Monday, December  17, 2018
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This trip report covers a mid-winter outing to Mount Jackson - a lower 4000-footer at the southern end of the Presidential Range in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. This hike was planned as a warmup for a longer and higher hike to Mount Adams - the second highest peak in the Presidentials.

The weather for the day was forecast to be warm but cloudy, and we expected not to have the best of seeing conditions. We chose the longer of the various short approaches to Mt Jackson: the Webster Cliff trail. I had never hiked along the Webster Cliff trail, and its path along the crest of Webster Cliff looked interesting.
Lower Webster Cliff
Late morning start to Jackson
AT crossing
We arrived fairly late (by our standards) at the trailhead to the Webster Cliff Trail along route 302, a few miles south of Crawford Notch. The Appalachian Trail uses the Webster Cliff Trail as its way onto the spine of the Presidentials, so the signage was especially obvious. As predicted, the day was cloudy and quite warm - only a few degrees below freezing.

The previous two days had seen at least six inches of fresh snow at the trailhead. A narrow non-snowshoe track, partially-filled in by the new snow, was the only sign of usage along the route. We elected to start off in snowshoes.
courtesy JInnes
Heading Out
Crossing the Saco
Placid and unfrozen
The mild and still day meant that we were shedding layers within minutes of starting out. The Webster cliff trail started a broad, back-and-forth ascent of the southern terminus of Webster cliff.
Boot Track
First Glimpse
Still a track
To our happy surprise, we started to see a few patches of blue and got a few spots of sunshine as we ascended the south-facing slopes. Perhaps we'd be lucky enough to not have a completely enveloped summit.
courtesy JInnes
courtesy JInnes
Wormy wood
Limited Lookouts
Patchy sun
courtesy JInnes
A bit of blue
Warm Day
South end of ridge
The grade soon steepened as the trail made a concerted effort to gain the remaining thousand feet to the southern tip of Webster Cliff. The snow deepened as the altitude increased, and that, coupled with the awkwardness of flattening out the previous hikers' uneven post-holing, made for a tiring trail-breaking ascent. We finally reached the southern tip of the ridgeline/cliffline about two hours after starting out - not a hugely fast pace.

We were soon treated to a few glimpses westward from atop the cliff, and with a few more minutes of travel northward, we reached the first of the superb lookouts atop Webster Cliff. We had a panoramic view up and down the upper Saco River Valley, with Crawford Notch visible at its head. The cloud deck was right at about 4000 feet, which permitted us to see quite a bit of the nearby terrain. The weather was still very mild, even up here, and there was barely a breeze blowing. Very tame weather conditions.
courtesy JInnes
courtesy JInnes
courtesy JInnes
Nearing first lookouts
Jenn and Andrew, Webster Cliff
Track to a lookout
Nearing first lookout
Westward view, first lookout
To Crawford Notch
302 Below
302 and Saco Valley
Crawford Notch
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