Saturday, January 28, 2017

a hike to the summit of White Ledge

Today's hike: 2 h | 3.4 mi | 1.7 mph with an elevation gain of about 1400 feet.

I hiked to the summit of White Ledge in Albany, NH, starting from the White Ledge campground. The gate is closed, but parking is possible just off the road. The trail is still completely covered in snow, and it's pretty deep, at least a foot in most places.

I used my Kahtoola microspikes the entire way. Some form of traction is really necessary, imho. The snow has a pretty good crust on top, so post-holing is rare. You are more likely to slip on the icy crust, instead. I'm guessing, but I think the trail is pretty solid because of previous hikers who have been along here and compressed the snow in the weeks past. I saw just one set of tracks on the trail, and met someone coming down off the mountain about halfway up. I suspect the trail is pretty well used in the winter, though.

Near the summit, the snow got a lot softer and I wound up post-holing more frequently. I would have been glad to have snowshoes, but the idea of bringing them all that way just to use them near the top seems silly.

The weather was pretty good on the way up, with some blue skies, and the sun peaking through clouds. The clouds thickened up as I reached the summit, and a few flakes of snow came floating down, resulting in a rather gloomy descent.

Here's a note for naturalists: I saw lots of snow fleas along the trail. It did warm up into the 40s this week, and today it was in the mid-30s. The snow fleas seemed to want to congregate in the boot holes left by the person in front of me... Interesting, I have no idea why.

Coming down off the summit of White Ledge

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Mt Stanton

Today, I hiked up the Mount Stanton Trail, to the summit of Mt Stanton. The round trip distance was 3 miles, with an elevation gain of 1000 feet. It took a total of 2 hours, averaging 1.5 mph. This was very good, considering the trail conditions were pretty icy. I wore Kahtoola MICROspikes. I wouldn't have wanted to hike this trail without them, especially the steep bits.

It was below 20ºF, but it wasn't windy at all. Once I got started, I warmed up pretty quickly.

view of Attatash on the way to the summit of Mt Stanton
The trail conditions are packed ice and snow. I doubt you'll have fun if you don't bring some form of traction. Snowshoes are not a good choice here. A woman was coming down carrying snowshoes. She had removed them, and was using Yaktrax. She said she'd more or less slid down the steep parts of the trail above, but she hadn't wanted to use the snowshoes on the way down. Yaktrax are not really meant for steep terrain like this, though.

Despite the chill, and the clouds, it was a fun hike! The sun did peak through the clouds once in a while. I haven't done much winter hiking, but so far it seems straightforward.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

snowshoeing up Middle Mountain Trail

Last night, it got unseasonably warm. Snow turned to rain. And then the skies cleared, and we got a beautiful, pleasant day for a change.

I went hiking up Middle Mountain Trail, where I've been snowshoeing before. The trail is pretty beaten down, and the rain has made the snow soft and a bit slushy. I started out without traction, then put on snowshoes as the trail steepened. This kind of snow might be best traversed with snowshoes rather than microspikes. With the latter, you may still be sliding on slippery snow.

view on the way up Middle Mountain Trail
The only difficulty I encountered was a significant ice bulge that covered the trail, about a mile in:
ice bulge covers the trail
Everyone seems to go right. You can grab the trees. I also grabbed an ice pocket down at the bottom. This is a steep section, so you don't want to lose your footing here. This was the only difficult part to the trail.

I hiked up to the intersection where you meet the Peaked Mountain Trail, then turned around. It's a half mile to Peaked Mountain from here, and 0.8 miles to Middle Mountain. Some other day...
Peaked Mountain - Middle Mountain Trail Connector
It doesn't get much better than this! Hiking back down was a lot easier than hiking up. 
View on the way down Middle Mountain Trail
The hike was a total of 2.4 miles. It took about an hour and 25 minutes, for a pace of about 1.7 mph.