Date Climbed: 11/22/2009
Distance: 6.1 miles
Low Elevation: 1850 feet
High Elevation: 3251 feet
Elevation Gain: 1700 feet
Elevation Loss: 1700 feet
Start Location: Mt. Crescent TH
Finish Location: Mt. Crescent TH
Route: Mt. Crescent Trail, Carlton Notch Trail, Crescent Ridge Trail to whack to Randolph, N. peak, whack to Crescent Ridge Trail to whack to Mt. Crescent to Mt. Crescent Trail
Weather: No clouds, no wind, 30F
Randolph N. peak and Crescent for a great day, 11/22/09Lazy Boy
I haven’t not hiked for 3 weeks since July. I had a 3 month hiatus and went nuts after that. I had a vacation and other obligations, so I was looking for something not too long, and the north peak of Randolph and Crescent fit the bill nicely. I had tried this in April, but just had a rotten day and gave up, at least getting some views from Lookout Ledge, and yet another stupid avatar (the purple fruit rollup tongue).
Today was much different, except for the stupid avatar. Despite 3 weeks off, and my worrying I wouldn’t be as strong as I have been with almost constant weekly hikes, I felt great. The weather was very un-Novembery with completely clear skies, and temps around 30 up high. I had one of those days that just lifts your spirits sky high and makes you ecstatic and thankful to be a hiker. I’m thankful to those who built these trails, I’m thankful to those who maintain them for my (and your) benefit.
Towards the Randolph Whack
I hit the trail at 8:40 at the trailhead of the Mt. Crescent Trail, which has parking for 2, maybe 3. I headed the Carlton Notch Trail and made the 1.9 miles up to the Crescent Ridge Trail in only an hour, way better than I expected. On the way up to the ridge I heard a large crash, and saw a 4” tree move violently, but never saw the animal that made it, but I’m fairly certain Bullwinkle was out and about. The trail up to the ridge trail is easy grades to start with, and then the last section is moderate to moderately steep, thanks to switchbacks, making the trip easy. I then headed west along the ridge, a very pleasant and pretty walk alternating between typical medium elevation woods and little meadows. Moose sign was plentiful in this entire region, with several piles of very fresh scat. At a point after the Underhill Path goes off towards the Pond of Safety, there’s a nice little viewpoint to the northern Presidentials. It was unexpected, and thus very welcome.
Randolph, North Peak Whackity-Whack
Randolph, north peak is a NH3k peak and a short whack (about 400 ft. at its shortest point). I had a range of points to do the whack, starting at a point where the grade was easy and the last being the closest point. Alas, all of this area between the trail and the peak is extremely swampy, and I finally found a point just after the closest point that I could cross it. I hit a thick stand of fir, and settled my mind in for a difficult whack. But things just worked out as the woods became moderate and then pretty open, reaching the summit plateau in only about 5 minutes. Then the fun began of trying to find the high point. It seemed obvious I was west of the summit, so I started exploring around, finding some flagging (likely border marking along with some blue blazes), but then noticed a 6 ft. high rock which was clearly the summit. The problem was finding a way up this bugger. I circled around about 270 degrees before finding a way up that was only slightly less than shaky. Once on top, there was still a thick stand of fir to deal with. Of course, all things being Salty, once on top I then noticed an easy way up on the north side. Argh. Sadly, the views were extremely tree-filtered, despite such an effort worthy of Hillary and Norgay.
I returned back down and headed back along the Crescent Ridge Trail, enjoying the relatively flat ridge walk. I made this a pretty leisurely affair, turning away from the path at any potential viewpoint, being the view slut that I am. Most of these turned out to be nothing, but I finally found along a moose path the view I was hoping for. There’s a little peak I noted north of the Underhill Path which has a steep west side to it, and I was curious to know if there were ledges there. Good: there were! Bad: Very steep and dangerous access as best as I can tell. Oh, well. A view is a view!
I cooked off the trail only having to climb about 400’ vertical of moderate grades to the north viewpoint, which is really unique. There’s a stunning panorama of Waumbek, the Weeks, Cabot, the Bulge and the Horn. Having done Waumbek and the Weeks in October, this was great to see. The Percy’s were evident although the hazy conditions probably didn’t present them in their finest. The ledges of Jericho cried to me “Climb me! Climb me!”
The Crescent Whack Not Done By a Moose
Time for whack #2. The summit of Crescent is not on the trail, so I went down the Crescent Ridge Trail a little before exploring the first of many little bumps. The woods here were fairly nasty, I slipped on slick downfalls several times and I was not really enjoying this. Every bump revealed another that appeared to be higher, and I was about to call it “close enough” when I spied one more bump, which turned out to be clearly the highest, again perched on a boulder. At this point I heard some hikers coming up, and had a flashback to popping out on the trail coming out from Mt. Blue and surprising some poor woman. So I took my reverse course trying to be quiet (ha ha), guided by the general direction of the sun that I had come in. I came out much more quickly on the Mt. Crescent Trail, just above where it parallels the Crescent Ridge Trail SE of the junction. Of course, said hikers were on the lower trail, and mentioned something about me not being a moose. I explained the mischief I was up to and they wished me a good day, so I guess they took in all in stride. They were undoubtedly bummed I wasn’t something more exotic than a filthy, smelly hiker.
A Beech of a Trail
I went down the Mt. Crescent Trail for the obvious reason if you’ve been paying attention. View slut. South Viewpoint. Astounding! I came up on a small ledge and the world dropped beneath me with the northern Presis staring me in the face. Further, Lafayette was easily recognized and some Carter stuff was viewed on the other end. It was pretty hazy, so sadly this view didn’t live up to all it could be, but for a November day which is generally a windy, leaden sky, I wasn’t going to complain. Ah yes, I didn’t mention, the winds were negligent, another bonus for the day. Despite my high respect for the RMC, I mocked their sign noting that this was a viewpoint. If I need a sign to tell me, I’m in deep trouble. But, all things being Salty, my quest for a new stupid avatar was fulfilled.
There were some tricky spots coming down, as the trail was still very wet, but I got through the worst of it with some care. Then came something I hadn’t encountered before. An enormous beech grove. Beautiful, utterly open woods, which make birch groves look cluttered. I was amazed at how far through the trees I could see. I was equally amazed at how difficult it was to find the trail. The thing is, beeches, being deciduous, drop leaves. You are probably aware that they do this in great profusion in the fall. Being late fall, any sign of trampled dirt, or broken up leaves was completely obliterated. Where the trail went straight, you could barely make out a slightly sunken area. Where it turned, you had to watch closely. Normally you rely on brushed out areas to find the trail in questionable areas, but there was none of that to be had here. I’m just not used to having to think on the descent! Beautifully annoying.
A Dog of a Finale
I stopped by Castleview Rock, which because of the haze, was uninspiring. I finished up just after 1:00. At the building right next to the trail/road junction, I saw a dog jump up and start heading towards me. Uh-oh. The owner was in the back operating a log splitter. I then noted it was just a big old well-behaved, friendly yellow lab, and like most of its breed, happy to get some attention. Not a bad spot for a lab to live! He followed me to the car, and I started worrying he wanted a ride, but he’s a good dog, and just went back to his spot, probably waiting for another hiker.
Overall, a couple of interesting whacks, some really unique views, and a wonderful day in the woods. I would highly recommend the Mt. Crescent Trail to the two viewpoints on Crescent mentioned. A loop over to Lookout Ledge is an even better day.