Mount Eisenhower + A Dry River Expedition
Updated: Nov 6, 2022
Hopeful to finally get a view from Mount Eisenhower, I had planned an extended version of the trip that would allow us to complete an epic loop and sample a whole lot of what the Presidential Wilderness(es) have to offer whilst repeating very little trail I’d already done.
Cassie and I started up Mount Clinton road from the Crawford trailhead at about 8 am. After getting the 2.3-mile road walk out of the way early, we were heading up Edmands Path in no time and I was pleasantly surprised to find how accurate the trail descriptions were. Edmands Path was cut by John Rayner Edmands, a trail-builder keen on a well-graded path that aided in the ease of the hiker. I was a huge fan of the ascent, as the roughly 2,700 feet we were gaining came easily and the trail flew by.
Once we got above the tree line, we briefly scrambled over some boulders before having an easy ascent up the Eisenhower dome. At the summit, I was once again greeted by my favorite cairn, yet disappointed to miss out on a view yet again. Maybe one day I’ll know what that summit looks like.
After a quick trip back down the dome, we continued on Crawford Path until reaching the intersection for the Mount Eisenhower trail. I won’t lie, I was really nervous when we started this trail. The Dry River Wilderness sign had a huge piece taken out of it, the pines were cutting up my legs, I was growing colder as the pine-dew wet every piece of clothing on me, and I knew we had many unpredictable and infrequently traveled miles ahead of us. Plus, it’s one thing to put myself in this situation but another to be guiding a friend through.
After a rough mile or so of wet, slippery-rocked, and tight trail, the Mount Eisenhower trail opened up considerably to Moose Land and we navigated through mud baths, blowdowns, and various animal droppings. Having not read too extensively about these trails and figuring I’d just find tight wilderness (I was right) I was hoping that the Dry River Cut Off would be a bit more open than the Mount Eisenhower trail (I was wrong).
The Dry River Cut Off was unlike anything I had done before. It slightly resembled the Wilderness Trail out in the Pemigewasset, but the Dry River-ness of it made it all the more difficult. The first third of the trail was unmarked, crossed fast-moving water many times, and didn’t seem to want me on it. But, it wasn’t like we could turn around, so we kept going and I’m really glad we did.
Though the Cut Off brought challenges I hadn’t anticipated, it tested how far I’ve come as a hiker from a psychological standpoint like no other. Going in prepared has been one of the biggest game-changers since I started hiking 2.5 years ago. Things like my Wilderness First Responder Certification, an InReach, and a massive first aid kid have all helped me a lot and allowed me to go off the beaten path in the smartest way I can.
After getting off the Cut Off, we had another 0.4 miles of a tight trail until we popped out behind the Mitzpah hut. Civilization! Yipee! We took a well-deserved snack break and participated in some much-needed socialization before hopping onto the Mitzpah cut-off and lower Crawford Path back to the car.
Despite not getting a single view and spending much of the day unsure if we were on the trail, I will forever value this adventure as a first of its kind, with many more to come.
The trek packed 14.03 miles and 3,957 feet of elevation gain.