Hiking Trail Conditions Report
Peaks Mt. Monroe, Little Monroe, Mt. Franklin, Mt. Eisenhower, NH
Trails: Dry River Trail, Crawford Path, Monroe Loop, herd path, Eisenhower Loop, Mt. Eisenhower Trail
Date of Hike
Date of Hike: Tuesday, September 10, 2019
Parking/Access Road Notes
Parking/Access Road Notes: Another car present when I returned to Dry River Trailhead on 302 late afternoon. 
Surface Conditions
Surface Conditions: Dry Trail, Wet Trail, Wet/Slippery Rock, Standing/Running Water on Trail, Mud - Minor/Avoidable, Mud - Significant 
Recommended Equipment
Recommended Equipment:  
Water Crossing Notes
Water Crossing Notes: Rock-hoppable. 
Trail Maintenance Notes
Trail Maintenance Notes: More on that below. All Trail junctions are signed. 
Dog-Related Notes
Dog-Related Notes: Didn't see any. 
Bugs: Didn't see any. 
Lost and Found
Lost and Found: Nothing. 
Comments: Day 2 of an overnight hike...

Dry River Trail (shelter #3 to Lakes of the Clouds hut): there a water crossing just N of the shelter (cairns assist) but immediately after the trail criss-crosses again and this is not too obvious. Once beyond that the trail climbs a small, rough gully but then turns into a pretty pleasant walk up to 3900' or so. At this point - when you start to get your first view of the sky - the trail goes through a stretch that is completely overgrown so you really need to pay close attention to the path. Past this the trail becomes mostly visible as you approach treeline. Once above the trees there are fantastic views of Oakes Gulf while walking through some nice flora and then onto the boulders where cairns assist with navigation. Lots of running water higher up of you need a fill. Overall a very wild, remote but satisfying approach to LOC.

Crawford Path, Mt. Monroe Loop, Mt. Franklin "herd loop" and N side of Mt. Eisenhower Loop: no issues.

Mt. Eisenhower Trail (--> Dry River Trail): this trail was a pleasant surprise. Though there are no blazes the trail is obvious throughout, save for the post-water crossing at the S end (see my report from yesterday). Footing is just a little rough at the N end but then turns into a soft footbed for much of the gradual descent. Trees are down here and there but in line with Wilderness standards. I was surprised to run into a Mizpah Croo member out for a hike - and she was just as surprised to see me.

Dry River Trail (--> 302). This could very well be the most frustrating and taxing trail I have hiked. There are two washouts of note: 1) at about 3.7 miles from 302 there is a washout that is passable but is on borrowed time, and 2) at about 3 miles from the road there is a complete washout that you either have to (sharply) descend loose dirt and rocks and then ascend back up to the trail OR whack steeply up the bank and find a way to descend back to the trail. Fun choice, eh? I opted for the latter thinking that if I stumbled at least I'd have a chance with a tree stopping my fall. There are several other near washouts further S and bits of narrow trail up on banks just hanging on until Ma Nature takes them away. But that's not the worst of it: there are many spots where you are already climbing up banks (mostly steep, muddy, wet and slick) presumably due to erosion of weather events past. There are LOTS of other PUDs to deal with also: I don't think I hiked any more than five minutes on a flat stretch of trail within Wilderness. Footing is a near constant challenge and navigation isn't always obvious (I actually noticed a couple of ancient yellow blazes in the area of Isolation Trail but no others anywhere). As a general rule of thumb: the closer the trail is to the river the worse it is. Ironically, just outside of the Wilderness boundary the trail is completely eroded in the middle so you need to hug the left side or the right. Descending this 4.9 mile section of trail took me about an hour more than I expected.

Above treeline it was a very nice day: decent temps, minimal wind and skies in and out of the clouds. Lots of thrus heading N. I wasn't planing to visit Ike but I was making good time in the morning so I took the out and back side trip. Besides: after having an early lunch on Franklin I needed to work a little bit of it off :)

The Dry River Trail is wild, remote and definitely not for the inexperienced. I generally enjoy off-the-beaten-path trails but the southern half was even a bit much for me. Would I come here again? Yes, but only with tempered route expectations and a mood to match. Needless to say I didn't see another soul on the Dry River Trail - either in the morning or the afternoon.
Name: HMJ 
Date Submitted
Date Submitted: 2019-09-10 
Link: https:// 
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