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02-JUL-11 02 - New Hampshire, United States

by kescobo  
with a Garmin eTrex Vista HCx
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Story:
Ascent: Castle Trail
Descent: Castle Ravine Trail Via Edmon’s col.

The ascent was a bit strenuous and involves a fair bit of scrambling over boulders, but offers fantastic views along the ridge-line once you get above tree-line. There are several steep ascents followed by long stretches of moderate up-hill, and almost no downhill to speak of.

The descent through the ravine is NOT recommended for any but the most masochistic of adventurers. The first ~3/4 of a mile is a pleasant, well-maintained path down to the lip of the col, but that’s where the misery starts.

The next 1000ft of descent occurs in ~0.35 mi (55% average slope) down a steep rock slide with loose boulders galore. I managed to escape with only a minor ankle sprain, but that part took over an hour of extremely precarious movement.

Once you get below tree line (which ends up being several hundred feet below that of the surrounding ridges), things don’t improve much. The trail is a stream-bed - not next to a stream, it IS the stream. That makes for a muddy, slippery and still fairly steep trail. Be sure to make good use of the trees for extra purchase.

Once you get onto the proper trail (about 1.5 miles in at ~3300 ft - this was well after hour 2 for us), the difficulties aren’t over. The trail in the ravine crosses the castle brook between 5 and 10 times, including once where the river forks and you actually have to cross it twice in rapid succession. Thankfully, the water level wasn’t that high, but the crossings are not well maintained and it was still quite precarious. 

The entire 4.9 miles took us 4 hours, and we are not amateurs. If you choose to go ahead despite this warning, make sure you have ample sunlight and be very careful. It’s not easy to turn back and there’s no way to get off the trail after you move onto the slide.
Tags:
white mountains, presidential mountains, Mount Jefferson
Photos: See all pictures and videos from 02-JUL-11 02
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Trip Info
by kescobo
July 03, 2011
Trip Location: New Hampshire, United States
Length: 9.8 miles
Duration: 1 hour
Activity: Hiking
Trip viewed 482 times
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