Franconia Ridge

Franconia Ridge

Sunday, April 12, 2015

Spring Day on Mount Pierce

The weather forecast was calling for warmer temps and sunny skies. My plan for today was a hike to Mount Pierce via the Crawford Path. After a month of illness and injuries I was anxious to get back on the trail and work out the kinks. A short hike up this 4,000 footer seemed to be the remedy.


 At the trailhead

 Early morning sun on the trail

You have to get up early to beat the sunrise these days. I did catch the sun coming up through a stand of trees as I left the house this morning. Then as I drove out of the valley it quickly rose high into a clear blue sky. There was just a wisp of morning clouds over Mount Washington but they disappeared after I started my hike.

 Some rare open water

There was only one car in the parking lot when I arrived. Not knowing what I would encounter on my hike I ended up bringing everything. Warmer clothes in case the summit was cold and windy and snowshoes on the pack. I started out with the microspikes which stayed on for the entire hike.

 Go-around blowdown

 Plenty of snow in the woods

 A few old postholes along the way

The trail was smooth, firm and solid. For the most part it would stay that way except for a little softening of the snow as it got warmer and especially in the sunny areas. There would be no postholing today but I passed by the occasional old postholes beside the trail that went down about three feet in places, a broken leg waiting to happen.

 A view of Eisenhower and Washington

 The summit of Mount Washington zoomed

 Hikers on the summit of Eisenhower

 Icy trail on the way to the summit

As I continued I could hear the wind blowing above and thought another layer might need to be added. But as I came out of the trees on the Crawford Path and into the sun it was quite tolerable. The snow was getting soft but there were no problems with postholing or microspike snowballing. The views were amazing along this section of the trail. The early morning clouds had cleared from the summit of Mount Washington and there was blue sky and sunshine all around.

 Mount Carrigain

 White-capped Franconia Ridge in the distance

 On the summit of Mount Pierce

I made my turn onto the Webster Cliff Trail for the final ascent to the summit of Mount Pierce. There was hiker coming down from the summit that looked familiar. As he got closer I recognized him from a hike two weeks ago. We met on the 19 Mile Brook Trail and then again on top of Mount Hight. He had already done Eisenhower today and was thinking of maybe doing the Twins on the way home. After talking for a few minutes we went our separate ways.

 Alpine vegetation

 Crawford Path and Webster Cliff Trail junction

 A snowy Crawford Path

 View of the Mount Washington Hotel from the Crawford Path

There was some ice on the trail just below the summit but the microspikes easily handled it. At the summit the snow was soft but still no postholing. The full sunshine felt great after a winter of very cold hikes. I took a panoramic video and some still shots of the surrounding views. It was a beautiful day up there!

 Bretton Woods

 Skiers on the slopes at Bretton Woods

 Need a taller signpost

 A still frozen Gibbs Falls

 The bottom of Gibbs Falls

It was time to make my descent and the trip down was pleasant as well as warming up nicely. I made a quick side trip to Gibbs Falls and found that it was still completely frozen. Back at the parking lot there were many vehicles as I expected there would be from the number of hikers that I passed on the way down.

 Taking off microspikes at the end of the hike

 Mt. Clinton Road still under a lot of snow

 The Presidential summits

Mount Washington

 A lone hiker just below the summit of Mount Washington

It bears repeating that the trail was in excellent condition. I was kicking myself for not leaving the snowshoes behind and bringing the sled instead. The trail was a perfect luge track with some nice, high banks on the curves and no rocks, stumps, sticks or branches to deal with. It was great to have the Winter trail conditions with the Spring temps. After this week's predicted warm weather I'm sure conditions are going to change and it will be some interesting hiking over the next couple of weeks.

Having Fun in the Great Outdoors

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