JACKSON-WEBSTER LOOP: 3/11/13
On the third day in a row of warm, spring-like temperatures, a hike with a good firm snowshoe track seemed like a good idea. I chose Mt. Jackson, a longtime winter favorite that gets a lot of winter traffic because it is relatively short, if steep in places, and provides some great views.
At the trailhead on Route 302 I was greeted with a smooth and solid snowshoe track on the Webster-Jackson Trail. In the summer I really don't like this trail at all, as it is heavily eroded with rough, wet footing. It's a much more pleasant trip in winter, and the conditions this day were ideal. I strapped on my MSRs and plodded up to the side trail to Bugle Cliff, 0.6 mile and 500 feet above the road. This spot is a good mini-hike for anyone staying at the Highland Center or elsewhere in the Crawford Notch area, though caution should be used at the cliff. Apparently some folks were impressed enough by the spot to add commentary to this trail sign.
The view towards Mt. Tom, the Rosebrook Range and the Highland Center from Bugle Cliff.
After a quick stop at the cliff, I continued up the main trail to a completely-buried crossing of Flume Cascade Brook. With heavy rain due the next day, I figured this might be the last hike of the season on which I would cross a brook on a good snow bridge.
Other than three short, very steep pitches near Bugle Cliff, the climbing is moderate to easy up to the fork in the trail at 2800 ft.
The warm temperatures were bringing clumps of snow down from the trees. This big snow bomb was in the middle of the trail - that would hurt!
Pretty good snow depth up here.
From a fir wave, the summit of Jackson is in sight ahead.
This spot is a steep ledgy scramble in summer, an easy snow ramp in late winter.
Steep, winding climb up the cone.
The final steep pitch on open ledges, today was as easy as it gets for this spot.
Trail signs at the summit, with the Willey Range beyond. Good visibility today, despite a high grey cloud deck.
Mts. Field, Tom, Avalon and Willard, with the Twins and Mt. Hale behind.
View SW to Sandwich Range, Carrigain-Hancock, and nearby Mt. Webster and Mt. Willey.
Zoom on Carrigain and Hancock, with snowy Signal Ridge especially prominent. The Osceolas peer over in back between them.
Pasaconaway, Whiteface, Sleepers and Tripyramids behind Duck Pond, Bemis and Nancy.
No climb of Jackson is complete without a visit from the locals.
Two Gray Jays found me shortly after I arrived and alternated feeding on tidbits from my hand and off the snow.
View north to the Pliny Range - Starr King, Waumbek and North & South Weeks - with Mt. Cabot peering over.
Cherry Mountain and distant peaks in Vermont.
Looking south down the Saco valley.
Across the Dry River valley to Mt. Isolation and the elongated crest of Mt. Davis.
The lower Montalban Ridge peaks - Stairs, Resolution and Crawford.
Mt. Washington presides over the vast and wild Dry River valley.
With temperatures in the low 40s, I was able to spend two hours enjoying the marvelous views from Jackson.This was the most sheltered spot from the SW wind.
I decided to make the loop over Mt. Webster via the Webster Cliff Trail. After a steep drop off the cone, the trail climbed over a hump with a peek back at the summit of Jackson.
Unlike the solidly packed track to Jackson, this trail had a choppy, chewed-up track from a mix of snowshoers and barebooters.
The snow was deep enough to put many branches at face level.
The trail passed by several fir waves with partial views.
While poking around one of these, my left snowshoe plunged into a spruce trap. I should have known better!
View from a fir wave taken from the trail.
Another fir wave vista, looking back at the Presys framed by Pierce and Jackson.
They're baaaack..having followed me across the ridge, I assume.
One of the ridgetop residents keeping an eye on things at the trail junction near the summit of Webster.
A kingly view of the Presidentials from the summit of Webster.
At the summit of Webster, looking out towards Carrigain, Hancock and Willey.
A zoom on the remote twin southern knobs of Shoal Pond Peak, deep in the Pemi Wilderness. The ski trails of Loon are in the distance.
Webster provides a unique angle on the Willey Range and Crawford Notch.
Mt. Jackson from Mt. Webster.
The bare-booted track was pretty rough heading down the Webster Branch of Webster-Jackson Trail.
This is a beautiful cascade in summer, but just a big snow face in winter. After the steep climb up from the brook, it was smooth sailing down the lower trail to complete a very enjoyable 6.5 mile loop with 2550 ft. of elevation gain. Click here for lots more info on Mt. Webster, including a detailed view description.