Saturday, May 28, 2011

Mt. Jefferson - Spring Hiking

Elevation: 5,712ft
Trails: Jewell Trail, Gulfside Trail & Jefferson Loop
Elevation Gain: 3,215ft
Distance: 11 miles roundtrip
Duration: 8.5 hours
My 4000+ Peak #2
Listed 4000+: #3 
Difficulty:  Very Strenuous

Back in April I spent a couple hours at the Cog Railway at the base of Mt. Washington during a photo workshop. There was still snow on the ground and winter chill in the air. Today it was a bit warmer and the snow was all but gone. And the Cog ran its route, with early season riders aboard its colorful cars.

Our Meetup Group (4 Seasons - http://www.meetup.com/4-Seasons-Hiking-Group/) met up at the Cog Railway to start our ascent on the Jewell Trail. I was anxious to hike this mountain as this was the 3rd highest in New England behind Adams and Washington. We were instructed to bring more water than usual. Along with a headlamp, rain gear, first aid kit, food, snacks. Importantly was warm clothing as most of the hike would be above the tree line. This hike was billed as "slow" hike with short stops for water.

The Jewell Trail was 'buggy' for me and bug spray came in handy. We crossed several foot bridges before a  moderate ascent. As we ascended towards Mt Clay, we began to approach tree line. Once above tree line and in the scrub, the wind picked up. We stopped for a short break and I was able to get a video with the clouds blowing up, it was amazing!











A few minutes hiking into the scrub the ascent got steeper, I got really tired and started slowing down!  I had been anxious about this hike all week and was like a kid on the night before Christmas! I had a hard time sleeping for more than 5 hours each night leading up to the hike and with less than a mile to the summit I started to feel the results. I drank more water and kept snacking on my protein bars, but that was no help. The organizers of the hike swept behind me and just short of the summit I turned to John and told him that I didn't think I could make it. He looked at me like I was nuts. And then he started to push me. Both he and Robin pointed out the summit and when I realized how close we really were, I got a second wind.

At the base of the summit I put my backpack down and took my camera to climb the last few feet to the summit. It was foggy with not much of a view, but none the less, it was the summit! And I was too tired to realize at the time, but I had just bagged my first 5000+ footer standing atop 5,712ft Mount Jefferson! I took several photos of the summit as well as from the summit and remembered that I had forgotten my #2 sign! *sigh*

We spent about 20 minutes at the base for lunch and just as we got ready to make our descent, the wind picked up. I mean it really picked up! I expected windy conditions, but I didn't expect "whipping wind"! I know better now. Most of us donned our rain gear and I suddenly wished we could have spent more time at the summit.

On the descent I started to feel pain in my calves and thighs. We back-tracked on our descent  and as I got closer to the end of the trail the pain got worse! About half a mile to the trail end I ran out of water....my 2 liter Camelbak wasn't enough for this hike! Another hiking companion gave me a bottle of water.  After the hike, our group met at Fabyan's Station Restaurant for dinner. I was glad to sit! Needed to get some protein and fat back into me so I had the Fabyan Burger! Getting up from the dinner table was a bit painful. My entire lower part of my body ached, including my ass! I was glad that I carpooled with Chuck.

I learned several things from this hike. First and foremost, get plenty of sleep in the days that lead up to the hike. Bring lots of water, maybe even a protein drink. Since we can burn 500 calories per hour hiking to the summit, one of my hiking companions suggested eating cheese to replenish the fat loss. Stay on the trail by following the cairns. And use two trekking poles instead of one, lengthening the poles especially when hiking over boulders.

Thanks to 4 Seasons Meetup Organizers John and Robin for all their support and encouragement!


** Click on the photos to see a larger view 

At the Cog Railway - base of Mt. Washington 


On the Jewell Trail
 
 On the Gulfside Trail with 
Mt. Jefferson summit in the clouds

On the Gulfside Trail



At the summit!
Yes, that's my hand!


Jen and I at the summit of Mt. Jefferson!

Our group at the summit!




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