Mount Jefferson Hike
By Mike Boisvert.
Sometimes you just have to compromise your plans due to mother nature, but you have a great time anyway. With a storm coming in the afternoon we made the obvious call to start an hour earlier than we planned at 7AM and see what we could do in less than ideal weather conditions. So Tom Chase, Mark Laske, Mark Legere, Rick McCurdy, Jon Normand and I went to see if we could actually summit. Tom and Mark were dying to see this "pressie weather" they often heard was all about --well they weren't let down!
We headed up Lowe's Path Saturday morning and it started to snow soon after we began. The trail was icy as we reached the steep section climbing up to the Log Cabin so we put on our YakTrax, Stabilicers and crampons. We did not hear any wind and temperatures were around 30 degrees. We took the Raymond Path and began walking in about 8 inches of fresh snow. The snow falling down was steady.
The plan was to have lunch inside the Perch Lean-To. We then continued our journey on the Raymond Path. We crossed over the Israel Ridge Path and the snow was now at least a foot deep. The winds weren't all that bad at 20 mph and visability was better than 50 feet. We could see into the Castle Ravine every now and then. Up higher Mt. Jefferson was socked in.
As we got higher, it became more rocky but with the snow quickly accumulating we started to slow down. At Edmunds Col, the wind wasn't bad at all, but visability was poor at about 50 feet. We got up to the Gulfside Trail and crossed the slide/gully which looked and felt pretty stable. We were a little concerned with an avalanche (those that have crossed this in winter know what I am talking about) but a quick check and it looked to be pretty well consolidated and stable, so off we went one at a time just in case. With the new snow better safe than sorry.
We reached the Jefferson Loop, and got a bit higher and visability dropped even more and we couldn't see anything, things looked like cairns, but they weren't, etc.... We went around a bit to try and find the route up, but we had no luck. I knew the general direction to go, but was concerned about getting down because the wind quickly erased our footprints. So at about 300 feet below the summit the 6 of us all agreed it was time to head down and call it a day. It was the right call.
The snow continued to fall as we headed back down. By now we were ready for a lasagna and beer at the Rock N River Lodge. It began to get dark so put on our headlamps for the last 1.7 miles. Mark Legere had a few beers back in his car so we enjoyed a refreshing beer in the dark in the middle of a snowstorm. Mark drove back to his cabin in Franconia - until next time!!
It was a good trip even though we did not summit. But hey, we ended the day around a roaring fireplace at the Rock N River Lodge with some food and drink.
All in all it was fun seeing Tom and Mark again; they are great guys with good heads in the mountains. It was fun seeing Rick also and of course hiking with my bro' - Jon Normand.
All fun people to hike with and Tom has got the great sense of humor to keep the spirits up in the low times!
Any day in the mountains, summit or not, is a good day!
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