This hike is from the Terrifying 25 list.
Mt Jefferson is 5,712 feet tall. One of the peaks in the Presidential Range with Mt Washington. We hiked it Sunday.
This was a let’s go get it, kind of trip. So we didn’t stop for lots of photos, and the story is straight forward. The weather almost made a different story. When we parked the car, the upper half of the mountain was swirling in clouds. From farther away we had seen lenticular clouds high over Mt Washington. As we climbed, the people hiking back down ahead of us reported miserable cold and rain. As predicted in the forecast, the clouds dissipated over the day. They were always just above us. The wind was intense. It was forecast to be 40-65 mph on top of Mt Washington. I once had to hold onto rocks to keep the wind from toppling me over.
Isaac did great. He spent much of the early part of the hike pointing out Indian pipe and telling us what he learned at Beaver Brook camp. I hadn’t expected the camp to improve his hiking much. After all they were only hiking one or two miles. But it’s turning out great. He now knows more plants and animals. Looking for them keeps him much more engaged during the hike. He hoped to find a red eft, but we didn’t spot any.
Tyson picked Mt Jefferson because there were two approaches on the Terrifying 25 list, Caps Trail and Castle Trail. Caps Trail was too short for my tastes. I suggested we try to up our mileage from last year and climb the 5 mile Castle Trail. I’m afraid we missed out on the terrifying part. The one place we climbed into the clouds was right at the castle rock formations. So we didn’t see the cliffs below us.
Tyson has never been up on the Presidential Range in the summer. I haven’t been since I was 10 years old. I had forgotten how rocky it is up there. In the winter, it’s smooth with snow. The last mile of the Castle Trail isn’t a built trail, it’s just a series of cairns leading across piles of rocks. I tweaked my knee somewhere hopping from rock to rock. It took a long time to do the last half mile to the summit.
After the summit, we descended via the AT and then the Israel Ridge trail. This too was rocky. Tyson’s knees now limited our speed. Isaac even got bored waiting for him. My knee got more and more tired until I had Tyson wrap it. I was really glad I had brought a hiking pole for the stream crossings. I almost never carry one, but with my knee, it made the descent a lot easier. Maybe I’ll add it to my regular list of gear.
My favorite spot on Israel Ridge trail was the cascades above Cabin Cascade Trail. The cascades made a notch in the woods that let the afternoon sun in. I liked the peaceful view out the flowing water, down the rocks, and into northern New Hampshire. We only had a moment to enjoy the view before we had to keep on.
The sun set before we got back to the car. But that’s ok. We had headlamps, and we had summitted Mt Jefferson. 10 miles and 4,200 feet of elevation.