Mt Pierce - Sunday, Feb 4, 2007 - First winter ascent of a NH 4000 footer

 

It was a brisk 12 degrees F when we arrived at the parking lot in Crawford Notch. We started off the trip at about 9:45am on Sunday morning.  Forecast was for zero degrees and 20-40mph winds.  In reality, the hike up was glorious!  Yes, it was cold, but no wind whatsoever.  As you can see, we don't wear a lot of layers on the hike up.  We work up quite a sweat.  This was the hardest walk we've done since late October. 

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Trail Views 1
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Trail Views 2
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Trail Views 3
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Happy Val on the Trail
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Tim walks through snow-covered pines
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Tim can't believe what a great day it is
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More snow-covered trees
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Val's face is red from the cold

As soon as we reached a certain altitude, probably close to 3500 feet, then the Gray Jays were on us!!  One flew down the trail at about 7 feet up.  He just saw us and coasted in through the tunnel of snow and trees.  They are the most aggressive overall species that we've ever seen.  These birds are wild and there are no birdfeeders around (and not that many hikers as to cause a habit), but they flew right down and sat on Tim's hand to take bits of food.  They also sat with us while we ate our snack, and they ate cracker crumbs out from around our feet.  Absolutely fearless!!  This one was with us so long that it became a pet.  Tim named it "Gray". 

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Gray Jay spies us
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Tim's first feeding attempt
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Finally, Val gets the picture

The summit was unbelievable!  We stepped out of the shelter of the trees and suddenly there was such a wind on us, we could hardly stand it.  Valerie had to remove her glasses, as the metal was so incredibly cold.  As you can see, we had face masks to cover most, but not all.  Our upper cheeks got really red.  We checked each other for "white spots" (frostbite) after just a couple minutes.  It was probably between zero and five below zero F at the summit.  Below, you can see views from the summit looking up toward Mts. Eisenhower, Franklin, Monroe and Washington.  Washington is the tallest and is usually in the clouds (as it was at the time that we were on the summit).  We took our pictures and headed back down fairly quickly.

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Mt Eisenhower
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Snow-laden trees near summit
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Snow-laden trees AND Mt Eisenhower
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Lone red image in the snow
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Tim at the summit cairn
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Valerie at the summit cairn
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More red images in the snow
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Snowy Summit
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Snowy Summit 2
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Looking up the Presidential Range
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The final couple hundred yards to the summit

On the way back down the trail, we kept our "summit" clothes on for most of the trip.  We didn't heat up quite as much coming down as we had hiking up.  Tim gave Val his balaclava to keep her head warm.  This was an incredible first experience in the high country in winter.  Just a gorgeous day.  We were back at the car by 2pm.  6.4 miles RT, 2400 ft elevation gain.

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Val tries to keep warm on the trip down
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Another view of the trail
 
Lastly, on the way home in the car, we took these pictures to show the range where we'd been hiking.  Mt Washington is the biggest, whitest of the mountains.  From there, looking to the right, you have Monroe, Franklin, Eisenhower and then Pierce.  The hotel in the foreground in the Mt Washington Hotel. 
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Mt Washington Hotel (and Mt Washington)
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Some of the Presidentials
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Close up of Mt Washington (see buildings)