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Had some chores to winterize the camp in Bartlett, so was planning on going to Bartlett this past weekend.

Thought maybe I'd fit in a hike on Parker, see what Washington looked like with a snow cap.

Then an invitation to hike with some friends changed the hiking destination.

When that hike plan fell through, I thought back to Parker.

Gallery / slide show

But Monday morning came, and it was chilly. And I'm breaking in new boots.

Hmmm. Solo, cold, new boots and post-foliage Monday ( not many people in the woods, and Parker doesn't get much traffic).  All those factors left me just a little uncomfortable. Decided on a shorter hike where there would be more chance of other people on the trail.

This seemed a good substitute ....

I've hiked Crawford enough times so I felt a little sheepish about doing it again, but that faded pretty fast once parked on Rt 302 and out of the car. The wind and cold in the notch reminded me right away that I had not opted for a trivial hike!   Crawford is relatively easy and short, but despite good footing and switchbacks, the Davis Path is satisfyingly steep once out of the bottom of the valley. And the Notch focuses cold and wind. Crossing the bridge over the Saco in the early morning ... brrr.

I warmed up quickly and eventually was passed by a couple doing an out-and-back to Isolation via the Davis Path. I hope they made it OK; they seemed fit enough, but not well equipped for the time of year. That is not a short hike, and beyond Stairs the Davis Path is rougher. With ice and cold temps at elevation, but more moderate conditions below, it's easy to be lulled into being under prepared, especially if an accident happens ... oh well, at least they weren't solo ... and I now had somebody who should be coming out behind me.  I had left my plans etc with TLV, but still ... reassuring to know. Which after all was part of the point of changing plans Smile

Because of the steep surrounding mountains, the hike was pretty dark; I knew it was to be a sunny day, but it was pretty gloomy on the trail until I reached Abel's Seat - the first outlook on the trail, with a fine view of the southern part of notch.


But it was cold, and I knew there was quite a lot more ahead, so I didn't linger.

Onward to the north ledges. Here I was granted a warning from the mountain that we have indeed switched seasons. I've encountered thick ice on Crawford in October , so I carried spikes. However, the trail was dry & clear of ice & snow, so the spikes were deep in my pack. At lower elevation there was no ice, but here there were a few spots. ( Remember I said something about being lulled?  Embarassed).  With my eyes firmly on my destination and not on my footing I stepped on a wet spot that actually was (perfectly clear) ice and promptly found myself lying on my side. A quick self-check revealed nothing more than a sore thumb, so I considered myself as having been warned and gratefully continued. With LOTS more attention to where I put my feet!!

These ledges are pretty open and wind swept ... very cold, wind chill way below comfort level without getting the puffy jacket, so again did not linger.  Onward ...


Quickly reached the summit, dropped my pack behind some ledge out of the wind and broke out the camera(s). Crawford offered a spectacular, very clear view , 360 degrees ( with a little walking around). The Presidentials had pretty good cloud cover, with the MWO just out of the clouds. More scenic is hard to imagine!  Stairs and Resolution .. just crystal clear. What a beautiful day.

While Washington reigned in the North, Carrigain stood in majesty to the West, with its own dusting of snow/ice for a crown.


A knot of other hikers showed up and spent a little time on the summit. I was too busy to talk, trying to catch everything I could. They didn't stay long ... after they left I packed up and was free to just enjoy the summit for a while. I looked for the Isolation hikers, but did not see them anywhere along the exposed trail sections I could see. Nobody else, either.

Eventually I headed down ... reached the bridge with no further excitement and headed on out.

I was out of the woods fairly early, so I decided to take a walk and check out the Fourth Iron Campground. I've driven by this oh, maybe 400 times ...

The campground is a number of tent pads, with bear boxes. The pads are not roadside as I thought, but a bit of a hike if you're carrying typical car camping gear. The trail crosses the (still active) railroad ...

The sites are large, well groomed, well separated, and access a nice section of the river. I could see this as a pretty sweet spot on a hot summer day ... but I think probably too popular a spot for me.


From there, I had some business in North Conway. I thought this tree - still living - on the sidewalk was very interesting ...

I've seen plenty of uprooted trees with rocks entangled in their roots ... this is the only tree I recall having seen with brick in its trunk!





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