New Hampshire snow in the 3000'-4000' range?

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SpencerVT

Member
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May 26, 2015
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Location
Brattleboro, Vermont
I want to get up to Northern NH soon and hike some old favorites in the 3,000'-4,000' range. Anyone know what snowpack remains at these elevations?
Always mindful of trail etiquette during mud season, just trying to get a sense of the conditions up there right now.
 
Did the classic Whiteface-Passaconaway loop on Saturday. Conditions were challenging. Lots of water at lower elevations, atop still-frozen ground. At elevation (2800'+), snow pack seemed still to be 2-3', trails (upper Blueberry Ledge, Rollins, upper Dicey's Mill), a soft, 1'-2' tall monorail was the rule. The going was taxing, with frequent side slips. We stuck with light traction, but at a couple of points the snowshoes almost came on. Mud season is not there yet, but will be soon if temps stay high. Lots of snow remaining to melt. Alex
 
Edmands Path on Ike this past Saturday afternoon went from patchy snow at around 3000 ft to 2-3 ft snow depths at 4000 ft and 3+ ft on the balcony traverse to the col. All snow soft and deeply post-holed. Mostly snow-free above tree-line on Ike’s cone.
 
It depends on sun exposure, south facing slopes will be in a lot better shape than north facing slopes. Given Northern NH summits north of RT 2 are predominately softwood, my guess is north facing slopes are still going to have snowpack. The " Seven" snow formation in Kings Ravine has not yet formed as there is too much snow in ravine although I expect when it clears from this weeks weather it may be more visible. Despite a late start to winter, there was a pretty good snow pack that built up late season and that will take a while to burn off in shady areas.
 
I did some clearing at my future house lot in Randolph this winter and took this photo of Kings Ravine this afternoon. Generally Kings Ravine is a good indication of north facing slope snow pack. While heading home I saw a few hikers just getting out of the woods. They said the Mt Crescent Range still has consistent snow.
I still have a few more big trees to come down and some I wish I could take down on the neighbor's to the south lot but it has definitely opened up the view. Adams is center frame with Madison to the left. The "seven" formation is the diagonal wide snow field to the right of Adams. That snow field is last patch of snow typically visible on the north slope of the northern presis.

20230426_153812[1].jpg
 
When I first moved up north, an old timer told me not to plant the tomatoes until the seven was gone. With the general warming of the climate I plant earlier but with the recent run of cold rainy weather, the tomatoes are staying indoors on the windowsill for several more weeks.
 
The RMC Great Gully follows much of the vertical path of the seven. The upper horizontal part is a corniced snow field. Its particularly noticeable along the "strip" between Berlin and Gorham. Some years it hangs around for a few weeks before warm temps slowly burn melt it away.

I generally recommend people staying in the area to take a drive on US Route 2 near the summer solstice (Jun 21st). The sun is setting well north of west and the upper Connecticut river valley happen to align somewhat with the angle of the sun as its setting. This acts almost like big spotlight the lights up the ravines on the westerly and northern faces of Jefferson, Adams and Madison. Its rare sight that many have never noticed as normally those ravines are in the shadows. In the case of the Great Gully trail, the sun just never gets in there to melt the snow due to its steepness and orientation, so it has to wait to melt out with warm temps that happen to line up with a good time of year to plant tomatoes. Thus the local warning to never plant tomatoes until the "seven" is gone. (I personally risk doom and keep a few 5 gallon buckets around to cover them if there is cold night prior to the seven melting :) )

BTW Weeks State Park in Lancaster has a fire tower and a similar view. The problem is the gate is normally closed around 5 PM so unless someone wants to walk up, its hard to get up there at the rigth time of the evening. The exception is that the Weeks State Park Association has weekly free events but they have not posted the 2023 schedule yet Home | Weeks State Park Association Lancaster, NH they usually are very well attended mostly by locals but all are welcome. They keep the gate open until after the event which is normally after dark. Many folks come early and take advantage of the picnic tables and open fire stone fire tower to see the views. The presentations are usually given in the second floor of the summer mansion which has porches on all sides which gives the views east to the white but also northeast to the western side of the Kilkenny's and a view east over towards VT. Hard to beat "free" although they accept donations. Its rare that the presentations are a dud. Realistically I think some familes just go up for the picnic and skip out on the presentation. If definitely something a lot of people camping and staying in the area miss out on. Lancaster also has the only movie theater north of the notches and its a restored original theatre instead of megaplex.
 
In my opinion, this is a good time to give most of the standard 4K approaches a break. Surface conditions can be awful, but more importantly, foot traffic on thawing trails (and on the sides of trails when avoiding mud/snow/ice) causes long-term damage.

A good Grid strategy is to get April peaks when there's full snow pack and May peaks after the trails have dried out. Plenty of other places to hike when the high peaks are in shoulder sason.
 
I honestly don't get why anyone hikes the higher peaks this time of year. Why willingly suffer through lousy conditions? 🤷‍♂️ There are a zillion other places in the state to hike where winter has long gone.
 
I think that the GRID is one of the worst things to happen to the Whites since the Hurricane of 38.

ps. I am officially out of New England (most likely never to return) so there is one less hiker to muck up the trails. Gee maybe they have a grid out here for the 14ers...LOL
 
I honestly don't get why anyone hikes the higher peaks this time of year. Why willingly suffer through lousy conditions? 🤷‍♂️ There are a zillion other places in the state to hike where winter has long gone.
Definitely. I usually head to the Catskills, Taconics or NW CT/SW MA area this time of year. The Spring hiking there while everything is starting to bloom is usually pretty awesome. I don't start thinking about NH again until mid-May.
 
The Shelburne NH trail network tends to not to have a lot of snow this time of year (except for the section of the AT from Dream Lake to Gentian Pond). The trade off is Shelburne tends to have a lot of ticks. The RMC trail network north of RT 2 tends to be in good shape although Crescent ridge can have a monorail in sections.
 
I wouldn't necessarily blame the Grid for the shoulder season destruction of the trails, but there is a lot of Grid-influenced behavior that isn't helping. Microspikers do a LOT of damage to the trails when they're dodging monorail and therefore ripping up root balls and duff alongside the footbed.

I wish more folks would prioritize leaving the trails in equal or better than they found them, instead of being myopically focused on their lists.
 
Was on Bear in CT last Saturday and likely will be in MA somewhere in the next couple of days. Will be in the Whites after Mothers' Day, Lonesome Lake one night, unknown at the moment where after that.
 
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