Trail Notes – August 3 (Crawford Notch, Presidential Range – Mts. Webster and Jackson)

I was the first one up and packed on this particular morning – in fact, the others in the shelter were just waking up as I slung the pack on at 6:30 or so. I was hoping to see the moose at the pond, but no such luck, as I went by. Today’s hike plan was short and simple – descend 1600 feet to Crawford Notch, climb almost 3000 feet to the summit of Mt. Jackson, end the day at Mizpah Hut.

Well, the descent was easy, following an old grade for a long gone railroad track. 3 miles down to Rt. 302 at the Notch. 

The Saco River runs parallel about a tenth of a mile north; since this was supposedly the only source of water for miles, I had no choice but to get water here, though for a river, it was very slow moving and I didn’t like the look of the water. I even tried using a thin shirt stretched over the top of the bottle to filter out any floaties, but it didn’t work too well, and I had to carry a wet shirt after. I sterilized the heck out of that water though.

Webster Cliffs, and Webster Mt. Billed as a tough climb. I didn’t find the cliffs technically difficult, but it was a very long climb. Some great views though. From the Cliffs to Webster mountain itself was a very steep 0.9 miles, with a fair amount of hand over hand rock scramble. Now, I have a very poor sense of distance, and I passed one false summit on the way, so when i arrived at the actual top of the mountain, I thought I was at the top of Mt. Jackson, not Webster. A British group also at the summit crushed my optimism – “No, this is Webster”. I forgave them. They had cool accents.

So, nothing for it but to push on over Jackson. Now, this was tough. A lot of hand over hand, and at one point, very carefully making my way up a sheer rock face of bare white stone at the side of the mountain. This wasn’t sloped, this was almost straight up, sweating bullets, knowing that if I messed up, severe injury or worse would follow. But I felt proud after for making it.

From the top of Jackson 1.6 miles to Mizpah, there was a lot of buttscooting and bogs. Fortunately not at the same time! The descent was steep, too, and sitting on one’s butt and sliding until one’s feet touch the ground is a tried and true technique. Not so good for the shorts though. After the descent, though, the trail was pretty easy.

Finally, finally reached Mizpah Hut. Yes, work for stay was available; the food was really good. This but has a separate game room/library which was excellent; since hikers slept there instead of in the dining room, we didn’t have to pack away gear before they set the tables downstairs, though we were all awake early anyway. Usually the huts only allot 2 WFS slots – at this one, there were five of us!

For their usual breakfast skit, encouraging guests to pack out trash, fold blankets, and tip the crew, they did a Harry Potter and the Sorcerers Stone take-off. I was hanging out in the gameroom when they borrowed the chessboard for the performance. 🙂 But I am getting ahead of myself, that was the next day.

I slept well that night. It had been a tiring 10 miler!

I hiked on.

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