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Thread: Southern Presidentials & Oakes Gulf

  1. #1
    Senior Member IQuest's Avatar
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    Jan 2012
    Canaan, NH

    Southern Presidentials & Oakes Gulf

    As I slowly fill in The Grid, I like to make littlle "mini grids" along the way, either for my winter list or for Marlie's next round of 4Ks. I have also taken on the task of redlining which IMO is more exciting than peak bagging since it guarantees seeing something new. This hike started out with Mt Eisenhower as a goal for Marlie's list. While Eisenhower is a nice peak it can be kind of a boring, short hike if only done by itself. Towards the end of the week I had caught wind that the Dry River Tr had reopened. I had my eye on the upper 4.4 miles through Oakes Gulf but was never really sure how I would get there as the Dry River Tr stretches 9.6 miles from US302 to Lakes of the Clouds Hut. I had also never been on the stretch of Crawford Path from the southern junction of the Mt Monroe Loop to the Mt Eisenhower Tr. Was there a way that I could combine these three objectives? I also needed Jackson and Pierce for September so I figured I might as well add them to the mix as well. After studying the map I came up with a crazy idea. :twisted:

    Marlie and I arrived at the Webster-Jackson trailhead just after 6 am. It was still too dark in the woods and I didn't feel like getting my headlamp out for 20 minutes so I tried to take a quick ciesta. About 5 minutes after closing my eyes I heard a noise ouside my truck. It was a little fox scurrying about the paking lot before crossing the road and heading into the woods. Finally at 6:20 it was light enough to see and Marlie and I headed up the Webster-Jackson Tr stopping at Bugle Cliff for a glimpse of some valley fog.

    We then kept a steady pace up the Jackson Branch to the summit of Mt Jackson, which we reached at 8:00 am. From here Oakes Gulf was about 8 miles away. :shock: And I was starting to wonder what I getting into.

    After a granola bar and a biscuit we headed north along the Webster Cliff Tr to Mizpah Hut. Then after a short side trip to Nauman Tentsite (redlining technicality) Marlie and I headed down the Mt Clinton Tr and then the Dry River Cutoff. To be honest, back in June when I was first on these trails, I couldn't imagine ever being on them again. But here we were, heading down this time.

    Dry River Cutoff

    At the bottom, before reaching the Mt Eisenhower Tr there are two brook crossings. At the first, go slightly upstream to find the trail on the opposite side and at the second the trail crosses next to an enormous boulder. Another option would be to descend the first brook to the confluence the ascend the second to the large boulder (the boulder is about 10 feet high). This area threw me off a bit in June and there was evidence of the same happening to others. Some trail definition in this area would be useful. Once at the Mt Eisenhower Tr we dropped down to cross a very low running Dry River then turned left on the Dry River Tr. The next 4.4 miles would be all new to me.

    .2 miles up from the Mt Eisenhower Tr was Dry River Falls.

    The Dry River Tr was over all in great shape. Just before Dry River Shelter #3 was this large washout.

    Even more impressive than the large boulders hanging above, ready to fall, was the way nature was starting to reclaim the sandy washout. Moss was already growing as well a small trees. Once at Dry River Shelter #3 I was surprised to find it in such great shape. I could smell wood smoke and the fire pit was still warm. Evidence of someone spending the previous night there.

    A short distance above the hut, we met Steve, a volunteer from the Mt Washington Observatory. He had been redlining trails down from the summit then hiking back up each day. As we talked, another person and his dog came up behind us. It was John and Pepper. We had last seen them in June just a few miles down the Dry River Tr at the Mt Clinton junction. It was funny and a treat to see them again. This time they were hiking the legnth of the Dry River Tr, then descending along the Davis Path and the western portion of the Isolation Tr. After saying goodbye to Steve we headed up to Oakes Gulf and climbed our way up to the Lakes of the Clouds Hut.

    Lots of blowdowns have been cleared along the floor of Oakes Gulf.

    Boot Spur rises above.


  2. #2
    Senior Member IQuest's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Canaan, NH
    Once above treeline the views were awe inspiring, from a perspective that I had not seen before. The alpine foliage made things even better.

    Soon we topped out and descended a short distance past the upper lake to a closed for the season LOC hut.

    I had planned on refilling my water here for the convenience but that wasn't going to happen. Filtering water from the LOC didn't seem that appealing either so I decided to try and stretch the the remaining 48 oz that I had for both of us and continue on. John and Pepper were headed to Mt Monroe before heading to the Davis Path. I had been there twice already in September so I decided to stay on the Crawford Path and skirt around the East Side, which I had only done once before.

    Goodbye Pepper, until next time...

    Looking back at what we just climbed.

    And where we were headed.

    I thought this one yellow tree on the side of Mt Franklin was interesting.

    Looking back at Monroe from Franklin.

    I had never been on this next section of the Crawford Path and I don't know why. Mt Franklin is a worthy destination in itself. I was under the impression that there was a short side path but it is actually a loop. So, after looping around I headed north on the Crawfoed Path to the upper end of the loop then headed south again. "Leave no stragglers" I was once told. :roll: I was really enjoying this area although not looking forward to the climb up Eisenhower.

    The climb went fairly well, with the lower switch backs then then final push. I found a towel on my way up and returned it to it's owner where she replied, "That was my request to throw in the towel." At the summit, it was mobbed with people sprawled out all over the vegatation. :x The summit cairn is slightly shorter than in the past due to all of the people climbing it for pictures. We rationed some more water here then made the final push for Mt Pierce. Here we tagged the summit, had one last snack and made it down the Crawford Path, and followed the Saco Lake Tr around the east side of the lake, returning to my truck 1 hr and 20 minutes after leaving the summit of Mt Pierce. At 4:40 pm, after 19 miles and 5900' of elevation gain, I was tired, thirsty and sunburned, but it was all worth it. An epic adventure to say the least. Thank you Marlie for giving me this idea.

    The rest of the pics:

    NETC: http://www.newenglandtrailconditions...?entryid=18264

  3. #3
    Senior Member yogi's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Kennebunk, ME
    Very cool. Thanks for posting this.

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