Saturday, March 14, 2020
Start/End: AMC Highland Center/Crawford Notch
Elevation gain/loss: 3790′
Given the quick conditions (melted and refrozen into firm, ice-crusted surface) and daylight savings time starting, I wasn’t in a rush to get to the trailhead. My partner and I arrived at the AMC Highland Center around 8:15am and I started hiking up Crawford Path around 8:30am.
I hiked up past the intersection with Mizpah Cutoff and then Webster Cliff Trail, making the first tracks towards Eisenhower since the last snow, and then headed to the summit of Eisenhower, where the wind was howling by at a constant 55-60 MPH. The wind bodily threw me around near the summit, and my tear-streaming eyes were accumulating ice on my eyelashes and eyelids. I tagged the summit, hid behind the summit cairn for a minute to catch my breath, and then headed back towards the minimal protection of the ridge line.
By the time I made it back to summit Pierce, the sky was starting to show more blue than clouds, and I saw my first other people on the mountain, despite my later start. I went over Pierce and then headed down Webster Cliff Trail towards Mizpah hut; I saw one person on my way to the hut, and he let me know he’d started his day below Jackson and had been able to wear spikes the whole way.
At Mizpah hut, I saw 2-3 other people and their dog; based on tracks, they’d come up from Crawford Notch and were heading to Pierce. From Mizpah hut to the summit of Jackson, I only saw that one fellow’s prints since the last snowstorm; the surface was well crusted over, so I made quick time.
I tagged the summit of Jackson, keeping my head down in the 40+ MPH winds, and saw a text from my partner that he was almost at the summit so I went down past the open summit to meet him just inside the trees. We were able to take some pictures at the summit and enjoy the expansive views in a clear blue sky.
Then we headed back down, stopping off at Bugle Cliff for a nice view of Mt Willey, Field, Tom, Avalon, Willard, and Crawford Notch. We made it back to our car by 3pm. I was thrilled to be able to wear spikes door to door; I only postholed a few times, and it was when I wandered off the path between Pierce and Eisenhower.