Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Crawford, East Stairs, and a Ledge....9/13/12

As I've mentioned in my blog, I'm pursuing the NH200. Thursday I decided on East Stairs, a bushwhack. The normal route for this would have been up Rocky Branch South Tr. to Stairs Col Tr. But since RB south is closed I had to go for a much longer, tougher route. Davis Path to Stairs Col Tr. I had 2 other objectives in mind. First was to climb Crawford on a much better day than my only other visit, (HHH and big time bugs). Second was to do a shorter bushwhack on the way back to a nice ledge off Davis Path NE of Crawford.

Said Ledge

I Started out on Davis Path at 8:00am. Davis Path is nice but once it starts to climb it doesn't stop until you hit the spur to Crawford. This has been more noticeable on my 3 descents on this trail after a long day. But it has nice stairs, and views.

I reached the junction of the Crawford Spur and headed up.

Where you hit the ledges on Davis Path, and continuing up the spur to Crawford, can be a bit tricky. The blazes are faded and far between in some places so it's easy to take a direction on the ledge that dead-ends. I did much better this time. Got off trail only once. 8)  And hit the summit around 9:30. 

Greeted by this....

And one of my favorite profiles in the Whites....

I had a lot more to do this day but I could not resist lingering for a good half hour taking photos.

As much as I hated to I had to move on. I had roughly 2.5 miles to get to a point I wanted to start the bushwhack from. I got to the Stairs Col Tr in about an hour. This would be the first time I set foot on this trail which is always exiting to me. 
Stairs Col
Looking up the bottom step

Came across this bottomless tree

As I often do in planning a hike, I neglect to look at the contour lines over the course a my route. Did not see how much elevation loss I would have to get to my starting point of the whack and hence the very significant climb back up to the col.

On the way down I did spot my objective.

I reached my entry point to find myself in thick saplings.

It did open up pretty nicely but was very steep to the col between Middle Stairs (don't know what else to call it), and East Stairs where it was quite open.

Heading east to the summit from the col was very dense pencil woods. Moving through this stuff was a slow process. Not sure how long it took but it seemed like it took an hour to go .2 miles. I did make the summit though. After doing so, it was an immediate retreat to a fir-wave just below the summit that looked like I might get some views from. 

Sure enough....

Now it was time for the whack out and the climb back up to Stairs col. Yippy! Now it was easier walking once back on Davis Path. I'd one more thing I wanted to do and that was to bushwhack to that ledge I mentioned in the beginning. It's on a ridge heading NW off Davis Path about .4 miles, and about .4 miles NE of Mt Crawford. I got to that point and headed in. It was very scrappy at first but hit some ledge. Then more scrappy. It was here that the only real problem of the day occurred. I hadn't noticed until my pant leg was soaked that the bite-piece of my hydration bladder had been pulled off. I shut the valve but the damage was done. Probably close to a liter was lost (started full at 100oz.) because there was just a mouthful left. I had to end my quest for that ledge. I was just few yards from the first open ledges (400 feet off trail), so I did continue to those which had nice views.

Time to end this journey. I hydrate a lot when hiking, in general for that matter, so knowing I was out of water made me all the more thirsty.  And as I mentioned earlier, descending Davis Path is tough on tired legs. For me anyway. But all I could think of was getting close enough to the stream that parallels the trail to get a drink. 

Salvation! I was not concerned about drinking from this at all. Drank my fill. A good liter, at least.

I finished around 3:30. Much longer than I'd though it would take. I will be going back someday to just explore all the "Ledgey Goodness" in that area.



  1. Hi Joe,

    Congratulations on reaching East Stairs! I really enjoy reading about your adventures!

    Sorry to read about the problem with your hydration bladder and that it caused you to abort your trek to the ledge mentioned at the beginning of your report. When you're in that area again, I urge you to go there. It's a really nice spot! When I went to that ledge in April of this year, getting there only took about 15 minutes of relatively easy whacking off the Davis Path. There is a very faint herd path which I stumbled upon on my return to the Davis Path.


  2. Thanks John. Your report is how I knew about that ledge. Turning back once I realized I was out of water was probably just as much an excuse after a long day as it was the smart thing to do heading further off trail. The ledge will still be there. :)

  3. I very nearly headed to that ledge myself back in April...looks like I might have to make another effort, looks like it might be worth the short 'whack!

  4. Excellent whack and report, Joe. The climbers call the "peak" between Giant Stairs and East Stairs, the "Back Stair." It has a bulging open ledge on top. I'll second John's recommendation about going back for that ledge off Crawford Dome. A great perch. Also in that area, on the other side of the trail there's a neat clifftop ledge at the edge of the middle lobe of the Razor Brook valley. It has a great view down the length of that trailless valley. We called it "the Razor's Edge."


  5. Thanks, Steve. For the comments and info. I do plan to return to that area someday for a "search and enjoy" of views ledges.