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Thread: Southwest Twin, N&S Twin, Galehead

  1. #1
    Senior Member Snowflea's Avatar
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    Southwest Twin, N&S Twin, Galehead

    Peaks: North & South Twin, Southwest Twin, (South Twin), Galehead

    Trails: Seven Dwarves herd path, North Twin Trail, North Twin Spur, Twinway, Bushwhack to SW Twin, Twinway, Frost Trail, Garfield Ridge Trail, Gale River Trail, Gale River Road

    Recommended equipment: Snowshoes. An enthusiastic and solid hiking partner. Headlamps.

    Trail maintenance notes: A particular shout out to the North Twin Spur Trail adopter. The relatively fresh blue blazes are appreciated. All trails were nicely broken out with beautiful snowshoe tracks. Thanks everyone!


    Southwest Twin is a Trailwrights 4000 footer and, navigationally speaking, probably the hardest one to climb. I have done SW Twin twice before, both times "from the bottom," the Franconia Brook Trail. The first time was January 25, 1992, my first winter of hiking, on an AMC trip led by Dennis Crispo. Tom and Diane Sawyer were there that day (yes, THAT Tom and Diane Sawyer). My most vivid memory is of the hour getting late, the group deliberating whether or not we had reached our turnaround time, and Tom casually leaning against a tree and saying something like "Diane and I are acccustomed to winter bushwhacking in the dark. We'll keep going." The group split in two. I stuck with the Masters and got the peak. BTW, it's Tom Sawyer's fault that I've never subscribed to turnaround times.

    But I digress. The Lincoln Woods-Franconia Brook approach is long and flat and can be mind numbing at the end of a long day, even on skis. Although I'd heard Bad Things about approaching the peak from the Twinway/AT, I wanted to give it a try. Looking at the map, it makes SO much more sense, in theory, to approach from this direction!

    I am not a huge fan of bushwhacking and definitely not a fan of winter bushwhacking - something about those spruce traps... - so asked around, and apparently only Hamtero wasn't busy organizing his sock drawer this weekend. Hamtero is the kind of partner who, say, if you are stuck in a tent at 17,000 feet on Denali and starting to get panicky with hypoxia, he will lend you his battery powered radio to calm you down so you can try to sleep. He's that kind of guy. Cruddytoes also agreed to join us for the Regular Twins but had foolishly done some Googling of "SW Twin" the day before and exclaimed "But nobody MAKES IT from the Twinway!!" Pshaw. I say don't believe everything you read.

    The day was a good winter hiking day although not as lovely as the previous Prezi Day, and my boots had not completely dried out from Friday's spectacular Monroe-to-Jefferson jaunt. Consequently, although temps were moderate in the 20s, my feet ended up getting cold so rest stops were few and brief. We made our way up and over the Twins on a very nicely broken out snowshoe track, then turned left on the Twinway, said goodbye to Cruddy, and continued 1/2 to 3/4 mile to our launching point. (We very much appreciated following Wayne, Jack, and Andy's track from the day before and not having to spend time searching for the Twinway. Thanks guys!) The distance to SW Twin was only 0.8 mile as the crow flies. We went on a 220 bearing, more or less, jogging left or right for openness. I carried an old-school USGS topo map and compass; Hamtero had the aid of a GPS function on his Thmartphone. For two non-expert bushwhackers, we picked a darn good route, with only a tiny area of very thick woods and only a short bit of trouble with spruce traps. It was almost disappointing.... No, it wasn't.

    What WAS disappointing was that there was no register jar to be found on top, so we took a photo of Hamtero's phone for proof that we stood atop Peak 4357. Views were stingy on this day: we caught fleeting glimpses of one of the slides leading down to Redrock Pond and of very nearby scenery but, alas, none of Guyot or the Bonds, the upper Pemi or Owls Head...

    Following our snowshoe tracks back to the Twinway, we continued up and over South Twin, down the steeps (wheeee....!!!) to Galehead Hut, dropped our packs for the out-and-back to the peak, and deliberated doing Garfield. Hmm... We knew we could do it, but since we also knew full and well how much it would really suck, neither of us had any desire to do it. Hamtero had to drive all the way back to Boston, the wind was picking up, it was starting to snow, and Garfield is SO much nicer to do in the daylight... So we bailed down Gale River, noticing one lonely set of older snowshoe tracks continuing on Garfield Ridge which helped to solidify our decision.

    The flats of the Gale River Trail are about two miles longer than I remember, but the sparkles of falling snow reflecting from our lights and the soft "swoosh-swoosh" sounds of our snowshoes on the new fluff made for a meditative/reflective head space/time. Or something like that. We finally hit the road and had to step aside twice to make way for a snowmobile groomer (we mused, he no doubt listening to music with the heat cranked while we plodded along). I finally removed my snowshoes about 1/4 mile from the cars, but Hamtero wore his even across Route 3 so he could say he wore his snowshoes car to car today.

    Although we sort of left a straggler (Garfield), we were thrilled to have snagged the main event, SW Twin. FWIW to those considering this peak, I definitely prefer the route from the Twinway vs. Franconia Brook. Thanks for a super hike, Hamtero and Cruddy! Now who wants to traverse the Osceolas?
    Last edited by Snowflea; 02-24-2013 at 10:39 AM.

  2. #2
    Moderator bikehikeskifish's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stinkyfeet View Post
    Now who wants to traverse the Osceolas?
    ME!

    Nice TR, and unfortunately, we stayed put yesterday...

    Tim
    Bike, Hike, Ski, Sleep. Eat, Fish, Repeat.

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    Senior Member MTNRUNR's Avatar
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    Can't believe you wimped out on Garfield! Years catchin up with ya??? And the day after a semi-presi traverse...

    Seriously though...good to hear your not slowing down and are back in the Whites!!! Always a pleasure reading about your "Adventures"

  4. #4
    Senior Member RoySwkr's Avatar
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    I have not only made it in summer from the Twinway at .5 mph (report on this site somewhere), but found Sue Johnston signature in register

  5. #5
    Senior Member HAMTERO's Avatar
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    Here it is...could not see it till we got close. Wacking conditions are good. Hard crust under 10 inches of fresh stuff on top of the ridge. Unconsolidated snow lower down.Click image for larger version. 

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    "I'm on a permanent vacation"

    Don Sheldon

  6. #6
    Senior Member 1HappyHiker's Avatar
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    Thumbs up

    Quote Originally Posted by Stinkyfeet View Post
    Although I'd heard Bad Things about approaching the peak from the Twinway/AT, I wanted to give it a try. Looking at the map, it makes SO much more sense, in theory, to approach from this direction! . . . "But nobody MAKES IT from the Twinway!!" Pshaw. I say don't believe everything you read.
    Although it's unlikely that I'll ever attempt SW Twin, your report confirms my suspicions that a winter approach from the Twinway makes imminent sense!
    Great report, and thanks for posting!

  7. #7
    Senior Member Sunshine Chris's Avatar
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    Great read. Dave Bear and I were up on the twins somewhere behind you. We heard you were out to tag SW Twin. Sounds interesting but not our target for the day. Glad you made it out there without too much difficulty.
    A walk through the forest, a hike to a summit, a meander along the brooks: Communing with the natural world helps me find an inner peace that soothes my soul.
    NH 48/48
    working on 2nd and 3rd time summits of the NH 48's and the NH winter 48
    NY Adirondacks 2/46
    NH Winter 17/48

    http://s1343.photobucket.com/albums/...stalCreek7760/

  8. #8
    Senior Member Dave Bear's Avatar
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    Hi Sue and Lloyd, Congrats big time on that one! From what Al told me yesterday we skipped by you while you were out on the whack and just barely beat you out. At the bottom of South Twin we met two fellows headed up and did not discuss their plans so I did not know if they would be coming down behind us. Prints on Gale River Trail were heading in so I had hoped you beat us out. Could hear a lot of wind up on top as we followed Gale River!
    The heart of the journey is in the path not the peak!

  9. #9
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    Thanks for posting. I don't see Trip Reports about Southwest Twin too often.

    A group of us are working on the Winter Trailwrights list. We still have Southwest Twin to go but after our 14 hour ordeal to SW Twin from Lincoln Woods in September, we thought we might be stuck at 71 of 72. Three of us, finished the list that day but we're still suffering from its traumatic effects (at least in our minds).

    Any how, thanks again for posting. You given us renewed strength and determination.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Snowflea's Avatar
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    Thanks for posting. I don't see Trip Reports about Southwest Twin too often... Any how, thanks again for posting. You given us renewed strength and determination.
    Because there are so few reports out there, especially winter ones, is why I did up a Trip Report. Figured there were some other crazies out there who might be into the Trailwrights in winter list...

    BTW, is yours the group that lost two GPS units up there?!

    One thing I inadvertently neglected to mention is the fact that from the summit of South Twin over to SW Twin and back to South Twin, approximately 3 miles +/-, took us over 4 hours! This included a couple of breaks, and while the going wasn't THAT bad, it wasn't exactly, er, running either. Just so you know...

    I have not only made it in summer from the Twinway at .5 mph (report on this site somewhere), but found Sue Johnston signature in register
    Funny, Roy! That had to have been 1997 or so, IIRC...

    DaveBear & Sunshine Chris, we should've hiked faster. It would have been fun to do the last miles with you guys!

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stinkyfeet View Post
    Because there are so few reports out there, especially winter ones, is why I did up a Trip Report. Figured there were some other crazies out there who might be into the Trailwrights in winter list...

    BTW, is yours the group that lost two GPS units up there?!

    One thing I inadvertently neglected to mention is the fact that from the summit of South Twin over to SW Twin and back to South Twin, approximately 3 miles +/-, took us over 4 hours! This included a couple of breaks, and while the going wasn't THAT bad, it wasn't exactly, er, running either. Just so you know...
    That was our group that lost the two GPS units on SW Twin. We immediately knew we dropped one of them in the thick stuff and were still unable to retrieve it. After hiking SW Twin from the Franconia Brook side, Iím convinced that the route from the Twinway has to be better. We know of several others who have come in from the Twinway and they seemed to have a better time of it. The ridge we came up was a mixture of open woods and extremely thick fir waves (I think there were 4 or 5). It was frustrating since we could see the summit not far in front of us. We were just about to call it a day when we pushed through the last fir wave into open woods. The bushwhack that we started just after the crossing of Redrock Brook had taken us 4 hours one way. The best part of the trip was the unique views of West Bond. Although, they weren't so great that I want to go up and do it again.

    We figure it's going to be a big day especially since we don't move like you. We'll get an early start. Thanks again for posting the TR.

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