4000 Footer Club

Mt Jefferson
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Elevation:   5,712 Feet
Summited: September 17, 2009
Distance:    4.4 miles
Difficulty:    Moderate
Views:        Excellent
Route:        Jefferson Notch → Caps Ridge Trail → Mt Jefferson Summit → Jefferson Loop → Gulfside Trail(AT) →
                  Castle Ravine Trail → Randolph Path → Israel Ridge Path → The Perch

  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.