Monday, May 28, 2012

Mts. Eisenhower and Pierce - Revisited

Mts. Eisenhower and Pierce via Edmands and Crawford Paths Traverse, May 27, 2012

Mileage: 7.9 miles traverse

Elevation gain: 2,830'

Trailhead: Edmands Path trailhead is located on Clinton Road, 2.3 miles from Route 302 (near AMC Highland Center).  Crawford Path trailhead (where your hike will end) is right across the street from AMC Highland Center. Please park at Crawford Depot.

Lesson learned: It's a small world!

The plan was to hike North and South Weeks on this day but as was the case last weekend, things changed. We were hiking with our friends Sandy and Joe and after doing Peak Above the Nubble I wanted some serious fun and viewage for our Memorial Day weekend hike.  This hike did not disappoint.

It was cool but warming up fast when we parked one car on Route 302, and climbed into the second car for the trailhead for Edmands Path (no fee was required here today).  Sandy and Joe had not done Edmands Path before.  Sandy bagged Eisenhower and Pierce during a Presi hike years ago, and this was to be Joe's 34th and 35th NH 4k so they were excited. We were happy to revisit this hike, we remembered our 2008 visit fondly (see previous report).

The route started out uneventful - there was one log that was across the path - just high enough - that everyone had to straddle to get over and it was pretty worn in one spot - I put out of my mind how many others had to straddle before me - ew!  

The day was blue, warm and sweet and soon we were gaining elevation.
The path starts off gradual but steepens, as we knew it would.
As the day warmed up and our effort increase, we were all breathing heavy, sweating, which alerted the black flies (we had applied some serious repellent but they manage to find places to munch).  We took breaks - we had no schedule, and before long we were upon the side of the range, catching glimpses of the views, which were good on this day - a bit hazy.
View from an overlook - here the trail steepened.
We had forgotten how wonderful the views are on this hike. At the Crawford Path/ Eisenhower Loop trail junction we were totally exposed on the ridge, along with many others. After all, it is Memorial Day weekend and a beautiful day to be up above tree line!
The upper portion of Edmands Path skirts the side of the mountain. 
We headed up the loop trail to the summit of Mt. Eisenhower where we met a couple from Stratham (which is where we live), and another group from Exeter, the next town over. What are the chances that the folks on the summit are all from the same area two hours away!  One couple remarking on their quest to complete the NH 4ks indicated how hard it is to get motivated to drive up to the Whites to do the hikes.  For me, the problem is convincing me that the pouring rain and harsh winds outside are indicators that maybe the hike should be postponed!
Mt. Eisenhower summit
After lunch, we headed down the loop path to Crawford path and over to the summit of Mt. Pierce.  The path had changed; there were several steps installed in certain areas. These were not there in 2008, at least we don't remember them. We met many hikers and dogs on this path.  Bugs were out in full force too!

Look closely for steps - lower left is a tiny one, a larger one in the middle.
A sign pointing to Webster Cliff trail led us to the summit of Pierce.  It was quite crowded on this summit.
Joe celebrating #35 on the summit of Mt. Pierce
We were ready to head back down to Crawford Path and back to the car.  The hike down was uneventful, with the usual "wish we were there already" mumblings.  We got back to our car, picked up the other car and headed to the Moat for a beer.

This is the entrance to the Crawford Path by the Highland Center, and where our hike ended.
The Eisenhower Pierce loop does not disappoint if you plan to do it on a day where skies are clear.  We are thrilled that we got such great views and look forward to next week's hike which we hope will be Mts. Weeks (N&S).