Now that my legs have stopped killing me I suppose it is time to write up our trip report for our first NH 4,000 foot peak!
It was a goal for me to attempt a 4K peak with Aubrey this summer. I had originally planned to hike one while on vacation in July but that never happened, so when we booked another short trip north I decided to give it ago. I had first considered Mount Tecumseh in Waterville Valley but after reading reviews and trip reports I decided to head for Mount Jackson in Crawford Notch.
Saturday morning we were up early and on the road from the campground in Woodstock and headed 45 minutes north to Crawford Notch. It was a bit chilly only in the 50s when we headed out but it would be great hiking weather! We made a short stop at Drummond’s Sporting Goods to pick up sunglasses and a hat. I wish we had more time to look around the store as it was filled with everything imaginable for outdoor adventures. We arrived at the trailhead a few minutes later and found plenty of roadside parking nice and close to the actually trailhead. We were meeting up with my friend Erin from Hike it Baby to all make the adventure together. So at 9 am we took the first of many steps to reach the summit of our first 4K.
The trail was really nice, it would alternate from steep pitches to nice flat areas. We were all in good spirits and it was pretty easy going. We had a lot of fun exploring and meeting everyone who was passing us. This would soon be the downfall to the hike. We had to constantly keep stopping to allow “full sized” hikers pass our “fun sized” hiker, sometimes allowing large groups to go by chewing up valuable time. I didn’t realize it at the time but now looking back each and every time we stepped aside as another hiker was coming up behind us cost us minutes, and those minutes would add up to hour(s) of hiking time that was just stopping and waiting.
At one point we were passed by a younger girl probably around 12 years old, she was hiking at a really good speed and wasn’t carrying a pack at all. At first I didn’t think much of it and figured the rest of the family was just behind us. I had forgot all about the girl, until her mother and brother approached us and chatted with us for a bit. I told them she had in deed passed us and was making her way pretty quickly. They were spaced probably 30 minutes apart if not more. Then just before the intersection of the Jackson/Webster split we met a group a guys who had passed us earlier along with the young girl. They had asked us if we had seen the rest of her family and we told them, yes they passed us a while back. This was concerning to me, because if they had come down the trail and met up with us, they definitely should have passed her family. My best guess was that they each went opposite ways at the junction, and the girl had turned around to find her way back. Luckily this story had a happy ending because we passed the family all hiking together as they were coming down off Jackson. This was a good learning for me, for our future hiking endeavors once Aubrey is at the age to hike a head. It will be necessary to educate her with not going to far ahead and probably will be best to invest in walkie talkies so we can communicate without relying on cell signal.
We started passing through some pretty rough sections of trail, the trail was less trail and more a path of large rocks that you would have to weave in and out of and make your way up. And then it got muddy. OH THE MUD! This trail must be AWFUL in mud season if it was this bad in August! For the most part it was avoidable and we made our way up through all the mud without getting very dirty.
We were starting to feel pretty optimistic again after reviewing the map and trail guide and realized we were starting to get pretty close to the top, until we passed another family and they took all our motivation from us and told us we weren’t even close. This was a devastating blow to our moral, but also we were grateful that they didn’t lie to us. We continued onward and upward as Nature Cat says and then all of a sudden, we saw the smallest glimpse of the summit off in the distance. At first it looked so far away I thought it had to be Mount Pierce the next mountain over. Soon I realized I was wrong and we would still have a tough climb ahead of us. This is when I started thinking we should turn around, and thought about it the rest of the way up. We had made it so far so it only seemed right to push on. I had considered having Gerry and Aubrey hang back while Erin and I go tag the top but I was on this hike for Aubrey so leaving her behind wouldn’t be fair.It was tough getting her to let me know what she wanted to do.She was telling Gerry she didn’t want to hike and wanted to go home, but would tell me she was just joking and wanted to hike.Was she lying to me because she thought I would be upset?
So we continued on to the summit. The scrambles were definitely a challenge, but much shorter than what we faced on Monadnock earlier in the month and before we knew it, we had reached the top! We made it! We took a break for lunch and pictures but didn’t spend all much time at the top since it was getting late in the day, and we still had a long hike ahead of us back to the cars! It took us 5 hours to make it the 2.6 miles up.
So we began our descent buttsliding down the steep scrambles and maneuvering our way as safely as possible. Once the scrambles were behind us we began the long march down the mountain. The swarm of hikers was starting to die down so it was nice to not have to stop as much as we had to on the way up. On the way down I referenced the trail guide often to keep better tabs on how far we had gone and how far we had to go. I had made a photocopy of the page so it was easy to reference and stick back into my pocket. Aubrey did well on the way down, but it was obvious she was getting very tired. I ate my words from the way up, I had remarked as a few passing hikers were covered in mud and on the way down, I stopped caring about passing over the muddy areas and ended up walking right through. I ended up being a muddy mess by the end!
All in all it took us 9 hours which was double book time, but I couldn’t have had a better day! On to number 2! We made it back to the KOA just in time for Aubrey to take a ride on the fire truck around the park!