Franconia Ridge

Franconia Ridge

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Loop Hike Over Jackson and Webster

Any 4,000 footer worth doing once is worth doing twice. I was looking for a 4,000 footer with great views to test the patch job I did on one of my winter boots that was splitting at the seam. A loop hike to Mount Jackson over to Mount Webster via the Webster-Jackson and Webster Cliff Trails seemed to be a good choice. The temp was -4 below zero as I departed for the trailhead and the sky was crystal clear, a perfect day for hiking!

Early morning sunshine hitting the peaks

View from Jefferson, NH

A frozen Saco Lake

A snowy Mount Willard

Patch job on my winter boot


Highland Center, Crawford Depot, Saco Lake from Bugle Cliff

It was a beautiful early morning drive to the Webster-Jackson trailhead. There were already several vehicles in the parking area when I arrived. The air was crisp and cold so I layered up, put on the winter gloves and hat, threw on the pack and hit the trail.

Big icicles

Frozen brook

Just past the side path to Elephant Head I made the decision to put on the microspikes. The ice was spotty at this point but the spikes gave me some added security as well as improved my pace. Climbing higher it was apparent that traction was becoming mandatory and not optional in order to safely navigate across icy sections of the trail. All hikers I saw today had some sort of traction on.

Frozen waterfall

Icy trail

Ice steps

First glimpse of Mount Jackson summit

More ice

As I got closer to the top of Mount Jackson all the trees were heavily coated in ice and snow. One last push and I was on the summit. It was cold with a slight breeze, I added another layer. The views were spectacular! The Gray Jays were there to greet the steady stream of hikers. While enjoying the views a helicopter flew by and hovered just below the summit of Mount Washington, not sure what was going on. I took my share of photos, ate a quick snack and continued over to Mount Webster.

Looking up at the summit

Trail junction on Mount Jackson

Mount Washington from Mount Jackson

Mizpah Hut 

There was about six inches of snow along the Webster Cliff trail that was somewhat packed down, ice was minimal. It was a beautiful walk through a snowy forest and it didn't take long to reach the summit of Mount Webster. More breath-taking views were waiting for me here. Got a few more pics then started my descent.

Gray Jay

Gray Jay lifting off

Helo just below the summit of Mount Washington

Mount Washington from Webster Cliff Trail

Snowy Webster Cliff Trail

The trip down the Webster Branch trail proved to be tricky with many icy stretches that required slow, careful footing. I dropped into Silver Cascade and found it to be completely frozen. There was no water to be seen anywhere but I could hear it flowing beneath the ice.

On the summit of Mount Webster

Summit trees encased in snow and ice

Mount Washington from Mount Webster

Mount Washington Hotel

The trail climbs steeply out of Silver Cascade and soon reaches the Webster-Jackson Trail junction. The icy sections of trail became less and less. I arrived back at the trailhead unscathed. The sun was dropping out of sight behind a mountain and the air was feeling colder at the parking area, it was only 1:00 in the afternoon.

Icy path

Ice continues

A frozen Silver Cascade

Webster-Jackson Trailhead

This was a great hiking destination today with nice weather, spectacular views and manageable trail conditions with some traction. Also, the patch job on my winter boot held up well!

Sun drops behind a mountain at 1:00 in the afternoon

Panoramic view from Mount Jackson

Having Fun in the Great Outdoors!

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