Monday, January 12, 2015

Calendar Year 48, 2014 Edition!

Date of Hike: December 7, 2014
Peaks: Mount Garfield (4500', NH4K)
Route: Gale River Road, Garfield Trail, Garfield Ridge Trail
Mileage: 12.4 miles
Elevation Gain: 3350ft
Book Time: 7hr 55min (actual 6hr 35min)

2014 marked the 3rd year in a row where I was able to complete a full round of the New Hampshire 4000-footers, and for some strange reason Mount Garfield was the final peak for 2 of those years. I had hoped to be able to hike this one before the road to the trailhead closed for the winter, but about 1.5 weeks before this hike the gates started closing for the year. So, we had an extra 1.2-mile each way road walk, oh well.

Walking Gale River Road to the Garfield Trail

Patrick enjoying the day!
My old hiking pal Patrick was able to come for this hike, which was a rare treat, and coupled with me opting to do a single-day trip to the mountains, we met at a Park-and-Ride in New Hampshire. Driving that last 1.5 hours together was a nice change in pace from the usual solo driving I do, and it was great to catch up after a long time not seeing each other. We arrived to an only somewhat-plowed parking lot at the end of Gale River Road, but my car was able to bust over the berm and we began gearing up. Pulling in just as we were about to set off were gridders John and June whom I'd seen on the Carter Range the month before. It really is a small world in the hiking world, especially once the snow starts flying (and it isn't calendar winter yet either)! We put snowshoes on from the start, and set off down the road on our hike.

The day was cool, but we were fairly warm as we motored down the road and made the turn onto the trail as John and June and their friend caught up to us. We would end up leap-frogging each other a few times down low, until seeing them again at the summit and about a half-mile down from the summit too. They were the only other hikers out on this day on this great peak.

A Winter Wonderland up high!
The Garfield Trail is an old fire warden's trail/tractor grade, and climbs gently though over a long distance, using a series of switchbacks in the higher elevations. The snow depth was minimal at the start but soon picked up nicely, and the conditions were great for snowshoes. We made decent but not amazing time to the summit, where it was a whopping 0 degrees out! Luckily the wind was not too bad, and the skies were mostly clear though there was a thin cloud hovering right over the summit. We enjoyed the sights for a few minutes before retreating for the trees for a snack, and eventually a fairly rapid exit hike. The last 2 miles of the hike were a drag, as both of us were not used to the heavier winter packs nor did we have our snowshoeing legs, but we still made good time overall back to the car. Then it was off to Lincoln for delicious burgers before the drive home!

Franconia Ridge!

Hikers reaching the summit

"OK, it's cold, let's get outta here!"

The Twins, with the Presidential Range behind

Pemi Pano from the Garfield fire tower foundation.

The Bonds, with Carrigain poking out behind.


Franconia Ridge

The lumpy mound of Owl's Head in the middle of the Pemi Wilderness

Loving this!

Franconia Ridge, from Lafayette (R) all the way through Flume (L)
This hike completed my 4th round of the New Hampshire 4000-footers, and I'm better than halfway into my 5th round. Slowly but surely I'm chipping away at that grid, and having lots of fun along the way. Days like this are the best, just a nice quiet day out with a friend enjoying the winter scenery (even if winter hadn't officially begun yet!). It's great to see that winter is getting a good start in December for once, the last couple of years the snowshoes have stayed firmly in the closet until after Christmas. Not so in 2014! Thanks for coming along Patrick!

Ice-crusted trees in the sun.

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