Mt Washington 12/25/13

Not being a celebrator of Christmas I have traditionally used the day off on  12/25 as a day to go for my first winter season hike, and I have found great conditions up high several times before on Christmas Day.  Mt Washington Hike 12/25/09 was one of my favorite hikes ever.  Yesterday was bitterly cold but the winds dropped off for a little window of time affording Tim and I the opportunity to catch some amazing views as we ascended the west side of Mt Washington.
I was surprised at how little snow there was but there was a lot of ice.  We both had mountaineering boots on so crampons were the preferred method of traction and we ended up needing them most of the trip.  After 8 hours of walking on rock and ice with crampons my blisters looked like I had maraschino cherries growing out of the outside of my big toes.  Personally I have a policy of not going above tree line in the Presidentials in the winter without double boots but with warm enough boots you probably could have got away with microspikes for most of this trip except for on the upper half of the Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail.  The trail had a lot of water ice on it some of which required front pointing.


When we got to Lake of the Clouds Hut the sun started to shine real bright offsetting the -0 temps and the wind was down in the 10 mph range



At LOC I put on a warmer pair of gloves, chugged some water, scarfed down a PB&J and showed Tim the Dungeon.  We then headed up to the summit climbing mostly on snow covered rocks.  The Summit weather was fantastic Clear, Low winds, and -10 degrees.

They had Christmas lights on the summit sign which I accidentally got tangled up in with my crampons but I didn’t get electrocuted.
 

I thought about taking Jewell Trail Down and probably would have wanted to if there was snow to walk on, but decided against spending all that extra time on the rocky the ridge.  So we returned the way we came, meeting up with several ascending parties on the way down.  One man seemed very unprepared and very behind schedule. I hope he made it out ok.
We got back to our car around 3pm and went down to Fabyans for Beer and a burger.  We had caught a window of perfect winter hiking weather. Looking at the observatory’s web page later showed the Winds were in the 60MPH range up until about an hour before we came above tree line and returned to the 60MPH range shortly after we descended.

The Eagle’s Nest Mt Monadnock 12/1/13

After I found the Pumpelly Cave the natural next point of interest was The Eagles Nest.  Although the Pumpelly Cave is a place that’s location should be kept secret I don’t think the Eagles Nest is in the same Blog Free Zone category due to the fact that there is a ATV trail that goes all the way to the shelter, and that the shelter has a lock on the door to keep the public out.  If whoever maintains this shelter didn’t want people finding it they should not have put a roof on it that is very easy to spot on Google Earth.  Although the Eagles Nest is a much nicer shelter than the Pumpelly , its low elevation, weather tightness, lock on the door and amenities make it much less of a wild and adventurous place to visit, it is more like  a Doomsday Prepper’s Bunker than a Bothy Shelter.
We accessed the shelter by bushwhacking west from the Dublin Trail.  The Dublin trail was ice covered and we needed to use our Micro Spikes to stay on the tread way.  We could have walked on the side of the trail without traction, but we didn’t want to tear up the sides of the trail.

When we had climbed to about 2200 feet we left the trail and traversed up hill to the west.  We bushwhacked around for a little bit and missed the shelter by about 100 feet  high to the east (according to my GPS track I looked at later) In our wandering we climbed too high and ended up looping back to the trail around 2300 feet.  I started to wonder if we were going to find it after missing it on the first try. We took another crack at it, and went a little further West this time and dropped down in elevation to about 2200’ at this point we started to see saw cut trees on the side of a small crag, we scrambled up the crag and found ourselves in the front yard of the shelter.  There was a fire pit, a picnic table and a bunch of firewood.
The Eagle’s Nest

Jeremy Looking in the Frosty Window:

Me

Both of us had to be back home by noon so we didn’t have time to go bag the summit. So we started to descend the ATV trail from the shelter to see where it went.  At first it seemed to be taking us in the right direction but then it started to go a little further west than we wanted to be going to get back to our car, so we bushwhacked back through the woods to the east until we rejoined the Dublin Trail.  There were lots of hunters parked on Old Troy Rd so it probably wouldn’t have been a good idea to be off the hiking trail if we had needed to bushwhack any lower in elevation.
I was glad the trip was a success and that another item on my Monadnock bucket list is checked off.