Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Mount Crawford

Crawford Notch to the left, much of the southern Presi's ridgeline all the way to Washington (in the clouds) just right of center.
Distance: 5 miles roundtrip 
Duration: 3 hours 

Yesterday, the pups and I, including Molly who is with us for the week, took a hike up Mt Crawford in Crawford Notch.  We were to meet up with friends from Mass but they were delayed and I made the decision to get underway, much to the relief of two very antsy dingoes!

The summit is reached via the Davis Path and a small (.3 mi) spur trail to finish off the ascent.  The Davis Path holds a lot of history and was originally built for horses so the grades are moderate.  They didn't quite seem it when we started out though, as I tried to make up for lost time!

Our hike started as a nice, 15 minute walk and I noticed the leaves are being packed down nicely by foot traffic.

The first set of rock stairs indicated the start of the incline and is likely very enjoyable if one take's her time, unlike what I was doing!

From about .8 miles in to a couple tenths shy of the junction the trail was pretty uniform.  While it wasn't steep, it did not offer many breaks, reminding me of the Tuckerman Ravine Trail to the Hermit Lake Shelter.

A couple slow switchbacks maintained the grade we'd been accustomed to as the elevation rose. Fifty minutes into our hike, the trail evened out quite nicely and I knew were were nearing the junction.  Before that point, we came upon the first open, rocky vista.  Since we were now exposed to the wind (on and off), I put on my shell and put Ty's new Quinzee coat, courtesy of Backcountry K-9 for testing, over her pack.  The trail headed back into the trees, then over more exposed areas before reaching the junction.
A couple icy patches but nothing like what we
traversed on the Crawford Path two weeks ago.

 The spur started off heading straight up a steep incline.  The trail weaved between open rock faces and pines for most of its .3 mile/10 minute duration, barely gaining elevation.  Within a hundred yards of the summit, Ty knew we were close and started to trot.  I tried to keep up but ledges + dog on leash + random patches of ice put me more at a speed walk pace!  Looking down for footing, I always love how sudden the first glimpse of the Presidentials is.  Just up ahead was the official summit and ledges.  There were a couple small herd paths, they'll all get you to the right place and the summit is relatively small.  Catching views of all the snow-capped peaks on the drive to the trailhead, I had fantasies of epic pictures to come with all the pups.  Those thoughts quickly fizzled when I asked for a "sit stay" and got it - with pouting, puckered faces at the strong wind and disdain for standing still.  I abandoned my efforts and we headed down at a good clip.
The pitch at the beginning of the spur

First glimpse of the Presi's
My oh-so cooperative team.  To their credit, at least they stuck
with their positions when the wind blew!

About 20 minutes later, after cruising back onto the Davis Path, we ran into our friends we had intended to hike up with, Maeghan and Renato, on their way up.  After some contemplation, they turned around and we headed down together.  For the most part, after the first quarter mile or so, I was somewhat surprised by the ease of the descent.  We could've jogged it!  I suppose that means if one doesn't try to power up faster than necessary, the ascent isn't so difficult either.  There was not much picking around rocks and the grade was perfect for a fast speed - elevation loss was quick enough to pick up the pace but not so steep we spent our energy trying to slow down.

An hour later, we were back at our cars.  This is a great short hike.  Maeghan has some nasty knee issues for her youth but did excellent, heading both up and down.  While she and Renato missed the summit, they had done the vast majority of the elevation gain.  The rocky slabs they missed offer fantastic views that take me aback, even on cloudy days.  At times, they are easy to get a little off trail on.  Thankfully, I have dogs I trust implicitly and who never steer me wrong, but I finally (third time up this trail) noticed the faded blazes on the ground.  Those will help too!

The girls, naturally, napped in the car but could've gone for hours more.  Tango did quite well after a warm-up period; the grade and good footing were beneficial to him and he took the whole hike in stride.  There were not many water sources this time of year for them but there are a few patches of ice.  They absolutely love exploring the exposed slabs and I love how enchanting and easy the last half mile or so is, skirting in and out of the evergreens. As nice as this trail is, I am really looking forward to snowshoe season!

Post hike shenanigans - Ty inspecting under the hood for mice

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