Time for Andrew and I to conquer one of our October mountains, a tradition we've tried to maintain off and on for many a year.
Me, I grew up with the White Mountains as part of the backstory to my summers and falls, thanks mostly to my older brother Gerry, who took me camping up there many a weekend. Gerry and I didn't usually hike up mountains, so much as explore the trails of the White Mountains, especially throughout the Kancamagus Highway.
I've tried over the course of a few years to get Andrew (and anyone else from the family who wants to join us), to get a decent hike in every year.
Little did I know what Andrew and I would be getting ourselves into this time.
With the urging of climber-in-chief Donna Corbin, we decided to check out Mount Pierce this year. It's supposedly named after President Franklin Pierce, the only U.S. President born in New Hampshire.
A member of the Presidential Range in Carroll, New Hampshire, Mount Pierce - known Once-Upon-A-Time as Mount Pleasant - checks in at 4,310 feet, making this Andrew and my official first 4,000 footer. We took the Crawford Path option to work our way up.
Within the first half mile, we came across the footbridge over Gibbs Brook and its accompanying cascades. This would not be the first water we'd see on the trail this day. Not by a long shot.
About 2.7 miles later, we achieved the summit of Pierce.
This was not a mountain to climb or descend without the aid of some type of stick.
Behind Andrew, in the foot of the valley, is the gorgeous Mount Washington Hotel.
Despite appearances, I didn't need my stick to stay upright. It was just a good opportunity to soak in the glorious sights. And yes, I know I'm wearing jeans, a true climber's no-no, but there was no rain or snow in the forecast this day, so I knew I didn't have to worry about wetwear dampening my experience.
Summit-side, one of the many cairns that dot the mountaintop.
Throughout the Appalachian Trail are hundreds of these type cairns, or stacked rocks that mark many of the paths. For actual hikers, the cairns are usual used as a navigational tool, delineating a specific trail.
Off in the distance, you can see Mount Washington way behind Andrew. No snow on the caps this day, though there had been some there four days prior, we learned, thereby explaining the constant mud paths and trickling water trails throughout both the ascent and descent.
In the immediate background is the peak of Mount Eisenhower, about 1.6 miles away. Had we gotten a much earlier start on the day, we could have done both summits, but alas, daylight hours were not in our favor.
Because any time I summit a mountain, I like to find the proof that I've reached the top. Here, courtesy of the U.S. Geological Survey is the elevation marker.
The father-son mountaintop combo shot -2019
The winds atop Pierce were Fierce, and absolutely required the donning of our coats.
The views atop Pierce are panoramic, and on a fall day such as this, allow you to absorb exquisite foliage palettes, and reaffirm why it's so rewarding to live in New England, which offers so many varying landscapes and adventures.
After posing for our fair share of iconic mountain men shots, it was time to head down, and this time, we opted for a different trail, one that eventually winds down to the Mizpah Spring Hut. (More to come on that)
Makeshift bridges and staircases help you navigate the extremely technical rockface portions of the trail, particularly those of steeper slope.
We made it to Mizpah (Hebrew for watchtower), where I found an information plaque with a local flavor. One of the benefactors of the hut was a resident of Holden, neighbor to my wife's hometown of Paxton.
More than a hut, All Along the Mizpah was a great place to just relax for a few moments. We did NOT partake in the freshly-made brownies, though they were definitely tempting.
So in trying to keep this blog educational as well as entertaining and chronicling, turns out Crawford Path is the oldest continually used hiking trail, established in 1819 by Abel and Ethan Crawford, the pioneers of the White Mountain tourist industry.
Overall, the six mile trek was quite humbling for both father and son. It was definitely a workout for our quads, and being the runners we are, we found the differing usage of the leg muscles in this capacity quite taxing at times.
That does NOT, however, mean we weren't all-in for one of the more challenging workouts with a rewarding payoff waiting up top. Au contraire.
Mount Pierce was definitely worth taking a chance on.