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Northern Presidentials
October 5, 2005

Route: Caps Ridge Trail, Mt Jefferson Loop,
Gulfside Trail, Israel Ridge Path,
Lowe’s Path, Airline Trail, Osgood
Trail, Valley Way
Map:
 
Elevation: Mt Jefferson – 5716 ft
Adams 5 – 5256 ft
Mt Adams – 5799 ft
Madison Spring Hut – 4825 ft
Mt Madison – 5366 ft
Vertical Climb: 4364 ft
Distance: 11.0 miles
Who Went: Paul, Muffin

This was to be an ambitious day's undertaking. Muffin and I were hoping to climb three peaks, ascending Mt Jefferson via the Caps Ridge Trail, then passing over Mt Adams and Mt Madison, and finally taking either the Daniel Webster Scout Trail or the Valley Way back down again, depending on the time and weather.

After driving 3 miles up the bumpy gravel surface of Jefferson Notch Road, I parked the car at the Caps Ridge Trailhead and we started up the trail around 7:30 AM.

The trail first passed through a low boggy area, crossing the wetter sections on bog bridges and stepping stones. Soon, we  climbed moderately, then gently uphill through a mixed forest. After about a mile, we arrived at the ledgey outcrop with boulders that have large potholes in them. These potholes were formed by rivers created by the melting of the continental ice sheet. The views across the ravine and up to Mt Jefferson were as clear as I've ever seen. It was too bad that my digital camera was broken and I was stuck using a disposable camera from CVS.

We soon reached the first Cap, which began with a steep climb up a smooth slab. It would have been a great place to wear my rock climbing shoes. I had to help Muffin a couple of times up this section. In the area of the Caps, the trail wound up, around, through, and down openings through the rocks, twisting and turning its way up the ridge. After descending slightly from the third and last Cap, the trail followed a line of rocks through a relatively level area which is probably the northern edge of Monticello Lawn.

At the intersection with the Cornice, a trail which circumnavigates the summit cone, the Caps Ridge Trail turned sharply left and began ascending moderately over large boulders toward the top of Mt Jefferson. The last time I was on this trail, it was very foggy and very windy, with lots of rime ice, limited visibility, and penetrating damp cold. This was a vast improvement, and it was nice having Muffin for company too.

The summit itself comes as somewhat of a surprise, as it appears to be another false summit until you're right on it, looking down the other side toward the Great Gulf and the rest of the Northern Presidentials. I took a quick picture of Muffin, and then we descended the short distance to the large cairn at the junction of the Mt Jefferson Loop.

Boulder with glacial potholes. These potholes were formed by rivers formed by the melting of the continental ice sheet.

Mt Jefferson from the pothole boulders. You can see the 3 caps along the ridgeline going up to the summit cone.

Muffin on the Caps Ridge Trail. I think that this was taken while crossing the middle Cap.

Mt Jefferson from the upper Cap. The trail winds its way over the line of rocks to the right.

Muffin at the summit of Mt Jefferson. There isn't really any level ground at the actual summit. You have to descend a short way to the large cairn at the junction of the Mt Jefferson Loop.

Map

  Northern Presidentials page: 

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