Mts Jackson and Webster

Submitted by Pat

Mountains: Mts. Jackson (4,052) and Webster (3,910)
Date: November 24, 2006
Time: 7 hours and 20 minutes
Weather: Sunny, windy, 30's
Miles: 6.2
Elevation Gain: 2,365
Steps: 18,790
Trails: Webster-Jackson Trail - Jackson Branch, Webster Cliff Trail, Webster-Jackson Trail-Webster Branch
Holy Shit Factor: Negligible

Picture Gallery

Short Video Clip
Nancy Feeding a Grey Jay

I wake up at 3:45 a.m. to be at Nancy's house by 5 a.m. Usually I am so excited that I wake up and stay awake through anticipation alone, but today I feel sleepy and disoriented. I even forget to pack my turkey sandwich. The drive up is mostly in the dark and when the day finally dawns the skies are clear and the temperatures are in the mid to low 30's - moderate for this time of year.

We arrive at the Jackson-Webster trailhead a little before 8 a.m. Dejah, our two-year old Yellow Lab trail dog, is ready to go. We start up the trail at 8:10 a.m. Both of us are quiet although happy to be outside and hiking another Presidential. Originally Nancy's daughter and husband were going to go with us, but the time isn't right so they stay home. Another time, another mountain. We reach the junction of the Jackson-Webster Trail loop at 9:10 a.m. The trail itself is rooty and rocky, but all the muddy areas have frozen so we are spared the joy of mud sucking at our boots. Instead we have to contend with ice as we climb higher. We barefoot it up to the summit of Jackson (elevation 4,052), arriving at 10:45 a.m. The wind is howling and it is great fun (NOT) to set up the camera for a timed summit shot, but we do it and we are off that summit very quickly. Brrrr...

Back on the trail, the summit of Webster (not a 4,000 footer) looks oh so far away but we know distance is deceiving and that we will be there in no time. On the way to Webster we are greeted by a pair of Grey Jays. I had seen my first one during the Tom, Field, Willey hike but had not know then what they are, nor did I know then that some of them will eat out of a hiker's hand. Like feeding any animal in the wild, I always feel some trepidation, but these Jays won't be killed by Park Rangers for being aggressive food stealers. They might be shooed away or yelled at but we don't call the Rangers to have them tranquilized and moved to a less populated area. So I feed them. And it is very cool watching it fill its beak with three peanuts and a raisin before skittering off to its nearest cache.

The views of Crawford Notch from Webster are spectacular. We are able to stay on the summit for a little longer because we are sheltered from the wind. Winter hiking is really different from summer hiking - sitting on a hot rock and basking in the sun is not an option in the winter. As much as I am enjoying the challenge and extremities of winter hiking, I sometimes miss being able to take off my boots and sit on a rock and just look without feeling anxious about time or temperature.

On the way down my body really starts to talk to me. I'm 51 years old and pretty fit - I run two-three times a week, power walk 6 miles of hills twice a week and hike on the weekends. BUT I don't seem to recover from extra effort quickly or easily. Nancy and I ran in Keene's Cranberry Run on Thanksgiving Day. 4.6 miles. We ran our own pace, although it was maybe 30 seconds faster than our regular jogging pace. The last time I ran a race, I blew myself out and have been paying for it ever since. The worst "injury", which still hasn't healed, was a strained Achilles tendon. Although I am not certain it is the Achilles - just near it and on the lateral side. Anyway, I decided to go as fast as I could for the last half mile of the race and off I went. I felt ok even after the race. But as I am descending Webster I start to feel the effects of that race and the lack of time to recover. My knees and ankles are not happy. I use my poles but even so I am painfully slow. [Two days later as I sit here writing this, I still feel the ache in my knees and especially my ankles. It's discouraging. I have been working so hard to build a base of fitness and my body can't recover quick enough.]

We reach the Jackson-Webster Trail loop junction at 2:24 p.m. and the trailhead at 3:28 p.m. Both of us feel off today - we are not our usual ebullient, happy, silly, serious, caring, open selves. The worst part is that it doesn't feel good to feel off. The best part is that we can feel off together and have that be ok.

36 of NH 48
41 of 67 in NE
42 of the NE 100 Highest