Franconia Ridge

Franconia Ridge

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Midwinter Snow On a Spring Hike to Ike

The weather report was forecasting a spectacular day of warming temperatures with lots of blue sky and sunshine. I've learned to take the weather forecast with a grain of salt because it can completely change when you get to the summit. It was sounding like a good day to go above treeline. The plan was to hike Mount Eisenhower (4,780') via the Crawford Path and also add the short hike up to Mount Pierce (4,310') along the way.

I would be joining fellow hikers Jill, Brent and Ryan but other hikers would be joining in as the hike progressed. When I pulled into the parking lot I recognized a hiker whose hiking adventures I follow online. It was Melissa and she was planning on hiking to the same summits solo today. She joined our group and the number of hikers was up to five. I then saw fellow hiker Mark pull into the parking lot, he was hiking with a friend and we would see him up on the trail. A couple of ladies got out of a car and I had met them before on previous hikes, it was Deb and Cindy. They were hiking to Mount Pierce, we would see them again up on the trail.

We all put our snowshoes on in the parking lot and they would stay on for the rest of the hike. Deb and Cindy started out ahead of us. It was just after 8:00 AM that we set out on the Crawford Connector. The trail was well packed out even with fresh snow from last night. Gibbs Brook was frozen over with lots of snow on it except for one small open pool. We turned onto the Crawford Path and began our ascent to Mount Pierce.

The further up the trail we went the more snow there was. It was hanging heavy on the trees. The amount of snow on the trail was unbelievable, several feet of packed snow with the occasional old deep posthole. We soon caught up to Deb and Cindy and they followed behind us. A little further and Mark caught up to us, his friend was up ahead.

We reached the Mizpah Cutoff trail junction. Everyone was continuing on the Crawford Path. The snow-laden trees against the deep blue sky was spectacular. We got to the first view of Mount Eisenhower and Mount Washington, it was amazing. The summits were completely covered in snow as was everything else, trees, signs, rocks and cairns. I found this to be very unusual for the month of April.

We turned onto the Webster Cliff Trail and did the short hike to the summit of Mount Pierce. There were many hikers up here today. This was Ryan's twelfth time on Mount Pierce having now completed the hike to this summit in every month of the year. He brought along the appropriate spirits for celebrating this achievement. After a short break it was time to move on. Only five of us would be continuing over to Mount Eisenhower, that included Jill, Brent, Ryan, Melissa and me.

There was some concern that the trail would not be broke out but it was and there was no problem. It was a pleasant hike over to Eisenhower. I had put some sun block on earlier and it was sure needed because a good part of this hike was above treeline. Between the sun and the bright, reflecting snow it was conditions prime for a good facial sunburn.

There were a number of hikers coming down from the summit of Eisenhower. We had timed it just right and when we arrived on top of this rounded summit we had it to ourselves. There was a good wind blowing and it was cold but tolerable. The 360° views were spectacular under a cloudless sky. Even with the wind blowing we spent some time basking in the sunshine, enjoying the views and taking photos.

Our hike was only half over and we needed to start our return trip. It was a quick descent off the cone of Eisenhower and then the hike back over to Mount Pierce in soft snow with the warm temps. Once we arrived at the Webster Cliff Trail junction it was all downhill from here. But once back in the trees the snow was steady melting off the trees and it was raining down on us. I put on my waterproof layer and we kept going. Down toward the bottom the trees had shed the snow and it was dry going again all the way to the parking lot.

The two to three inches of new snow in the parking lot this morning had completely melted and the pavement was dry. The temperature was warm and it finally felt like Spring after a long, cold winter. It was an extraordinary day with superb weather, great trail conditions and some awesome hikers that were a lot of fun to hike with!

Enjoy the photos!

Awesome sunrise on the drive to the hike

Morning sun on Mount Lafayette in the distance

Early morning view of Mount Eisenhower

Leaving the trailhead as we start our hike

Crossing the bridge over Gibbs Brook

An opening in Gibbs Brook

Ready to start our ascent on the Crawford Path

I keep meeting Deb and Cindy on the hiking trails

Lots of snow on the trail

Snow white tree against a deep blue sky

Narrow trail through snowy trees

Sun peeking through a snowy forest

It was under or around this blowdown

Getting snowier...

...and snowier

Views opening up

First open view of Eisenhower, Monroe and Washington

Framed view

Trail sign covered in rime ice

Ryan celebrates having hiked Mount Pierce in every month of the year

Franconia ridgeline from Mount Pierce

Our next destination is just behind me...Mount Eisenhower

Melissa, Brent and Ryan descending

Melissa watching as Brent and Ryan fall down

Bretton Woods ski area in the distance and Mount Washington Hotel below

Mount Eisenhower and Mount Washington

Looking past a ridgeline to the summit of Mount Washington

The actual summit of Mount Washington

Friendly Bernie the Bernese Mountain Dog

Even this icicle absorbed the amazing blue sky!

A skier on McIntire's Ride ski trail at Bretton Woods

Bretton Woods

A "helpful" ladder on Eisenhower

Frozen gargoyle on Mount Eisenhower

A view of Mount Washington and Mount Monroe from the trail

Following the cairns to the top of Mount Eisenhower

On the summit of Mount Eisenhower

Brent is pushing himself up off the summit of Mount Eisenhower

Mount Carrigain and Vose Spur below

Franconia ridgeline in the distance

Everyone enjoying the blue sky, sunshine and wind on the summit

Group shot at the summit cairn

My 8th visit to the summit of Mount Eisenhower

Summit cairn

Ryan pops up from behind a cairn

Melissa and Jill enjoying the views

Melissa and Brent descend over some rocks

Mount Carrigain in the distance

Brent basking in the sunshine

Mount Pierce up ahead

Snow drifts

The icicle tree

A look back at Mount Eisenhower on the drive home

Zooming in on the Mount Eisenhower summit cairn

A late day view of the Presidentials with Mount Eisenhower on the far right

Having Fun in the Great Outdoors!


  1. Awesome pictures! What camera are you taking these with?

    1. Thanks! I have a Canon PowerShot SX50 HS.