Archive for December, 2008

Winter Hiking in Crawford Notch

December 26, 2008

Here’s the latest one, a sequel to the last Crawford Notch adventure. I actually did this hike way back on Nov. 19

In continuing to gear up and get ready for my first season of winter hiking I returned to Crawford Notch for the next exploration. I wanted to go back and “bag” Mt. Jackson (my 44th peak) since I was unable to do so on my previous attempt. The conditions were even more winter-like than before.
This time, instead of taking the Webster Cliff Trail up and over Mt. Webster on the way to Jackson, I opted to take a more direct route and used the Webster-Jackson Trail. This was good practice for winter hiking, as the conditions were very similar. I had to keep adding and subtracting layers of clothing to keep myself warm during but perhaps more importantly to avoiding overheating and sweating which leads to chilling that could potentially turn into hypothermia. I was also able to test out some traction devices as the trail was very icy in sections. I used microspikes and they were a big help.
The hiking was spectacular and despite only a little sun it was pretty warm while walking amongst the snow-laden trees. Above tree line and on the exposed Bugle Cliff, however, was entirely different story. The cliff offered an interesting perspective on Crawford Notch, the AMC’s Highland Center and the East side of Mt. Willard, but at the price of some exposure to very cold and fast winds.
Just below the summit was a steep ledge that was a little tricky to climb as it was covered in ice, but the change of pace added another “texture” to the trip. This section was short and was traversed fairly quickly. Just above this was the summit which was home to the coldest wind I’ve yet to experience. This was a big factor in also making this my quickest summit visit to date. I snapped a couple quick pictures and then I began the descent to the Notch, before my hands got to cold.
As actual calendar winter approaches I’m looking forward to some nice sunny, crystal clear days to get out there an experience this wondrous season. If you choose to do the same, and it’s you first time venturing out into the elements during the cold season, please be sure to be properly equipped, clothed, and educated in winter travel, it could save your life! If you’ve any questions feel free to ask them in the comments section here, give us a call, or ask in person at our resort. If we can’t answer your question we can direct you to someone who can. We have some great resources in the area. Have fun and be safe out there!

Enjoy the pictures and see you on the next trip!

Picture Descriptions:
A) From Bugle Cliff, looking across Crawford Notch to Mt. Willard (foreground), and the Willey Range (behind).

B) The sun playing hide-and-seek through the trees and clouds.

C) A gorgeous section of the Webster-Jackson Trail. The essence of the whole trip (and cold-weather hiking in general) is in this picture.

D) Trail signs at the summit of Mt. Jackson. This is facing west toward Crawford Notch again.

E) Also from the summit, looking northeast this time, the Southern Presidentials and Mt. Washington loom in the clouds.

F) Bonus Picture – I had to make a quick stop on the way home to take this picture of Mts. Liberty (left) and Flume (right) from the Flume Gorge parking area. This trip was done on 11/19/08 so they look even more “arctic” now.


Bluegrass & Breakfast at The Sugar Shack

December 17, 2008

I had the opportunity to go back home to Campton, NH for a few days last month to visit family and friends, and to “get away from it all”.  While I was there, I made a point to head over to The Sugar Shack on Route 175  in Thornton.

About 15 minutes from the resort, The Sugar Shack offers excellent pancake breakfasts on weekends year-round. Before I washed onto the shores of Cape Cod almost four years ago, I could be found there each and every weekend.

The cornerstone of The Sugar Shack’s appeal (beyond the great food, low prices, and friendly staff)  is the homemade maple syrup, made on site. During sugaring season, you can actually see maple syrup being made just in back of the restaurant. There’s also a mini-museum showcasing the history of the Benton family’s generations of maple syrup making.

Everything on the menu is fantastic and very affordable. Daily specials offer even more variety, and the atmosphere is country casual. The Benton family also runs a campground here, and this is also the site of the annual White Mountain Boogie & Blues Festival each August.

I highly  recommend making a special trip down to Thornton for a great breakfast. (Local’s Tip: It is busiest between 10am and noon on Sundays, just after church.) You’ll be sure to make it a “must visit” every time!

Crawford Notch

December 9, 2008

Crawford Notch is one of my favorite places to visit. It’s got a little something for everybody and it’s loaded with history. The oldest maintained footpath in all of the US is located here, the Crawford Path, which along with the notch itself is named after the famous Crawford family who used to own and operate the Crawford House here (located where the Highland Center now sits) and pioneered all through these mountains.

There are places you can sit and enjoy a picnic lunch while soaking in the mountain scenery and gorgeous lakes, there are also quick hikes that are kid-friendly while still offering views that are sure to please (Mt. Willard, I’m looking squarely at you), and not one but four of the White Mountain 4,000 footers (Mts. Tom, Field, and Willey on the West side and Mt. Jackson on the east) are also accessed from this mountain pass.

This past week (mid November) I decided I’d try to “bag” one of the few remaining peaks on my own NH 4000 Footers list, being the aforementioned Mt. Jackson. I decided to take the longer, and more strenuous , but also more scenic and rugged route up and over the Webster Cliffs and Mt. Webster then on to Mt. Jackson. Nature and my beat-up pair of boots had slightly different plans.

Starting off on the Webster Cliff Trail there was a dusting of snow on the ground about a centimeter deep, I knew this would slightly increase as altitude was gained, but it turned out to be less than I thought. The trek up the cliffs was fairly relaxed and went through some beautiful forest, but there were some icy sections that required some careful footing. Upon reaching the first open ledge of the cliffs I was mesmerized by the views off toward Mt. Carrigain, the Hancocks, and the Bonds. Also very captivating was the view across the notch and nearly straight down to the site of the Willey House. This was the location of the famous Willey Slide in 1826, a rockslide that careened down Mt. Willey and killed nine people, including the Willey Family and two hired hands, after barreling through the makeshift shelter they built for protection against such an event. In the ultimate ironic twist to this story, the house they fled from was untouched by the slide. Even the family’s dog survived, and some believe he still haunts these peaks. I didn’t make that last part up either, and for the record I never saw this “ghost dog” on my trip through the Willey Range.

Once I started getting closer to the top of Mt. Webster the snow and ice started to get a little thicker. It was at the summit of Mt. Webster itself that I decided to abandon the rest of the trip to Jackson and return the way I had come. I wasn’t wearing proper winter footwear and at this point my feet were getting cold. Still having a little over 6 miles to go I decided I was fond of my toes and wanted to keep them, despite the rest of my body wanting to continue onward. The trip thus far over the cliffs was magnificent and by itself was well worth the hiking I had done. I plan to go back out to Mt. Jackson via a different route next week and will be sure to bring you along with me, so to speak. Stay tuned and enjoy the pictures!

Photo Descriptions:
A) The view North through Crawford Notch from the Webster Cliffs. Mt. Willard is the small, ledgy peak at the end.

B) View down to the Willey House site, with Mt. Willey looming behind it. Many old rockslides visible on the slope.

C) View toward Mt. Carrigain (left) and the Hancocks (right).

D) The summit of Mt. Webster. The trees are coated in a mixture of snow and “rime ice”, which is essentially frozen fog.

E) View from Mt. Webster over snow-covered trees toward Bretton Woods.

Alex, The White Mountain Explorer