|Hiking Trail Conditions Report|
||Mt. Monroe, Mt. Washington, NH|
||Ammonoosuc Link, Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail, Crawford Path, Monroe Loop, Tuckerman Crossover, Davis Path, Cog Rail Trail, Westside Trail, Gulfside, Jewell Trail, bushwhack|
|Date of Hike:
||Saturday, February 20, 2021|
|Parking/Access Road Notes:
||Paid $10 at Cog Railway lot. They now request that hikers park in one of the lower lots! |
||Ice - Blue, Snow - Packed Powder/Loose Granular, Ice - Breakable Crust, Snow - Unpacked Powder, Snow/Ice - Frozen Granular, Snow - Drifts |
||Snowshoes, Light Traction, Traction |
|Water Crossing Notes:
||Gem Pool & Jewell Trail Spur were solidly bridged. Remember, for the start of the Jewell Spur there is no actual bridge over the Ammonoosuc River (despite what the AMC guide says), it got washed away a few years ago. |
|Trail Maintenance Notes:
|Lost and Found:
||Cairns above treeline are covered in snow and/or rime ice. Jewell Trail cairns were very difficult to locate. Crawford Path, Gulfside & Jewell trails were very rough & irregular due to frozen slush, crusty snow and hard ice.|
I actually started this hike at 9AM on Friday and got off the trail at 7:15 today. This relatively straightforward loop was NOT supposed to be an epic adventure. I guess everyone needs to spend at least one sleepless 10-degree night in the deep woods, with wet clothes, shoes & socks and less than 8 oz left to drink. The hike just became a comedy of circumstances and unlucky choices on the way down. And yes, my toes have finally thawed out!
I was the only one doing this route today & started up Ammo Ravine in micro-spikes (some tricky footing), switching to snowshoes just past the Gem Pool. The trail gets very steep with the first step and really doesn't let up until the first river crossing. Traction was terrible with broken crusty snow over dry powder but I managed to get to the hut in 1:45. Started up Monroe but there was a dislodged icy slab that blocked the trail and fog started rolling in so I came back to the hut. I started up Crawford towards the Rockpile when all of a sudden you couldn't see 100 feet! I was bummed and started coming back down figuring it was a lost day. But Washington popped out of the clouds and I hit the Crawford Path again. After about .25 miles I turned around and Monroe was as clear as a bell and I saw a line directly up the center snowfield that bypassed the icy slab. So I came back down and bagged Monroe! It was still only noon so I headed back up Crawford for the third time.
I found myself on the Tuckerman Crossover so I just headed to Davis Path and regained Crawford after an extra .4. Crawford was a tedious sidehill traverse over solid snow slabs, drifting snow and blue ice and it seemed to go on forever. Finally I reached the summit at 1:15 with plenty of time for a nice, relaxing descent but the hiking Gods had other plans. I decided to skip Jefferson because of the extra time spent getting the first 2 and also because it was wrapped in clouds. I started down the Cog Railway ski trail which was steep but nice and firm. Right near Jacob's Ladder I entered thick fog & couldn't read the trail. I headed back up & took Westside to the Gulfside and started down the Jewell trail. The combination of fog and snow-covered cairns made me lose the trail. By now it was after 3 so I zig-zagged across the slope hoping to pick up the cairns again and still be down before dark. I actually picked up the trail again but then lost it as pea-soup fog took over. If I could have seen down to treeline I wuld have just headed down to the area where Jewell enters the woods but I couldn't see 100 feet at that point.
I figured if I angled down Burt Ravine to below treeline and headed into the woods to the right further down, I would be able to find my way towards the cog railway station. Not too far down, the ravine narrowed and got super-steep as the source of Clay Brook. The brook bed was a 45-degree chute of frozen snow with a light dusting. I took it one step at a time with my grippy snowshoes but at one point tried a butt slide. That was an obvious mistake as I literally took off and couldn't stop! About 100 feet down I caught a branch, then a snowshoe tip and tumbled to a stop on a lip above an even steeper section. So I took baby steps, digging the points in with extra purpose. Finally, I got down far enough in fading light and headed into the woods to the left. Well that ridge is a series steep slopes and deep woods and soon night was upon me, Undaunted, I turned on the headlamp and kept going with an occasional glimpse of the distant light at the cog station. In the dark I traversed SEVEN avalanche gullies surrounded by blowdowns on one single slope. That wore me down a bit but after a pitch up & over a knoll, the precipitous slope force me to turn around and find a spot for the night. I "settled in" around 10 PM and texted my wife that I was stuck in the woods.
Thankfully, there was no wind and temps stayed in the low teens. Needless to say I couldn't sleep because I had to keep moving. I spent 8 1/2 hours constantly shuffling my feet, stamping them and taking little 10 foot walks back & forth. Every half hour I would hike 100 or 200 feet and repeat that just to warm up a bit. Morning finally came and around 6:15 I retraced my steps a bit then started breaking new trail. In about 100 feet I saw moose tracks on a strangely open path that headed down at a nice angle. When in doubt, follow the moose! It turns out that was the Jewell Trail Spur and I must have crossed it the night before when I was hiking without my headlamp, just letting the nightglow illuminate the trail. I had been only about .1 mile from it! I followed the nice, sweeping trail and literally had to crawl up the snowbank to the parking lot, that's how sore I was. I reached the car and took my snowshoes off after having them on for 21 hours straight. At least they're broken-in now!
Sorry for the War and Peace version but this was a hike with so many nuances and I guess I'm pretty glad to have emerged relatively unscathed. But my feet are so beat up and my legs hurt so much that I need to take at least 4 days off, probably a week. On the plus side, I have peaks #43 and 44 in my quest for the single-season solo Winter 48.
||Bob H |
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.