Hiking Trail Conditions Report
Peaks Mt. Cardigan, NH
Trails: Manning Trail, Holt Trail, Holt-Clark Cutoff, Clark Trail, West Ridge Trail, Ranger-Cabin Trail, South Ridge Trail, Hurricane Gap Trail, Alexandria Ski Trail
Date of Hike
Date of Hike: Thursday, December 27, 2018
Parking/Access Road Notes
Parking/Access Road Notes: Plenty of parking in the lot at the AMC Cardigan Lodge -- lot is plowed and sanded. Shem Valley Road is in decent shape, too, plowed and sanded and only with a couple of ruts and washboard sections.  
Surface Conditions
Surface Conditions: Ice - Blue, Snow - Packed Powder/Loose Granular, Ice - Breakable Crust, Snow - Unpacked Powder, Snow/Ice - Frozen Granular, Snow/Ice - Monorail (Stable), Snow/Ice - Postholes 
Recommended Equipment
Recommended Equipment: Light Traction, Traction 
Water Crossing Notes
Water Crossing Notes: Not an issue. 
Trail Maintenance Notes
Trail Maintenance Notes: All sorts of small blowdowns from the past month or so; all can be walked over or around. There are a couple on the Holt-Clark Cutoff, one on the Clark Trail, and another (reported a couple of weeks back; the tree with the signage) at the intersection of the Hurricane Gap Trail and South Ridge Trail. 
Dog-Related Notes
Dog-Related Notes:  
Lost and Found
Lost and Found:  
Comments: Typical conditions for this time of year, after decent snowfall followed by rain/thaw/freeze: varied and uneven.

Oft-used trails are a mess where there's snow cover: chopped, post-holed (some quite deep), re-frozen granular, interspersed with patches of blue ice. There's a narrow, uneven granular hardpack track amongst the postholes that isn't too bad in good light but requires care later in the afternoon/dusk, lest one turn an ankle. The one plus: there's is snow cover almost the entire way, prior to PJ Ledge.

Higher up, after PJ Ledge, prior to the ranger cabin on the Clark Trail, the ledges are a beautiful blue ice sculpture. The same is the case for the West Ridge Trail about half-way down the summit prior to the Ranger-Cabin Trail. Ranger-Cabin Trail to South Ridge Trail is mostly thick ice. Hurricane Gap Trail is a postholed mess -- easier to walk on the blue ice in the middle of the trail, than the chopped track on either side.

Summit cone ledges are mostly bare rock.

(Looked like someone had packed out both the Manning Trail and the Back 80 Trail, with less chop and fewer postholes. Those trails might be smoother options until more snow.)

At dusk, to avoid the chop on the Clark and Holt-Clark Cutoff, we took the Alexandria Ski Trail down -- it was easier to walk along its edge, with firm styrofoam snow. The ski trail itself is a mess, with plenty of open sections and ledge/rock showing through, and not just a few postholes; it's un-skiable.

We used light traction the entire way, except one of us used traction coming down the angled blue ice on the West Ridge, Ranger-Cabin, and Hurricane Gap Trails -- just easier than picking along the edge and having to watch every step. We saw plenty of evidence of people having slipped on this stuff, wearing light traction (including someone who wore YakTrax).

A quiet day out with just a half-dozen people seen on the trails. Windy, as usual, on the summit.

We'll wait until there's better, new snow cover this winter and consistent temperatures before heading up here again. It will happen soon enough.  
Name: Pancks and Tesco Heaney 
Date Submitted
Date Submitted: 2018-12-28 
Link: http:// 
Bookmark and Share Disclaimer: Reports are not verified - conditions may vary. Use at own risk. Always be prepared when hiking. Observe all signs. Trail conditions reports are not substitutes for weather reports or common sense.

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