The morning started out perfect, great weather, a quick drive up to Bretton Woods
and Base Rd. which leads you to Jefferson Notch Rd. We came upon our first obstacle of the day.
A very large moose decided to block our way to the trailhead. We stopped for a few minutes to
take a look and get our strategy synched, we had two vehicles. I wasnít sure what the moose
would do once we attempted to pass it. It wasnít moving and we had places to be. Luckily once
we got closer it scampered into the woods never to be seen again. We arrived at Jefferson Notch
trailhead and noticed that there was a large group of teenagers stretching, preparing for the
climb. Our plan to hike on a weekday to avoid such traffic just went out the window. The Caps
Ridge Trail is a 2.5 mile long trail with about 2,700 ft ascent to Mt Jefferson.
The start of the trip is an effortless stroll in the woods, with some constant gain
in elevation. Unfortunately, we were flanked on either end with highschoolers, yelling, screaming,
singing and the like. It was at that point where I got out my mp3 player and drowned them out.
Not all of them were annoying, but you could tell which ones were going to make it to the summit
and which ones were just there to get out of going to class. After a while, we arrived at
Whirlpool Ledge, where there were holes worn into the bare rock by the movement of water over
thousands of years. From here you look up the trail and see the first of cap for which the trail
is named. Looking south, you can see an amazing ridgeline. Our next view offered itself on a granite
outcropping just short of the junction of The Link. Not long after the first cap, the trail broke
the tree-line and turned to rock-hopping where you needed to do some scrambling. At this point
the trail gets very steep. From here there are great views to the south and west. The sections
of the trail get vertical, but unless you have a fear of heights, you just have to pay attention.
At this time we were getting some excellent views of Mt Washington and Mt Monroe to the south,
and the Castellated Ridge to the north. Like the first cap, the second cap had great views but
we were approaching the cloud line quickly. About .5 mile up the trail, the Cornice intersects,
this leads to Mt. Clay to the southeast, and the Monticello Lawn. From the Cornice to the summit
you are basically rock hopping, a lot of rock hopping. We summited with a dozen or so folks with
the highschoolers. There were some clouds out, but not enough to block out all the views.
From the summit our group went from four to three. We started down what I think was
Jefferson Loop, passing the largest cairn Iíve ever seen. During the pleasant walk down towards
the Gulfside Trail I decided to light up a cigar and enjoy the temporary break in climbing. Along
the Jefferson Loop you had great views of Jefferson Ravine, Edmands Col and the Appalachian Trail
up to Mt Adams. After taking a break on the AT, and a quick stop at Edmands Col we started up
Randolph Path towards our eventual resting place for the night, The Perch. Randolph Path was an
interesting trail that contoured what I believe is called Adam 5 above the Ravine Of The Castles
where it joins up with Israel Ridge Path. If it wasnít for a group of men we met on the summit
of Jefferson who were also heading for The Perch, who were a half a mile or so ahead of us, you
would not be able to tell where the path led across the Ravine. It was quite level but more
strenuous than you would think. After we passed where Israel Ridge Path merges with Randolph Path
we had to make a decision on what way to go as the trail slip into three. Two of them led to The
Perch so we had a pretty good chance of not screwing it up. Although the trail we took was not the
one we thought we were on it got us there. We were soon under the tree-line and couldnít wait to
get to the tent site. Just a side note, when you see the sign that reads, "The Perch - 100 Yards"
donít believe it, unless they meant 100 yards in elevation gain. Either that or we were so glad
we were so close it seemed a lot longer.
After setting up camp, having dinner and another smoke, we enjoyed some Cognac and
conversation before calling it a night. After all, we were summiting Mt Adams in the morning.