Franconia Ridge

Franconia Ridge

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Watching the Sunset and Moonrise on Eisenhower

The full moon of October would be peaking at 12:23AM on Sunday, October 16th. This would be the full Hunter's Moon. I've been wanting to do another full moon hike and with clear skies forecast I thought this would be the perfect opportunity. I wanted to get above treeline for an unobstructed view and also wanted to get a view of the sunset before moonrise. I chose Mount Eisenhower (4,780') for its easy access using the Edmands Path, one of my favorite trails. The hike down would be in the dark and under headlamp.

My son Brandon decided to join me and I was very happy to have him along on this hike. I chose 3:00PM to start the hike in order to get to the summit around 5:30PM. This would give me a little time to set up and have something to eat. On the drive to the trailhead we went over Jefferson Notch Road to Mt. Clinton Road. A benefit of doing a late day hike meant there were available spots in the parking lot from early hikers that had completed their hikes and I did not have to park on that narrow road.

The sky was clear with just a little bit of very high, thin clouds. We began our hike at 3:15. There were many hikers coming down from the summit. Just past the stone gateway at 2.2 miles we saw a little bit of snow along the trail. As we crossed a brook that runs down over a ledge there was ice on the trail and we had to carefully watch our step as we continued up over some slick ledges. This intermittent ice on the trail would continue to the Crawford Path junction.

At the junction we put on some warm layers before our climb up the cone to the summit. We were anticipating cooler temps and possibly a little wind. It already felt cooler just by the fact that we were in the shadow of the cone. We climbed up to the summit and into the sunshine again just before 5:30PM. The temperature and wind were quite tolerable. The temp was 40°F.

The sun was going down quickly so I set up my tripod and had something to eat. We wouldn't have to wait long for the astronomical show to begin. I started snapping photos as the sun dipped behind distant mountains, a spectacular sight! The sun disappeared around 5:55PM. I was concerned that I might not have calculated correctly with picking Eisenhower to view the rising moon. There was a high ridge to the east between Boott Spur and Eisenhower. I thought it might take awhile for the moon to rise above that and I was concerned that Brandon might become cold and impatient. I took a compass heading to see about where the moon would be rising.

At around 6:10PM I made the decision to pack up and head down having to be satisfied with seeing just the sunset. As I collapsed my tripod I kept looking to the east and I suddenly saw the top of the moon crest the ridgeline exactly where I thought it would. I was very excited and quickly set up the tripod again. The moon was rising very fast with every passing second. I got my first photo just before it broke free of the ridgeline. I kept snapping photos as it rose higher, a very spectacular sight!

When I had enough photos I once again packed up. We started our descent when I realized in all the excitement that I had not gotten my customary panoramic video. I ran the 100 yards back up to the summit and was just in time although I would have liked to have gotten the pano a little earlier. Still out of breath I started back down again, it was about 6:25PM. The light was fading and we turned on our headlamps about halfway down the cone.

Back at the trail junction we turned onto the Edmands Path. This would be a very careful descent over the icy rocks we encountered on the way up. We got down over this icy stretch of trail without incident and were happy to have this behind us. We turned off our headlamps to just to see how dark it was. While the full moon brightened the night sky it was still very dark in the woods and I was unable to see my hand in front of my face. The headlamps came back on and we continued down.

We got back to the trailhead parking lot at about 8:00PM. There were still a few cars in the parking lot and along the road. It was getting quite cool at this time. We tossed our packs in the car and headed for home. This hike turned out exactly as I planned between the sunset, moonrise and timing of it all. I have to admit that the trail ice was unexpected but with careful foot placement and a little tree hugging it was not a problem.

I really enjoyed having Brandon along on the hike, he was great company. It would have been a very dark, lonely hike on the way down if he had not been there. This was an awesome experience and I look forward to the next time conditions are favorable for another full moon hike!              

Enjoy the photos!

 On our way to the summit

 Leaf covered trail

 Leaf covered brook

Stone gateway

First snow

Ice starts

Very icy rocks

Watching our step on an icy section of trail

First view from the trail of the northern Presidential summits

More icy rocks

Brandon taking in the view from the Edmands Path just before the Crawford Path junction

Brandon standing on the same spot as the previous photo in June 2012

Putting on some warm layers anticipating cooler temps on the summit

Mount Eisenhower cone

Hiking up the cone

Cog railway train climbing to the summit

The cog train is nearing the summit of Mount Washington

A view into the Dry River Wilderness

A view toward the northern Presidential summits

Getting closer to the summit

Hiking up in the shadow of the Eisenhower cone

Back into the sunshine as we reach the summit

Southeast view from the summit

Some remaining ice on the summit cairn

Camera is ready for action

Photographer is ready for action

Zooming in on the Mount Washington summit

View of the northern Presidentials from the summit of Eisenhower

Brandon waiting for sunset and moonrise

A shot of the only two hikers on the summit before the astronomical show starts

The sun sets beside the Eisenhower summit cairn

A last sliver of sun before it disappears

The sun is down but the glow remains

Remaining daylight illuminates Vermont summits in the distance

Moon cresting the ridge

Clears the ridge

Quickly climbing higher

Brandon catching the moon

One last look at the sunset before descending

Carefully watching our step on icy and slippery rocks under headlamp

Remaining snow

My only mushroom shot from this hike

Crossing a bridge in the dark woods

Back at the trailhead

Having Fun in the Great Outdoors!

No comments:

Post a Comment