Thursday, July 30, 2009

Mount Pierce and Eisenhower, NH ( 7/21)

Spruce Grouse along the Crawford Path
On 7/21 I hiked Mount Pierce (4310') and Eisenhower( 4790') from the Crawford Notch area, hiking up the Crawford Path, to the Mizpah Cutoff Trail, the Webster Cliff Trail (over Pierce) then back to the Crawford Path and onto Eisenhower. On the return trip, I stuck with the Crawford Path back to the trail head, skipping the re climb of the Pierce Summit. The round trip was 9.0 miles, with an elevation gain of ~2800', the trail head is about 1950' elevation.

Gibbs Falls, about a mile from the trail head.
Most birding consisted of listening along the trials and stopping occasionally to look. I checked out a drumming woodpecker that turned out to be a Hairy, had been hoping for Black-backed. I tried to spish in a Bicknell's Thrush above the Mizpah Hut, near the Mt. pierce Summit. Two Bicknells' called, one on each side of the trail, at an elevation of about 4100', but neither came into view, I heard another, later, in the "saddle" between Pierce and Eisenhower.

Mount Eisenhower (left) and Washington in passing clouds (Right), Mt Monroe is the highest point ,below the light cloud, to the right of Washington. Taken from near the Mt. Pierce Summit.
The best "people" sighting of the day, while I was trying to spish in the "Bickies", was two male hikers, I guessed to be in their early twenties. They were heading north, soon to be above tree line with rain expected later, and seemed to be a little "short" on gear.... their pre-hike check list must have gone like this:
tee shirt......check
backpack..... too heavy dude
water........... waaaay too heavy dude
foul weather gear....naugh its summer dude
Fifth bottle of Jack Daniel's.....make it TWO.......CHECK!

Ok DUUUDE...lets hit the trail!
I kid you not, that's all they had! Each was carrying a full bottle of "Jack", nothing else..well maybe a little weed in their pockets (that's plenty light!). Not what the US Forest Service and AMC had in mind for hiking the "Whites" above tree line", even in summer. *** more comments below.

Eisenhower, Washington and Monroe, the plume on the left flank of Washington is from the Cog Railroad chugging to the summit. My folks took me on that back in the early 1970's.
I had hoped for a Spruce Grouse sighting, while they are regulars up here it can be a long shot that one might be along side of the trail. I found what appeared to be droppings where I heard the 2 Bicknell's (and "hiker dudes") and then had the good fortune of seeing one along the Crawford Path not too far from Pierce, at 4050' according to my GPS. This bird remained close and tame, in typical Spruce Grouse fashion.
Another shot of the Spruce Grouse. (GPS coordinates of N 44 13.867 W 071 21.549)
The hike to Eisenhower went smoothly most bird activity above tree line were Juncos and White-throated Sparrows, both seen carrying food. With fairly calm conditions, I was able to hear bird song from the ravines below, most notable being Winter Wren, Swainson's Thrush and a previously mentioned Bicknell's Thrush.
I lingered atop Eisenhower for a bit and enjoyed the views....
Mount Pierce from the approach to Eisenhower.
Washington and Monroe (far right).

Digi-bin shot of Washington's summit.

A digi-bin shot of the Cog Railroad, making the steep climb.

A memorial on the summit cairn of Eisenhower.

A digi-bin shot of Mount Chocorua.

The return hike went well other than some typical aches and pains.

The bird list:
Species....Number reported
Spruce Grouse....1
Hairy Woodpecker....1
Blue-headed Vireo....5
Gray Jay....2
American Crow....2
Red-breasted Nuthatch....1
Winter Wren....18
Golden-crowned Kinglet....8
Ruby-crowned Kinglet....1
Bicknell's Thrush....3
Swainson's Thrush....24
Cedar Waxwing....7
Nashville Warbler....1
Northern Parula....2
Magnolia Warbler....1
Black-throated Blue Warbler....2
Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle)....2
Black-throated Green Warbler....7
Blackburnian Warbler....1
Blackpoll Warbler....11
White-throated Sparrow....10
Dark-eyed Junco (Slate-colored)....18

*** My take on the 2 ill prepared hikers, was they probably did not hike up from a trail head, but MAY have worked at one of the AMC Huts and could have been transporting the "contra-ban" from the Mizpah Hut to Lake of the Clouds Hut. This would be about a 7 mile hike, a "walk in the park" for these guys who typically have to carry heavy packs of food to the huts a few time a week. Pure speculation on my part...non the less the sighting was quite amusing....but, while I found it amusing.........A $25,000 fee has been imposed upon a young hiker whom had to be rescued in the White Mountains this past winter. The state felt he had been negligent and deemed he should pay the cost of his rescue.


Kim said...

Great shots of the Spruce Grouse and local scenery Tom -and LOL on the hiker dudes! I wonder if they ever made it down or are still passed out somewhere up there in a drunken haze. ;o)

Tom Pirro said...

I added the lower comments on my blog after I initially published it. I really think they were moving from Mizpah Hut to Lake of the Clouds, which are both up high in the mountains. Mizpuh is about 3800' up, just 200' (elevation wise)below where I saw them and the Lake of Clouds at ~5000'...of course i could be wrong on that account. Its is certainly a beautiful place, the spruce grouse are very tame birds. I recall seeing them in Alaska, in 1983, we almost had to push off the path on the way to our favorite fishing spot.

Laura said...

Lucky you to have seen Spruce Grouse on your hike! I hiked Mount Washington via Tuckerman’s Ravine last Saturday and had Boreal Chickadee at elev 3,200’ & Bicknell’s Thrush at elev 3,600’. One of these days, we will see Spruce Grouse on our way to the summit/ Cheers!

Beth said...

I volunteer in the huts a couple of weekends a year and am going to be at Mizpah over the 4th of July weekend I was happy to find your post so that I can be ready with pictures and songs of the birds that the hikers might encounter.