Trails: North Twin Trail, North Twin Spur, Twinway, Frost Trail, Garfield Ridge Trail, and Gale River Trail

Date of Hike: Jan. 3, 2013

Trail Conditions: We were fortunate, barring a few drifted-in or scoured sections on the saddle between the peaks, that All Trails were broken and the crossings were fully bridged and supportive (though we still took the broken herd path on North Twin Trail by-passing the first two crossings). Speaking of the North Twin Trail, we noted a couple of easy-over and one awkward-to-crouch-under blowdowns. The Twinway, the Frost Trail, and the Garfield Ridge Trail were all easy-to-pass with no blowdowns or obstructions. The Gale River Trail did have a few blowdowns, one or two notable herd-pathed by-pass blowdowns and one plow-though mess of branches, but nothing that really slowed us down. Snow depths ranged from 8" to over 3' feet and while the pack was mostly firm and cohesive due to the cold, skipping the snowshoes isn't advisable as the snow lacks moisture and isn't ice hard. Moreover, there are some traps, especially on the drifted ridge. The South Twin summit was scoured to bare rock in some places, but none of the trails presented ice.

Special Equipment Used: Microspikes and crampons weren't needed (though we had them), but snowshoes were very useful, and I'd say they were required. Trekking poles helped with balance on the snowshoes.

Comments: Hiked this one with Bill Robichaud (brobichaud here on the VFTT). We were the only ones on those mountains all day as far as we could tell. We did the loop clockwise, making great time coming down South Twin then soaking up some rays while having lunch at the Galehead Hut before bagging that final summit. We started with a pretty cold morning at -14 degrees F, but we made good time and ended the day in good condition -- we realize we like hiking when it's really cold. It was a gorgeous day with light winds and lots of sun, an amazing day to be in the mountains that's for sure.

Mike "Tramper" Cherim
Nottingham NH