America's Birthday on its Oldest Trail with Some Great Company!
Yesterday’s hike was really special to me for a few reasons. First, I got to hike with some dear friends that I hadn’t seen in a long time. Second, it reintroduced me to the presidential range after two brutal hikes there in the past year. Last, it really helped me see how far my dog Lucy has come behavior-wise in the last two years. The amazing views and near perfect weather made it one of my favorite hikes to date!
For those who don’t know this, I went to Northfield Mount Hermon, a boarding school in western Massachusetts, for all of high school. It was an amazing experience where I grew up and made some great friends along the way. Donald and Julia were my dorm parents throughout three of my four years in high school, and Donald was my advisor as well. He’s always been a great mentor, and he supported me through some tough experiences. Donald, Julia, and their daughter Cordelia have been living abroad for the past three years, so being able to spend time with them was really special.
The morning started with a car spot and a quick drive down Mt. Clinton road to the Edmands Path trailhead. The trail was at a fairly gradual incline, and the terrain was typical of a low elevation trail in the Whites. It was a bit muddy down low with decent access to water at many points throughout. There were some roots and rocks, but it was a pretty easy hike to treeline.
Before I knew it we came across this famous sign that’s peppered throughout the presidential range. Lucy was doing really well not pulling the leash, and her usually clumsy leaps up rocks were focused and deliberate. The heat had not yet set in thanks to our 7:00 start, so that wasn’t too much of a problem for her. When we got above treeline I mentally prepared for the rugged terrain in the northern presidentials. I was worried about Lucy on the jagged granite, but to my surprise the trail was still mostly dirt and smooth rocks. This was a relief for both Lucy and me.
When I hiked the presidential traverse I was so exhausted by the time that I got to Eisenhower that my memories were a hazy blur. All I remember is desperately hoping that it would be over soon and trying to move quickly before bad weather rolled in. This trek to the summit was so much more enjoyable! When we reached the summit the huge cairn was a welcoming sight.
The views of Mt. Washington and the rest of the mountains in the area was great. I couldn’t believe what (relatively) little effort went into getting to a really high, gorgeous summit. This was one of those hikes were you get a lot of bang for your buck! It was a little buggy though and Lucy had a great time chasing after black flies.
The traverse over to Pierce was rocky but the rocks were smooth so it was pretty pleasant. By the time we got to Pierce there were many more hikers to chat with while we ate a snack at the summit. I realized then that I’m not completely sure if Lucy and I made it to the true summit back in May when the visibility was nonexistent. We had reached what we thought was the summit in snowy, windy weather and made a quick circle around to make sure we were at the top. In retrospect, I think we were probably on the ledge about 100 feet from the summit. So what do you think? Should we count it? I guess it doesn’t matter now because we made it to the true summit this time!
On the way down from Pierce we took Crawford Path, the oldest continuously used trail in America. It seemed appropriate to use the 200 year old trail on America’s birthday! This trail was muddier than Edmands, maybe because it was later in the afternoon and had seen more traffic. Lucy did great on this trail, following behind me without fail. I do this so that she can always be at an arms reach. She listened to me when I told her to wait as well. I’m so proud of her because two years ago she would have wandered off to no end. On the 9th it will be two years since I adopted her, and this hike really showed how far she’s come in that time. She’s turned into such a great dog and I wouldn’t trade her for the world.
On the way down we stopped to see some falls and pools that looked great to cool off in! I would have loved to go for a quick swim but I didn’t have a towel and hiking in wet clothes would have been pretty miserable. I’ll have to remember for next time! Lucky Lucy got to go for a swim though! The trail was pretty gradual for the rest of the way and we reached the car fairly quickly.
It was great to catch up with some old friends and the mountains it was great to spend some time outside in the gorgeous weather. Lucy did so well with her 9th 4,000 footer and I’m really proud of her behavior throughout the day. It gives me hope that we’ll be able to hike together more and more in the future! There was no better way to celebrate the 4th of July than in the mountains on a beautiful day.
Mt. Eisenhower (4,780 ft) and Mt. Pierce (4,310 ft) via. Edmands Path, Mt. Eisenhower Loop, Crawford Path, and Crawford Connector [8.00 mi, 2925 ft, 5:30].