Mt. Jefferson, #27, 9.18.2010

Since the weather was looking good for the weekend, I asked my son if he wanted to hike up Mt. Jefferson via Caps Ridge Trail.  He liked the idea of a shorter trail, and didn’t mind that there would be a steep section, but was a little concerned that I didn’t want him to wear a pack and that I’d carry all the supplies.  I wanted him to have fun climbing the caps and scrambling over rocks and not to worry about being off balance because of a pack.  He didn’t yet understand the challenge of the caps!

We started off towards Jefferson Notch, parked and headed towards the summit via Caps Ridge Trail.

Sign near the entrance to the parking lot.

Caps Ridge trailhead sign.

The first part of the trail is not difficult, with a little elevation gain after a series of log bridges over some boggy areas.  The remainder of the trail to the pothole rocks was easy and through the trees the views started to open up.

Once we started up the caps, we were hiking through the clouds with intermittent sunshine.  We could look behind us and a see a cloud layer in the valley and a cloud layer above us.  My son thought that the lower cloud layer looked like an ocean and that the higher peaks looked like islands rising out of the ocean.

Hiking between two cloud layers.

After the junction with the Cornice, it remained foggy and at one point my son remarked that we were probably wouldn’t have any views.  Since we were getting closer to the summit, I suggested that we keep going, we’d at least bag the peak.  Amazingly and an answer to prayer, once we got very close to the summit, the clouds lifted and we were able to start getting some fantastic views.

The two of us at the summit.

While at the summit, we enjoyed the view over to Mt. Washington and could see quite a few cars on the auto road.

Mt. Washington, with the auto road on the left and the Cog railway on the right.

Mt. Washington from another angle.

It remained sunny the rest of the day and as a result, most of the photos were taken on the way down, rather than the way up.  After enjoying the summit, we headed back to the car.  It took a little longer as we stopped to take photos, chatted with other hikers and generally picked our way down carefully out of the rocks and the caps.

Headed back down to the junction of Caps Ridge Trail and The Cornice.

View down towards the caps, while descending.

Descending through the scrub toward the highest cap.

The caps themselves were interesting to hike over, as there was some ledge scrambling to do, while keeping an eye out for the next cairn or blaze.  The idea is to follow the cairns and blazes to stay headed in the right direction and on the trail.  My son and I did not always agree on the best way to get to the next cairn, but we always ended up at the cairn at the same time.

Section of a cap with both a blaze and cairn.

Descending around a rocky section; in this case, the trail was easy to follow.

Looking back toward a steep little section, the trail leads you to the scrub at the bottom of the photo; try to spot the hiker in the upper right quadrant of the photo.

Once we got the pothole rocks, we stopped to take some pictures of the ridge we just hiked and the rocks themselves.

Looking up to the caps from the pothole rocks.

The pothole rocks, the large depressions were left by glacial action and melting.

After the pothole rocks, the footing was better so we decided to pick up the pace and do some trail running back to the car.  My son was in the lead and if he thought it was too steep, rocky or rooty, he would slow down and walk.  That made the last mile pass by quickly and soon enough we were on the log bridges and back at the car.

We had a great hike, and couldn’t have asked for the timing to be any better as to the change in weather.  Caps Ridge is a relatively short trail, at only 2.4 miles from the parking lot to the summit, but it is interesting, challenging and has a variety of scenery and views.

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