/2707590780097994563S200x200Q85.jpg (http://outdoors.webshots.com/photo/2707590780097994563fkQton) http://inlinethumb53.webshots.com/40500/2227360870097994563S200x200Q85.jpg (http://outdoors.webshots.com/photo/2227360870097994563kcHeNa) http://inlinethumb08.webshots.com/40327/2260236620097994563S200x200Q85.jpg (http://outdoors.webshots.com/photo/2260236620097994563syebEP) http://inlinethumb27.webshots.com/14042/2288413130097994563S200x200Q85.jpg (http://outdoors.webshots.com/photo/2288413130097994563eNgykg)

Eventually we came over the top of the Castellated Ridge and the Jefferson summit cone comes into view. Here the Castle Trail crosses The Cornice in this area. We continued on the Castle Trail towards the summit, which is still not in view. It is at this point that the hike becomes a northern presidential rock hop and the going slows down. I'm not one to risk my knees (again) or my ankles by rushing this section. We followed the cairns until the summit came into view. I knew it was the summit because there were a dozen or so nutty hikers wearing Uncle Sam hats sitting around. Yes, it was Mats and company having a break and regrouping on the summit. We all took lots of pictures and generally monopolized the summit for a while. Larry made friends by passing around a tube of Girl Scout Thin Mints.
http://inlinethumb49.webshots.com/41136/2402849100097994563S600x600Q85.jpg (http://outdoors.webshots.com/photo/2402849100097994563gXTKJb) http://inlinethumb28.webshots.com/41499/2577737240097994563S200x200Q85.jpg (http://outdoors.webshots.com/photo/2577737240097994563ypjECC)

Next on the agenda was Adams. 4200 of the 5050 feet had gone by, which of course was nice to know, but the descent into Edmand's Col and the Gulfside to Adams remained. We took our time, enjoying the views north to Adams, south to Jefferson, east to the Carters, and west towards the Pliney and Pilot ranges. The Horn stood out as the most easily identifiable peak in the east, and I recalled the view of the northern presis from when I was there last summer. We passed Adams 5 and Sam Adams. The "reliable spring" next to the "conspicuous boulder" had plenty of water, as did Peabody Spring and Storm Lake. I brought a pump, but we were all in fine shape, water-wise and didn't need it.

After what seemed like far too long, Adams got closer and larger and shortly Thunderstorm Junction and the enormous cairn appeared. From here the trail becomes Lowe's Path to the summit of Adams. The 1/3 of a mile over the rocks here was more technically challenging than the 1/2 mile ascending Jefferson, but being shorter it took less time. As pointy as Adams appears from a distance, it never really looked pointy from underneath. As with Jefferson, spectacular 360-degree views awaited, along with a plethora of blood-thirsty insects. The winds were really light -- MWO says under 10 MPH from the west while we were up there. You don't often hear people wishing for more wind while on top of Adams, but it would have limited the insects. We put up with them for 15 minutes or so and then began the long, slow, rock-hopping descent, retracing our steps along Gulfside. (It was along this way when a group came the other way and asked "How far do you think we are from Madison Hut?" I replied "About 1.5 miles give or take". She was unhappy and replied "But the sign back there said 1.5 miles!" I guess she thought my name was Garmin or something. We later decided they were hiking hut to hut.)
http://inlinethumb45.webshots.com/43564/2652322070097994563S200x200Q85.jpg (http://outdoors.webshots.com/photo/2652322070097994563BOYOpU) http://inlinethumb16.webshots.com/38479/2208050160097994563S425x425Q85.jpg (http://outdoors.webshots.com/photo/2208050160097994563sSxZcd) http://inlinethumb29.webshots.com/20444/2565767270097994563S200x200Q85.jpg (http://outdoors.webshots.com/photo/2565767270097994563EOxRYd)

The Israel Ridge Path diverges from the Gulfside and descends the north side of Castle Ridge along, no surprise, Israel Ridge. In true Edmand's style, the talus field has a nicely-graded sidewalk paved right through it. This is convenient because I was inclined to enjoy the view of the Castles and not watch where I was stepping. About 1/3 of the way down, the path enters the trees again. As a side note, right after crossing Randolph Path, there is orange tape, marked with RW, everywhere in preparation for major trail work. It is not garbage. With northern exposure, the flowers are behind schedule on average. There were star flowers and bluebead lillies still in full bloom. The bunchberries were abundant yet still pale yellow in the flower. As we descended further things got more in step with expectations (hiking with Kevin was educational because he knows so many of the flowers.)

OK, so I divide the Israel Ridge Trail into three segments in my mind. There was the "views of Castle Ravine" part, the "interesting flowers and forest part" (down towards The Perch), and the "we're in the vicinity of falling water" part. This third part gives occasional views to the ravine between Israel Ridge and Nowell Ridge. It isn't given a name on any of my maps, and I assume it is still part of Castle Ravine and Israel Ridge merely juts out and divides it. Cascade Brook cascades (appropriately) all the way down the steepest fall line of the ravine. If you look carefully you can steal occasional views of it through the trees. Eventually the Israel Ridge Path crosses Cascade Brook and shortly thereafter a very slight detour to the left (south) will put you on a smooth rock slab across which the brook switfly courses. The iron content of the rock is revealed as the smaller trickles cause it to be stained rust red.

After two more brook crossings in rapid succession, the Israel Ridge Path joins the Castle Trail for the 1.3 mile return to Bowman. It was quite nice to have the softer forest floor under foot after so much rock hopping and with easier going we picked up the pace to return to Bowman about 10 hours after we left.

All in all, I was quite delighted with the choice of route, even though I was discouraged from taking this route a few weeks earlier, and if you are up for a little bit different way to the northern presidentials, I can say I highly recommend it. I would say it is probably best done in drier weather, but even with thunderstorms the day before, it wasn't dangerously wet, nor were the crossings at all challenging. It's definitely not an ideal winter route either, although there are signs of crampons marks on the rocks so it has been done.

All photos: http://outdoors.webshots.com/album/564000742kSWFuu

Tim

Acrophobe
07-05-2008, 08:35 PM
Sounds like a great trip. Sure was a lovely day up there, wasn't it? I spent the day across the gulf on Washington, trying a few new trails. Oddly, though, I hardly encountered any flies at all.


Have you ever done King's Ravine on Adams? That's where we were planning to go before the Observatory predicted good visibility from Washington.


Love the photos - hard to stop taking them when it's so gorgeous out, eh? :)


By the way, here's one I took of Jefferson and Adams yesterday. If you look closely, you can see Kevin's camera. :)

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v310/Geeeeeeek/100_1821.jpg

bikehikeskifish
07-05-2008, 10:12 PM
It was a nice day. Kevin had his small camera with him :D What we could see in common was that smile-shaped patch of snow on the flank of Jefferson overlooking the GG.

Tim