Mt Eisenhower via the Edmands Path - 26/Jul/98

By David Metsky

It looked like it was going to be a nice day and I was already up north, so I chose to hike up Eisenhower. I wanted to get above treeline and the Edmands Path is a quick shot up. So, leaving Hanover early in the morning I hit the trailhead off the Mt Clinton Road by 9:00. The bottom section of the trail is a nice walk through the woods, crossing streams and climbing slowly but surely. After about 1.5 miles, you I started climbing more steeply. In this section of trail you can see some of the excellent rockwork that has kept this trail a favorite for over 100 years. As I approached treeline, there were views to the north where the weather didn't look as good as I'd hoped. At least it wasn't raining.

I reached one of those famous signs that warns hikers as they leave the shelter of the trees. Then I was at the intersection with the Crawford Path, on the ridge. Just off the trail is Red Pond, a small murky lake that can provide water for the very thirsty. It's a good place to stop and rest, and several folks were grabbing a snack and resting. I pushed on to the summit which was partly clear and had a few people. I rested and put on my wind shell and after a few minutes I had the summit to myself, alone in the clouds. For nearly 30 minutes, my world was reduced to a circle of maybe 200 feet, with undifferentiated white all around. Occasionally, the wail of the Cog Railroad pierced the fog, but for all I knew the world off this lonely mountain peak could have disappeared. It was a rare and wonderful feeling, being this alone on a Presidential summit in the middle of a summer weekend. I sat on the summit cairn and thought how lucky I was to have this experience.

Eventually the sun came through and the world reasserted itself. I was still alone, but I could now see Tom, Field and Willey to the south, as well as Jackson and Clinton. The northern Presidentials never really cleared so I was glad I hadn't chosen a trip up Washington. Soon, another group arrived. One of the first things one of them did was pull out a GPS unit and declare that they were 17.5 miles from the summit of Hedgehog Mountain where they had hiked yesterday. At that moment in my life, it seemed like a particularly unimportant piece of information. Nothing against GPS, but everyone knew exactly where we were. I looked across to Montalben Ridge and thought about how I'd only been up there once, hiking my last 4000'er, in the fog. Next time I wanted a clear day.

Soon I decided it was time to head back down to the Crawford Path. The clouds had been rising since the sun had come out and I could finally see the summit of Monroe. I dropped back down and took a little time to expore the area around the trail junction, keeping sure to only walk on the solid rock and not step on any alpine vegitation. From the rocks I got a nice view of the Eisenhower summit. After a Powerbar I headed back down the Edmands Path, passing lots of tired and unhappy climbers headed for Lakes of the Clouds. They were not very pleased to find out that they were only half way to the ridge, still quite a ways from the hut and their beds for the night. I also noticed some interesting trailwork . It looked like sections of logs were buried in the trail, end down, to make a postpile walkway. I've never seen this before in my many years of trailwork, but it looked like it'd work. By 1:00 I was in my car and headed home, after recharging my batteries with a hike above treeline.

The trailhead for the Edmands Path is about two miles up the Mt Clinton Road from Crawford Notch, or 1 mile from the Marshfield Road. The parking lot is large but can fill up on summer weekends, forcing people to park on the side of the road. The lot does require a WMNF parking pass and the road is closed in the winter. The trailhead is at 2036', making for a climb of 2725', the last 350' above treeline. It's 3 miles to the Mt Eisenhower Loop which takes you the final .4 miles to the bald, exposed summit. There are several stream crossings on the way up to get water. If you stash a car at Crawford Notch you can mike a nice loop with the Crawford Path, hitting Mt Pierce (Clinton) and Mizpah Springs Hut.

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