Thursday, February 15, 2018

MOUNT PIERCE: 2/13/18

I had to get up high on this gorgeous sunny day with virtually no wind - much less than predicted. Amazingly, I didn't see another hiker all day on this popular winter peak.

The Willey Range was sharp and clear from the icy parking lot.



The familiar Crawford Path had a hard-packed, somewhat choppy track. I chose Denalis over Microspikes for their combination of traction and stability, and they worked well. Along the way was this burly yellow birch.



Old growth red spruce and yellow birch are found in the 900-acre Gibbs Brook Scenic Area.


Farther along, there is open balsam fir forest much of the way.


A long corridor above the Mizpah Cutoff junction.


A bilingual alpine zone sign.


First peek from the scrub.


The trailless Dartmouth Range across the Bretton Woods valley.


Emerging above treeline at the Webster Cliff Trail junction. Pierce was my first winter peak on a day like this back in 1983, and I was immediately hooked on winter hiking.


Heading up to the summit of Pierce.


The best Presy views are just before you reach the summit. There was quite a bit of ice along this section, but with care I was able to negotiate it with my MSRs, staying on the defined path and off the alpine vegetation.


The summit had a welcoming committee of local residents.



The hardy Gray Jays will be nesting soon.


I wanted to do the loop past Mizpah Spring Hut, but the trail heading that way was a postholed disaster.


I went partway along looking for views just off-trail, but was living dangerously with snow depth up to the handle. I reminded myself that a couple of winters ago I fell chest-deep into a spruce trap looking for views in a fir wave near Mt. Jim (Moosilauke). There was still air under my snowshoes that day and it took some time and effort to extricate myself.



I always savor this view across the Dry River Valley to Mt. Isolation and Mt. Davis. That's some wild country out there, especially with the closure of the Dry River Trail (again!) due to damage from the October storm.



Waves of ridges to the south, including the pinprick peak of Mt. Chocorua.


A Gray Jay takes in a view of the Sandwich Range.



Gold medal winner in the posthole competition.


Washington was the snowiest summit, while Eisenhower was mostly bare on this side.


Back at the Crawford Path/Webster Cliff Trail junction, looking out to Bretton Woods and distant Vermont horizons.


Afternoon sun in the boreal forest.


Monday, February 12, 2018

LONESOME LAKE: 2/9/18

Great packed powder conditions for an afternoon snowshoe, before the weekend rain soaked it.

Respectable snow depth in Franconia Notch.


Open woods on the Lonesome Lake plateau.


Scene along the trail.


A group heads across the lake towards the Kinsmans.


Coppermine Col.



Snowshoe track and Franconia Ridge.



At the west shore.


Mountain ash adorned with snow ornaments.


View from the deck at Lonesome Lake Hut.


An excellent snowshoe track for a quick trip down.


Friday, February 9, 2018

GOODRICH ROCK TRAIL: 2/6/18


I enjoyed an afternoon snowshoe on one of the best short trails in Waterville Valley, maintained by the WVAIA.

Nice hardwood forest on the floor of the Mad River valley.




Slogging along the flat Greeley Ponds Trail.




The Mad River, which rarely freezes all the way across.




A favorite spot where the Goodrich Rock Trail goes through a split boulder complex.




Looking out the exit.




Looking back in.


Another of what are known as the Davis Boulders, named after J.W. Davis, a summer resident of Waterville Valley who discovered these big rocks on the lower slope of East Osceola and cleared the first trail to them in the 1890s.




The "ocean liner" boulder.



A wintry scene along the upper part of the Goodrich Rock Trail.



A steep pitch approaching Goodrich Rock.



The trail wraps around the base of Goodrich Rock, one of the largest glacial erratics in New Hampshire. It was discovered in the 1890s by Watervilleans Arthur L. and Charles L. Goodrich.



An old-fashioned WVAIA sign.




After getting a "first to find" on a geocache placed here in December by "barefoot gal," I reached the upper back side of Goodrich Rock. The top is accessed by a 20-foot ladder.



I took my snowshoes off and climbed to the top of the ladder, but I always chicken out in winter due to ice-under-snow on the sloping slab at the entrance, and more importantly, exit point for the top of the rock. A bolder hiker who I had passed on the way up did go up on top for a fogged-in view of Sandwich Dome.



Side view of the ladder.



On the return trip I bushwhacked down to some nice hardwood forest below Goodrich Rock.



I went over to check out a minor tributary of Osceola Brook, with a large tree growing in the streambed.




An old bear tree.



Back on the trail, I took a sit-down break under a cool rock overhang at one of the Davis Boulders.





From the Depot Camp clearing, brooding skies over Mt. Osceola.