Date of Hike: Nov. 6, 2012

Trails: Webster-Jackson, Webster Branch, Webster Cliff, Crawford Path

Trail Conditions: Normal pre-winter, post-storm conditions: In other words, snow, with some mud and messiness underneath it all and a couple of blowdowns. First I'll address the snow. This applies to all trails. It began with a dusting as we made our way up. This lasted the day as the temps were on the nippy side so melt was almost nil. The further we climbed the more sign of mountain weather we found: colder temps (though pretty calm), windblown snow on trees, sagging boughs, drifting snow, and rime ice. In the alpine zone and on the summits we noted anywhere from four inches to a foot-and-a-half in drifts. The rime was thick in this zone as well and very beautiful. Think frosting! There was some ice on the trails under the snow in places making Microspikes a blessing. Also applying to all trails: the crossings were easily doable with minimal ice on rocks still (the most difficult one was the Silver Cascade on the Webster Branch but it really wasn't bad). The Webster-Jackson Trail had one easy-over blowdown and was otherwise unremarkable. I don't recall any blowdowns on the Webster Branch. All trails had some mud and water, the worst, though, was the Webster Cliff Trail. Its boggy sections were still soft and the ice not yet thick enough to support a person; however, due to the snow cover, some of the bog bridges were more difficult to spot and negotiate. There was also more ice as I recall on this trail making some steeper parts a bit more challenging. Fun times with spikes, though. Crawford Path was no better or worse than The Webster-Jackson Trail, but it did have one fairly major, trail-blocking blowdown. Someone had started a bushwhack around it to the left on descent so that's the route we took as well.

Special Equipment Used: Microspikes were needed, and trekking poles were helpful, especially with crossings. Gaiters highly recommended as well, especially on the Webster-Cliff Trail.

Comments: I hiked with a good friend and we had a spectacular day on the mountains. The Whites were white, the skies were (mostly) blue. We followed sign of a man and his dog on the first part of the Webster-Jackson Trail but got to be the first to break out the Webster Branch -- on which we had a persistent gray jay encounter in the woods. A particularly gregarious pair of them followed us for maybe a half mile so we stopped to pay our respects with gorp every now and then. I got to touch them while they sat on my hand. We had another encounter later when visiting the boarded-up Mizpah Hut, but they were a LOT more skittish. We checked out Webster summit -- the only ones since the snow and remarked about the drifts among the rocks -- and when we got back to the Webster Branch junction we noted the man-dog team crossed our path heading down the way we ascended. We later saw sign of what we think was a second man and dog team, though we didn't see them either. The only people we actually saw all day were a very nice couple from Quebec. We met them .4 or so south of the Peirce summit. They told us they had wanted to climb Mt. Washington that day but when they asked about it at the Highland Center an AMC staffer warned them not to for fear of dying or some such thing. I thought that was really odd. They seemed to be very experienced and well-equipped hikers, and the summit of Mt. Washington looked amazing today, no clouds at all for most of the day from our view point.

What an awesome day for a hike! Oh, and the gray jays... wow; so cool.

Mike "Tramper" Cherim
Nottingham NH