If you've read much or any of the other annual journals on this website
you know that one of Jim's and my favorite inside jokes over the years
is, "Well, you aren't 35 any more."
It's a wry observation when one of us whines during a run, hike, or
bike ride because it's hard, or we're really sore the next day.
It clearly means, "What the heck did you expect at
Above and below: Rocks on the Crawford
Path in the first mile of this hike
Today's hike in the Presies was tough. After struggling up and over
rough, rocky footing for a couple hours I suddenly said out loud to
myself, "You know, you aren't 56 any more! What the heck did you
That just cracked me up enough to laugh out loud and have more fun
the rest of the way to the summit!
Views like these make it all
worthwhile to me. Look at the layers of blue ridges in the
I stopped grumbling and kept thinking how grateful I was that, at age
65, I was still able to get up above treeline and hike these gnarly
trails, even if I wasn't moving as fast and easily as nine years ago
when I did the Appalachian Trail Adventure from Georgia to Maine.
Come to think of it, I did my share of whining then, too, remembering
how fast I could have done it when I really was only 35 . . .
YOU DIDN'T WASTE ANY TIME, DID YOU?
That was the surprised response I got from our younger friend,
Eric, who we've known since the end of our A.T. Adventure in 2005. He
lives in Maine on the eastern side of the Whites and knows all these
trails like the back of his hand. We've been in contact this summer
because we plan to get together with him and his wife a couple times
while we're nearby.
Eric knew I wanted to hike up to Washington's summit again but
thought I'd work up to it a bit more gradually by doing some easier hikes first.
Ha! First full day in the Whites and I tackled Washington, the
highest peak -- with the worst potential weather -- in the
Above and below: Note the iron chains bolting
the summit stage office to the ground!
I admit I wasn't fully trained for it but I saw a short, sunny
weather window and decided to take advantage of it today. [At this point
we didn't know we'd be here two weeks instead of one.] Climbing this
mountain again was my Number One priority during our stay in New
So, no, I didn't want to waste that opportunity.
DIDJA MAKE IT TO THE TOP? YOU
Yes, despite sub-optimal training. Determination (hard-headedness?) goes
a long way. I've made it up and down much higher peaks in the Rockies
with about the same proportional training as this.
I may not be 56 any more but I was still able to hike pretty well in the
southern Presies today, including up to the 6,288-foot summit of Mt.
Washington. In ten more years I'll probably have forgotten --
again -- how rocky the trail is, and I may want to try out my
knee replacements on this course. <wink>
Up and over
some rocks on the ridge
Not all of my route was the same today as it was during our A.T.
Back then, on Day 120 (August 27, 2005), I covered 12.6 miles going
northbound from Crawford Notch/US 302 to Washington's summit, crossing
over or contouring around Mts. Jackson, Pierce (AKA Clinton),
Eisenhower, Franklin, and Monroe en route to Mt. Washington.
I didn't think I'd be able to go that far today in daylight so I figured
out a way to shorten the route by about four miles. There are several
side trails up to the ridge and I used one of those.
I didn't go over Mt. Jackson this time, the most southerly Presie peak, and I came out on the ridge a
little past the summit of Mt. Pierce, the second peak heading north.
north slope of Mt. Pierce, looking toward Mt.
My stats in a
I began hiking at 7:30 AM and took 6:23 hours to walk 8.43 miles
over predominantly rocky, rooty terrain with 5,197 feet of elevation
gain and 894 feet of loss.
The elevation gain and loss would have been even greater if I'd gone
over the tops of Mts. Pierce, Eisenhower, and
Monroe instead of following the A.T. around and a little below their
summits. I did hit the high point on Mt. Franklin.
My lowest point was 1,902 feet at the trailhead and the high point was 6,288 feet
on Washington's summit.
Close to, but not over, Mt. Monroe: contouring around the NE side of
This was a special hike for me and I took over 300 pictures;
Jim also took some photos. I'm including over 60 of them here, spread
over two pages so they are easier to load.
ASCENT TO THE RIDGE
The first third of this hike was new to me.
Jim drove me to the Crawford Path trailhead on Mt. Clinton Rd. in
Crawford Notch, a little over eight miles south of the US 3/302
intersection at Twin Mountain.
The old Crawford Path, which was built in 1819, begins on US 302 but
there is no parking at that location. I hiked a 4/10ths-mile connector
to the main Crawford Path. The rest of my route was on the A.T., which
runs contiguously with the Crawford Path to Mt. Washington.
The connector path is marked with blue blazes
(can't see them here) and is full of roots.
Here's another photo from the connector trail to
the Crawford Path:
Then I followed the main Crawford Path for about 2½
miles on the western side of Mt. Pierce to the ridge connecting the
southern Presie peaks.
Although the trail was very rough as I
gradually ascended the mountain I enjoyed the scenery and hiking next to
a creek with pretty falls:
The flora morphed as I climbed higher and higher, with beautiful
evergreens, birch trees, ferns, flowers, and moss that reminded me of
what I saw in the rainforests of South Central Alaska two years ago.
In the Whites, evergreens (white pines, red pines, hemlocks, etc.) and
mixed hardwoods (birch, maples, oaks, beech trees, etc.) abound below
elevations of 3,000 feet.
Boreal forest with birch, spruce, and fir trees predominate from about
3,000 feet to the timberline.
everything that doesn't move.
flowers resemble dogwood blooms. These were at about 3,500 feet.
These little alpine flowers were growing above treeline at
about 5,500 feet.
The trail was very wet, sometimes resembling a creek, but thankfully
most of the rocks were dry today. I discovered how treacherous they can
be during the sleet storm I encountered on Mt. Madison, just north of
Mt. Washington, on Day 121 during the A.T. Adventure.
Smooth, slanted bedrock like this is
treacherous when wet or icy.
I hiked for almost an hour without seeing a soul. Before the
intersection with the cut-off for the Mizpah Springs hut I saw about a
dozen hikers descending the mountain. They said they spent the night at
I continued left on the main Crawford Path, contouring gradually up the
northwest side of Mt. Pierce to the ridge. The trail remained treed and
I didn't see anyone else for another hour.
HIKING ALONG THE RIDGE
It was 2.87 miles from the parking area to the junction on Mt. Pierce
where the A.T. runs contiguously with the old Crawford Path.
The elevation at that point was 4,220 feet and I was still in some low
I could finally see down into Crawford Notch (the valley) briefly near
the intersection with the A.T. on the north side of Mt. Pierce
. . .
. . .
but soon descended into taller trees and
didn't have great views again until I started climbing up Mt. Eisenhower.
That was the pattern all along the ridge --
awesome panoramic views above treeline when I was near each of the
southern Presie peaks and down into the trees again between each of them.
into the trees between Mts. Pierce and Eisenhower
I noted that the tundra above treeline in the Presies is also very
similar to the terrain in Alaska, with lots of wet areas and bog boards:
spots between the peaks were often wet,
boards in various stages of deterioration.
NO DEJA VU ALL OVER
I thought following the A.T. would be more intuitive than it was so I
didn't bother reading my old guide before this hike, just my 2005 web
journal. I forgot that New Hampshire uses old trail names and has few
white A.T. blazes.
My first question was
the intersection with the trail that goes up and over Mt. Eisenhower --
was I supposed to stay on the Crawford Path and contour around the east
side of the mountain just below the summit or go over the top?
South side of Eisenhower
North side of Mt. Eisenhower, facing Mt. Franklin
I just kept following the Crawford Path after I got up on the ridge, which
I believe is what the A.T. does from the north side of Mt. Pierce to Mt.
Washington. A couple signs said "Appalachian Trail" and
occasionally I'd see a white blaze on a tree or rock.
Most of the time the trail was just marked with rock cairns on the
rock cairn on the left.
I didn't worry at all about getting lost. All I had to do was stay on or
near the ridge and aim for the next peak to the north!
In retrospect I would have had better views if I'd summitted Eisenhower
and Monroe but descending their north slopes would have been harder on
Since I couldn't remember exactly what I did nine years ago much of what I saw
today seemed new.
Thru-hiker ahead as we walk toward Mt. Monroe; I
live for views like these!
Jim's got the same problem with campgrounds, towns, and trailheads along
the Appalachian Trail. We simply can't remember most of the places where
we were in New England during the A.T. trek, either because we were so
focused each day on all the things we had to do or because we've been to
so many other places since then.
I joked to Jim that this is good because it all seems new again to us!
(Reminds me of a not-so-funny saying about older people with dementia.)
Continued on the next
page . . .
"Runtrails & Company" - Sue Norwood, Jim O'Neil,
Cody the ultra Lab, and Casey-pup
© 2014 Sue Norwood and Jim O'Neil