Sunday, February 19, 2012

Mount Pierce

We completed our first winter hike in the Presidential Range today, climbing the 4,312 Mount Pierce. Dozens of others had the same idea, given that the forecast called for clearing skies as the day progressed and this is one of the easiest winter hikes to the alpine zone. Crawford Path--our route to the summit--was a well-packed highway and yet we enjoyed solitude in the deep woods along much of the trail as we ascended.

Srini and Kodi cross the bridge on the cutoff from Mt. Clinton Road parking lot to Crawford Path
Kodi and Srini depart from a rest spot at the juncture of Crawford Path with the Mizpah Hut cut-off
 Kodi was thrilled to meet fellow canines on the trail including two playful golden retrievers
and then two gorgeous female Alaskan malamutes

As we drove north on Route 16 in the morning, Mt Chocorua and then Mt. Washington were brilliant under clear blue skies. Our destination though was Crawford Notch, which was socked in, as is often the case. This did not deter anyone from setting off on their various hikes and climbs from the Notch. We set out hoping the skies would clear by the time we reached the summit. As we climbed the views remained hidden.
But it was still beautiful in the woods. Off-trail the snow was deep in the woods, perhaps 5 or 6 inches of fresh powder over a crust. The evergreens were bowed down with snow. 
As we neared the alpine zone the wind increased and visibility declined. We added layers and goggles and pushed on to the junction with the Webster-Cliff Trail.

We turned right onto the Webster Cliff Trail and climbed the 0.1 miles to the top of Mt. Pierce. We initially missed the trail, but another hiker led us in the right direction. 

Kodi kicks up his paws in the alpine zone--he loves the intensity of the wind and the cold snow.
The trail is actually up hill and to the right of Srini and Kodi
 The summit was well-cloaked in clouds and fog

Several hikers continued on to Mount Eisenhower. We had planned to attempt that hike, but the visibility was low and with high winds we were not confident in finding the trail. Instead, we retraced out steps, finishing the hike in four hours. A fine hike despite the limited views.

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