Monday, February 20, 2017

#35 Tecumseh with Andrew and Rich

Sunday, 2/19/17, 10:32AM

We watched Andrew's and Richard's daughters race at Waterville Valley then did a quick ascent of Tecumseh (2h14m). We got back way before the 2nd race was scheduled to start but still missed it because they moved it up 30m. Congrats to Helena for qualifying for states.
Stats:
  • Peaks: Tecumseh
  • Weather: warm/hot with temps in the 40s F. Some wind on top. Clouds rolling in around 1pm.
  • Parked: Waterville Valley ski resort, lot #6 
  • Trails: Tecumseh, the Osman to the peak
  • Time: 2h14m 
  • Distance: 4.3mi
  • Track: GaiaGps

An overview of my Single Season Winter 48 with links to all the trip reports is here.


Andrew and Rich came from Cannon to Waterville Valley to watch their kids race. This is Andrew's daughter Helena approaching the finish line. She took 12th place and qualified for the state competition in 2 weeks.
After the first race, we hiked Tecumseh, hoping to get back in time for the 2nd race. It only took us 2h14m (about an hour faster than I hiked it in the summer), but we still missed Helena's 2nd race because they moved the start time up 30 minutes.


The only ice we saw all day. Temps were in the 40s.


Hiking in just a base layer with the sleeves pushed up, no hat, no gloves.


Great view from the top of Tecumseh with the Tripyramids in the background. Greta, Andrew's Swiss Mountain Dog, loved the hike, but forgot the J├Ągermeister.


Another shotof the Tripyramids, which Alex and I hiked yesterday.


A woman at the summit not only took the excellent photo of us with Greta the Swiss Mountain Dog, but also pointed out the surrounding peaks. She told me this view shows Whiteface and Passaconaway; I plan to hike them on March 4.


Rich identified the white dome in the background as Moosilauke.


Andrew suggested we hike down the ski trail to get to his daughter's 2nd race on time. We actually got there early but still missed it because they moved it up 30 minutes.


Tripyramid Ridge. Alex and I hike up Scaur Tr (I think it is the ridge going right to left towards the little peak on the left) then up Nort Tripyramid (in the center with the prominent North Slide) and across to Middle Tripyramid (the big bump to the right of N Tri), but did not continue to South Tripyramid (with the slide going down to the right) because it isn't on the NH48 list (and because we were tired of breaking trail).


Looking back up at Mt Tecumseh from the base of the ski resort.


Gotta love ski resort prices. $7 for fries. The 603 White Peaks IPA was not your typical IPA. More of a malt profile but very tasty. I followed it with a Harpoon IPA. Harpoon was my favorite 10 years ago, but don't much like it here. I suppose the draft line could be contaminated, so shouldn't totally dismiss Harpoon IPA until I try it from a bottle again.

#33 #34 Tripyramids with Alex

Saturday, 2/18/17, 9:04AM

After 50+ inches of snow this week, breaking trail from Waterville Valley to the Tripyramids was a long, hard day (especially because the above freezing temperature made the snow sticky and heavy).
Alex and I hiked up Livermore and Scaur Ridge; across the ridge to North Tripyramid and Middle Tripyramid; then back the same way.
It took us 8 hours to cover almost 13 miles. We broke trail on Scaur Ridge Tr, then again between North and Middle Tripyramid. Just before North Tripyramid, we met William Fogg and Eric Sweet in a group of 6 that came up Pine Bend Brook Tr from the Kanc. After stumbling around in the wood between the two peaks, we all crowded together on Middle Tripyramid attempting to take photos of each other. Only saw 2 other people (a man and woman with 2 dogs) the entire day.

Stats:

  • Peaks: North Tripyramid, Middle Tripyramid
  • Weather: warm (40+ F), some wind on the ridge (but not the 45mph as forecast)
  • Parked: Livermore Rd lot
  • Trails: Livermore Rd, Livermore Tr, Scaur Ridge Tr, Pine Bend Brk Tr, Tripyramid Tr, and back
  • Time: 8h9m 
  • Distance: 12.7mi
  • Track: GaiaGps

An overview of my Single Season Winter 48 with links to all the trip reports is here.


Scaur Ridge is where the going got tough (but we kept going). The trail climbed steeply for 2 miles to Tripyramid ridge through heavy, deep snow. It was tiring so we switched leads several times. Even changing places was difficult in the deep snow, but totally worth the effort. Amazing how much easier and faster the second person could hike.

Before Scaur Ridge Trail, the first 2 miles was easy going on a groomed ski trail (Livermore Rd). The next mile or so on Livermore Trail was harder because of the soft snow, but still very flat and made easier by a ski track from the day before. (I was very relieved when we returned the same way and saw that the skier had not come back to find his track trashed. Alex pointed out that the skier had followed the filled-in snowshoe track, so really had nothing to complain about anyhow.)


Scaur Ridge Tr soon got much steeper.


Scaur Ridge provided a few views of Mt Washington in the distance. It was nice to be hiking under a blue sky after several weekends of cloudy weather.


We finally reached Tripyramid Trail and it got much easier because 8 people had come Pine Bend Brook Trail and packed the ridge for us. We caught up with a couple and their dogs a bit before North Tripyramid and then William Fogg's group of six (including Dave Fogg, Eric Sweet, and Steve Mason) near the summit.


Just after the summit?


Much of the trail from North to Middle Tripyramid was like this. When we didn't lose the trail, we were fighting through the snow laden branches, so we're got thoroughly soaked. Temps in the high 30s F didn't help.


From North to Middle Tripyramid we had to break trail again. Navigation was tricky because the blazes were at or below the snow level. We looked for a corridor between the trees but often couldn't see it because the snow laden branches bent across the trail obscured the path.
It was warm so I was hiking in just a wool base layer and got soaked from the snow falling on me as I fought my way through the branches.


At places the woods were wide open and easy to navigate, which probably means we were off course. Ha!


From Middle Tripyramid, looking across to Waterville Valley, where we started our hike.


Is that Signal Ridge climbing Mt Carrigain from the right?


From atop Middle Tripyramid. Hmmm. What peak is this?


Middle Tripyramid got crowded as the Sweet/Fogg group got there right on our heels. With eight of us on the tiny summit clearing, it was a wonder no one slipped down the steep bobsled run while we snapped photos of each other. William Fogg made an amusing video of their hike, which includes the summit photo I took of them on Middle Tripyramid. One of their crew took this photo of Alex and me.

Here's a photo I took of their group on Middle Tripyramid. The sixth hiker soon joined us and I took a photo of the entire group using one of their cameras.

With just a base layer, I started to get chilly, so Alex and I soon took off. The return trip was much faster and easier--no trail breaking, no navigation issues, mostly downhill. All the same, we were dragging by the time we reached the parking lot, and getting out of the car after a 15 minute drive involved lots of groaning and aching muscles.


Another dramatic view of Mt Washington.


North Slide is a challenging ascent in the summer. A couple winters ago, Alex climbed it sort of by accident in his snowshoes. By the time he realized it was dangerous to continue, it was way too dangerous to turn around and go back down. He invited me to hike it with him sometime next winter, but... 
"Some hikers will be uncomfortable on the North Slide, and it is potentially dangerous and should be avoided if wet or icy." ...and... "The loop over the slides is hazardous in winter and not recommended for the great majority of winter trampers." --The 4000-Footers by Smith and Dickerman


The home stretch! Just two miles on Livermore Rd before I can drop my pack and sit down in a comfy seat (of my CRV). Aah!

Monday, February 13, 2017

#32 Carrigain solo

Sunday, 2/12/17, 7:45AM

Because of the weather forecast of near gale force winds and 11" of snow, I was worried I might not be able to finish this hike. I asked John about it as we hiked down from Willey yesterday, and he reminded me that the hike would be sheltered by trees except for the short stretch across the ridge and the clearing around the fire tower at the summit.
Turns out that the weather was no problem at all. There was a slight breeze on the ridge and moderate wind at the summit. It didn't start snowing until I got back to the parking lot.
I XC skied the 2 miles from Rte 302 up Sawyer River Rd to the summer trailhead, then snowshoed to the summit and retraced my steps back to the car.
I only saw 6 other people on the trail. I caught up with Joe and Dominic at the summer trailhead. Then met 2 guys coming down from the summit where they had camped overnight (and saw them again back at the parking lot). Then as I was coming down off the ridge I met two guys with big, bushy beards (copper colored) heading up.
The hike was no problem, but the drive home was horrendous. The roads were slippery and traffic slow. Waze predicted 2h45m but it took 5 hours. I made the mistake of following Waze's suggested route back on Rte 16 and got stuck behind cars travelling at 20mph. I finally got on I-95 and nearly crashed. The car fishtailed so badly I was almost perpendicular to the road 3 times before recovering. Fortunately, there were no cars anywhere near me, but it took a long time for my blood pressure to return to normal. Time to buy snow tires!

Stats:

  • Peaks: Carrigain
  • Weather: Forecast was 14F, 30mph, heavy snow. Actually cold (14F) but only windy on summit and no snow until the drive home.
  • Parked: winter lot on Rte 302 
  • Trails: Sawyer River Rd, Signal Ridge Tr, and back
  • Time: 6h17m 
  • Distance: 13.7mi
  • Track: GaiaGps

An overview of my Single Season Winter 48 with links to all the trip reports is here.


Ready to ski up Sawyer River Rd to the summer trailhead. The road is closed and unplowed in the winter. It is used by snowmobilers, snowshoers, and skiers.


Good to go!


Sawyer River Rd looks like this for 2 miles to the summer parking lot for Signal Ridge Tr to the summit of Carrigain. On the way back, a group of 5 snowmobiles passed me going the other way. These new snowmobiles are so quiet, I wouldn't have heard them if they came up behind me.


I didn't take many pictures on the way to the summit. I was concerned about getting up and down before the high winds and heavy snow moved in. The trail goes like this: 2 miles on the closed road; 2 miles on a gently sloping trail; 2.2 miles along a fairly steep trail (it's a narrow trail with the woods dropping off steeply on one side and rising steeply on the other); 0.2 miles along the exposed ridge (don't slip here, the ridge is narrow and you would slide a long way down if you fell); followed by a steep climb the last 0.4 miles to the summit. (I took lots of photos on the return so you can see what I mean below.)
By the way, my hiked was only 6.8 miles to the summit rather than the expected 7.0 miles. Comparing my track to the official route, I see that the snowshoe track cuts off a jog that takes you to the Carrigain Notch Tr.


On top of Mount Carrigain. Cold and windy. Looks like my zipper is frozen in the up position. Whoops. I tried to fix my hair, but guess that is frozen also.


The wind was literally howling through the fire tower supports. It wasn't too bad on the ground, and I had no reason to climb the tower. I couldn't see the views as well from ground level as I couldn't see them from the top of the tower.



These trail signs are usually shoulder height, but this one was buried in the snow. So the snow pack at the summit must be about 5 feet deep.


Going back across Signal Ridge. Supposedly the ridge offers an amazing view of Carrigain Notch, but I've only seen it in photos. Both times I've been up there, I was in a cloud. I could see just enough to tell that slipping off the ridge would be a bad idea.


I like the light in this photo better, but included the one above because it gives and idea of how steeply the ridge drops off to the east.


Across the ridge safely and back in the trees. The 6.2 miles back to the car is sheltered from the wind and snow.


I met two amazing hikers today. I caught up with them just before we reached the summer parking lot on Sawyer River Rd. As we were all taking off our skis and putting on our snowshoes, Joe from Jackson told me he had hiked and run all the 4Ks. Now he was trying to ski all the 4Ks. His friend, Dominic from Manhattan was working on his winter 48. He said he had 12 more to go. I put my skis behind a tree and took off. I didn't see them again until I was nearly back to the flat part of the trail. They had just started up the steep part and had another 2.2 miles to the summit according to my GaiaGps app.

We chatted for awhile. I asked Joe about peak skiing. He skins up and skis down. Peaks like Carrigain are the hardest because there isn't a good alternative to skiing the narrow hiking trail. He said he crashed a lot when he skied Carrigain. Mt Washington was one of the easiest because he could ski the bowl. I asked about Mt Madison because it is nothing but a pile of boulders even in the winter because the wind scours the snow from the summit. Joe agreed and said he is still waiting for the right conditions to ski Madison and Adams. He said he won't ski straight up the hiking trail from Madison hut to Madison peak. Rather he will go around the back of the mountain where there is a drainage he can ski up and back down.

I thought Joe was pretty extreme. Then I figured out that Joe was wearing bear bells was so Dominic could follow him as they skied up the road and then hiked up the mountain. Dominic was blind and has hiked 36 of the NH Four-Thousand Footers in the winter.

To add to the awesomeness of their exploits, Joe and Dominic had set up their tent here, so they could summit, then spend the night on the mountain in a blizzard.


Aah! The 2-mile flat trail back to the road.


The last obstacle. A river crossing made possible by conveniently placed stones and hiking poles for balance.


Back at the summer parking lot. As I left them, Joe yelled back to me that he hid my skis for me. Fortunately, he was just joking and my skis were still sticking out of the snow behind a tree. I saw another set of tracks going into the woods, followed them and stepped on Joe and Dominic's skis totally hidden in the snow. I hope they found them on Monday morning after another 11" was dumped on top of their skis and their tracks leading to the skis.

#29 #30 #31 Tom Field Willey w John and Pepper

Saturday, 2/11/17, 9:39AM

Slow, slippery drive to Highland Center. Cold and windy in parking lot, but not bad on the trails. Met John and Pepper on Mt Tom Spur, so we hiked Field and Willey together, breaking trail on Willey Range Tr from A-Z Tr to Avalon Tr. Many tree branches hanging over trail so we had to fight our way through, and even crawl through a tree tunnel on one short stretch.
The trail down from Mt Avalon was tough on my ankles because the crust was post holed. Once we passed the miscreant (a nice guy from Indiana) the going got much easier. At the start of this winter, I didn't understand why people got so worked up about post holing, but after my Owl's Head bushwhack and today's desccent on Avalon Tr, I get it.
Apres-hike, I had a fun evening at the Highland Center: social hour followed by a concert of Celtic folk music, then early to bed. The next morning I shared breakfast with 5 hikers that I met on the trail to Mt Tom. We were all struggling to stay on the off camber trail without slipping down the ravine and into the stream.

Stats:

  • Peaks: Tom, Field, Willey 
  • Weather: 15F, 15mph, light snow. 
  • Parked: Highland Center, spent Saturday night at Shapleigh Bunkhouse 
  • Trails: Avalon Tr, A-Z Tr, Mt Tom Spur, Willey Range Tr, Avalon Tr 
  • Time: 5h36m 
  • Distance: 9.4mi 
  • Track: GaiaGps

An overview of my Single Season Winter 48 with links to all the trip reports is here.


Mt Tom summit. No views again today.


I met John and Pepper as I was going up Mt Tom Spur and they were coming down. We agreed to share the trail breaking on Willey Range Tr once I caught up with them.


Here we are on the summit of Field.
I first met John on January 7 and hiked with his group for stretches while summitting Jefferson, Washington, Monroe. Then we bumped into each other again the next day on Moosilauke. Today was my first opportunity to hike several hours with John and Pepper. The miles flew as John shared stories about some of the colorful hikers he knows.
A couple of French Canadians came up Avalon Tr so we had a track to follow fromm Field to Willey. Their track didn't always follow the official trail (of course John knew where they deviated) but it got us there.
After this summit selfie, John pushed his way into thick trees and unbroken snow. Thinking he was taking a bio break, I walked a few yards down the path the French Canadians had set towards Willey. Time passed--5 or 10 minutes--I checked a couple of times and could see John standing in the trees but I didn't want to disturb him. Finally, I called to see if he was OK and he called to tell me to come out to him. He thought I was eating lunch and I thought he was taking care of business. In reality, he was following the official trail and I was planning to follow the broken trail. Pepper was the one who suffered from this miscommunication. He needs to keep moving to keep warm, and starts shivering if we stand around too long.


Summit of Willey. Many places, the tree branches were bent low over the trail and we had to fight our way through. For one short section we pretty much had to crawl under a tree tunnel.


Pepper is easily recognized by his University of Michigan sweater.


The Shapleigh Bunkhouse has a nice common room and kitchen with microwave and refrigerator.


The bunks are comfortable, but could use more hooks for hanging wet hiking gear.


I call shenanigans.


"Social hour" offered a cash bar and free crudites, cheeses, and wings.


Some of the North Country musicians. They performed a free concert of traditional music from Scotland and Celtic countries.