Franconia Ridge

Franconia Ridge

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Ridge Of The Caps to Mount Jefferson

Saturday was a day for paying attention to the weather although any storms were forecast for later in the afternoon and the really bad weather was expected to pass through tomorrow. With that said I had a difficult time deciding which summit to hike today. My first choice was Mount Jefferson and then at the last minute I decided on Wildcat A. But during my drive to the trailhead I could see that the high summits were completely in the clear and I went with my original plan of Mount Jefferson via Caps Ridge Trail.

I drove across Route 2, turned onto Valley Road and was soon on the Jefferson Notch Road. I was pleasantly surprised to see that the Jefferson Notch Road was in very good condition, no potholes or large rocks poking up and very smooth. Pulling into the trailhead parking area it was obvious that I would not be alone on the trail today.

It was a warm start and I had short sleeves and shorts, that would not change for the entire hike. Once again I brought too many clothes in my pack but one never knows what weather changes will be like on a hike above treeline especially now that we're into September. There were also some bugs flying about but never bothered me as long as I kept moving.

After one mile of hiking I arrived at the first views on a large granite ledge. A brief stop for some photos and I was back on the trail. High clouds were moving in from the south while a partly cloudy sky prevailed overhead and to the north with considerable blue sky and sunshine. I would continue to see the clouds roll over the southern Presidential summits as I continued my climb up.

As this was not my first time climbing the Caps I knew what was ahead of me. Like before I was glad the rocks and ledges were dry or it would be a precarious climb in places. I went up and over each Cap without any problem although I should have probably stowed the trekking poles on my pack to make the hand holds easier. I looked back down from where I had been and then back up, I still had a ways to go but the hard part was over. The exposed ridge provided excellent views. It would just be a steady climb with lots of rock hopping from here.

I always seem to forget that what looks like the summit from the junction of the Gulfside Trail is not the summit. Once reaching this false summit the actual summit can be seen in another 0.2 mile. There was a steady breeze blowing and it felt nice. I was thinking there would be a crowd at the top but as I  made my way up onto the summit there were only three other hikers although others started arriving shortly thereafter.

Most of the clouds were still staying south of Mount Jefferson. I could see them starting to roll over Mount Washington and slowly moving northward. A few photos and I was on my way back down. There were lots of hikers on their way up as I made my descent. It was pleasant weather as I climbed back over the Caps. There was a hiker sitting on a ledge below the Caps. I commented that I wasn't sure if going down was just as difficult as going up. She said that while sitting there she heard more complaints from hikers going up than down.

I arrived back at the trailhead and it was very warm in the parking lot. After another exhausting work week I was very tired at the end of this hike. It was exactly what I was looking for today, a short hike above treeline. But short doesn't always mean easier and Caps Ridge Trail is no exception. I was glad the weather cooperated and it turned out to be a very nice hike!

Enjoy the pics!

The hike starts here...and ends here

Ridge of the Caps and Mount Jefferson

First views

Gray Jay

Castellated Ridge

Sun coming up over Caps Ridge Trail

Looking back at the first Cap

Lakes of the Clouds Hut

Mount Washington Observatory building

Looking back on another Cap

Clouds rolling over the southern Presidential summits

The summit is in sight

Standing on the summit of Mount Jefferson

Summit pin

Mount Adams to the North

Mount Washington to the south

View to the east

View to the west

Looking down into the Great Gulf

Clouds keep rolling in

Descending the Caps

Got safely down this near vertical slab

Having Fun in the Great Outdoors!

1 comment:

  1. Wow, what a great account of your hike. After seeing this, I am definitely putting Jefferson and the Caps trail on my list. Nothing like a first hand account to show folks what to expect. Looks like an awesome hike. Thanks very much.