Jackson & Pierce
...and a turnaround before Eisenhower
PeaksJackson (4052ft), Pierce (4902ft)
TrailheadCrawford Notch (Highlands Center)
TrailsWebster-Jackson, Webster Cliff, Crawford Path
Total Distance10.5 miles, 3,885ft elevation gain
TimeStart: 9:00am, 5:43 Round Trip
WeatherSunny, chilly, and way windy
Trail ConditionsFully winter — snow and ice and some slushy bits
GearSpikes, and I brought snowshoes and could have used them
Partners in CrimeRye
Winter is here in the Whites and I couldn’t be happier! What a beautiful, albeit windy day to tromp around in the snow. My car’s thermometer read low 20s at both the start and finish, so I reckon the wind chill above treeline was well below zero. Hence, why we turned around before getting to the really gusty section up to the summit of Eisenhower. (Read about a hike where we actually summited it here).
Webster-Jackson up to Mount Jackson was pretty moderate, as usual. The trail had a decent pack on it but parts were icy so I threw on my Hillsound spikes pretty early on. There was one well-trod path past the first major stream crossing leading off the trail that confused myself and another group of hikers. Luckily, Rye has some pathfinding skill so she, having run ahead on the correct trail, came back and redirected me on the right course.
All was cozy and warm until we reached the last scramble up above treeline, then we were assaulted by the wind. It was a battle between heart and frozen face as I quickly snapped some photos of the awe-inspiring view of early-winter-white Whites and the brilliant blue skies behind them. We rambled off the summit as quick as we could muster on toward Pierce on Webster Cliff Trail, the first bit of which is quite steep, and definitely made easier by some serious snow accumulation to pad the getaway landing.
Once in the shelter of the trees, I put on my extremely high gaiters as the trail from here was expectedly less-travelled. Noticing the wind had given Rye a chill too, I put my vest on her and fastened it tight around her waist using a safety pin. She got way more compliments on it than I ever do.
Warm again and giddy at finding ourselves in the midst of a mid-November winter wonderland, we made our way across the ridge. We didn’t see anyone until we got to Mizpah Hut, and then we passed a few groups on the final climb to Pierce. We all milled around up there as it was sheltered from the wind, and debated the option to head up to Eisenhower. Some folks coming back from that direction looked pretty wind-swept, but I could see a few groups making their way up, and it was still early, so I decided to try it.
We made it a bit over halfway when I noticed Rye seemed cold and bothered by the slippery ice on the exposed sections of rock. I was ok, but every time we left the trees, my wool gaiter wasn’t doing enough to protect my face from the cold (note to self: purchase some ski goggles for conditions such as this.) So we turned back, happy to have spent some more time soaking up the views of majestic Eisenhower, and patting myself on the back for practicing safe decision-making for myself and the four-legged mountain fashionista. It was a quiet and easy hike down the mountain once we met back up with Crawford Path.
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