Monday, June 27, 2011

Mt Eisenhower

Just as we were basking in the warmth of the Summer Solstice last Tuesday, the weather turned. A day of rain on Wednesday, which followed a few days of sun earlier in the week, was perfect timing for the garden. But the rain continued for nearly 5 days and the air was chilly. This felt like the third or fourth such rainy period in the last few months.

A benefit is that we can continue to postpone spring and summer cleaning -- the dreaded window washing, carpet cleaning, and other household chores that one should do more regularly, especially if you have an active dog like Kodi. Yesterday's weather looked more promising, but instead of chores, we opted to head north for a hike up Edmands Path to Mt Eisenhower. A fine choice.

Edmands Path is a nearly perfectly designed trail created, in part, by Rayner Edmands in the early 1900s. The upper stretches have rocks placed by Edmands for ease of hiking. The initial stretch of this 3.3 mile trail to the top of 4,760-foot Mt. Eisenhower is an easy grade as it passes through a lush northern hardwood forest. Surprisingly we encountered few mosquitoes, despite the humid air.

Wood sorrel (Oxalis montana) along Edmands Path

Abenaki Brook crossing on the Edmands Path

The elevation gain from the trailhead on Mt. Clinton Road to the peak is 2,750 feet, so after the initial gentle grade, the path begins a steeper, steady climb into a forest of spruce and yellow birch, with a mossy understory. At about 2.5 miles the trail crosses a small brook cascading over a ledge, then begins to level out. Fog and clouds obscured the views. One hiker coming down said there was nothing to see on top. But the trailside offered beautiful arrays of bunchberry, lush ferns, mosses, and other small flowers. And as we emerged into the alpine zone above treeline, the tiny alpine plants were lovely amid the fog.

Bunchberry (Cornus canadensis) in full bloom, lines the trail

Fog obscures the high peaks, as we emerge above treeline

As our fellowship of 7 hikers plus Kodi hiked up into the fog, I paused here and there to peer down at the alpine flowers. Such small, hardy plants of extraordinary beauty living on these windswept ridges.

Diapensia (Diapensia lapponica) grows in pincushion-like mounds

Bearberry willow (Salix uva-ursi),
like the other alpine plants, is only a few inches high

Clockwise, from top left: bog laurel (Kalmia polifolia),
mountain cranberry (Vaccinium vitis-idaea),
rhodora (Rhododendron canadense),
labrador tea (Ledum groenlandicum), bog bilberry (Vaccinium uliginosum)

After a lunch atop Mt. Eisenhower with limited visibility, we descended back to Edmands Path via the Eisenhower Loop. A wonderful short loop that leads through more alpine flowers and offered glimpses south to Mt. Chocorua as clouds parted briefly. Then we left the alpine gardens and retreated down Edmands Path into the forest below.


  1. Excellent report Ellen! And, it was great to see the photo collage that you incorporated into your Blog report. Very nice!!


  2. Thanks again for your photo tip John. There really were great views despite the fog and clouds, if one just looked in the right places.