Saturday, March 7, 2015

A Perfect Hike to Mt Crawford

I slept in til 7:00 today, glimpsed at the bright, beautiful sun out the window and started my day rested but regretful we weren’t already on the road.  That’s how my mind works – always overthinking.  Thankfully, Ty and Tango aren’t like that.  They were stoked to eat breakfast and jump in the car.  I could learn a lot from them….

We reached the Davis Path trailhead on 302 in Hart’s Location (or thereabouts) eager to hit the trail.  One never knows how the Notch is going to be and I was downright giddy that the sun was still shining and the air temp was comparable to my age.  The trail was a highway and the snow wasn’t the mush-over-monorail it will soon become.  There were a few very brief stretches with some postholing but micros worked sufficiently well.  It was also obvious someone had a blast sledding.  The trail is definitely steep enough for it and while it’s a shorter hike than Kearsarge, North, it does seem steeper to me.  

Think she's excited?!

One of the many stellar views along the spur trail to the summit
About two miles in is the spur to Crawford.  Shortly after turning on the spur, I threw on the snowshoes.  It appears most folks are passing Crawford and heading on to Stairs.  Then came the day’s surprise as I reached the top of a short, steep section to look up and realize it was the exact spot we had been in 3 years ago, confused and feeling defeated.  I laughed out loud.  About a year before we started taking hiking seriously, we tried out the Davis Path.  I felt uncomfortable the whole way and, upon reaching this location, I couldn’t find the trail and turned around somewhere in its vicinity.  Today, I recognized the spot instantly and busted out laughing.  Today was such a different experience – so full of confidence and overwhelming joy.  I sympathized with my past hesitations as I looked around for the trail.  My eyes landed on the dogs ahead to the right and turned my shoes towards them, knowing they’ve proven to be great compasses.  Four minutes later, we were at the summit.  The first glimpse of the Presis knocked the wind out of me; I have been pining for another visit with them for months.  The wind only started whipping at the very top and it was intermittent.  The views from the summit are 360 spectacular degrees of mountains, from the Presis all the way down Crawford Notch.  I lingered as long as the dogs would allow and vowed to return soon!

Now to corral this back into a blog about dogs hiking!  Crawford is proof you don’t need to tackle a 15 mile hike, 4000 feet of elevation, or a day-long trek to connect with your pup(s) and get everything you could possibly ask for out of a hike in the Whites.  It is steep, at least in winter, in my opinion.  However, it is a short hike, only 2.5 miles each way.  It starts easy and there are only one or two reprieves along the way, but after the intersection with the spur, it improves and you have the super motivating views to keep you going.  The dogs did extremely well and thoroughly enjoyed jogging down.  At the summit, they have the sense to avoid the icy sections of rock and Ty vehemently refused to be anywhere near any remotely questionable rocks for a photo when the wind would pick up (smart girl, I tried very hard to convey my approval after asking her to move places she didn’t want to).  They do, however, love to lean over ledges when the air is calm ;) If hiking with inexperienced dogs, you may want to consider leashing them at the summit until they prove themselves. Great trial or half-day trip overall!
Tango in the lead running down
Packing up, I didn’t have to rush to avoid frozen limbs like the last few hikes.  I was even barefoot for a bit (this is significant to me!).  I laid the dog beds out on the ground, sat on the bumper, and unfolded the map for some mini-hikes.  Tango didn’t seem overworked and Ty definitely needed the extra exercise so we walked around Willey Pond (a little further up 302) and along the Saco at First Bridge Park in North Conway before heading home.  They’re both great places to let your dog stretch his/her legs if you’re passing through or vacationing.  Flat yet interesting, easily accessible, and provide nice views for humans. I’ve got a lot more to share, including a review of Ruffwear’s Omnijoring Hip Belt and introducing our new foster pup (tomorrow) but I think my Crawford story is long enough for one night.  Happy Trails all, thanks for your support!

Willey Pond from the parking area

View from the other side of the bridge

View from First Bridge Park in North Conway

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