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Thread: Dead Calm on Dead President's Day: Washington via Ammo Trail & Crawford Path 2/16/09

  1. #1
    Member Great Pumpkin's Avatar
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    Dead Calm on Dead President's Day: Washington via Ammo Trail & Crawford Path 2/16/09

    Trail Conditions:Ammonoosuc Trail was well-consolidated and easily barebootable to Gem Pool, where everyone went to crampons in anticipation of the steep segment to Lakes Hut, and the Crawford Path beyond. As noted in a previous posting, the Ammo is easily followed through the woods, but somewhat more difficult to follow in the final .2mi or so to the Hut; it certainly helps if you've been there before, especially if the hut were not visible. The Crawford Path was terrific cramponing for the most part - consistently hard "styrofoam", with ice and rock mixed in, of course. After passing the Lakes of the Clouds, there is an open snowfield area for several hundred yards which required care and caution, especially on the descent, but we all felt safe enough w/o using an ice axe. Good thing, because we sluggards had left 'em behind.

    Required Equipment:Crampons & poles for sure. Sunglasses and sunscreen (oops, forgot that). Beach chairs and beverages for lounging at the summit. We carried snowshoes, but they never came off the packs.

    Comments: When I checked the Observatory current summit conditions prior to departure, I was stunned to see a wind speed reading of 2.1 mph!! We knew the forecast had been for greatly diminished winds, but non-existent wind? Hit the refresh button a couple of times, and confirmed that the window of opportunity we had hoped for was indeed open.

    Met Creaky Knees, Spaderman, Mad Dog Murray, and Roy T. at Macy's at 5:00 a.m., and headed for the hills. There were already several cars in the Marshfield Base Station lot as we prepped for the start, with overcast skies. Met one gentleman with a "100 highest hat" who was headed up Jewell; it appears that he was followed by a number of others during the course of the day. We hit the Ammo Trail at 7:30 a.m., with bare boots and high hopes.

    Ammo Trail was beautifully pounded out; many thanks to any and all previous trekkers. We were passed by one fellow from the group in the parking lot, who was headed for Monroe, and we reached Gem Pool at 8:30 a.m., after several brief stops to adjust layers, and to catch some early views up into the Ravine. That overcast was lifting.

    Began the steep portion of the ascent, and began to catch some sun and blue sky up in the area of the ledges/water crossings, which were well frozen over and easily crossed. By the time we were in the scrubeenie area, The Rockpile had magnificiently appeared, in sharp white contrast to the cerulean sky above. Beyond words.

    We reached Lakes Hut at just about 10:00 a.m., and stopped to eat, drink and be merry before tackling the final 1.4 mi. up the summit cone. The merriment included Creaky Knees texting a picture of his shirtless self to friends and family (bragging rights for sure). We saw another party on Monroe, who had dropped bags at the Hut, then it was time to saddle up and head for the top of New England.

    The Crawford Path was good, hard "styrofoam" for the most part, with some exposed rock and ice, and the aforementioned snowfield area, where you would not want to play slip and slide into the rocks below. Up we went, past the triple intersection with Tuckerman Crossover & Camel Trail, then the Davis Path, and the final .6 mi. to the top. Met a trio of guys who were doing the full one-day traverse from Appalachia; they had left at 2:00 a.m. - outstanding! As we went up the summit cone, some cloud cover engulfed Monroe and the hut behind us, but there was no wind, and the summit structures loomed before us.

    Creaky Knees and Mad Dog hit the top at just about 11:30, and all five of us whooped it up on the true summit hump, in bright sunshine and with an anemometer on top of the Obs that was not moving! Perfectly still, an extraordinary feeling. There was quite a bit of human activity on top, with folks coming up from the Tuckerman side, and what appeared to be a group from the Observatory engaged in weather-related data gathering. Two members of the Obs staff (Mike and Allie) were kind enough to take several shots of our motley crew on the deck, with the Northern Presis for a backdrop; Mike even clambered up on a small structure to get a better shot; many thanks for your help! Took my only tumble of the day when I hooked a crampon on my gaiter, which Roy was delighted to get a picture of, then it was time for some lunch in the sun, just drinking it all in. Everyone agreed that this had to be the finest winter hiking day we had ever experienced.

    We spent a full hour on top, and by 12:30 we began picking our way back down Crawford Path. Met one fellow who was just coming in on the Crawford Path; smiles said it all. Met another trio (from Bartlett, Essex MA, and Portsmouth) a little further down, and stopped to chat a bit, then continued slowly downward, taking some extra care in the area of the snowfield. The cloud cover was now obscuring any view of the Hut, or the Monroe summit, which Spaderman and Roy Boy had gone ahead to tag; they both needed it for their winter list. Stopped for a few minutes at Lakes, reestablished contact with Spaderman & Roy, then began the descent on Ammo a little before 2:00 p.m.

    After the ledge areas, it was time for some sitz-luging (butt slides), and Mad Dog could easily qualify for the East German team (if it still existed). Great fun. We got back down to Gem Pool a little before 3:00 p.m., and emerged at Marshfield at 3:30 p.m.; and eight hour round trip, which yielded Winter No. 46 for me, an encore performance for Creaky Knees, Winter Nos. 32 & 33 for Spaderman, and Mad Dog's No. 9 in Winter (I think?), and his first ever ascent of Washington. Well done amigo! Burgers and brew at Fabyan Station followed.

    The Winter of Redemption Tour may resume next weekend on Owls Head; we shall see. My thanks to four good friends for fine company and effort on a memorable day.
    "...You may recall that sweep of savage splendor, a land that measures each man at his worth; and feel in memory half fierce, half tender, the brotherhood of men who know the North." Robert W. Service (1909)

    Winter 4K NH 48/48 (2009); Winter 4K VT 5/5 (2012) Winter 4K ME 4/14 (2014) Winter 4K New England 57/67

  2. #2
    Senior Member Wolfgang's Avatar
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    Met one gentleman with a "100 highest hat" who was headed up Jewell; it appears that he was followed by a number of others during the course of the day.


    Great Pumpkin,

    That was me that you were talking to in the morning. Indeed the majority went up the Ammo. Great day and trail report.

    Wolfgang

  3. #3
    Senior Member TrishandAlex's Avatar
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    Sounded like a perfect day to do Washington. Nice TR, congratulations!
    [B][SIZE=3]Patricia Ellis Herr (TRISH...ALEX...SAGE)


    Those who say it cannot be done should get out of the way of those doing it. --Chinese proverb.

    For more info about The Terrifying 25, contact me at patriciaellisherr@hotmail.com or search for The Terrifying 25 on Facebook.

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    Senior Member MadRiver's Avatar
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    Well done.
    What do you mean he don't eat no meat? Ok, I'll do lamb.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Mad Townie's Avatar
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    Pumpkin, if you add an hour to your TR it could be mine! same times to all the landmarks, plus seeing the stationary anemometer and the amazing color contrasts. If the guy you met arriving (as you were leaving) was huffing and puffing and had a white beard and glasses, that was me. Yup, I certainly was smiling! (Darren, don't you have a smiley with a bigger smile? This one doesn't do it for a day like we had up there!)

    Didn't see anyone I knew all day except at the parking lot in the morning (Rocket21, heading to Appalachia to do the 5 pack southbound) and afternoon (Drewski and Youngblood, who had done the 5 pack to Madison).

    A glorious, glorious day. 28/48W and 36/67W, gotta get moving on my home state!

    Edit: Forgot to mention that I met Drew from VT (not Drewski, a different Drew) and Eric from ME on the mountain. Didn't know 'em before, figure I know 'em a bit now. Great hiking and chatting with both you guys!
    Last edited by Mad Townie; 02-17-2009 at 10:08 PM.
    Mad Townie

    Take long walks in stormy weather or through deep snows in the fields and woods, if you would keep your spirits up. Deal with brute nature. Be cold and hungry and weary. - H. D. Thoreau

    Easy trails, nice days and comfort are good, too. - M. Townie

  6. #6
    Senior Member Mad Townie's Avatar
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    Finally got around to uploading my photos on Webshots.
    Mad Townie

    Take long walks in stormy weather or through deep snows in the fields and woods, if you would keep your spirits up. Deal with brute nature. Be cold and hungry and weary. - H. D. Thoreau

    Easy trails, nice days and comfort are good, too. - M. Townie

  7. #7
    Member Great Pumpkin's Avatar
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    Hello Mad Townie: Nice to speak with you however briefly as we began the descent on the Crawford Path last week. Thanks for posting your excellent collection of pictures from that extraordinary day. Between the five of us, we must have a hundred or more shots, and since I am a 19th century techno-incompetent, I haven't gotten around to putting them together in cohesive fashion. Suffice it to say that your pictures certainly tell the tale of a day to remember.
    "...You may recall that sweep of savage splendor, a land that measures each man at his worth; and feel in memory half fierce, half tender, the brotherhood of men who know the North." Robert W. Service (1909)

    Winter 4K NH 48/48 (2009); Winter 4K VT 5/5 (2012) Winter 4K ME 4/14 (2014) Winter 4K New England 57/67

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