Bigelow Range (11/29/14)

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Mar 5, 2012
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We headed out to attempt a full traverse of the Bigelows, from east to west. Nothing was tracked out at all, so we had our work cut out for us. From East Flagstaff Road to Safford Notch along Little Bigelow we found ~6 inches of light snow over rocks, roots, and a few patches of ice. This was passable with bare boots, and traction would not have gained much. The basic issue is that we couldn't see or trust what we were stepping on. There are a couple trees blown down across the trail between Little Bigelow summit and Safford Notch.

From Safford Notch up to the Old Mans Head conditions on the trail were roughy the same as Little Bigelow, but with snow depth increasing as we got closer to the ridge. Along the ridge, snow varied from 6-10 inches of unconsolidated powder to 30 inches of windpack that had us wallowing and postholing. We wished we had brought our snowshoes for this section. It took us nearly an hour to get from the Old Mans Head to the summit of Avery. At the summit, we made the call to bail on the traverse and head down the Fire Warden's Trail.

As we started down the Fire Warden's Trail, we met a group of 5 hiking up toward the Col. They were headed for Avery and each were surprised to see the others. The Fire Warden's Trail was exactly as you might guess: 6 inches of snow hiding all the rocks, roots, and mud. It was a slow trip down, and again, traction or snowshoes would not have helped much because the issue was you couldn't see what you were stepping on. There are at least two blow downs on the trail between Bigelow Col and the junction with the Horns Pond Trail.

Special Equipment: Full length gaiters are useful. In sections, poles and snowshoes could be used, but the majority of the trails are not covered enough to fully hide the rocks, roots, and gaps between rocks.