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Thread: Crust at last

  1. #1
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    Crust at last

    Nice to have solidi crust for roaming the woods (at least for a few days). Last weeks warm up and rain saturated the snow pack and the winds and quick freeze formed a nice solid crust on a somewhat diminished snowpack. Prior to the warm up I was breaking a bushwhack trail I like to break out to the Ledge Trail in Randolph that runs over to Lookout ledge. My route runs through more open hardwoods than the Ledge trail and is a bit warmer on a sunny day and definitely more scenic with lots of views south through the trees. I had been out the weekend before the warmup and the snow conditions were not great. Even with my big powder shoes, there was about 12" of powder with a weak crust and then another 16" of powder before I hit anything solid. It was lot of work to break trail as the weak intermediate crust inevitably got broke and then caught when pulling my foot up so it was twice the work. I went on Sunday and the top crust is now solid. I was using my MSR Lightnings and the issue was traction on top of the crust with very rare occasions of breaking through the crust.

    I zoomed up my normal alternative route but really with no real breaking required there was no need to. It was decidedly still breezy but hiking in the sun meant I stayed warm as long as I had my skin covered. The view from the main and secondary viewpoints at Lookout ledge were both prime winter, the warmup exposed some rock above treeline on Adams and Madison given the summits better definition. On the way down I took an alternative route through the woods with no issues except for traction on steep downhills and dodging occasional downed branches.

    I expect the upcoming snow fall will require trail breaking again for some period but at least there is now a solid intermediate crust. Note up in the woods around Lookout ledge there is still 3 to 4 feet of snow in spots.

  2. #2
    Senior Member alexmtn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by peakbagger View Post
    Nice to have solidi crust for roaming the woods (at least for a few days)
    This evidently is location dependent. On Sunday I led a group up Waumbek. While still on the sunny segment of the Starr King Trail (completely broken out), I stepped off the trail to test exactly this. I went through with almost no weight on that foot. In the darker evergreen wooded sections of the trail, there was no crust whatsoever.

    Alex

  3. #3
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    Definitely elevation dependent. I drove by the lot Sunday AM and there was quite a crowd for a windy Sunday.

  4. #4
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    I went yesterday to check out a favorite of trail view. The Lincoln Woods trail is packed down well. Franconia Brook trail is not well broken out with only some postholes heading up the slope. The the first section of the Bondcliff trail (the former LW trail section that was renamed after Franconia Brook Trail) was also broken out. Apparently fat tire bikes are allowed in Wilderness areas as there were tracks from that morning all the way out to where we stepped in the woods. I figured the warm up last week and cold Saturday night would have set up a good solid crust in the woods especially in the AM. A couple of steps off the trail and my assumption proved to be wrong. Deep snow and weak crust made for slow going. Easily 3 to 4 feet deep in spots. We would occasionally get some stretches of solid crust enough to get a good stride going but inevitably a seemingly random step would lead to a deep posthole. Staying away from softwoods sort of helped but even in open hardwoods the crust would vary step by step. I expect if I had my powder shoes I might have had far better luck staying on top of the crust but they would have been useless heading up slop.

    We got to some steep stuff and there was no hope to stay on top of the crust so it was break the crust with hips or chest and then hit something solid below. Pretty exhausting but we eventually topped out of the slope and the snow firmed up a bit but occasional deep postholes made progress intermittent. We eventually got to our view and took a break before heading down. Despite the cold conditions, the crust was no better heading down. When we finally hit LW trail we were beat up and then did the long walk out.

    It was probably the least amount of cars parked at Lincoln Woods parking lot I have seen all winter especially for the last weekend of winter.

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