Friday, July 15, 2011

#11 Mt. Jackson November 1, 2008

#11 Mt. Jackson (4052') via Jackson-Webster trail, November 1, 2008  
Mileage: 5.2 RT

Elevation gain: 2150'

Trailhead: Route 302 in Crawford Notch, across the street from the train depot just past the AMC Highland Center. You can park at the depot.

Lesson learned:  Never make assumptions about the weather, particularly in the colder months.

I hiked Mt. Jackson via the Jackson-Webster trail with Rich, Myron, Debbie and Kevin. It was a cold, clear day and late in the season for me.  In fact, this was the first time I had hiked a four thousand footer in the Whites in November. 

Jackson-Webster trailhead.
We got to the trailhead mid-morning and headed up the trail, passing Elephant Head (a quick hike with great views) on our way to the summit.  Days are short in November but it was a relatively short hike so we had plenty of daylight to complete our task (Mt. Jackson is considered one of the easier 4ks in the White Mountains).

If you have hiked in the Crawford Notch area, you've undoubtedly met your share of Gray Jays, sweet fat gray birds that stalk you, swoop at you and beg for food.  They love food of all types, particularly nuts - peanuts, almonds and pecans. 
 My hiking friend Clay says of the gray jays, "I once had a Gray Jay make off with an entire pecan pie -- but it did return the pie pan later. Very thoughtful."

The jays are not afraid to perch on your hand while they fill their beaks!
The trail was dry until we reached the last third of the hike and then conditions became very icy with large areas of smooth ice.  We used our stabilicers to get to the summit - Kevin and Debbie barebooted the way, a trick for sure as conditions were slick and steep.

Steep, icy, tough to sprint up that's for sure!

As we gained elevation, this hike quickly went from a brisk fall hike to a cold biting fight against wind on a steep trail of smooth ice.  The wind was loud and foreboding and although clear, the bitter temps reminded me that this weather can take the heat right from your body, leaving you disoriented and in real trouble!

Summit. And gray jay on cairn.

We got down in plenty of time for dinner and I was grateful to have all of us in one piece after the icy conditions. 

I am clearly happier hiking in warm weather.  This hike renewed my deep respect for the unpredictable changes in the weather that occur in the region during this time of year. 

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