Wednesday, February 20, 2013

W#41 - Tecumseh - February 15, 2013

At the very last minute, I was able to take the afternoon off on Friday, at the end of what was a long, tough week at work, and so I sped off (legally mind you) for Waterville Valley. Originally I wasn't sure if I would hike on this weekend, since there were hardly any places to stay on Saturday night (owing to being President's Day Weekend) and what places there were all had minimum lengths of stays and were charging 2x the normal rate...but Friday night there were rooms at a reasonable rate. Perfect!

I knew that with a free afternoon, I could knock off Tecumseh with minimal headlamp time. Reaching the ski area parking lot at Waterville Valley at about 3:20PM, I was surprised to see just how busy they were, as the lots were pretty full for a working weekday. That's a good sign for them though. That said, people were coming off the slopes, and I was able to park about 3 spaces from the end of the row across from the trailhead. Nice!

3:30 I was off on the trail, snowshoes and microspikes on the feet until I needed one or the other. The trail was very hard-packed despite the warm temps (45F at the car), except for the top 1" which was a little softer. Translation: I bare-booted all the way to the summit (and with no trail damage mind you)! First time I've ever done that...microspikes in a couple of the steep spots would have been nice, but I managed just fine without them.

I saw one person about 10 minutes in who was heading down, and that was IT. Otherwise I had the mountain to myself. I sped along well on the lower half of the trail, which is fairly moderate, taking a couple breaks as needed but overall just trying to keep moving as I knew the sun would be setting soon enough.

Woodpeckers had a field day with this tree

Ski slopes seen through the trees along the trail
The ascent to the ski slope overlook went smoothly. The 2 larger crossings were fully bridged and presented no trouble. Just after the second crossing, and just before the hairpin turn where the ski slope viewpoint is, the trail grade picks ups significantly. I took a short break at the view point to fuel up for what lay ahead.

Tripyramids across Waterville Valley as the sun sets

Looking down the ski slope (which was closed off for some reason just above the view point)
From here, this trail gets relentless. It climbs up fairly steeply, and with no real turns and definitely no switchbacks. But the footing, even in summer, is great thanks to terrific trail construction, and this time, owing to the snow, it was a solid steady ramp up. I made surprisingly good time up, despite stopping a lot to catch my breath, and before I knew it I was into the traverse across the ravine and on the final push to the ridge. All through this upper half I noticed plenty of evidence that people had been snowboarding down the trail, must have been one heck of a ride!

Once on the ridge, I noticed the Sosman Trail towards the lifts was well-broken out (not shockingly), but I was here for the main summit. The sun had just set, but there were lingering rays of red/orange sun striking the trees in here, it was actually quite pretty (pictures didn't capture it well).

Final rays of light bouncing off the snow-covered trees
With a last final push, taking the left fork to the summit (which is the Sosman Trail in fact), I had made it, and in good time to boot (about 1hr 50min, faster than I'd have normally pushed for, but I was fighting daylight). I would have loved to have caught the sunset from up here, but oh well. I took a well-deserved, though short, break at the top to take in the final rays of light fading over the valley.

Tripyramids from Tecumseh

Osceolas from Tecumseh
With light fading fast, I threw on the snowshoes (mostly for traction, though the trail was a little less firm up top too so I'd be smoothing things out a bit before they froze overnight too) and headed down. The snowshoes provided perfect traction for the conditions and I was able to charge away downhill until shortly before the ski slope viewpoint, where I relented and turned on the headlamp; there just wasn't quite enough light to continue to see by safely. A short time later, I was back at the car, less than 3 hours from my start. Wow, that was one fast descent (45 minutes!)

And with that I was on my way to a shower and dinner, with Winter 4000-Footer #41 under my belt, and Garfield on tap for the morning.

Peaks: Mount Tecumseh (4003', NH4K)
Trails: Mount Tecumseh Trail, Sosman Trail
Mileage: 5.0 miles
Elevation Gain: 2300 feet
Book Time: 3hr 35min (actual 2hr 45min)

No comments:

Post a Comment