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02 April 2014

Trek to Mt. Crawford, Plus Two Bushwhack Side-Trips

BOTTOM LINE:  Hiked to summit of Mt. Crawford, and then continued eastward for a few tenths of a mile beyond the summit to do two short bushwhacks off the Davis Path.  One foray was to a cliff dubbed by Steve Smith as "Razor's Edge", and the other was to the south slope of Crawford Dome.

DETAILS:

In early spring, it's often challenging for me to come up with suitable options for outdoor adventures.  Although there is still a ground cover of snow, the warmer weather generally makes the snow unsuitable for any enjoyable cross-country skiing.  Snowshoeing is still an option, but the sun-softened snow can cling and clump, thus making each step seem like lifting leg weights.  And then as spring progresses, the snow melt can raise water levels and cause issues with brook crossings.

As dismal and foreboding as the foregoing paragraph might sound, there are still some outdoor adventures in the early days of spring that can be enjoyed with some thoughtful planning.

My decision to hike to Mt. Crawford was based upon the knowledge that the trail (Davis Path) is generally well-travelled and therefore would likely require little if any trail-breaking.  Also, the brook crossings on this trail are rarely problematic at any time of year.  And lastly, since the overnight temperature was below freezing, I figured that the snowpack should remain relatively firm and non-clinging, at least until mid-day when the temperature was expected to rise into the low 40s.

In planning this trek,  I had thoughts of possibly extending the hike by continuing eastward beyond Mt. Crawford to visit Mt. Resolution.  However, on the morning of the hike, I received an e-mail from Steve Smith reminding me of yet another possibility which was to bushwhack to a cliff that he had dubbed as "Razor's Edge".  Although I'd never been there, I knew where to find it from the description in his November 2012 blog.  Steve's suggestion also prompted me to consider including yet another bushwhack to a nearby spot known as Crawford Dome.  I'd been there before, but never during wintry conditions (Click HERE for report of my previous trek to Crawford Dome.)

There were no real issues with the hike to Mt. Crawford other than some annoying postholes created by someone who apparently decided to hike the trail without snowshoes.  Some of the postholes were incredibly deep!  It had to have been a very uncomfortable hike.

Following my hike to the summit of Mt. Crawford, conditions were such that I opted to continue eastward along the Davis Path and do the short bushwhack to Razor's Edge.  The snowpack was relatively firm, and the cliff was found with no problem.  It was an enjoyable mini-adventure which provided unique views of the Razor Brook Valley.

Since the snowpack was relatively firm for the trek to Razor's Edge, I then decided to continue onward and do a bushwhack to the cliffs at the northwestern end of Crawford Dome.  Well, that didn't work out nearly as well!

Not only had the air temperature risen, but also the approach to Crawford Dome is predominately south facing.  These factors resulted in a very soft snowpack.  Once I began sinking thigh-deep on a frequent basis, I knew it was time to call it quits (or fold 'em, as I like to say).   But before giving up, I did manage to make it to a ledge which provided some very pleasant views.  And, much to my surprise, there was one segment of the ledge that was completely free of snow!

PHOTOS:

Shown below are some snapshots taken during this adventure.
Approaching the first open ledges en route to summit of Mt. Crawford
Snapshot taken on final approach to summit of Mt. Crawford  (looking northeasterly toward Stairs Mtn and southern Presidential Range)
Looking northward up the Crawford Notch from summit of Mt. Crawford
A vista similar to preceding photo, but looking a bit more westerly
Southward view from summit of Mt. Crawford looking toward Mt. Chocorua and peaks in Sandwich Range
Extreme zoom of Stairs Mtn with peaks in the Carter-Wildcat Range peaking through the gap between Stairs Mtn and Mt. Resolution
Looking southward down Razor Brook Valley from the cliff dubbed by Steve Smith as "Razor's Edge".  (Several decades ago, the Razor Brook Trail traversed this valley and connected with the Davis Path.)
A vista similar to preceding photo, but looking a bit more westerly
Extreme zoom of Mt. Chocorua
The snowpack was fairly firm for the bushwhack to "Razor's Edge" cliff.  (However, snowpack had softened considerably by time I started next bushwhack to Crawford Dome.)
Snowpack became too soft to comfortably continue all the way to Crawford Dome, but at least managed to get part way and had pleasant views of Mt. Resolution, Stairs Mtn, and 'peeks of peaks' in Presidential Range.
As they say in real estate, "location, location, location"! Much to my surprise, there was one segment of this south facing ledge that had huge expanses of snow-free rock.
This snapshot was taken on my descent from Crawford Dome.  It's being shown merely because I thought it was one of the most attractive vistas I've seen that includes the Attitash alpine ski slopes.
For those interested in the locations of my three destinations, each spot is marked with a red "X" on the map (click/tap to enlarge)
~ THE END ~


13 comments:

  1. Nice report and pics. Prior to getting into winter hiking I thought that snowshoes would allow me to walk along snow regardless of its condition. I rapidly learned the truth on spring time snow...

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    Replies
    1. Jim, thanks for reading my blog and for taking time to post a reply!

      Yes, I know what you mean about the special challenges of snowshoeing in the Springtime. There are so many factors to consider. Will the snow be wet and clump to the bottom of the snowshoes? Will the snowpack along the trail be patchy and necessitate that the snowshoes being taken off, and then be put back on again? Etc, etc.

      But despite the Springtime annoyances, there’s still great pleasure to be found by getting outdoors during all seasons of the year. :-)

      John

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  2. How razor like was Razor's edge? What a great day for a hike. The views are forever. Enjoyed your trip report and photos. Keep em coming!

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    Replies
    1. Brian . . . great to read that you enjoyed my report and photos!

      Regarding your question about Razor’s Edge, , it was a pretty “sharp” drop-off from the edge of the cliff down to the floor of the Razor Brook Valley! :-)

      Thanks for posting your comments . . . much appreciated!

      John

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  3. Thanks for providing a link to when you did Crawford Dome. I was wondering what it was like for views when I did Mt Crawford in early March. Between the razor,s edge and ridge up to Mt Crawford there is another open ridge coming down south of the plateau between Crawford and Crawford Dome. Have you been on it? It is to the right as you approach the Mt Crawford spur path intersection.
    Josh

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    Replies
    1. Josh, . . . not 100% certain, but think I’ve visited the open ridge that you described. Below is a link to a blog report that I posted about 3 years ago (you’ll need to cut and paste it into your web browser). This report contains a map showing my bushwhack route which I think crossed over the spot that you referenced in your comments. If you need more information, please feel free to send me an e-mail at: randonneur8 AT yahoo DOT com.

      http://1happyhiker.blogspot.com/2011/07/mt-crawford-loop-hike-using-portion-of.html

      John

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  4. It looks like you have been there. Thanks for the link. Great report as always!

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  5. Your report of springtime mountain activities describes exactly what we face in alpine areas of the west—soggy snow, high-running streams—generally not a good time to be in the mountains. What we do to escape those conditions is to go to the desert instead!
    But, it looks and sounds like you were able to circumvent the "worst" of the spring conditions and have an enjoyable hike on a great day.
    Nice report and great photos, as always, John!

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    Replies
    1. Hi Rita,

      What a great option you have by going to the desert in the Springtime when alpine areas are yucky and mucky. That is certainly an alternative that is unavailable anywhere in New England. About the best we can do is seek out snow-free earth at locations with a predominately southern exposure. It’s sort of a ‘cat and mouse’ game that is played out each spring. :-)

      Thanks for reading my report and posting a reply!

      John

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  6. Great report John. Looks like you had perfect weather. I've bee. to "Crawford Dome" a couple summers ago heading for that great looking ledge about .2 miles further NW, But ran out of gas. Not sure how I missed what is dubbed "The Razor's Edge" while looking at G.E. This is probably beginning to sound redundant, but the amount of "Ledgey Goodness" to explore in that area seems to be endless.

    I hope you don't think I'm being critical John, I'm only mentioning this in case you slipped a test in your blog. But your photo looking up Crawford Notch, then the next one saying looking a but more west, seem to be identical. Are you checking to see if we are paying attention? ;-) Sorry, just curious if it's my eyes. :)

    Thanks for sharing,
    Joe

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    Replies
    1. Hi Joe,

      Well, first of all, a huge ‘thank you’ for calling my attention to the photo issue that you mentioned. No idea what happened. Since the photos are so similar, I double-checked them before publishing. They were two different photos at one time. The ‘gremlins’ must have been at work! :-) Anyway, the two photos are now once again different. Hopefully, they will remain that way!

      And yes, I totally agree with you about the endless amount of “Ledgey Goodness” there is to explore in the Crawford Notch area. It’s a location that ranks very high on my list of favorite places in the Whites.

      Thank you for taking time to read my blog, and thanks again for calling my attention to the issue with the photos.

      John

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  7. Nicely done, John! Spring conditions are always a challenge, no matter whether you're hiking or trying to get in a little more skiing of any sort. The pictures are gorgeous as always, you had a great day and made the most of it!

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    Replies
    1. Thank you Summerset for your comments and for your very kind words about the photos in my report.

      I’ve been keeping up with your adventures as posted in your blog (http://nh48.wordpress.com/). It appears that you also have been having some great days out on the trails!

      Happy trails!
      John

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