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Monday, November 8, 2010

Mt. Clay, November 7, 2010

Jewell Trail, Gulfside Trail, Mt. Clay Loop. About 10 miles, 3500 elevation gain.

Alex has been requesting to do Mt. Clay for quite a while now. This 5000 foot pile of rocks is situated between Mt. Washington and Mt. Jefferson. Since the route to Clay is completely exposed for miles, we had to wait for decent upper summit weather before making the attempt. A nice window opened up this weekend, so we went for it.

It was cold when we began -- felt like February out there.

The amount of snow naturally increased as we ascended.

Alex admired this "horseshoe trunk."

The Jewell Trail remained moderate throughout; Alex and I look forward to sledding down most of it come January or February.

We walked up to treeline and into the clouds.

Just as we popped out of the trees, the sun made an appearance and fought its way through the fog. We were fortunate enough to witness the birth of an undercast!

Hello, Washington!

Hello, Monroe and Franklin!

Blue sky began to appear. The trail behind us seemed to disappear into an ocean of cloud.

We continued onward, Alex helping herself to the many icicles which hung from the scrub and boulders.

The views were now simply spectacular.

We stopped at the intersection with the Gulfside Trail, sat down, and enjoyed the incredible scenery.

Eventually we made our way to the Mt. Clay Loop trail. Before leaving Gulfside, we turned and waved to Washington.

The way up Clay was more difficult than I had anticipated. Quite steep!

Views into the Great Gulf...

We reached the fake summit of Clay...

...before walking over to tag the actual summit of Clay.

We were careful not to get too close to areas such as this...neither one of us wanted to slide off the mountain.

...and, we made it!

There were some extremely dark clouds way off to the east. The forecast predicted a storm during the evening; though we had plenty of "safe" hours ahead of us, neither one of us wanted to linger too long. Storms sometimes arrive we hung around just long enough to eat our traditional summit chocolate, then we began heading down.

Jefferson lay before us, the Caps Ridge Trail disappearing into the mist.

After a careful descent of Clay, we arrived at the intersection with Gulfside by Jefferson.

Now we faced the most difficult part of our hike. There's a 500 foot climb from this end of Clay back to the Jewell Trail. Psychologically, it's difficult to have to go up in order to get back down. Though Alex did not complain, she did slow considerably. Once, she even asked if we were there yet, which isn't like her at all. However, she handled this section much better than her mother did. I whine enough for both of us during a slog such as this.

Once at the top of the Jewell Trail, we sat, ate, and continued to enjoy the views. Once we both had recovered from the recent climb, we began our journey back into the trees.

And then -- the moment arrived. I knew this would happen at some point: I can no longer keep up with Alex on the way down. I tried, but I couldn't do it. I had to ask her to slow down numerous times. At one point, she asked if I would like to go in front, and she would slow her hiking to match my pace -- that was quite the role reversal. When she did hike behind me, she was on my heels so much that I told her to stay in front but just stop and wait if she got too far ahead. I'm not the strongest hiker out there, but still...

It was a great day out there. We probably won't be able to hike again until December, since Thanksgiving travel will soon interrupt our normal routine.

Happy hiking, everyone!


  1. Hello there,

    Looks like that this kid enjoyed hiking. That is pretty impressive. Keep trailing until you'd become a professional mountaineer. The good thing of being a professional hiker or mountainer is that you'll be having the best equiptments. The best camping tents, backpacks etc... and a lot more of trailing invitation. That's a good start :) keep up the great work.


  2. Hi,
    Great Blog! I really enjoy it and great pictures.
    Can you tell me what camera you use?

  3. Hi Rick,

    I use a Sony Cybershot. Nothing fancy, very basic, but seems to perform without mishap in extremely cold weather. I'm no photographer; my choice of camera is based almost solely on price. My cameras tend to be dropped and knocked around quite a bit, so I need something that isn't too expensive to replace.

    Thanks for your kind comments!


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