After being pretty fast on the Hancocks the day before, I figured I would be roughly the same time to complete the Osceolas from either direction (Tripoli Road being the common summer route). I had a half-day 4000-footer left on my 2012 list in Mount Tecumseh, which is a mere handful of miles down the road from the Mount Osceola Trailhead on Tripoli Road. If I completed the Osceolas in good order, there was no reason I could not add Tecumseh afterwards and still get home at a decent hour. This would also accomplish giving me a longer, harder day, as I have a very long, hard hike upcoming in Maine in a couple weeks (roughly 18 miles, and 5-6000 feet elevation gain!) - Abraham, Sugarloaf, and Spaulding.
So with that in mind I struck out on the Mount Osceola Trail at the "early" hour of 8:45. This approach does not have any steep spots, just poor footing in the lower mile or so with a lot of jumbled rocks. However, I was feeling good again on this day and made short work of the 3.2-mile, 2050-foot climb, hitting the summit of Osceola in a mere 1.5 hours!
I made sure to check out the Northern overlook, which is found via a beaten herd path from the old fire tower ledge at what most think is the summit. The actual summit seems to be at this Northern overlook, which has wonderful views of the Hancocks, Bonds, Franconia Ridge, basically all of the Pemi Wilderness.
|Hancocks (left) and Carrigain (dead center)|
|Up the valley I hiked through the day before towards the Hancocks|
|The Bonds off in the distance behind Mount Hitchcock|
|Franconia Ridge, Owl's Head, Garfield, South Twin, Bonds|
|Franconia Ridge with the Kinsmans and Cannon off to the left partially behind the trees|
|East Osceola - next destination|
|Sandwich Dome behind the base of the Waterville Ski Area|
|Beginning the approach to East Osceola|
|A little closer to East Osceola|
|The bottom approach to the chimney - bypass to the right|
I made good time out, and arrived at the car around 1:45, for a 5 hour time, which I was happy with. I was still feeling OK, though the humidity was building and I only had about 1 Liter of water left. I knew I could fill a bottle up on-trail on Tecumseh, so cruised down the road to the Waterville Valley Ski Area, where the Mount Tecumseh Trail departs.
The weather was getting dark to the North, but there were still plenty of blue skies, so after a call home to get the radar picture (which said I ought to be OK for a few hours), I hit the trail, at 2:25...a bit later than I wanted, but I was going.
The first ~mile of the trail is moderate in grade and with clear footing overall. Shortly before the second major stream crossing that begins the hard climbing, I came across Sue and Earl, bailing on their own double-hike attempt (Waumbek in the morning). Good to see them again, getting close to their grid finish!
After a brief visit, I was off to that stream crossing to fill up a water bottle and drop some Aqua Mira in to purify it. Good excuse for a snack break too! Then the climbing began. The stretch after the upper crossing isn't horribly steep, but it is steepish and it just goes on and on. I passed a lot of people heading down of course, and I wasn't going up particularly fast. But along the way is some of the most impressive rock work I have ever seen on a trail.
Near the top, you meet the Sosman Trail, and shortly thereafter the trail splits with 2 ways to the summit.
Tecumseh is always bashed for its poor views, which could be expected for the shortest 4000-footer (4003'), but there was actually a nice view towards the Tripyramids that I did not remember from my 2004 visit.
|Whiteface behind the Sleepers|
|Tripyramids from the ski slopes|
|Rather not walk down this!|
Down to 10 peaks (7 days of hiking) for a 2012 4000-footer finish!
Peaks: Mount Osceola (4340', NH4K), East Osceola (4156', NH4K), Mount Tecumseh (4003', NH4K)
Mileage: 8.4 miles (Osceolas), 5.0 miles (Tecumseh), 13.4 miles total
Elevation gain: 2950 feet (Osceolas), 2250 feet (Tecumseh), 5200 feet total