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Thread: White mountains-Mid May

  1. #1
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    White mountains-Mid May

    Thinking of finishing my White Mountains 48 the week of May 17. What are my chances of hitting large amounts of snow and ice that week. I don't mind hitting a bit, throwing on some microspikes and just keep moving on, but not ready to handle say 3 foot of snow, breaking trail, and all that. Don't forget global warming. Some of the mountains left include Kinsmans, Isolation, bonds, Carters, Owls head.

    Thank you for your help.

  2. #2
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    count on snow and ice, especially on the Northern exposures

  3. #3
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    My guess is you can get most of them done but you will probably run into packed snow and ice up high on north slopes and mud down low. Far worse could be the dreaded monorail. Most of the the trails will be packed down into ice. Stream and river crossings could be dicey.

    Of course spring has been coming early in the last decade or two. Its been a consistently warmer and dryer winter to date. That doesnt mean the rest of the winter will be the same, but that normally means an early spring and you should be able to blast them out.

  4. #4
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    NewEnglandTrailConditions.com has a dozen years of reports that can be searched by peak, by month. Spring varies significantly; last year I was still using snowshoes up high on May 24.

  5. #5
    Senior Member Grey J's Avatar
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    When do the black flies start to become a problem? June?
    "I am a pilgrim and a stranger"

  6. #6
    Senior Member Mike P.'s Avatar
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    Mid-May I've found to be nuisance like and I've seen several feet of it Owl's Head may be the better one if you take one of the bushwhacks to avoid what will be cold crossings that may be high with snow melt, Often that time of year snow will be above 300o to 3500 feet high so much of the approach should be good and the slide will get more sun so should melt out sooner. The top though likely will be packed snow and deep also as the forest is pretty dense up there. Bonds and Carters may be the worst, usually the higher the wooded ridge, the more snow you will find.

    Regarding black flies, it's kind of the opposite of the snow, a cold spring and they may be a bit late if the brooks and streams are flowing earlier, they may start before Memorial Day. Then it's day by day, if you have a cold day and it's breezy, you may not see any, a warm still day and you may have them from car to summit and back.
    Have fun & be safe
    Mike P.

  7. #7
    Senior Member CaptCaper's Avatar
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    Black flies worst between mothers day to fathers day for us.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Barkingcat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Grey J View Post
    When do the black flies start to become a problem? June?
    Typically May through June.

    Quote Originally Posted by CaptCaper View Post
    Black flies worst between mothers day to fathers day for us.
    Yes, indeed so, about the time that the OP plans to hike.

  9. #9
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    Lets not mention the blowdowns from the Winter storms that may, or may not, be cleaned up by mid-May

  10. #10
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    I do not think blowdowns are usually a major impediment to most 4ks (Davis Path on the typical Isolation day hike a major exception, it "breeds" blowdowns every winter . I carry a folding saw year round and it just doesn't get used much in May most years. Sure there can always be a microburst event but they tend to be in non winter seasons. IMO the monorials, water depths and mud are far more predictable issues. Isolation from RT 16 has multiple crossings of the Rocky Branch and in spring they are not step overs, its wading sometimes knee to hip deep. The stretch up from the last crossing to the Davis Path is mostly walking in and around braided stream beds with the trail acting as a default stream bed in spots. Owls head has the two major crossings with several other lesser but still significant crossings that can be high in spring.The Black Pond "bushwhack" cuts out the two big ones and a few others but its still has some smaller significant ones north of the big ones.

    Plan on bringing extra socks on both hikes and getting your feet wet in very cold water. I personally just wear trail runners and just walk on through and wring them and my socks out after the crossing, some take off their boots and go barefoot or bring sandals but unless its early spring plan on wet feet. Wet muddy feet are manageable if you plan for it but potentially miserable if you dont.

    Some hikes like the Sabathday Brook trail to reach the Tripyamids is just plain not advisable in spring due to water crossings. The key is to watch the various streamflow gages and assume that any rain is going to swell the streams for a day or so. Have a backup plan as some days it just may not be worth going out if you come up for the week. Campgrounds my be difficult to find due to Covid restrictions. NH phase 1 (over 65, front line and those with significant medical issues) is scheduled to be over in mid to late April with the limited phase happening in May to June so there will be restrictions but what they may be is big unknown. No doubt on nice days and weekends the 4K trails and parking lots will be overflowing so plan the most popular hikes during the week and adopt and adopt a dress warm and hike early approach.

    As for black flies pick up a headnet earlier than later, they take up minimal room and weight in the pack. Wear a hat and apply a long lasting low DEET product like 3M Ultrathon. Contrary to popular belief the 100% concentrations dont work work any better than 30 to 50% concentrations and the lower concentrations are far less aggressive on plastics and synthetics.

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