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Thread: Adventure on the Osceolas - 12/9/06

  1. #1
    Senior Member rocksnrolls's Avatar
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    Adventure on the Osceolas - 12/9/06

    For my 45th of the 48, East Osceola, I wanted to make it more exciting, so I put out the call to see if anyone wanted to join me to head up and over to Middle and West Osceola as well, and then to 'whack out to East Pond Tr for the return to the Kanc. Taking the bait was none other than PoisonIvy, someone I had long wanted to hike with, so I was plenty psyched for the trip

    Arriving at the East Pond trailhead after a nice breakfast at Peg's I was happy to see that PoisonIvy had just recently arrived there ahead of me. I loaded my gear into her car and off to the Greeley Pond TH we went.

    There had been snow the previous day and we were thrilled to be making first tracks on the trail. We 'whacked upstream a little at the first water crossing but the rest were a snap. The fresh snow made for a beautiful walk through the woods and I paused often to examine animal tracks (mostly rodent and hare). I grumbled a bit about not getting credit for a winter ascent, but PoisonIvy mentioned she had already hiked the two main peaks in winter so was happy to be able to add them to her fall list.

    I found her pace to be only a little slower than mine early in the day so was enjoying the leisurly hike very much. As we made our way up the steadily steapening Mt Osceola Tr I was in awe of the views of the cliffs we were getting through the trees. I was a little intimidated, wondering how tough the trail was going to get. The snow was only a few inches deep and light, so we bare-booted until just a short distance before the trail crosses a small slide. Then we hit a very icy spot and both strapped on our crampons. I kept mine on until a little while before the East Osceola summit and then switched to my new pair of stabilicers. PoisonIvy kept her crampons on for most of the day, partly due to the fact that the straps had frozen and she couldn't get them to budge. Yeah, it was cold - but with the workout we were quite comfortable in our layers, which we would end up adjusting numerous times throughout the day.

    Upon reaching the summit cairn, we topped for a couple pictures and a snack. We were soon joined by a man and dog from the Worcester area. He thanked us for 'breaking trail' for him, saying he was especially grateful for our tracks at that first water crossing. I was interested to see that he had no extra traction on his boots but seemed to be doing fine without. After sharing some of the delicious home-made 'honkies' (white chocolate brownies) that Dugan had sent me off with, he headed off to Osceola and we followed along in his tracks.

    I was disappointed to find that the chimney was so thoroughly iced up that we felt we couldn't climb it safely. I was surprised to find that the bypass route was actually pretty tough and steep as well! Very cool, and I enjoyed that bit immensely.

    We got to the old firetower area on Osceola after passing the other hikers on their return. The views were non-existant, and it was kinda breezy, so we quickly headed on to the true summit. It was still quite nippy there, so we continued on down the trail looking for the first sharp turn, where we hoped to find a herd path leading off to the two other summits. After a few minutes, we were quite surprised to encounter a man coming up from the Tripoli Rd side. Knowing the road was closed, we had not expected to meet anyone coming from that direction.

    After finding the startof the herd path, we hunkered down to have some more food and gather our strength for the start of our bushwhack. I had sought out advice on doing this 'whack and things seemed to go well at first. We followed certain remnants from when the tower still stood and tried to keep to the barely discernable herd paths. Unfortunately, the cloud cover was quite thick and we were unable to see the peaks we were heading to. The herd paths we were following seemed to be bringing us too much downhill, so we struck off into the thick woods following our compass bearing. And thick woods they were! 'Put your head down and push' thick. We scrambled along on blowdowns until we were high off the ground. We crawled under blowdowns. We tried to keep to our compass bearing. Soon I poked my head through some trees and saw that the ground was dropping quite precipitously ahead of us . Not good! We'd been at it for quite some time and were losing confidence in our ability to get to our goals, so the decision was reached to try to head back up to the trail.

    Heading uphill into thicker and thicker trees was making us both nervous so I suggested we try to bear westerly, figuring we would intersect our tracks eventually. Well, thankfully this worked out and we both sighed with relief to come across our trail. Back the way we came, we soon popped out of the woods and headed back toward the main summit. We were shortly met by a pair of exhausted hikers heading back to Tripoli Rd after bagging Osceola. I'm quite amazed anyone did that hike, let alone two groups (or more). They were the last people we would see for the day.

    We had plenty of time for our return trip from there so took our time, chatting, enjoying the views that were starting to poke out of the clouds and being careful not to get hurt on our trip out. PoisonIvy was hiking quicker than I was due to her having better traction and me being extra careful. There where several icy spots that I opted to descend on my butt rather than risk a nasty fall. Wheee! Nothing too long though, I've heard horror stories...

    Now, it says it's only 2.5 miles from Osceola to the Greeley Pond Tr, but it felt like at least 4 to us ! The views of Mt Kancamagus were awesome on the way down off the East peak. We saw a pond off to the south with wonderful ice formations on the surface. As dusk approached we happily reached the Greeley Pond Tr, dug out our headlamps and started the easy walk out to the car.

    So, it took us a little more than 10 hours to hike 7.6 miles of trail and an unknown distance bushwhacking. We didn't reach all of our goals, but we had a great time. I've only done a little bushwhacking but find it to be quite exhilerating and look forward to gaining more experience at it.

    Many thanks to PoisonIvy for joining me and for being such a fun person to hike with. I hope to hike with her again soon!

  2. #2
    Senior Member poison ivy's Avatar
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    Thanks for a fun day out in the woods, and congrats on #45, rocksnrolls.

    I didn't take very many pictures this time since the weather was kind of crappy... (I'm sure I'm going to see the views from Osceola one day...) Here's a link to the few pictures I took, however.

    I hope to try this bushwhack again sometime when there is a little more daylight available.

    - Ivy

  3. #3
    Senior Member DougPaul's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by poison ivy
    (I'm sure I'm going to see the views from Osceola one day...)
    I think you will find them to be worth the effort, once you get rid of those pesky clouds etc.

    Doug

  4. #4
    Senior Member rocksnrolls's Avatar
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    Great pictures Amy! It was a real treat to hike with you, even if we didn't make it as far as we had hoped.

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