Sunday, October 27, 2013
Mount Garfield (4,500')
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).