September 16, 2014

Jefferson and Adams

For a long time now, my brother Brian and I would periodically have this conversation: (O or B): "We should do a hike sometime." (B or O): "Yes we should." End of conversation. With both of us having young children now, weekends are busy and it's easy to either have a conflict or just not get around to planning these things out. Well, we finally decided it was time. After bouncing around a few ideas, we settled on a loop over Mount Jefferson and Mount Adams via the Castle Trail on the way up and Lowes Path on the way down. It seemed like a good choice with a long stretch of above treeline hiking and neither of us had been on the Castle Trail before. The plan was set for two Sundays ago with perfect weather in the works.

With a hefty day ahead of us, we made plans to meet at the Park and Ride lot in Nashua at 5:30AM. We both pulled into the lot at nearly the exact same time, and Brian jumped in my car to continue the ride up together. We stopped at a Dunkin Donuts on the way (I skipped the pre-hike donut but Brian couldn't resist) and were at the trailhead and on the trail at about 8:00AM. It was cool but comfortable and clear, with the higher summits forecast predicting excellent above treeline conditions in the 40's with moderate winds. The first mile or so of the trail was an easy warmup, with the trail in good shape and minimal elevation gain. Then we began to climb.

The middle third of the ascent was a steady upward trek and we eventually popped out above treeline under clear skies. It was here that we hit the "castles" portion of the trail which is a good section of large rocky towers that required some fun scrambling to get over. We continued up along the ridge line and eventually made it to the summit at 11:00AM. It wasn't until we were nearly at the top of Jefferson that we ran into the first group of other hikers that we'd seen. From a distance, it looked like a man hiking with a young kid. As we got closer, we noticed he was carrying a second child in a front carrier. Impressive! As we got even closer, though, we realized that not only was he carrying a child on his front, he was also carrying another child on his back! Nice!

We ate a snack on top of Jefferson and then continued on to the summit of Adams. The hike along the ridge was much higher traffic with many other hikers hitting the high peaks on this day. We made our way up the bouldery summit cone of Adams and took another break at the top. Of all the Presidentials, Adams is definitely the meanest in terms of jagged boulder hopping and tricky footing. The winds were whipping at the peak and we spent some more time up there before heading back down. The descent down Lowes Path was excellent with a very long stretch still above treeline overlooking the valley. The lower portion of the trail seemed to go on forever, though, with a bit of a death march grind back to the road and an extra mile of flat walking to complete the loop. We completed the hike just before 4:00PM coming in under 8 hours.

Overall, it was a great day and I'm glad we finally got out there. I'm looking forward to hopefully getting some more hikes in again soon.


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