The was a scheduled AMC Boston Chapter hike, led by my good friend Brenda. I hadn't been up the Webster Cliff trail in something like 20 years, and my memories from that were of a killer climb in hot, humid weather with a full pack, so I had a bit of trepidation. We all went up in a single car so we'd have to do a hitch back to the trailhead eventually. The drive up wasn't bad and we started out before 10:00. My memory was pretty clear on the steady up from the begining but there were lots of mushrooms to distract me. The rest of the group continued on ahead. I took lots of mushroom pictures.
Eventually, we came out on the higher cliffs that give the trail its name. There are some really nice views of Crawford Notch and across to Tom, Field, and Willey and the Frankenstein Cliffs. Up higher the breeze helped a little, but not much. While hanging out on the ledges we noticed two birds of prey circling above. Then, all of a sudden one swooped down in a steep dive and flew just 10 feet over our heads. They were perigrine falcons we thought, and they did a few more swoops to check us out. I wonder if they had a nest in the area? There are some slides leading down to the notch below as the trail moves north, past the Willey House site. The trail goes over a series of cliffs and after some map consulting and a little scrambling we finally topped out at the summit of Mt Webster where there is a fine view down the slides. We took some time there for a rest and met some other folks who'd hiked over from Jackson.
We decided to make the journey over to Jackson so we headed along the trail, trying to remember a spot several years ago where we saw a woman take a header into the mud coming down a steep section, narrowly missing a stone step. Ah, memories. The trip across was very pleasant, and when we reached the summit of Jackson we had the place to ourselves. Alas, there was some overcast and some rain sprinkles, so we didn't hang out for long. We could make out Pierce and Mizpah Spring Hut in the haze. Once down the steep drops just below the summit of Jackson, we settled into a steady pace. About a mile from the bottom I started out ahead with the intention of hitching a ride back to the car and cutting down our logistics time. A couple that I passed on my way out gave me a lift and even donated some yummy Trader Joe's snacks to the cause. At my car I ran into a friend who had just performed some AT Trail Magic by hanging out on the Webster Cliff trail with cold beer and ice cream for the thru-hikers. Life is good.
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