Monday, July 4, 2011

Mts. Webster & Jackson 7/2/11

"The Perfect Day to be Out on a Ledge!" (pictures)

Difficulty: Very Hard/Expert (Steep ledgy trails and ledge scrambles/climbing)

Directions:  From North Conway take Rt. 16N/302W. Continue straight on 302W and follow it for 17 miles. Park at the Willey House Station Rd. on your left. The trail head and signs are across the street.

Stats (round trip): Mileage> 9.4  Elevation Gain> 3,250'  Book Time> 8hrs. Our Time> 8.5 hrs.

 Report: It was to be a beautiful day on Saturday and we made our hiking plans very excited! It was time to check off a 4000 footer from the list. We wanted a trail that would be full of views and exciting. After throwing some ideas around we decided on Webster Cliff trail. We were fogged in on our last Webster hike and I really wanted to see the views from this peak. Webster Cliff trail is a trail I'd been really wanting to hike. And we could continue on from Webster to Jackson if the weather and our legs would let us! Thus we made our way very early the next morning to beat the crowds. I made the mistake again of not bringing my trail book or map, and parked at the Willey House site. We took some pics of the beautiful scenery including a gorgeous view of Mt. Willard over the pond. We soon learned this was not the correct trailhead as we looked at the trail kiosk here.

So we jumped back in the truck and turned around and back to a sign I'd seen a mile South. Apparently we were to park at the Willey STATION road not Willey House! And not to mention this was marked as the Appalachian Trail which crosses these peaks. So we parked, threw our packs on and headed across the street at 8:00am. We passed the Webster Cliff Trail sign that we hadn't seen from the street and headed down the trail. We crossed a foot bridge and a rock to the left with a memorial plaque on it.

The trail quickly begins to climb. After passing two trail junctions the trail passes through many rock boulders and broken rock ledge. I spotted a beautiful yellow mushroom around here and is thus far my favorite of the year. But more to come I'm sure! The trail now begins a moderate steady climb until crossing a grown-in rock slide. After crossing you must make a rock scramble across a wet ledge section.

The trail then climbed more steeply with a partial view to the West and South. We passed a group of 3 French (I believe) hikers and continued the steep climb. Finally we arrived at the first of many ledges with a magnificent view of Mt. Willey across the notch. WOW! We continued on to a more open ledge and sat down to enjoy the view and take a snack break. After a few minutes the other group arrived on the ledge with the same reaction and sounds we had! They sat down also and took a break. One of them asked what a couple of the mountains were, namely Carrigain and Willey. Once revived we parted from the group and got back on the trail.

From here to the summit of Webster it's a little blurry! You climb down into the trees and back out onto ledges so many times I lost count! It was a wonderful experience to keep popping out on the ledges with slightly different views each time! We reached an open knob at one point with beautifully colored rock and flowers all along the trail. The Alpine flowers were in bloom and everything was just so pretty. Clouds were White and puffy and at other times dark and ominous. Temperatures remained comfortable. It was a perfect day for a hike on an open ridge!

We continued the ups and downs and ledge views up to the summit of Webster (3,910'), arriving there at 11:20am. That ridge being harder than I had thought, we took another break and caught our breathes! Then Scott was off headed for Jackson! I followed rather excited he still wanted to try for another 4k! What's one mile! And that little mile was tough! A long trail that seemed to drop forever. We just kept climbing down the trail with everything from steep ledge, mud, bugs and the occasional hiker.

Finally we started the climb up and was pounded with more steep climbing and ledge scrambles. Just before we hit the summit Scott's leg muscles (Quad's I think?) locked up. This has been happening a lot to him on humid or otherwise exhausting hikes. He battled through it and we claimed Mt. Jackson (4,052') my 28th 4k and his 24th at 12:45pm :) Views extended back across the Pine forested ridge to Willey and a wonderful view North to Mt. Washington and the Northern Presidentials. Washington was in and out of the clouds all day. We found a place to sit and were very happy to dig into our sandwiches! There were several hikers on the summit including a young man with a Navy shirt on and an artificial leg. It was impressive to see what he could still do and we felt grateful for his sacrifice for his Country!

After we ate we began the long journey back over to Webster. Nearing the top of Webster Scott's leg muscles locked up again and he struggled to get to the summit ledges. A man we had passed asked us if we would like our pictures taken and he took some pics of us on the ledge, Scott trying to force a smile through the excruciating pain he was in. Once he was able to shake it off we continued back down Webster Cliff Trail.

Coming down we passed many hikers coming up including a group of various foreign persons. They were all very polite and most of them looked happy to be on the trails. The heat was really starting to rise now and it was starting to take it's toll on us. After negotiating the ridge we stopped at the first ledge that we had come to on the way up and took one finally break and look at the scenery. Such an awesome sight to behold, we are so lucky to have this in our back yard!

We now continued down, passing more of the foreign group. One imparticular young guy had us laughing. Just below where the trail starts to get difficult this young guy asked "how much further to the summit?" Scott replied "you have a long ways to go!" to which the young guy exclaimed in a sarcastic voice, "Oh White Mountains how I love you!" with a half-hearted smile. LOL! We ended our long, difficult journey at 4:30pm feeling pretty good considering all the difficult hiking and long mileage we did! A butterfly on a wildflower aside the trail ended the day perfectly!

No comments:

Post a Comment