Last week was very busy and I had a bad cold, so I didn’t go hiking at all. With the weather looking really good and me feeling really good, Monday was a perfect day for another Carpool Challenge hike. I wanted to somewhere where I knew there would be snow as there isn’t much where I live, so I picked Jackson, which would also happen to have some nice views.
The drive up to the trailhead looked promising: bright blue skies, plenty of sunshine and no socked-in summits. I was the only car in the lot near the Webster-Jackson trailhead, but I wasn’t surprised, I don’t often see a lot of people on week day hikes. I headed across the 302 and into the woods and thought briefly about taking the shot spur trail to Elephant’s Head, but decided to wait on that for another day as I already had a list of errands to do after hiking. The trail was a mix of a small amount of packed snow and ice. I barebooted the first half mile or so, and then decided to put on the microspikes, which were the perfect amount of traction to be able to move a little more quickly and confidently over the icy spots.
The morning was shaping up to be beautiful – the further up I hiked, there was more snow and beautiful sunshine coming in through the trees, making everything sparkle. After a quick snack at the Webster-Jackson split, I headed up the rest of trail. The ledgy areas right near the top had mostly snow over ice, so traction wasn’t too bad. I stopped right before popping out of the trees and added a jacket for wind protection and then I was up and in the open on the ledges. The ledges had some ice, but also some snow cover mixed with bare rock. This was certainly easier to negotiate than thick bare ice that I’ve seen in the past. A few more minutes and I was up at the summit cairn taking in the views all around. Mizpah Hut, bundled up for the winter was easy to pick out, the summit buildings of Washington all robed in white were clear and it was easy to pick out various other summits in Vermont and Maine. After a few minutes of picture taking, it was time to descend, as I was still on a time limit. On the descent, right below treeline, I met the only hiker that I’d see that day, another solo hiker headed up.
Once down in the trees, I stopped for a quick snack and to remove some layers and quickly found out that I had some company. I quickly made a deal with my feathered friend: if you sit still for a photo, I’ll give you a snack. Worked great. I got my photo and the jay got his snack. Soon his friends arrived, but snack time was over and it was time to move down the trail to the car.
On the way down, I stopped by the cliff view, a little side trail to some nice views down into the northern end of Crawford Notch. I’d taken this extremely short side trail before, but it had been a while and was in a different season. The views were nice, and I’m glad I took the few extra minutes to check it out again. Next time, I’ll probably do the same for Elephant’s Head.
Back at the vehicle, I pulled out in plenty of time to pick up new yearly parking passes in Lincoln and pick up the children in time. Not only did my parking pass expire this month, but we recently bought a new vehicle and I forgot to get my sticker off the windshield when we traded in the old car!
It was a good day to be out, and I was glad to be back in the mountains after having been home all last week. Seeing the snow and enjoying the crisp air and scenery was also good for getting into the holiday spirit.