“It is not the mountain we conquer but ourselves.” Edmund Hillary
Mt. Jefferson (5712)
Trail: Caps Ridge to Mt. Jefferson, Castle Tr. to Link Tr. back to Caps Ridge, to Rt. 16
Date: Sunday 9/26/99
Attending: Gabe, Simone, John, and my brother Ralph Chicoine
Miles: 7 Time: 3 hours total to summit. 8 hour total hike
AMC huts, / shelters / camping site: None
Weather: Sunny, 50ish, very light winds.
This was #25 of the 48. And the third highest peak in the Whites. When planning this hike don’t forget that! It’s a serious hike and although the Caps Ridge trailhead starts from the highest parking lot in the Whites, you still have to do a lot of work! And you’re still going to spend a lot of time above tree-line.
The day was as good as anyone could ask for, not a cloud in the sky; We even got a little sun burned. And the wind was just enough to dry the sweat without causing a chill. We parked on Jefferson Notch Rd; The Caps Ridge parking lot was already full. The Caps Ridge trail was muddy at the base. The first 1/4 mile was flat and swampy. The trail turns to a moderate hike for the next 3/4 mile up to the potholes rock, a great destination for a picnic for people that aren’t really into bagging summits, but want a nice hike and spectacular viewing. From the potholes rock the view over the Cog Railroad is enough to consider this location as a end destination for a great place for a picnic. This spot affords the best views of the southern presidentials for just a little bit of effort.
If these three clowns wern’t standing in the way, this would be a great shot of Mt Jefferson from the potholes rock.
This trail affords lots of great views of the west side of Mt. Washington, the Cog Railroad and the Lakes in the Clouds AMC hut. Things got steep shortly after the potholes and the ledge scrambling begins to get a bit more serious. The first ledge scramble is the hardest. But take heart although the rest of the trail has a few more tough ledge scrambles none are any worse than the first set. At one point we looked up to the summit and it looked as though the people far up ahead of us were walking up a 40-degree knife edge ridge towards the summit, but when we got there it was just the side of the mountain, and it was not at all as difficult as it looked.
Here we’re sitting on one of the caps having lunch and re-hydrating
It was a little bit daunting and the last .5 miles are really tiring. Lots of this hike is above the tree line so things look more difficult than they are, but that’s not to say that they are easy either. It’s all rock, (like Adams). The whole of the northern presidentials has vast amounts of “above the tree-line” hiking, both a blessing for it’s novelty, and spectacular views, and a curse for it’s potential for calamity. For the assent, Ralph really seemed not to want to descend the Caps Ridge trail, if possible. (Feeling adventurous). So after looking at the map, we saw that the Castle trail looked less steep and the Link Trail re-connected the loop back onto the Ridge of the Caps, way below any rock scrambling on the Caps. But it did add 2.5 extra miles. The Castle trail was exceptionally beautiful, far nicer than the Caps Ridge. Although over-all the Castle trail was a more gradual assent this just meant a longer rocky path and it proved to have as many difficult ledges to descend as the Caps.
The Castles are spectacular. A must do hike!
Don’t let anything I said here keep you from hiking this trail yourself. It’s really worth the effort it takes to hike it!
The Link trail was a 1¾ mile tedious, wet-root, tree riddled, mosey bolder dodge, deer path that hiked slower than 1Mph. Plan for it, and expect to pay it’s dues because it’s the only way to turn this hike into a loop and it’s still worth it all.
My hard-learned rules still stand:
— “Never change your itinerary on the fly”.
— “Always do your research first”.
None the less it was a great day and a great hike, (3 miles of trail above tree line) and we know about three more trails.
It was, as it always is great to have my brother on the trail with us today. It doesn’t happen often enough.