Monday, February 11, 2013

Mt. Pierce via Crawford Path

Hiking Crawford Path is always a marvel considering that in 1819 Abel Crawford and his son Ethan Allen cleared this path all the way to treeline. Then in 1940, Abel was the first to ascend via horseback the 8.5 miles to Mt. Washington.
The forecast for yesterday from the Mt. Washington Observatory was for sunshine from dawn to dusk. After Winter Storm Nemo dropped 1-2 feet of snow, it was a perfect day to hike into the high Presidentials. We chose the 4,312-foot Mt. Pierce, a steady but relatively easy hike up Crawford Path. Snow clung to the trees and hikers ahead of us had packed down a perfect snowshoe track.
Shadows and snow created beautiful scenes along the trail. For me, winter hiking is as much about pausing to enjoy the buds, birds, snow patterns, and animal signs, as taking in the grand views.
We were surprised at how few hikers we saw along the way. Perhaps many people were still tired from shoveling snow or were still trying to dig out. There were a dozen or so other hiking parties of twos and threes and a few solo hikers, but often the hike to Mt. Pierce is crowded with hikers. Many of the folks yesterday were continuing on to Mt. Eisenhower. They had a clear, if windy and bony path to the peak. Compared to a year ago, when we climbed Mt. Pierce, the visibility yesterday was crystal clear. Here's a comparison of the view in February 2012 and 2013. 
The short climb from Crawford Path to the top of Mt. Pierce was windswept, leaving mostly exposed rocks and ice. The views though, were spectacular.
When we reached the summit, a couple was getting ready to descend, lamenting that they hadn't seen any gray jays. No sooner had they dropped down out of sight, then two gray jays swooped in. Kodi was excited to see the jays, chasing them around the stunted spruce.
After a final look around the windswept summit and gazing out at Mt. Washington and its lower brethren, we too began our descent in search of a more protected spot for some hot soup and a sandwich.


  1. As said many times before, but it bears repeating. I love your reporting style, and you have such a keen eye for capturing uniquely beautiful photos! For this report, I particularly love the top panel of your triptych with the framed view of golden beech (right?) leaves contrasted against the white snow.


  2. Hi John,

    Thanks for the nice comment. Yes, that is a beech, so beautiful against the white snow. The lower section of Crawford Path, within the Gibbs Brook Scenic Area, was just as lovely as the scenery up high. We were fortunate with the weather on Sunday, squeezed in between Saturday's snow and Monday's rain.