As the crow flies, Mt. Jefferson is only 18 miles from where I live. Assuming it's a clear day, I can see Mt. Jefferson smiling back at me from the end of the roadway leading to my home. With a neighbor located so nearby, it's seems fitting that I make a visit every so often.
Mt. Jefferson as seen from end of my road
On 11-July-2012, the humidity was low, the winds on the high peaks were low, and for summertime conditions, the air temperature was low (upper 70s). It seemed like a great time to pay a visit to "Mister Jefferson"!
The route that I chose for my trek was a loop that I've done before. But, just for something new and different, I opted to do it in a counterclockwise fashion rather the clockwise direction that I've used previously. This 9.7 mile loop begins and ends at the trailhead parking lot for the Caps Ridge Trail. Regardless of which direction of travel that is used, you need to do a 1.4 mile walk along Jefferson Notch Road, either at the outset of the loop, or at the very end. For this trip, I did the road-walk first. My route is highlighted in pink on the map shown below. (Clicking on any photo will enlarge it.)
Loop-hike is highlighted in pink
One advantage to doing the road-walk first is that it is downhill and goes rather quickly. I took me 23 minutes to walk the 1.4 miles down the road to the Boundary Line Trail. Most of the 0.9 mile Boundary Line Trail is downhill or flattish, and so that portion of the hike also goes very quickly.
Hiking up the Jewell Trail is a real pleasure! It is never overly steep, and it's very well-maintained (thanks to fellow hikers John G. and Philip W.) After a lovely walk in the forest along the Jewell Trail for about two miles, I came to the clearing where you get your first trailside peek at the Presidential Range. From here I could see the Lakes of the Clouds (LOC) Hut nestled at the base of Mt. Monroe.
Lakes of the Clouds (LOC) Hut nestled at base of Mt. Monroe
After hiking along the Jewell Trail for about another mile, I broke out above tree-line. From this vantage point, the vista really opens up! Mt. Monroe and the LOC Hut once again caught my attention. However, this time there was the added feature of one of the Cog Railway trains making its way up to the top of Mt. Washington.
Cog Railway train en route to Mt. Washington with LOC Hut in background
As I made my way up the Jewell Trail toward the junction with the Gulfside Trail, I turned around to take a look down the corridor that I had just hiked. It's a scenic vista that I really enjoy!
Looking down the Jewell Trail
Just to the southwest of the Jewell Trail, I could see a another Cog Railway train. It was still in the wooded portion of the rail corridor as it began its journey up the mountainside.
Cog Railway train in wooded portion of the rail corridor
It seemed like no time at all until I reached the Gulfside Trail which I would follow northward to Mt. Jefferson. Once you're on this trail, there's little doubt but what you're in the alpine zone. On this beautiful July day, there was quite a contrast between the brilliant blue sky and the earth-tones and greens of the alpine zone. There was no need to include a mountain peak in the photo to capture a colorful and interesting scene.
A scene from along the Gulfside Trail
After a short trek along the Gulfside Trail, my target came into view. Mt. Jefferson was boldly standing on the horizon awaiting my arrival!
Mt. Jefferson on horizon (left side of photo)
As I started climbing the south face of Mt. Jefferson, I stopped to take a look at the summit of Mt. Washington resting atop the chasm of the Great Gulf. These features are shown in the next photo. Also seen in the foreground is a greenish-colored plateau which lies at the base of Mt. Jefferson. This is known as Monticello Lawn. What an appropriate name!
Mt. Washington, Great Gulf, Monticello Lawn
Once I reached the top of Mt. Jefferson, there was no one there other than me and a "peak-bagger insect" who was relaxing on what I presume to be all that's left of Mt. Jefferson's summit marker.
"Peak-bagger" insect perched on metal rod on Mt. Jefferson's summit (see ADDENDUM to report for more information about this)
After enjoying some quality-time at the summit with the "peak-bagger insect", it was time to pack up and head for home. During the descent on the Caps Ridge Trail, I stopped several times to glance over at Mt. Washington and the parade of high peaks in the southern Presidential Range.
Mt. Washington and parade of high peaks in the southern Presidential Range
Soon, my attention turned to looking westward. Far in the distance I could see the trailhead parking lot which was my final target for the day. But first, I needed to climb over a series of rocky outcroppings along the ridgeline known as Ridge of the Caps. I'd be doing an occasional butt-slide as I descended the steeper sections of these challenging bumps.
Looking down Ridge of the Caps toward trailhead parking lot
Near the lower end the Caps Ridge Trail I stopped briefly at the open spot where there is a large boulder from which you can get a view looking upwards along the Ridge of the Caps. It can provide a sense of accomplishment to see what you just descended.
Looking upward at Ridge of the Caps from lower end of Caps Ridge Trail
The boulder that I just mentioned above has a notable feature of its own. It is "pockmarked" with depressions known as glacial potholes. Geology is one of the many areas in which I have no expertise. However, as I understand it, these potholes were formed by high volumes of rapidly-flowing water, possibly in an ice-marginal, or a sub-glacial river. Rocks swirling about in the water served as the "cutting tools" to create these depressions.
ADDENDUM (added 12-Aug-2012)
Thanks to a respondent named Kevin (see COMMENTS section of my Blog), I learned a very interesting fact about the metal pipe/rod that I saw embedded in a boulder at the top of Mt. Jefferson.
I had seen similar metal pipes embedded in boulders at other locations while hiking in the Presidential Range. It had always been assumed these were merely the remains of a USGS survey marker, and that the surrounding metal disc had been removed by someone as a souvenir. But thanks to Kevin, I learned that this metal pipe was one of many that had been inserted at various locations in the Presidential Range as part of Brad Washburn's mapping project which was conducted during the 1980s.
Eventually, I contacted Larry Garland (AMC cartographer) about this, and he kindly led me to two references which provide detailed descriptions of Brad Washburn's mapping project for the Presidential Range. Here are those citations:
_ Smith, Alan A. Mapping the Mountain: Ten Years of Cartography on Mount Washington, in Appalachia, vol. 48, no. 2 (Boston: Appalachian Mountain Club, December 1990), pp. 18-30.
_ Smith, Alan A. Mapping the Mountain: Ten Years of Cartography on Mount Washington, Part Two, in Appalachia, vol. 48, no. 3 (Boston: Appalachian Mountain Club, June 1991), pp. 69-80.
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Shown below is some text excerpted from the December 1990 edition of Appalachia which talks about these metal pipes. Perhaps some readers might find this to be of interest.
"When we could, we put our triangulation points at existing USGS markers. But when there were none, we put in a new one, or drilled a hole and inserted a short length of pipe, on which targets or prisms could be mounted. Then, at the end of the project, we filled in each of those holes with strong cement the color of the rock, in which was embedded a three-inch stainless steel pin, protruding only half an inch above the surface. Those pins can be used as survey stations in the future."
". . . some of the USGS markers we expected to find had been stolen . . . by souvenir hunters. But our pins will be very difficult to extract . . ."
"For the job, we had a set of rock-drilling bits, a heavy-duty electric drill, and a sixty-five-pound horribly awkward gasoline-powered electric generator, laughingly called "portable." When all that gear could be delivered to the site by car, or by helicopter, drilling a hole was easy. The chips had to be blown out, but then the pipe could be driven home, and a target set in place. Frequently, however, the drilling equipment had to be delivered to some remote location on foot, and for that purpose Brad designed a special pack frame for the generator. The whole load was about seventy-five pounds, a severe test of volunteer enthusiasm! Then, of course, there was the other pack, with the rock drill and the plumbing supplies for handling those pipes, but that was only about sixty pounds!"