Monday, May 20, 2013

Mt. Osceola, East Osceola May 19, 2013

Mt. Osceola (4,314'), East Osceola (4,156') via Mt. Osceola trail, May 19, 2013.

Mileage: 8.4 miles RT

Elevation gain:  3,096'

Trailhead: I-93 to exit 31, Tripoli Road, head East off the exit and follow for 7 miles. The parking area is located on the left hand side of the road. There is a fee to park.  Note: Tripoli Road is gated in the winter; most start from the Kancamagus Highway in winter.

Lesson learned:  Get a summit photo this time!

Hiked with Rich and Norm. This would be our first four thousand footer of the spring and we chose well.  Yesterday saw absolutely perfect weather and we heard the Osceola summits were quite crowded.  Today, however, there was a threat of rain and many had started home  early to get ready for the work week. 
But for us there would be no rain; only clear skies, dry trail and gorgeous views.
I'd hiked the Osceolas in 2007 as numbers 2 and 3 on my NH four thousand footer list (you can read about it here).  I neglected to get a summit photo on that hike.  I won't make that mistake a second time.
We arrived at the trailhead around 9:00, a few bugs hanging around.
Don't forget to pay for parking!
Mt. Osceola is a good first peak for peak baggers. It's on Ellozy's "easy eight."  The path is well defined with switchbacks, rock steps and easy grades. 
Areas of angled slab.

True summit? Some say so.

From the site of the old fire tower to the overlook.
We made great time on this pleasant day, stopping at the true summit (or is it?), the site of the old tower.  And finally I got my summit photo. 
Got that summit photo - six years later!
View from Osceola to East Osceola - note the drop in the ridge - "the chimney."
After lunch and taking in the views, we headed toward East Osceola (or East Peak). 
Remnants of a monorail between peaks; easily avoided.
The descent is quite steep, good practice for upcoming hikes.
The route between Osceola and East Osceola has one very steep section where hikers descend/ascend a chimney with good footing or opt to use the "bypass" which in some ways is tougher than the chimney.  The Whites are visible through the trees on most of the hike between peaks.
The summit of East Osceola is a bit ho-hum compared to the spectacular views we left. We did meet Bill, Denise, Jack and Jenn; two couples working on their NH 4ks (the Osceolas would be numbers 8 and 9 for them).
East Osceola.
On the way back, Rich and I climbed the chimney, which has good foot- and hand-holds.   

Back on the summit of Osceola we took a photo for a family (parents, two kids, two dogs). They are working on their 4ks and this was peak #1 for the entire family.  They thanked us and headed out to East Peak for their #2. 
We blew down the trail and to our car in no time, heading out for a beer and dinner.  It's fun to meet new hikers just starting to do their 48 New Hampshire 4ks.  They have memories to make, experiences to share. 

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Mt. Kearsarge North May 12, 2013

Mt. Kearsarge North  (3,268') via Kearsarge North trail, May 12, 2013.

Mileage: 6.2 miles RT

Elevation gain:  2,500'

Trailhead:  Route 16 to N. Conway / Intervale take the Hurricane Mt Road (across from the rest stop / tourist center). Follow this road for a mile or two.  The parking area is on the left. 

Hiked with Rich, Barb and Norm.  This would be our first northern hike this spring and we were itching to get out there.  It poured during our drive up Route 16 but once we hit Chocorua (Tamworth) the rain stopped and the sky started to clear. 

The trailhead and parking area are off Hurricane Mountain Road - easy to find.
We started the hike around 9:00 on a well blazed, well defined trail with good footing.  Climbing started relatively soon, with one blow-down we had to climb over. 

Blowdown.  Climbover.
Kearsarge North is a relatively short hike at six miles round trip but it offers terrain characteristic of its big brothers the Whites. The rock slabs started at the clearing and as we negotiated around the sometimes slippery rock, we could see partial views of the valley. 

Slabs at the clearing.

I'd hiked Kearsarge North once before in late winter.  We used Microspikes (or Stabilicers, can't remember which) on the way up and I recall one very steep spot that was difficult to negotiate. Today I was going to find that spot and check out how it looks without ice.

After the slabs we reached a water small crossing (runoff, really) and started into a deeper ascent.

Oh look! A teeny patch of snow.

All the steeper rock slabs looked alike!
I remembered the steep spot being covered with a thick, bumpy slab of dirty ice and pitched too steep for what I had on my feet so I bushwhacked around it, which wasn't easy.  The trail turned slight right above the rock.  Would I recognize it without the ice? 

No.  I wouldn't, not easily. I kept seeing big rocks, right turning trails and evidence of bushwhack.  I'd take a photo, borrowing Rich's camera, thinking I'd found it only to have a bigger rock further up the trail. I gave up.
Then I saw it, no mistaking it!  It was huge with the trail above sloping to the right, evidence of struggles in the woods to the left.  I can see why this is a tough up in winter.  But today, it was no problem, we just walked up that bad boy like it was our biz!

This steep area ices up making for tricky negotiating.

The summit came up quickly and we stopped for lunch in the firetower.  Who doesn't love a summit with an option to get out of the cold and windy?  We took a photo in the tower.

Camera was perched on a mini tripod.

Nice view through the glass window.

Toilet? Now we're talkin'.
Down was quick and easy though the slab area required paying attention to not step on the wet lichen.  We were down in no time, pleased with our pace (and our knees), and happy to declare warm weather hiking season officially here.