Franconia Ridge

Franconia Ridge

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Spring-Like Winter Hike to Mount Eisenhower

With only two more weekends of winter hiking remaining I wanted to add another Presidential summit to my list of winter 48 4,00 footers. Today I would be hiking Mount Eisenhower (4,780'). My plan was to drive in on the Mount Clinton Road from the Mount Washington Cog Railway Base Road. There is no gate on this end but the road is not maintained in the winter. I was hoping that last week's rain had cleared the road of snow and ice. Last week when I drove by it was still covered with snow.

Just before sunrise as I leave for the trailhead

Sunrise on the way to the trailhead

Edmands Path trailhead parking lot

Starting the hike

Bare trail to start

Easy water crossing

The ice begins

Clear skies and seasonably mild temps were in the forecast with increasing winds in the afternoon. I was on my way just before sunrise and watched the sun come up while driving to the trailhead. When I reached the Mount Clinton Road I was glad to see that it was clear all the way to the Edmands Path parking lot. I was the first one here this morning. The entrance was icy but I had no problem maneuvering over it.

The ice continues

Recent moose track

Using the microspikes

Relentless ice

Frozen ledge

Swapped the microspikes for crampons

It was a cool morning and I was wondering what would be best to wear. I didn't want to overdress so I started out with a thin layer and fleece. The woods was completely void of snow as I started my hike. It wasn't long before ice began to appear on the trail. When I crossed the bridge over the Abenaki Brook I put on my microspikes. It wasn't long before the trail went back to bare ground and the spikes came off. But I would soon be putting them back on again and traction would be necessary for the rest of the hike to the summit.

Bretton Woods ski trails in the distance

Zooming in on the Mount Washington Hotel from the Edmands Path

Mount Washington from the Edmands Path

The ice on the trail was relentless but the microspikes were doing their job. At about 2.5 miles just after crossing a frozen brook I decided to swap the microspikes for crampons to get up over an icy ledge. When I reached the trail junction to the summit I took the crampons off and tried to bareboot. That worked for a short stretch but once again put the micropsikes back on and they stayed on until just before reaching the summit. I saw my first two hikers of the day coming down off the summit as I was going up.

The final stretch to the summit

Attitash and Bear Peak ski trails

Mount Washington summit from Mount Eisenhower

When I arrived on the summit there was a crowd of hikers gathered. I'm assuming they all came up the Crawford Path as I was the only hiker on the Edmands Path. It was tricky getting a panoramic video without stepping on someone. I walked around in a big circle and was able to get the video but it took me a couple of times. The wind was starting to increase and I put on my down jacket. The hikers continued to come and go. After a few more photos I began my descent.

Marshfield Station from Edmands Path

I put the microspikes back on. When I got back down below treeline I stopped to change layers, swap to crampons and had something to eat. I knew the crampons would serve me well on the icy trip down. I kept them on until I could safely bareboot the rest of the way. It was getting quite warm as I got closer to the trailhead. Just about the time I was thinking about removing the layer beneath my Endo pants I could see the parking lot through the trees. When I got to my vehicle I changed to T-shirt and dungarees, the sun felt nice and warm.

Crampons doing their job

Icy descent

Today was a day of constantly changing traction which slowed the the hike down a bit. But the hiking pace would have been much slower and very treacherous without the traction. Next Saturday will be the last full day of winter hiking for this season. I have two more peaks in the Presidential Range to complete during the winter, Mount Adams and Mount Madison. There's snow and rain in the forecast this week, that should change the trail conditions again.

Parking lot half full when I got back from my hike

Mount Clinton Road

Looking back at Mount Eisenhower

Mount Washingto Hotel and the Presidential Range after my hike

It was a beautiful day and felt more Spring-like than winter, a great day for hiking one of my favorite trails to a summit with spectacular 360° views. Mount Eisenhower was #17 for my completed winter 48 4,000 footers.

Having Fun in the Great Outdoors!

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