I had some fun finding the Glencliff Trailhead (High Street is NOT signed, and Glencliff is not on any maps...follow the signs to the Sanatorium!) I also pulled into the gated road for Townline Trail (it's on the left, but I'm directionally dyslexic some days and thought that left was right...) at first and was worried I might get stuck in the mud while trying to get out - I lucked out here! Eventually I got going. Left the car (only the second in the lot) at 8:30 under cloudy skies. Reports from the OBS in the morning indicated that this MIGHT be an undercast, and I was hoping for it to stay, but be below 4000 feet so I could get my first undercast views. Ultimately I was satisfied. I took the dirt farm road behind the gate at the lot instead of walking down the road. It intersects with the main trail pretty quick (the guidebook mentions this road as an option). I chugged away up the trail in bare boots at first, as there was NO snow or ice to be seen.
The bottom part of the trail was very muddy, with occasional little patches of ice easily avoided. Around 2400', right before the first stream crossing on planks, I put the spikes on as the ice was omnipresent now, only along the trail of course.
|Beginnings of the monorail|
I kept heading up, soon passing a solo hiker who owned the truck I had seen in the lot. She was using this hike as a re-tune up after being sick for a while with various ailments including just getting over pneumonia! I kept moving.
After a while the misty day ended and I broke into blue skies with an undercast!
|Undercast to the West|
Still I headed up, still in spikes as the trail was still solid under me at this elevation and early hour. I slowed down on the steep approach to the ridge, but still somehow covered that first 3 miles and 3000 feet of climbing in 2 hours! Not sure where that came from! I passed on South peak planning to grab it on the way down, I wanted to hopefully get some undercast views from the 360-view summit of the Moose.
The ridge was still (just) solid enough to support me, though snowshoes might still have been a good choice now. I saw lots of previous postholes, but avoided adding any of my own (on-trail ones that is) until near the base of the summit cone in a drifted area, where I caused a couple. I would have put the snow shoes on except I could see the trail to the summit was either bare or just some light ice not 100 feet past this point...I hate rock-hopping in clown shoes.
I summitted at 11 on the nose, a ridiculous time of 2.5 hours from the trailhead for the 3.8 miles and 3300 feet (3.5 is book time...). I was alone on the summit, with clear skies above a partial undercast (Northward was thinning out, but still solid to the South), along with mild winds, the lowest I've ever felt on this usually-windy summit! It was also warm, somewhere in the high 40s I'd say.
|The Presidentials far behind the Bonds and Liberty/Flume|
I put on a light jacket and figured I'd hang for a while. JustJoe, BobC, and Salty from Hike-NH were expected at some point and I was in no hurry. I enjoyed watching the undercast slowly pull away to the south revealing more peaks. I spoke with one gentleman who came up from Kinsman Notch with his dog, he lives in N. Woodstock. Must be nice! He had finished a SSW48 by early February... After a while more people filtered up and I was still just hanging. Somewhere around noon I saw some guys coming up, and I recognized the long-haired Salty pretty fast. JustJoe and BobC were soon behind, and I later found out that their companion was the one New Hampshire, err, Brian.
We chatted for a while, and eventually I decided it was time to head down. It was 1 PM and I had been on the summit for 2 hours! I've never spent that long on a summit EVER (even in summer) and it was awesome! A nice relaxing day. I bid my goodbyes, strapped on the snowshoes and headed to South Peak. I had previously been on this knob on an overcast day (not sure why I bothered since we couldn't see 200 yards that day...) and it was far better on this day. Still, the views were not great today since this spot has views into Tunnel Brook but the undercast was still there. Still, I'm not complaining any.
I snowshoed steadily down the trail, crossing the major ice bulge at 3000 feet that had water running over it. This thing is at least 300 feet long (or at least it WAS) and pretty thick, it gave my spikes a test on the way up on a step section, but overall it is fairly flat and light traction was sufficient. The snowshoes did far better with it on the way down, probably helped by it being a bit softer, but these MSR LAs also have some impressive crampons!
|The giant ice bulge...over a foot thick for much of its length!|
Below the bridged crossing I removed the snow shoes and bare-booted the rest of the way. Somewhere between here and the fields I slipped in the mud and went down HARD. Here's where the broken limb came in. I was scraped up in a few spots, but overall I was OK aside from being angry at myself and the mud, but my left treking pole didn't fare quite so well...
These poles saw me through 12 years of on-and-off hiking, most of the initial 4Ks, the Grand Canyon, and my grandfather even used them at Machu Picchu! Oh well, guess I know what's on the top of my shopping list this spring! I can manage with one pole, but really like having 2 for descents as they really help out my knees (plus having 4 feet is better than 3).
All in all a great day, aside from the end. Good to meet Joe, Bob, Mike, and Brian (the singing really should have tipped me off as to who it was...). Awesome undercasts, super-warm temps, and the mid-point of my winter 4Ks!!! 24 down in my first 2 months of winter hiking ever, wow! In early January I still swore I would never hike in winter, now 2.5 months later I'm half-way to the Winter 48 patch...good grief! I drove to Pinkham Notch to stay at Joe Dodge for the night and enjoyed seeing all the crazy spring skiers leaving for the day. Hard to call this a winter hike as I was in short sleeves all day and it was near 50 on the summit, but who cares!