View Full Version : Hike up Webster and Jackson ends in disappointment

07-25-2010, 07:57 PM
Hey Everyone,

I'm assuming everyone on this forum has had a similar story to this one, at one point or another. I tried to hike Mt. Webster and Mt. Jackson on Thursday this past week and had to turn around based on trail conditions. I haven't really had to do this before and it really irritated me...to the point it ruined my day (and the next few days...and the weekend:)). Just wanted to know if I have company out there?

So, we headed up to the Crawford Notch in the morning. The skies were blue and the weather forecast said possibility of an isolated shower, but otherwise clear. We headed into the southern side of the Notch on 302, and the skies turned black. Regardless, we headed out and so didn't a few other groups. The trail was very wet, but it was still a nice hike up (as far as we got). We did hear from one other hiker that it had poured in the Notch for 6 hours the night before.

Anyway, we got to the Flume Cascade Brook and it was running so fast and so high, that I didn't feel comfortable crossing. Oh yeah, and it started down pouring on us at that point. I looked at every angle to cross, and just couldn't do it without picturing myself going over backwards and down the brook. SO FRUSTRATING!!! Anyway, I suppose I know my limitations. I'm sure a more experienced hiker probably could have crossed much more easily. Hopefully, this will be the last time I have to turn around on a trail before reaching my destination.

Some pictures are on my blog here, although there really aren't many since we didn't get far. Click Here (http://livefreeandhikenh.blogspot.com/2010/07/bad-day-in-whites-is-better-than-good.html)

Does anyone else have any stories of having to turn around in the Whites prior to their goals being reached? If so, please share them. I'd love to hear them...it may make me feel better!


07-25-2010, 08:14 PM
I am sorry to say - this will not be the last time you turn around and head home and be safe. It will happen above treeline with a sudden summer snow storm. It will be brook/stream crossings that might even be okay going up. But you know that coming back down they will be impassable. The weather will suddenly turn bad and there is no way you want to be above treeline in a thunder storm. I have seen 2 foot long splinters sticking out of a building's wall from a lightning striking a tree. There will be lots of reasons. The key is to know when you need to head for your escape route or turn around. Yes, it is disappointing. But, getting home safe is a far better answer.

I am glad you turned around and did the wise thing. We had several storms roll through last week that brought trees down and spawned tornadoes. The trail and mountain will be there for the next attempt.

07-26-2010, 02:02 PM
I hiked Jefferson 3 times before making it to the summit. 1st time we got turned around before the 1st cap due to rediculous winds and we literally could not get above tree line without being blown over. 2nd time the clouds were so dense that we couldn't see the cairn 10 feet away marking the trail up the summit and went the wrong way (headed over to Clay). We turned around after about 1/2 hr and when we got to that same junction again, we could see the cairn that we missed. We decided to head back down instead of doing the last 1/2 mile to the summit. Looking back, if we had been able to see the cairn and headed up, we may not have been able to see them on the way down and that would have been much worse. It's hard to follow those boulder hops were there's no real trail! Most frustrating turn around of all though was in the winter trying to tackle Pierce. We didn't bring snowshoes as we thought the trail would be packed enough. It got kinda warm that day and we were falling through up to our hips. We were probably a tenth, maybe 2 tenths from the summit and I just couldnt take a step without falling in and turned around. Still bummed about that, as it was a beautiful day and the view would have been amazing! But again, lesson learned. Never leave the snowshoes behind! Mother nature always has her way!

07-27-2010, 06:58 PM
Thanks guys.

Brad, I know you're right. I get overly frustrated and disappointed because it seems to be difficult for me to get up there to hike as it is...and when it ends abruptly before meeting my goal, it stinks! But you are right, getting home safe is the key!

Addicted, Thanks for sharing your story. It sounds way worse than my story, being so close 3 times. But given the conditions you described, you obviously made the right choices each time. Again, thanks for sharing!

Thanks again guys,

07-28-2010, 05:39 AM
When I was working in NY and NC I tried to take 3 day weekends. Then I could at least pick from a couple of days to hike based on the weather. But, some times you just have to take whatever you can get. Being out there at all - whether it is sitting inside HoJo's little room to warm up and get dry or standing on the summit on a bluebird clear day - is great to be able to do.

07-28-2010, 06:35 AM
I generally plan myself a backup hike that accounts for the likely "failure". For example a river crossing on a possible high river day (rain or melting snow) would have me do a "dry" climb somewhere else or a woods bushwhack to avoid the river or a trip to a waterfall instead. I am usually driving a few hours to get to my hike so a plain old "abort" can be a real nuisance and really messes up my exercise schedule. I save these shorter and "safer" hikes for the back up days...trips like Brook Path, Emerald Pool, or Mount Willard are nice fall backs for various abort scenarios. It takes a little more planning, but I rarely have to abandon the hike completely.

Jimmy Legs and Little d
07-28-2010, 02:52 PM
Probably everyone who has read your thread has turned back at one time or another trying to complete a summit. It is extremely frustrating, especially if you are only have a week's vacation in the White Mountain area. We have been pretty lucky lately with our trips. Quite a few times we've had to turn back. I can remember going up the Jewell Trail and once we reached our connecting trail to Mt. Washington the wind was so fierce, fog, threatening, we turned back and found the weather fine down below. On another occasion we were heading into Crawford Notch ready to hike up the Crawford Path to Pierce, where upon arrival it was snowing heavily, and again we said "not today". I would rather hike a summit when you can enjoy the views; but that doesn't always happen either since you can experience a change in weather once on top. Took us 3 attempts to do the Knife's Edge in Baxter State Park due to the weather. You made the right decision. The mountain will always be there. If you can have a backup hike that's good too.


07-29-2010, 09:29 PM
I can only think of two memorable turnarounds. One was actually a bail-out as I was hiking with a friend back in the late 80's. We had been up in the Presi's for two nights and since we both had to work the night of the third day we thought about descending Castellated Ridge, we had been up and down it about two months before this occasion. As we made our way to the trail it became obvious that the weather was turning against us with lots of rain clouds on the horizon and closing in fast. We decided to ditch the Ridge knowing that conditions would only worsen with the meticulous exposure the Castellated's provide. Wise choice, at the end when we walked back to our cars we couldn't even see the Ridge and it had turned into a thunderstorm.

Second time was actually last year. We were doing the customary Rocky Branch route to Mt Isolation after a full week of rain. I stupidly lost the bushwhack route and had to retreat to the first crossing. However, the brook was a torrent, fast, brown, foamy, and high. As much as I wanted to we decided to head back. I was SO mad, I made the descent an experiment in torture for my wife as I muttered under my breath the whole way. We went back in August 2009 and went up the Glen Boulder route on a beautiful day with great views. It was an epic hike, and of course, it drizzled on us as we went down to our ride via the Rocky Branch.

07-31-2010, 02:55 PM

Thanks for sharing your misadventures regarding hiking in inclement weather. It's nice to know I'm not alone and feel this will happen to me more than just this time now, too. I will certainly start coming up with backup plans moving forward.

Thanks again everyone,