December 14, 2019

A Hike to Mt. Eisenhower

Alec Hansen '21 - Outdoor Columnist

Photo by Alec Hansen

For those who love the outdoors, nothing beats a crisp, sunny fall day out on the trail. But even better than a sunlight hike is a traipse through the forest in the black of night. If you feel as though your New England adventures have gotten a bit monotonous, try mixing up your hikes with a nighttime journey!

A few weekends ago, I hopped in the car with some friends just before midnight on a Saturday evening and drove to the Edmands Path trailhead. The hike to Mt. Eisenhower was an exciting one. While it isn’t as technical as other New Hampshire peaks like Mt. Chocurua, it’s a rocky trail that becomes increasingly steep near the top, and presents a good challenge in the dark. At 6.5 miles round trip, it’s a manageable journey for an incredible experience.

When we set out up the mountain at 3 a.m., our plan was to arrive at the top well before sunrise. Our timetable would give us plenty of time to enjoy the pink and purple clouds before the sun broke over the horizon. Unfortunately, the hike wasn’t long enough for the time we had allotted. By 5am we had already neared the summit and shortly thereafter reached the peak. We shivered our way through dawn and returned back to the trailhead.

If you ever decide to do a sunrise hike on one of the Presidential Range in the White Mountains, I have an important piece of advice to share: check the weather forecast for a cloudless night! Our hike was not a rousing success precisely because of the thick cloud that covered the region.

All in all, despite the thick clouds and freezing temperatures that threatened us, we had a grand time. A magnetic chess set served us well for entertainment at the summit. A breakfast of pop-tarts and stale Tostitos were sufficient for keeping us well-fed.

While you might not be interested in an adventure exactly like this one, consider the lesson we learned. Even when you don’t properly plan for an outdoor excursion, you can still have a grand time. As long as you prepare for any significant potential threats, I promise you and your friends will have a blast. 

If you’ve spent your entire fall inside, sipping apple cider and reading books by candlelight, try going out. It doesn’t have to be a sunrise hike in the White Mountains. It doesn’t even have to be a hike. Go to the beach for a walk or stroll through the colorful Gordon woods. Getting outside can do wonders for your body as well as your mind.

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