SOUTH TWIN MOUNTAIN: 9/24/15
Crystal-clear weather this week called for a visit to a high summit with long-distance views. Few peaks offer a better panorama than 4902-ft. South Twin Mountain, the highest in the Whites outside the Presidential and Franconia Ranges. I was long overdue for a visit to this fine rocky watchtower.
The Gale River Trail provides a nice long, easy warmup through its namesake valley. I especially enjoy the nicely constructed relocation that was opened in 2011. The section south of the Garfield Stream crossing has excellent footing and passes through beautiful woods.
At the gravel bank three miles in, where there is a limited view up to spur ridges of the Twins, morning clouds were swirling around. I hoped they would clear by the time I reached the hut, and they did.
I dropped down the bank for a look at the North Branch of the Gale River.
At the head of the valley the Gale River Trail makes a steep climb to meet the Garfield Ridge Trail.
Galehead Hut in the sun. It was quiet late in the morning, only one hiker inside and a couple of crew members.
View of Galehead Mountain from in front of the hut.
The notorious climb from the hut to the summit of South Twin gains 1100 ft. of elevation in 0.8 mile. The bottom half of the ascent is quite rough and rocky.
In the middle there is a more moderate section through some nice open fir woods.
At about 4600 ft. you get your first clear views west back to Franconia Ridge and Mount Garfield. The hut can be seen down below.
The last part of the climb leads up through a tunnel of scrub.
This perch just below the summit on the west side offers the best views in that direction.
A hiker descends into the scrub, with a wide view into the western Pemigewasset Wilderness beyond.
Peering down into the Gale River valley. Among several interesting off-trail destinations in that area are the ledges and slide on Flat Top Mountain, seen in the center of the photo.
Looking down the East Branch valley towards Scar Ridge. One of the visible stretches of the river is along the Pine Island Trail at Lincoln Woods.
South Twin from the Pine Island Trail. The summit is the middle bump.
Mount Lafayette, Mount Garfield and Galehead Mountain.
There are some interesting features on this western spur of North Twin.
A wild-looking set of cliffs. The woods and terrain around them do not look inviting.
A great broadside view of Franconia Ridge.
Signs at the summit.
A jumble of peaks to the south.
The three humps on the SW ridge of South Twin. The one on the lower right is the Trailwrights peak known as Southwest Twin.
Peering across the Little River valley.
The great talus slope of Zealand Mountain.
A profile of Mount Hale and its north and south spurs.
The blue spot of Ethan Pond nestled at the base of Mount Willey.
Norcross Pond between Mount Nancy and Mount Anderson.
Mounts Carrigain, Guyot and Bond.
The wild ridge of West Bond.
Vast horizons beyond nearby North Twin. The farthest peak visible this day was Coburn Mountain in northwestern Maine, 112 miles away.
Parting shot of that great southern vista at the end of a three-hour summit stay.
Looking back at the western summit knob from the eastern ledges.
Descending the Twinway through mossy forest.
Late afternoon light on the SW Twin ridge.
Zoom on the Galehead Hut view, which includes Scar Ridge, Whaleback Mountain, Owl's Head and Mount Flume.
This determined hutwoman was packing a 75-pound load up the steep part of Gale River Trail.
A North Twin version of the Giant Stairs.