Seven of us met at the Richmond Park and Ride at 6:00 AM for the two hour drive to Crawford Notch to ascend Mts. Pierce and Eisenhower. We scooped up another two hikers in Montpelier a half hour later and were on our way. Parking near the Highland Center and the beginning of the Crawford Path, it was a very cold morning getting out of our cars. Our planned route was to head up Mt. Pierce and then make our way across the ridge before ascending Mt. Eisenhower.
Given very cold expected wind chills in the Presidentials I offered up other route options, but when put to a vote the group was good with the original plan. So at 8:30 AM we were off! The Crawford Path was gradual and pleasant. And it was a bonus to find the trail was well packed out so the majority of us opted for spikes over snowshoes. As we got higher views to Mt. Washington and the Presidentials became more frequent and we took several photo stops along the way. Making our way to the tree line, the wind and cold were non-issues, but once we broke through the cold really took hold so it was time for extra layers, goggles, balaclavas and the like. After suiting up we made the quick spur up to the summit of Mt. Pierce which was offering spectacular clear views of the northern Presidentials. There was a bit of a tree buffer at the summit which helped mitigate the wind a bit. We took a few photos and started to make our way to the ridge. In and out of the trees there was significantly more ice on the trail so deliberate steps were a necessity. There were a few slips and falls but no permanent damage. At this point the exceptional views were near constant in all directions. We continued across the ridge and started to make our ascent up Mt. Eisenhower.
The wind picked up a bit as we were then fully exposed and again, lots of ice as we were on our final climb. We arrived on the summit and tried to buffer the wind a bit but we knew we would not be staying long due to the wind chill. We again took some photos and started descending off the summit while looking to Mts. Jefferson and Washington primarily.
The descent was again very icy and required good foot placements, but we eventually all arrived at the top of Edmands Path for our descent to Mt. Clinton Road and the return to our cars. There was much more snow on the trail on the descent and it was deeply packed. This necessitated walking through angled snow drifts and ducking under trees for a significant amount of time. Shortly after setting out on the trail one member of our group was experiencing some cramping, so the group separated with some going ahead to Mt. Clinton Road and some of us staying further back. Both groups observed some sizable moose tracks in the trail on the lower half of the descent. We all regrouped at the road for the couple mile walk to our cars arriving around 2:30. After another round of trivia from Dale, we said our goodbyes and headed back to Vermont for some well earned showers.
Participants: Dale Schmit, Clayton Cameron, Jill George, Michael Mortelliti, Tim Welsh, John Effinger, Robynn Albert, Mark McLane and Chris Luczynski (Trip Leader)