Galehead, South Twin, & North Twin 5/19/2013

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Jan 18, 2007
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Wallingford, Conn. Avatar: Checking the Arsenal
(Cross-posted from adkhighpeaks forums... and delayed a week due to my spam filter catching the e-mail change confirmation. Some small edits due to said delay as well as posting in this particular venue.)

Chicaandinista and I were in New Hampshire last weekend to bag a few new peaks and grab a couple brews from the Moat. We were successful on both counts.

After grabbing some breakfast sandwiches from Bart's Deli in Bartlett, we hit the Gale River Trail shortly after 8:30 Sunday morning. Temps were just about perfect, so we removed our fleeces and zipped off/rolled up our cuffs fairly soon.

A short ways in, there is a rerouted section of trail, which was a welcome change of pace in both directions -- nice loamy soil with not very many rocks. Just after rejoining the original trail on the way in, we (or more precisely, Chicaandinista) spotted a moose. Once it was aware of us, it dashed up the trail, leaving numerous moose tracks for us to spot as we continued ahead. Eventually, we saw the moose again, off in the woods between the trail and the river, a good quarter mile from our original encounter.

We banged out the first (flattish) three miles of the trail in an hour, after which the trail steepened. As we gained elevation, we began seeing patches of snow and dirty ice here and there, but nothing of any great concern. Chicaandinista had brought microspikes for us, so we were prepared if the situation called for them. Hitting the Garfield Ridge Trail, we turned left toward Galehead and began seeing more frequent snow and ice, but still nothing too troubling. We arrived at Galehead Hut to see a massive snowfield just past the junction on the Twinway, but for the moment we headed up to Galehead after a short pause on the hut porch.

Galehead was a quick up-and-down and we were back at the hut in around half an hour. We took a slightly longer stop for snacks this time, and took the opportunity to quiz the hutmistress on conditions ahead. Reassured that the snowfield just past the junction was by far the largest one on the way up South Twin, we continued with bareboots up the steep Twinway. Based on statistics of .8 mi. and 900 ft. elevation gain, I suggested this would be similar to Devil's Half Mile on Haystack. As it happened, I'd rate this section as a poor man's version of that familiar (to me) stretch of trial in the Adirondacks. Still quite strenuous, of course, but definitely manageable. There was more snow and ice than we'd really expected based on what we'd heard at the hut, but still no spikes needed.

The views from South Twin were unsurprisingly the best of the day, making for a nice treat that we would be passing back this way on the return. Unfortunately, having arrived just after noon, I was all too distracted by the realization that the Arsenal match was in progress at that moment (it being the final match of the season, and one that would guarantee Champions League qualification with a victory) and I suddenly had phone reception! I subsequently spent far too much time checking scores while sitting in that beautiful place, though I'm happy to say not the entire time. (I would find out on returning to South Twin from North Twin that victory was indeed secured.)

After a brief lunch, we headed over to North Twin. Once below treeline, we discovered that entire North Twin Spur was a massive monorail! (JoeCedar corrected me from the Adirondack "snow spine" term.) We decided against the microspikes for the descent, but agreed we would want them on the way up. Over to North Twin we went, enjoying perhaps the easiest ascent of the day along with decent views from the ledge just past the summit. After a few more snacks, we headed back the way we came around 1:15. I speculated that we would have a shot at making it back by 4:30, but it turned out I was off by almost an hour.

The spikes definitely helped going back up South Twin. We got back up to the summit shortly after 2, Chicaandinista snapped a couple more photos, and we pressed on. Coming down this section was more difficult for me than ascending, but we pushed through, refilled our water at the hut, and began the final push to the bottom. Our progress was slow on the steeper sections, with my knees just shy of open revolt, but once back into the flat section, we were able to resume ~20-minute miles, and we made it to the car before 5:30.

This was definitely among the harder -- though thoroughly enjoyable -- hikes I've done, and with how my knees felt at the end (and for a day or so afterwards), I think it's time to give trekking poles another go. We were going to hike again on Monday (5/20), but between continued soreness and a prediction of thunderstorms, we left it for next time. Chicaandinista is now on 37 for New Hampshire and hoping to finish later this year. Hoping I can be there with her to celebrate!
Thanks for the great trip report Adam!! I, of course, never got around to writing one, so I am glad you did! Thanks! It was a great hike! Hoping to do the Southern Presies (3) and the Kinsmans and Cannon (another 3) betweeen 6/21-6/26! Pretty excited!
Thanks - we can reach our destination, but it's still a ways away - fitting thought for big hikes, no? :)

Fitting... and possibly demoralizing! ;) I may not be able to get it out of my head next time I'm out there. Good luck on your next trip!

Thanks for the great trip report Adam!! I, of course, never got around to writing one, so I am glad you did! Thanks! It was a great hike! Hoping to do the Southern Presies (3) and the Kinsmans and Cannon (another 3) betweeen 6/21-6/26! Pretty excited!

Uh-oh... Kinsmans you say? We may have to discuss your itinerary and see if I can join you for a day or two... :D