Loopin' The Southern Presidentials From C-Notch, 5/18/2013


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Well-known member
Jul 18, 2005
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Nashua, NH
May 18, 2013: Loopin’ the Southern Presidentials From C-Notch (Monroe to Jackson)

Trails: Crawford Path, Monroe Loop Trail, Eisenhower Loop Trail, Webster Cliff Trail, Webster-Jackson Trail

Summits: Monroe, Eisenhower, Pierce, and Jackson

Hikers: Trail Trotter (Sue) and me

This is another hike I’ve been thinking about for a while. Several times, we’ve traversed these peaks from Base Road to Crawford Notch. It requires two vehicles or car-spot help. My interest was to see how looping these peaks from Crawford Notch would work out.

Bad News: this approach has more miles and more elevation.

Good News: this approach has more miles and more elevation, and there’s more time above the treeline to really enjoy the place.

We met early and headed north. Our plan was to be on-trail early. A little later than planned we started up Crawford Path headed for Monroe. The lower part of Crawford Path is generally clear and dry. We didn’t start to run into snow and ice until the area of Mizpah Cutoff. From the junction to the treeline we had snow, ice, monorail, and some mud to get past. None of it was a real problem. We managed to bare boot our way to the treeline, and beyond.

Between the junction with Webster Cliff Trail and the south end of Eisenhower Loop, there were quite a few sections of clear and dry ground; there were also quite a few areas of snow, ice, standing water, and mud. That’s spring hiking; take what you get and make the most of it. We didn’t have any trouble along the way with any of it. At the Eisenhower Loop we stayed right, followed Crawford Path around Eisenhower, and continued working our way to Monroe. We would get Eisenhower after we made the u-turn to head back south. As we passed along the eastern slope of Eisenhower there were a few places that were pretty icy but with a little extra caution we made our way through all of it without a problem.

Once we reached the junction with Edmands Path we were out of the snow and ice for the remainder of the way to Monroe. The trail was clear and dry. At the south end of Monroe Loop we made the turn and climbed to the top of Little Monroe before actually heading for the target. We decided to bypass it on our exit. The section of trail approaching the area of Monroe is the southern end of the endless rock-hopping that continues north through Madison. We were no longer hiking a relatively tame pathway but instead were going rock-to-rock in order to reach the summit of Monroe. The surface of the rocks is pretty rough and provides great traction; it also really tears into skin if you’re not careful. We were careful. Soon after making the turn onto Monroe Loop Trail we were standing on the summit enjoying the terrific views Monroe offers. We got our usual summit pictures, a few view shots, and made the u-turn for Eisenhower.

We made our way down from the summit of Monroe, re-joined Crawford Path, and followed it to the north junction with Eisenhower Loop Trail. I really enjoy ascending Eisenhower from the north. The trail goes through a few switchbacks and in no time at all with little effort you’re above the steep part of the climb and headed to the summit. As we approached the summit of Eisenhower we could see it was a very crowded place. We managed to find an opening in the summit crowd to get a couple pictures at the cairn. We also bumped into Linda with her canine companion. They were making a u-turn and heading south from Eisenhower. The people kept arriving from the south and north. We needed to put a few miles between us and Eisenhower and all took off together headed to Pierce.

Once back on Crawford Path we were hiking a section of trail we had covered earlier in the day. We knew about the hazards along the way and simply cruised through all of it. At the junction with Webster Cliff Trail Sue and I made the turn and kept hiking to the summit of Pierce. Linda stopped at the junction for a quick break. Pierce wasn’t nearly as crowded as Eisenhower but people were there when we arrived. We stayed long enough to get a few pictures. By the time we finished with the pictures, Linda arrived to the summit. We said our goodbyes and continued on our way; Sue and I were on our way to Jackson and Linda was on her exit hike.

As soon as we moved back below the treeline we were also back in snow and ice on the trail. The conditions remained easy to bare boot. Along the way we came to an area of snow that was soft and perfect; Sue dropped her pack and went to work. In a few minutes we had one of Sue’s snowy friends along side of the trail. It’s getting late but as long as there’s snow to be found there will be snowmen.

Soon after the snowman break we were passing over a section of open ledge above Mizpah Hut where we had a clear view to Jackson, our next target. We descended to Mizpah, made a quick stop and soon set off for our final stop of the day.

Prior to the hike, I was unable to find any reports of trail conditions describing the trail from Mizpah to Jackson. I knew how it has been in recent years and expected the worse conditions of the day to be in this section of the hike. I was right, but the trail wasn’t terrible. We watched our step and slowly made our way along to the area of the large bog and the string of bridges. By the time we reached that point the most difficult was behind us. From the bog to the summit there are areas of snow and ice but the hiking is better. The final climb to the summit was on bare ledge that was completely dry. The footing was great and the traction couldn’t have been better. Soon we were at the summit cairn for Jackson and we had the place to ourselves. There are definitely worse places to be on a sunny late afternoon. We took care of our usual summit pictures and were soon on our way. The only disappointing detail was the lack of gray jays – there was none on this visit.

From Jackson we’re on our exit hike. The Jackson Branch of the Webster-Jackson Trail would lead us back to Crawford Notch. The initial steep descent from the summit was on bare ledge and we had an easy time of it. Once back in the trees we needed to be more cautious due to the snow and ice. There were many sections that offered good traction due to all of the debris on the snow and ice. There were areas of wet ice that required a great amount of care. In one section the trail was very bad. Sue went with MICROSpikes and I decided to spend some time off-trail. Eventually, in a couple hundred yards, we were both bare booting the hike and it stayed that way to the trailhead. The really big blowdown that was between the trail split and summit has been removed. In fact, there were no blowdowns all day that I can recall.

The lower part of Webster-Jackson had the usual mud pits that were all relatively easy to get past. Not far from the trailhead we passed several hikers in a couple different groups and then we were out.

We started a little later than planned and finished a little earlier than expected. Hiking these four peaks from Crawford Notch isn’t a bad way to go. We made our usual quick stop at the Highland Center to change into dry clothes, retrieved a couple cold drinks from the cooler, and hit the highway south.

Pictures will follow.

Thanks for the trip report and photos. Enjoyed them as always. Must have been a great day. Dave -

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