Mount Jackson is Cold

Last Sunday, Mark, Brian McGuirk and I hiked Mount Jackson. Here we are in New England, three or four days away from the official start of spring and it was one of the coldest winter days I’ve experienced. It was eleven degrees with a howling wind in the parking lot.

Despite my hat-less self in the photo above, this was taken about halfway up when I had already worked up a major sweat. The cool thing about my dog is he’s always ready to fall to the ground for a photo. I could not think of a better dog for winter hikes.

The photo above gives a better representation of the conditions. Again, we’re three or four days from the start of spring and there is three feet of snow on the ground in the mountains.

The cool thing about Mount Jackson are the gray jays near the summit. Specifically adapted for living in extreme cold, these fat little guys are so intent on getting all the food they can they will eat seeds right out of your hand. Mark got a picture of one of them on McGuirk’s head but didn’t post it.

It was beautiful at the top. The blue and white was overwhelming.

It was also so windy you could barely stand up. Temperature was five degrees with a 25-30 mph wind. This was definitely our coldest hike.

It’s hard for me to explain why I do these hikes. Part of it is a test of my toughness. Another part of me loves the cold that keeps everyone else away. Sometimes when a gust of wind nearly knocks me off my feet, I’ll think “I’m alive!”

It takes work to get to the summit and the reward is an alien landscape featuring brutal conditions that few people experience in their lifetime. I love that. Sometimes I fantasize about doing a big expedition to K2 or in Nepal but for now this is the closest I’m going to get.

Click on any of the photos in this entry for a better quality version. The complete set is on Flickr.