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Thread: Mt. Pierce and Mt. Eisenhower, Jan. 10, 2009

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    Jul 2008
    White Mountains, NH
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    Default Mt. Pierce and Mt. Eisenhower, Jan. 10, 2009 (without Alex)

    Cut and pasted from my blog,
    Accompanying pictures can be found there.

    It was a great day!!


    Crawford Path and Edmands Path, then 2.2 mile road walk back to car -- 10.2 miles.

    Each week I study the forecast, hoping that the weekend will provide another opportunity for Alex to hike. Unfortunately for her, there would be no such opportunity this time around -- forecast called for very low temps and wind speeds too much for her liking and safety.

    So instead of taking my daughter out, I got to join Bob and Geri on their planned hike to Pierce and Eisenhower. This proved a nice break for me -- fantastic company, beautiful blue skies, some needed practice with snowshoes, and a chance to do a long hike and just worry about myself. It was a perfect, stellar day.

    It even started out lovely -- the start time was 9am, roughly 2 hours later than I'm used to setting out. Therefore, I got to drive to the trailhead in daylight and see the beautiful early morning sky over Franconia Notch. Gorgeous.

    Got to the trailhead and met the others. There were nine in our group -- myself, Bob and Geri, and six other Views From the Top/Rocks on Top members -- Rocks'n'rolls, MadRiver, J&J, a nice fellow named Mark, and oh no! I'm blanking on the other fellow's name. As soon as Bob and Geri post their trip report, I'll come back and edit.

    Here's my hat at the trailhead.

    Some of our crew were a bit late, and MadRiver and I were getting cold, so we started up the path ahead of the others. We wore microspikes, since the trail was fairly packed.

    We stopped at the bridge near the Mizpah Hut sign, about .3 miles down the path. The others caught up in short order.

    From here we all trekked up together, It was a nice hike, and to my pleasant surprise I found I could keep up with the others fairly well on the ascent. Everyone else in the party were veteran hikers with years of experience and many peaks under their belts. They are all much stronger than I am, but at least I don't think I slowed anyone least not TOO much, anyway.

    We reached the intersection with the Mizpah Cut-off and stopped for a water break. Everyone began taking pictures.

    There was a nice view looking up.

    Looking back the way we had come...

    And then, while we were eating some snacks -- lo and behold, what should appear, but a gray jay!

    I had heard all kinds of tales about how these birds would follow hikers and eat out of outstretched hands. They can be bold and fly off with one's food, so the tales go. They are supposedly found on summits that Alex and I have already visited. Alex and I have been on the lookout for these critters, but we have never seen one. So I was very happy to see this fellow, though a large part of me was sad that Alex couldn't be there to see him too.

    Bob quickly handed me some trail mix, took my camera, and snapped the following pictures.

    The little fellow also ate from Bob's hand...

    and then watched us carefully as we got ready to continue toward the summit (about 1.2 miles from this spot).

    We hiked onward, through a winter wonderland.

    We came to the treeline, and wow -- what a day. Blue skies, great views of Mt. Washington and Eisenhower...

    Looking toward the west...

    Here we met a nice fellow names Luis, who continued up with us toward Pierce.

    A couple tenths of a mile later, we came to the sign just beneath the summit cone. It was wearing a nice coat of rime ice.

    A short scramble up the cone, and we're there!

    Bob took this picture of me, standing on the summit with Washington and Eisenhower in the background. Eisenhower was our next destination -- in the picture, it's the bump in front and to the left of Washington.

    The summit cone of Pierce, a convenient resting place for our poles.

    Looking south...

    Another hiker came up to the cairn -- Silverfox from VFTT. It was very nice to finally meet him.

    After we had rested a bit, we geared back up...this time, with snowshoes. We said our goodbyes to Luis and Silverfox, who were hiking back the way we had come, and then trekked onward toward Eisenhower. The wind chills were -20 to -30, according to the Mt. Washington Observatory forecast, and my goggles fogged up almost immediately. I put them in my coat and instead adjusted my hat, balaclava and facemask to cover all necessary areas. This worked well, and I felt warm enough for the mile+ exposed hike. There was a moment when my right toes began to feel numb, but I loosened one of my showshoe straps to allow for better circulation, and that took care of that problem. I also used hand warmers between my wool gloves and shell mittens -- those kept my hands toasty.

    Eisenhower's summit cone felt steeeep! For the first time on the hike, my legs really felt sore and crampy. However, we all made it -- here's Eisenhower's summit cairn (snow covered), with Franklin, Monroe, Washington, and the northern Presidentials in the distance.

    Here are Bob and Geri at the summit, Washington in the background.

    Views from the top of Eisenhower, snapped quickly and at random (taking pictures means taking off my shells...then my hands get cold...).

    Everyone huddled together and discussed descent options.

    We could go back the way we had come, or we could go down the Edmands Path and walk back to our car from there (2.2 mile road walk). We decided the latter option might actually be the easier one, since going back the way we came provided steep ups and downs, while the Edmands Path provided moderate grades once we got off the summit cone.

    We started down toward the Edmands Path...

    and soon ran into 1HappyHiker and zman, who had skied/snowshoed up the Edmands path...thank guys, for breaking the trail for us!! It was windy and cold, so only a few friendly words were exchanged before we needed to move on.

    Once off the summit cone and a bit down the path, I turned to get a picture of Franklin...

    and the northern Presidentials.

    A bit further down the path, just before treeline, I turned to get another shot. This spot has a lot of sentimental value to me, since this is the area that Alex first got a taste of views above treeline. We came up this path to Eisenhower about 7 months ago -- it was her 2nd 4K, and when we got to this spot she looked out and her jaw dropped. She thought it was so amazing, and was obviously awed. I took a picture of the path -- and instead of my own kid this time around, I have Geri's "kid" in the photo.

    Back into the trees we go.

    The good news was, we were now out of the wind. The bad news, for me anyway, was that this part of the path is very narrow and the snow was soft and fluffy. It was difficult for me NOT to slide off the trail and down the mountain.

    At one point I peaked through the trees...

    Once the path leveled off a bit, I was much happier. There were still spots I had trouble with -- steepish bits, and since I am new to snowshoes I took it very slowly. I know I slowed the others down on the descent...once I'm more familiar with snowshoes I will trust myself in them more and not take it so over-the-top carefully. I don't mind falling in the snow, but falling in snowshoes requires a herculean effort to get back up.

    I had to stop a couple of times for food and water, Bob and rocks'n'rolls graciously stayed behind with me, and the others would go ahead a bit and then wait. Once we were closer to the bottom and the path flattened out, I was able to hike at the pace of the others.
    And...we're at the Edmands Path trailhead!

    1HappyHiker had descended behind us. I was now able to exchange a proper greeting and shake his hand. Again, nice to meet you in person, 1HappyHiker!

    Our group then commenced the 2.2 mile roadwalk back to our cars. I tell you, those 2.2 miles seemed very, very long! At one point MadRiver muttered, "Where the f*** is the car?!" I couldn't have agreed more with his sentiments.

    We all made it back, some of us more tired than others but everyone in very good spirits. I tried to take a return picture of the trailhead, but by now the sun had set and my cold hands couldn't figure out the flash. So instead, I took a picture of the parking lot, cars/trucks warming up and headlights on.

    It had been a fantastic day. A few of us topped it off by going over to J&J's lovely house and imbibing in some yummy snacks and wine.
    Thanks, everyone, for a perfect hiking day!
    Last edited by TrishandAlex; 01-11-2009 at 11:13 AM.

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