Sunday, October 27, 2013

Mount Garfield (4,500')

    (these pictures were taken less than 2 hours apart)

Johnny and I headed up to NH in the middle of Saturday afternoon. The forecasts for the weekend were very inconsistent, but it was clear that it was going to get into the high 20's or low 30's and was likely to snow and/or rain. We brought my small REI tent and a couple of sleeping bags rated for 17 degrees.

There were only a handful of campers at Hancock when we got there, so we grabbed one of the river sites and got set up. We noticed snow on the tops of the higher mountains, but it did not appear to be too deep, just a dusting. We headed over to the Woodstock Inn for the Sox game (which was bogus) and got some dinner. It was just slightly starting to snow when we got back to the campground, but we managed to stay warm and dry.

We got on the trail a little after 8:30 with lots of downed leaves and cool fall weather. The trail follows an old fire road, and unlike most white mountain fire roads, it was at least somewhat believable that a vehicle could have traveled on this trail at some point. About an hour in, we started to see patches of snow, and ninety minutes in, it was covering the trail. It never got more than an inch deep, but it was a little bit on the slippery side with no traction. I did not bring micro-spikes, and we got away with it, but they definitely would have been nice to have for the top part of the hike. Johnny did the whole hike in sneakers without much issue, so certainly wasn't too problematic.

We made it up in 2.5 hours. The summit was in a cloud with strong winds and no view. A subsequent weather check indicated that summit temperatures with windchill were somewhere between -5 and 5 degrees (a good 50 degrees colder than the base).

The way down was largely uneventful. There was some light snow and a dusting of small hail for a few minutes, but nothing that stuck. We finished the hike in just over 5 hours (1:20 ahead of book time).

Pictures here

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Mount Carrigain (4,700')

Drove up on Saturday and stayed at Christine's family lake house on Ossipee. The plan was to go hiking with Jimmy and my dad, but Jimmy was under the weather and had to bail. Dad and I got to the Sawyer Road trailhead near Crawford Notch on 302 at around 8:00 AM on Sunday. The hike was 10 miles round trip on the Signal Ridge trail with 3,250 of elevation gain. The first 2 miles were remarkably flat, with a bit of mud and one somewhat tricky stream crossing early on (stayed dry and carefully rock-hopped on the way up, but got lazy and just waded through on the way back). After roughly 2 miles, the trail grade stepped up considerably and remained pretty steep to the top. 

At about 4.5 miles there is a brutal false summit but came with the reward of some really impressive views up on the ridge. The last half mile to the summit leads back into the trees and to a 30 foot fire tower. From the top you can see 43 of the 48 4,000 footers. It's a really beautiful spot, and one of the most impressive I've seen in the White Mountains so far. Because of Carrigain's prominence, there's nothing to block the view in any direction. Got down in about 6 hours a good deal ahead of book time. 

No SLR, just iPhone pictures.

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Isolation (4,004')

Steve and I headed up to Lincoln early on Friday afternoon and snagged one of the good river sites at Hancock Campground. We grabbed sandwiches and beers at CJ's Penalty Box and shot some darts. Someone in town mentioned that Friday was the first day since early June that it didn't rain in Lincoln.

We got a later start (up around 7) and had to drive a long way from Lincoln to the trailhead in Pinkham Notch. With a stop for breakfast sandwiches and some North Conway traffic, we didn't get to the trail until 9:45. Our hike's book time was over 8.5 hours, so the late start was not ideal, but still very doable. 

The best way to do Isolation is by a traverse. The peak sits at only 4,004 feet, but (as its name suggests) it is difficult to reach and requires a longer than normal hike for such a low elevation. We dropped one car at the Rocky Branch trailhead at the south end of the traverse and drove to the Glen Ellis trailhead to begin our hike. From Glen Ellis, the trail climbs very quickly above the treeline to about 5,100 feet. The views on the Glen Boulder trail were excellent. We picked up the Davis trail and experienced the weird feeling of climbing down about 1,000 feet to reach the summit of Isolation. The views near the Isolation summit were pretty limited and due to all of the rain, the trail was extremely muddy and wet. There is a substantial amount of trail damage left over from Hurricane Irene, and parts of several of the trails in the area remain closed even now. I included a few pictures showing all of the tree damage near the Isolation summit. 

The way down from Isolation on the Rocky Branch trail was a pretty tedious ~7.5 miles. There was nothing particularly scenic or remarkable about the descent other than the swampy conditions. If we had not parked the second car, we would have gone up and down on Rocky Branch and missed out on all of the views. The extra elevation and mileage from doing the traverse were absolutely worth it. We got down at about 6:00.

Steve and I met up with Cullen in North Conway and drove back to grab dinner in Woodstock and head to camp. It was a really nice drive back on the Kancgamangus and we stopped at an overlook with a great view:

21 down. 27 to go. 

Pictures here:  Pictures

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Kinsman North (4,293'), Kinsman South (4,358)

Steve, John and I headed up to Hancock Campground on Friday afternoon and grabbed the last site available. The plan was to get both Kinsman peaks which is approximately 10.5 miles and 3,500 of elevation gain.

Saturday was overcast, and in the mid-60's to start the hike but warmed up as the day went on. We hiked up from the Lafayette trail head to Lonesome Lake and then made our way up the Fishin' Jimmy Trail toward Kinsman Pond which is a few hundred feet below the Kinsman North summit.  There were a number of shelters and campsites by the pond that looked like a great spot for AT thru-hikers. The climb to get there was pretty reasonable, but it was a steep quarter-mile to the summit of the North peak. From there the ridge trail continued for another 1.5 miles to the South peak. We had lunch and the backtracked to Kinsman Pond.

To avoid a full backtrack we opted to take the Kinsman Pond trail down which added an extra mile primarily down a stream-bed. The trail was not particularly well maintained and became pretty slippery when it began to rain. Given the 0% chance of rain in the forecast, the bad weather was a little bit of a surprise; however, it did not rain very hard while we were on the trial. On the way down, we found a small waterfall about a hundred yards off the trail and went for a quick very cold swim. When we got back to the car, it started pouring which made us pretty concerned about my Walmart tent which has a good history of leaking.

We got back to the campground and needed to clean up before heading into town for the Bruins game. Since there are no showers, the only option was a quick dive in the Pemigewasset (which was probably in the 40's) while it was pouring. Johnny is probably never coming camping with us again. We ended up swapping out tents and staying mostly dry despite the rain.

It was great to get out hiking with Steve and Johnny got to bag his first 4K. The Kinsmans were numbers 19 and 20 on my way to all 48.

Pictures here: Pictures

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Wildcat D (4,070')

Set out with the intention of climbing Wildcat D (4070’) and Wildcat A (4422’) with snowshoes/spikes and then skiing down. The route was a 2.8 mile up the ski trails to the resort summit, a short climb from the resort summit to the true summit of Wildcat D. From the first peak it was another 2.8 miles to Wildcat A followed by a backtrack to the resort summit. The planned trip would have been 8.4 miles hiking and 2.8 skiing (longest downhill ski trail in NH).

I used my big pack which provides for some added structure/support. I used a sail tie to secure the skis to the pack and carried the boots inside the main compartment of the bag. The whole thing was surprisingly heavy when loaded up, especially when I added additional winter clothing and water.

The Wildcats are on the northern part of the White Mountains near Pinkham Notch, a 3.5 hour drive from Boston. In order to use the ski trails, you have to pay $10 regardless of whether you plan to ski. I didn’t get started until about 10AM on account of the long drive. This was the first time I got to use the “Televator” feature of my MSR snowshoes, and it definitely makes a big difference. It basically locks the heel at an elevated position to reduce effort on steady climbs. Despite the 20 degree temperatures, I did the whole climb in a long sleeve shirt and was still a sweaty mess by the end. I made the resort summit in just under two hours, but was pretty beat. Upon arrival at the top, a skier coming off the lift saw the skis on my pack and asked how many times I’d climbed up so far. Infuriating.

I ditched my skis and boots at the top and locked them to a tree to continue the rest of the way to Wildcat A. The hiking trail had been walked on, but the snow on the ridge was very light and powdery, and had drifted over much of the cleared trail. The biggest challenge was that there was very little ice underneath the powder snow, and therefore, nothing for my spikes to dig into. As a result, I was taking steps on light fluffy snow, and the metal spikes on my snowshoes would make contact with dry rock underneath, and slide out. There was still too much snow to go without snowshoes. I only made it about a mile down the hiking trail before slipping a few times and deciding it wasn’t worth the risk to continue. I was mildly disappointed, but I’ll go back and get the other summit in the spring/summer.

If you’ve ever been skiing, you know that the best part of the day is taking the boots off. Much is the same with hiking; however, transitioning from frozen hiking boots to frozen skiing boots is not a fate I’d wish upon my worst enemy. After an epic battle with my boots at the resort summit, I skied down the same way I climbed up. The entire trip down took about 8 minutes. It was interesting to see how the perspective of distance and steepness changes when going down on skis. The whole thing seemed so short. It was a great way to get one more 4000 footer in the winter.

 A couple pictures here: Pictures