Winter Trailwrights

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Oct 4, 2006
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New Hampshire
Winter 2018-19 was the season where I finished the Winter New England Hundred Highest, beoming the 119th person to do so. Along the way, I had been slowly filling in the 14 peaks I had left to nab the Winter Trailwrights 72. 2018-19 got me 5, leaving me with 9 for 2019-20. This is not a popular list (yet) and I am now the 8th official finisher, having done many of these solo (or with Gryffin). The rest I was able to join Donna (finisher 7) and her group, or scrape together a small handful of adventurous friends for company. One key to success was careful planning around weather and conditions - most of these peaks get very little traffic although many are also adjacent to popular 4K peaks.


59. Northwest Hancock, with Donna and company

We did Northwest Hancock as an out-and-back from (North) Hancock, following the spine of the ridge. In summer, I stayed just below the ridge on the northeast side and in winter, we chose the southwest side. Either way, just below the ridge top was easier going then the very top. To keep the Hancocks numbers from becoming unbalanced, we exited via South Hancock. Since I planned to hike Scar the following day, I stopped at the Discovery Trailhead on the way home and scouted (by headlamp) for a way to cross the river.

As TW72 bushwhacks go... distance: medium, navigation: easy, terrain: medium (sections wide open, sections on the grabby side.)


60. Blue, solo

Up and down via Beaver Brook, I chose to leave Gryffin behind due to deep, dry powder, which leads to snowballs on his fur. The herd path, on the western slope of Blue, was fairly easy to follow, and fairly open. I actually went all the way to Moosilauke as it was a beautiful bluebird day. On the way down, I broke out Jim as well, leaving me the option of visiting either Jim or Blue on a future trip.

As TW72 bushwhacks go... distance: short, navigation: easy, terrain: easy.


61. Jim, with Gryffin

I went back a few days later, hoping my track remained. Nope. Not a trace. At least the Beaver Brook Trail was packed. Gryffin was completely coated in snow after the short jaunt to Jim and back, but I cleaned him up and he was fine for the descent. The first 100 yards or so was closed in with leaning spruce, but after pushing through that, the path was rather wide. As it was clouded in, I didn't take any pictures.

The true summit is a few steps off trail. I wouldn't call it a bushwhack.

62. Southwest Twin, with Donna and company

The route was Beaver Brook Ski Trails, Gale River Trail, Galehead Hut, South Twin, Twinway, Bushwhack. The interesting part begins at South Twin on the Twinway, which was not broken out nor did it look traveled this winter, or at least not recently. Blazes were below knee level, and the corridor easy to follow, if a bit closed in on top.

We began the bushwhack at the highest point on the Twinway which would lead us past some intermediate knobs and save some elevation. For the most part, staying on the WNW (Garfield) side of the ridge top resulted in pretty nice woods, possibly attributable to the 4-6' of snow. Speaking of snow, there was 6" or so atop a crust, so we didn't sink much past that. Basically following a 235M bearing lead us through several open areas, some with decent views (again, thanks to the snow depth), until we were staring up at Southwest Twin itself. We studied it carefully and picked what we thought would be the least thick route through the obvious spruce rings. It had been easy until now, but there were spruce traps to deal with before reaching the small open area, just a few paces from the actual summit. This proved to be a great spot to take pictures and eat, so we signed in and returned to this sunny spot for lunch.

Trip Totals: 16.8 miles, 4850', 11:30 total time.

As TW72 bushwhacks go... distance: medium, navigation: medium, terrain: medium-hard (highly dependent on snow depth and conditions.)


63. North Carter, with Gryffin

Up the Imp, out and back to North Carter, over Middle and South Carter and down from Zeta Pass

The Imp Trail was fairly well packed and easy to follow until the very end. It took a few minutes to find the junction sign with the Carter Moriah Trail. Following the CMT over to North Carter required care as there were spruce traps to be had if you weren't careful. Gryffin decided that we should continue over Middle and South, which included drifted spots and some serious ducking (well, for me.) From Zeta Pass down Carter Dome and 19 MBT, the going was easy and straightforward.


I finished 2018-19 with 9 peaks to go.



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64. North Isolation, with Gryffin

Rocky Branch, Engine Hill 'Whack, Isolation Trail, Davis Path

The first hike of 2019-20 was to North Isolation. The trail was packed fairly well until the Engine Hill 'Whack began. At this point, there was a single set of tracks outbound and the route was acceptable so we just followed them up to the camp site. Most people detour left to Davis Path and we continued on through the now unbroken powder. The weather was decent and we got some nice views as we ascended the Davis Path heading for the height of land. Even though it was unbroken, being on the early side of winter meant the snow was not super deep. At the height of land, however, a mess of spruce traps awaited us. Gryffin was not at all happy with me for falling into some thigh-deep holes so he went back to the trail and found an alternative route that was more solid - what a good boy! Since we didn't need Isolation proper for December, we turned around and retraced our steps out. I think Isolation must have been a party scene because the Engine Hill 'whack was pretty packed, and there were a bunch of new cars in the lot when we were finished, but we did not see a soul all day.

As TW72 bushwhacks go... distance: trivial, navigation: trivial, terrain: easy, depending on snow conditions.


65. Adams 5, with Gryffin

Three of the nine I started 2019-20 with were subpeaks of Adams. These were always the top of the list for presidential weather and the day after Christmas 2019 was a presidential day for sure. We went up the Airline, and ran into Chris, Larisa, and their combined three dogs. Gryffin, being familiar and comfortable with Chris, went on with them for a while. Eventually Chris had to run him back to me (I had considered the possibility I might have to pick Gryffin up at Chris' house that evening) around Thunderstorm Junction. We did the out-and-back to Adams 5, and then went over Adams (Gryffin might have done this already with Chris) and on to Madison, before heading down the Valley Way. Spectacular day and great microspike conditions. I am not really sure how or why Adams 5 deserves special mention - it's just one of several small piles of rocks along the Gulfside Trail. I guess if you measure carfully it might be the highest spot along that stretch with at least a 100' col.


66. Zealand, with Gryffin, Denise and John

I had Zealand on the to-do list, but any one of Zealand, Guyot or the three Bonds would work. Had another presi day during Christmas Vacation and Denise and John were game to do the 24 mile trip. This trek also completed Gryffin's third round of the NH 48 (all three times were the 24 mile variety.) I hope that I can take him and my wife through this summer, if we can get the pandemic under control. This was a microspike through hike - didn't even bring snowshoes, thanks to the vacation week and many previous people having packed it out.


67. Lethe, solo

Up via 19MBT, Carter Dome, and over South and Middle Carter to the height of land between Middle and the North Carter Trail. I left Gryffin home after the North Isolation experience, and conditions were similar enough that it was probably a good idea. I'd been to Lethe ("so-called") before and knew what to look for, which was helpful as the ridge was in the clouds and I couldn't make out any similarly high rocks. I went down the North Carter Trail / Imp Trail, which had seen no traffic since the last snowfall. I did meet some folks coming up, who were quite happy to see me coming down.

As TW72 bushwhacks go... distance: easy, navigation: easy, terrain: easy, depending on snow conditions.



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68. Gulf (Slide), solo

I went in the morning, with afternoon snow in the forecast. The normal Glen Boulder parking is not plowed, so I parked at Pinkham and took The Direttissima over to Glen Boulder. It was warm and humid and the snow was corned up until above Glen Boulder. There were a few sketchy sections, but snowshoes did their job. Above the boulder, it was difficult to decide which footwear to use. I switched to spikes for a while, but snowshoes were better, even with the exposed rocks, so I switched back. It started to snow lightly and there were no views and no track at all to be followed. I will say that the stretch from Glen Boulder to Slide Peak was one of the most difficult stretches of the entire winter Trailwrights experience - the snow was deep, soft, and completely unbroken, with a lot of spruce bendovers to crawl under or around. I had considered going all the way to Boott Spur so I would have the option of returning to either but decided to turn around after Gulf (Slide) because it was snowing and I knew the drive home would be slow.

69. West Osceola, with Denise, John and Michelle

Having previously done Middle Osceola, I only needed West Osceola. I floated the idea of a loop of all four peaks and was able to get three volunteers. Ran into a bunch of familiar faces at MacDonald's in Lincoln, and then parked on the Kanc (no lots plowed) at the XC ski trail. We followed that to the stand route over East and main peaks. Beyond here, we were breaking trail. We continued over the main peak and went straight where the trail turns left, following the semi-herd path where the old telegraph line went. There is one spot, where the route make a northerly turn, which has a very thick spot. Finding our way around this was the first challenge. After that, the route to Middle O is pretty easy - stayed just northeast and below the ridge top. After a few pics and a snack, we continued to West Osceola, guarded carefully by Peggy's Perch. Climbing this rock was the technical challenge for the day, but the views were excellent. I set a compass bearing for the height of land on the East Pond Trail and we took turns following it. It was a challenge not to go too far down and to the northeast. The woods here were mostly good and mostly open. East Pond Trail was not broken either but four sets of snowshoes made the going easier.

As TW72 bushwhacks go... distance: long, navigation: medium, terrain: hard, depending on snow conditions. Definitely easier to go down from West O than up to it, I imagine.



70. Sam Adams, with Patti and Gryffin

The second of three trips to the Adams Family was to visit Sam. For this trip, I invited a fellow cyclist and beer lover, Patti, who was a good part of the way through her 48. While her experience in winter was limited, she is an athlete and she needed Adams and Madison. Once again, up the Airline, over to Gulfside, and then carefully across the styrofoam snowfields to the summit of Sam Adams, where of course, we drank a Sam Adams!

Next up was Adams proper, where we ran into four or five groups, all containing people that I knew. For the rest of the trek, we went with Denise, her cousin, their dog, and John and Pepper. Always a good time when you can sit comfortable on Adams in winter and enjoy a leisurely lunch. After Madison, we bombed down the Valley Way Sidewalk. Adams and Madison - twice in three weeks... and we're not done yet ...


71. Abigail Adams (4), with Gryffin

I woke Gryffin up. He seemed excited because it was early and early means hiking. When I told him Adams 4 he groaned and said "Not again!" In actuality, Gryffin was gung-ho to go on to Adams after we reached Adams 4...

Parked at Lowe's. No box, nobody around... hmm. Will try again after we return. Took Lowes' path, well packed by the way, all the way. Above the Log Cabin, we were in the clouds with rime forming on us. Not particularly cold nor windy, but very limited views. For a minute here and there, the sun almost burned through from above. Only the second time I've been up Lowes', and the first time was for Adams 4 (summer) and Adams for Flags on the 48 with John Messinger (Paradox), RIP.

When we returned, I went into the store and they asked for the ridiculous sum of $1 for parking. And they gave Gryffin some cookies.


72. Boott Spur, with Gryffin (and friends via live stream)

And then there was one. And it was a presi. At least it wasn't an Adams ;) Still, a presi day was required, and all of a sudden, people were talking about this virus thing. Still, it was early March and nobody was staying home anywhere. I took a Monday off from work, and off we went. Up the Ammo from the USFS lot, to LOC. Met and hiked with a woman and her dog, both were nearing their SSW48 finish. Gave her my contact info for when her dog finished and I could get her a patch. After LOC, we were on our own, taking the Camel Trail across to the Davis Path and then on to Boott Spur. The clouds would occasionally lower over Washington and then suddenly disappear revealing a shiny white summit cone. Another really decent day with warmish temps and no wind - just a base layer with a hood above treeline. I didn't even put on gloves the entire day. Since nobody could join me, I live streamed the last 10 minutes on Facebook, which turned out to be foreshadowing of spending all my meeting time on Zoom. I was able to FaceTime a bit of hike down with my daughter, who was still away at college, and share some views with her.


I sent in my last date to Bruce to get the TW72 winter patch, and he offered to mail it, or award it at an upcoming meeting. But then gatherings got canceled. I ended up receiving it, at a 6' distance, in his back yard. Kind of surreal. Definitely more low-key than 1 of 500 at an auditorium in Exeter.



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