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Thread: Garfield, not Madison, Galehead, and South Twin 2015-2016

  1. #1
    Senior Member Cumulus's Avatar
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    Garfield, not Madison, Galehead, and South Twin 2015-2016

    I went up to the Whites for the ends of the years to add some peaks to my winter NH4K list. I stayed at the White Mountain Hostel in Conway. There were stratus clouds and occasional flurries all three days, but it never got very cold.

    Wednesday, 30 Dec. 2015 - Garfield

    On Wednesday I did Garfield. Since it's winter I had to walk about a mile of road before I got onto Garfield Trail. I was technically breaking trail the whole way up, since I was the first one on the trail since Tuesday's snowfall, but in the lower elevations it was thin enough that I was following tracks with only a fraction of an inch on them. The snow cover kept getting thicker as I got higher, though, and by the switchbacks I was truly breaking trail. I switched from microspikes to snowshoes around then, and kept them on for the rest of the day. I noticed when passing it that the quarter mile sign for Garfield Shelter on Garfield Trail had an incorrect "You are here".

    When I got to the summit I actually had some views to the north, which turned out to be the only real views of the trip. It was also on the summit where I met the first of the five other hikers (and two dogs) I'd see that day.

    On my way down I fixed the sign. I turned on my headlamp when I was almost to the roadwalk. Just before that I met a hiker going up who said he was going to spend the night on Garfield summit.

    Thursday, 31 Dec. 2015 - not Madison

    My plan Thursday was to climb Madison from Appalachia. It didn't start well; besides being later than I'd planned, due to following a snowplow much of the way up 16, when I tried to open my poles one of them came apart. I did this and the next day's hikes with one pole. (I've since confirmed that L.L. Bean will replace them.) I went up Valley Way, intending to take Watson Path if it was broken out, and keep on Valley Way if not.

    I was on snowshoes the whole day.

    Watson Path was broken out. It was 11:00 when I got to it, and the sign there said that Madison summit was 1.5 miles away. So I thought, "even if I only average one mile an hour, that puts me on the summit at 12:30, which is plenty of time."

    Watson Path was harder below the treeline than I'd remembered. Above the treeline I knew it was going to tough, and it was. The rocks were covered with thin snow and ice, too slippery for bare boots, and too thin for microspikes, and there was snowshoe worthy snow in patches, so I kept the snowshoes on. I had to look carefully at times, but I was able to follow the cairns, which was good, because somewhere around there the tracks I'd been following disappeared. It was windy, with stinging light snow, but not very cold. I could probably have made the summit and come down, but at one point I looked at my watch and it was 1:40. I still hadn't reached Pine Link Trail at that point. I was worried that worsening weather and/or loss of daylight could make me lose the trail on the way back, and I certainly didn't want to try to bushwhack through the thick evergreens which are just below the treeline there. I just had a bad feeling about the situation, so I turned around, probably less than a mile from the summit.

    On my way back three hikers passed me, the only other hikers I saw that day. They had abandoned an attempt at Adams.

    Friday, 1 Jan. 2016 - Galehead and South Twin

    On Friday I returned to Garfield Ridge and summitted Galehead and South Twin. Except for a few tenths of a mile at the beginning I was on snowshoes all day.

    I parked at Beaver Brook and took the bushwhack to the closed road, only it's not really a bushwhack. It is a little confusing at places, and I briefly went the wrong way, but figured it out quickly enough. The main thing to remember is to bear right when you have a choice. When I got to the road it was a short roadwalk to the Gale River Trail, and then a long hike up to Garfield Ridge Trail. Gale River Trail, which I had not been on since the relo which avoids some river crossings, is very flat for a while, mostly flat for a while, and then very steep at the end. It was well broken out, and easy to follow, although I saw that Garfield Ridge Trail west of the intersection was not.

    Anyway, I went east. At the intersection with Frost Trail, right near the hut, I met the only other hikers I'd see that day, three guys on the second day of a three day Pemi Loop. They were hiking from Guyot Shelter to Garfield Shelter that day.

    I passed the hut and climbed Frost Trail up to Galehead. There were no views at the viewpoint, or indeed anywhere that day. This was only my second time on Galehead. When I got back to the hut I had to decide whether to also climb South Twin, which I had decided when I started would be optional. I knew I'd be late getting home if I did, but I did it anyway.

    I used to say that people exaggerate the difficulty of Twinway Trail between the hut and South Twin, but I don't think I'll do so again. It was very tough, not just going up, but going down. I turned on my headlamp when I was back at the Frost Trail intersection.

    Then, once I got past the steep section of Gale River Trail, it was a long slog in the dark back to the road. At one point on Gale River Trail, though, I realized that the most recent tracks on the trail were not snowshoes. Somebody had been on the trail since I'd come up that morning. It wasn't those guys I met bailing, because the Garfield Trail towards Garfield Shelter had been broken out. Somebody must have climbed Galehead, or just come up to the hut, while I was on South Twin.

    I finally made it home at 2:00 a.m. Saturday.

    Garfield, Galehead, and South Twin were numbers 37-39 (out of 48) for the Winter NH4K list. They were also numbers 28-30 (out of 115) in my project to redo the Northeast 111 in my 60s. Also, although I wasn't keeping track of it, I figured out that Galehead is number 46 in my second round of the NH4Ks.

    Here are the pictures for Garfield (Wednesday).
    Here are the pictures for the Madison attempt (Thursday).
    Here are the pictures for Galehead and South Twin (Friday).

    --

    Cumulus

    NE111 in my 50s: 115/115 (67/67, 46/46, 2/2)
    NE111 in my 60s: 30/115 (22/67, 8/46, 0/2)
    NEFF: 50/50; Cat35: 39/39; WNH4K: 39/48; NEHH 81/100
    LT NB 2009

    "I don't much care where [I get to] --" said Alice, "-- so long as I get somewhere," ...
    "Oh, you're sure to do that," said the Cat, "if you only walk long enough."
    - Lewis Carroll

  2. #2
    Senior Member Tom Rankin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Cumulus View Post
    I went up to the Whites ... There were stratus clouds and occasional flurries all three days, but it never got very cold.
    What, no Cumulus clouds?!
    Tom Rankin
    Volunteer Balsam Lake Mountain
    Past President Catskill 3500 Club
    CEO

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