Mt Eisenhower and Mt Pierce loop

Hikes, NH48, TripReport , , ,

We tried to go out the previous weekend, but the weather was expected to be cold and wet. We were able to sync up a day to skip work and go up midweek. The weather looked iffy, but had potential, ‘some clouds’ and up to 50 degrees.
We planned a loop which required 2 cars. We met up and headed north to Crawford Path parking lot on Mt Clinton Road. We dropped a car there and made our way down Mt Clinton Road to the Edmands Path lot. We were the only car there just before 0900 on a Wednesday. There was no snow trace at the lot but we expected to come across a variety along the way. we strapped on out boots and set off.
It was a bit chilly to start, but ‘they’ say to start feeling cool/cold and you’ll warm up as you get going. Otherwise you will have to shed a layer shortly after start. This worked out as Ian likes to push a quick pace out of the gate. The trail was wet but clear of snow/ice for the first mile and half. Eventually the snow lined the sides and the melting ice/snow ran down the trail. this would be how most of the day went.
Guessing about a mile from the junction of Edmands Path and Crawford Path, the trail picked up some mixed ice/snow in short stretches, then increasing. This gave Ian a chance to try on his shiny new Hillsound Trail spikes. I donned my Hillsound Trail Pros a little later.
The trail was a mix of snow, ice, rock, mud, pretty much everything you could cover. At one point, Ian caught his toe in a snow covered gap between rocks and fell to his knees. This happened right as another hiker caught up to us and made for a good laugh. He snuck in a hike up Eisenhower before his late class. Sounds like a nice day to me. He went on ahead quicker than us.
We used traction all the way until the brief rocky slide section just before the junction. The trail at the junction was muddy and the low cloud cover(more than ‘some clouds’) kept us damp/wet. We stopped to layer up before taking Eisenhower Loop trail up the summit. This stretch was windy and exposed to weather and our light down puffs got wet. Mine was fairly saturated. Ian’s DWR held up better. We reached the cloudy, wet, muddy summit and met up with the same guy already there. He had bounced around Crawford Path and up the other side. We chatted briefly and off he went down. We rested a bit and ate some lunch and snacks. I swapped out jackets to a shell and stuffed my wet puff in my pack.
We started our descent down the other way to Crawford Path toward Mt Pierce. We came across some drifted snow up to our knees and post-holed through it. It was only about 200′ stretch before returning to ice/mud/rocks. We hit the junction quickly and started our way across the ridge along the AT southbound.
The trail between summits is a nice traverse. You lose elevation most of the way and the terrain is well packed out. The only issue was the snow lining the trail held water resulting in standing pools that required some forethought before lunging forward. we both stepped where we shouldn’t. Ian came quite close to water coming over the top of his boot. In seeming short time we were at the junction to bounce up to the summit of Mt Pierce. There is no direction on this sign, sadly. You need to aim toward Mizpah Spring hut on the Webster Cliff Trail and in a couple hundred feet reach the summit cairn. Couple of photos of the cairn, readjust packs and off.
We decided to continue Webster Cliff Trail and go out to the hut. This is a steep gnarly descent at times. We were both glad to be going down instead of up. Along the way we stopped to feed the Gray Jays. I caught a couple nice videos of Ian hand feeding them some granola.
We finally reached the hut and sat for a bit and ate more snacks. This is an odd shaped hut. It was all boarded up and closed the for the winter. We thought we saw someone tenting at the Nauman Tentsite, but we didn’t walk over to inspect. Before leaving we feed a few more(maybe same) Jays and started down the Webster Cliff Trail to the Mizpah Cutoff. With all the melting, the trail felt more like a stream bed. It seemed long but we finally made it back to the Crawford Path and started down the final 1.9 miles.
We cruised down as the snow and ice was gone and the footing on this stretch is very good. Just shy of an hour and we were back at the lot. Cleaned up a bit, kicked off some mud as not to soil Ian’s car too much(sorry about that). We drove down Mt Clinton road again, in Ian’s car, dodging massive pot holes and frost heaves(sorry about that too, Ian). There were some downed trees pushing into the road to keep it interesting. We made it back to my car and chatted up a couple guys just returning. It was just about 3:30.
They had bounced up and back on Edmands Path. They were talking about a couple folks who they past just starting up after 2:00. They mentioned they were in sneakers and light cotton clothing. The gentlemen tried to educate them of the conditions, but the two pressed on late in the day. We all hope they made it out safely.
We jumped in our cars and I zipped off as I needed to hurry back to reality. Even though the weather didn’t cooperate, some clouds turned into _all_ clouds, the temps were decent and the terrain, though wet, was still fine. It was a million times better than a day at work. Good company and a good hike, I’ll take it.

Gearing up, weather not looking as good as hoped
Gearing up, weather not looking as good as hoped
Start up Edmands Path toward Mt Eisenhower
Start up Edmands Path toward Mt Eisenhower
Starting trailhead
Starting trailhead
Crossing a couple babbling brooks early on
Crossing a couple babbling brooks early on
Ian ducking under a leaning tree
Ian ducking under a leaning tree
Sloppy wet trail most of the way. Low cloud cover keeps it eery
Sloppy wet trail most of the way. Low cloud cover keeps it eery
Showing off his new Hillsounds
Showing off his new Hillsounds
Ian checking out the ice flow up close
Ian checking out the ice flow up close
More wet mess.  Melting snow and run off much of the way
More wet mess. Melting snow and run off much of the way
Finally reaching a decent stretch of snow, but didn't last all too long
Finally reaching a decent stretch of snow, but didn’t last all too long
The usual warning, duly noted
The usual warning, duly noted
Junction entering the Eisenhower Loop trail
Junction entering the Eisenhower Loop trail
We layered up as the winds picked up, the flowing clouds soaked our coats
We layered up as the winds picked up, the flowing clouds soaked our coats
Taking a deserved rest on the Mt Eisenhower summit cairn
Taking a deserved rest on the Mt Eisenhower summit cairn
Dropping down off Eisenhower and picking up Crawford Path
Dropping down off Eisenhower and picking up Crawford Path
We find the way
We find the way
Negotiating the many pools of standing water along Crawford Path between summits
Negotiating the many pools of standing water along Crawford Path between summits
This stretch was very wet
This stretch was very wet
A busy sign, but neither of these mention where Mt Pierce summit is.  It's up the hill
A busy sign, but neither of these mention where Mt Pierce summit is. It’s up the hill
Finally Mt Pierce summit cairn
Finally Mt Pierce summit cairn
Continuing toward Mizpah Spring hut along the Webster Cliff Trail
Continuing toward Mizpah Spring hut along the Webster Cliff Trail
A short flight of steps ease this part of our descent
A short flight of steps ease this part of our descent
Stopped to feed the Gray Jays. they are always hungry
Stopped to feed the Gray Jays. they are always hungry
Ian is happy to help out
Ian is happy to help out
Mizpah Spring hut all boarded up for the winter months
Mizpah Spring hut all boarded up for the winter months
Closed for the winter, but we rest outside
Closed for the winter, but we rest outside
An old weathered sign points the way
An old weathered sign points the way
If we continued on Webster Cliff Trail, we could bounce over to Mt Jackson and Mt Webster.  Today we opt to jump on the Crawford Path
If we continued on Webster Cliff Trail, we could bounce over to Mt Jackson and Mt Webster. Today we opt to jump on the Crawford Path
Another wet trail.  We followed running water most of the Mizpah Cutoff
Another wet trail. We followed running water most of the Mizpah Cutoff
Well carved trail lined with snow
Well carved trail lined with snow
Picking up Crawford Path again, the final stretch to the parking lot, about 1.9 miles to go
Picking up Crawford Path again, the final stretch to the parking lot, about 1.9 miles to go
Gray and wet, more of the same
Gray and wet, more of the same
Gibbs Falls was flowing nicely
Gibbs Falls was flowing nicely
The oldest continuously used mountain trail in America
The oldest continuously used mountain trail in America
That our turn
That our turn
A little late, we already visited and found it shut down
A little late, we already visited and found it shut down
A sturdy bridge on a cutoff to the parking lot
A sturdy bridge on a cutoff to the parking lot
Many cute evergreens, all about the same size
Many cute evergreens, all about the same size
Crossing the road to the lot.. Mt Clinton Road is gated during winter months
Crossing the road to the lot.. Mt Clinton Road is gated during winter months
Almost done, not going back that way
Almost done, not going back that way
Crawford Connector Trailhead and lot.  Nice trip, just shy of 9 miles.
Crawford Connector Trailhead and lot. Nice trip, just shy of 9 miles.

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