The wind forecast went up and down on Friday but, by Saturday morning, was predicting lots of wind in the Presidentials. The associated clearing was still in the forecast, so we went for the planned ascent of Mt Eisenhower—and the forecasts rang true. The conditions was great: temps in the 20s, well-packed trail all the way, partial clearing to see most of the peaks, views throughout, bearable wind, and some friendly interactions with fellow hikers. And, for a taste, look at this movie.
Round trip was about book time of 6.5 hrs. See pics in the
Steve brought his new Nokia smartphone, which faired well until stopping due to the cold, and he took some great shots, the first six below. My Panasonic Lumix did fine as usual. As to gear, we came well prepared. We used micropikes on the lower trail and snowshoes for the upper reaches. Even on the mostly bare summit the snowshoes did well. There were only a few drifts as we went in and out of treeline on the ridge. I put on all my layers for the summit. Steve’s wrap-around scarfs did quite well. Goggles were sooo necessary; only one other hiker of the ~10 we met did not have them. Our lunch break on the way down had a great vista:.
Panorama near treeline: Mt Pierce, Mt Thom to west, Cabot Range to the north, and Mt Eisenhower, our destination.
Click once to get full field; click again to
get higher resolution and pan across image.
The trail was perfect: packed throughout and well below the surrounding snow of up to 3′ depth. (Steve took official measurements using his poles periodically.) We got to the Mt Pierce junction in about 2 hours. The ascent starts with break outs from the trees where the wind was howling. At the worst spot, I balked. We turned around. I had second thoughts, donned another outer layer of my parka, and we made it to the summit by about noon (3.5 hrs). Other hikers, except one trio, all made it as well. We ate lunch back in the trees. Then we did the 0.1-mile excursion to Mt Pierce and returned to Crawford Path, which made an easy descent, part with snowshoes and then with microspikes. We reached the parking lot just before 3pm.
Summary: 9.2 miles to Mt Eisenhower and Mt Pierce, 3700′ elevation gain, 6.5 hrs (book time!), Microspikes and snowshoes on well-packed trail with lots of wind above treeline.