|Hiking Trail Conditions Report|
||Mt. Garfield, Hawthorne Falls, NH|
||Garfield Trail, Garfield Ridge Trail, bushwhack, Gale River Trail|
|Date of Hike:
||Saturday, September 11, 2021|
|Parking/Access Road Notes:
||Arriving on 9-11 parking lots were extremely overflowed, but parking is allowed on the road. We parked at gale river trailhead and walked up the road to start our loop on Garfield Trail. |
||Dry Trail, Wet Trail, Wet/Slippery Rock, Standing/Running Water on Trail, Mud - Minor/Avoidable, Mud - Significant |
|Water Crossing Notes:
||During the bushwhack section of this hike, crossings become much more convenient when you allow for submerged feet. River rocks are extremely slippery when human feet rarely tread. |
|Trail Maintenance Notes:
||Lots of dogs. Not sure I'd bring a dog in the upper portion on the bushwhack between 3100 and 3300. |
||Saw a moth before bed and a spider in the morning. |
|Lost and Found:
||Found a phone on Garfield and it's owner via Facebook white mountains lost and found ||
||My wife, Carrie, and I started our hike around 2pm up Garfield Trail with the objective of spending the night near Garfield pond. There was the "flags on the 48" event happening and we saw about 100 people coming down as we made our way up. By the time we summited there were about 10 people on the peak, mostly ploopers, most of them planning where to camp as the enjoyed the scenery. It was partly cloudy and the visibility was excellent, we got some good afternoon lighting that made for great pictures. We made our way down the Garfield Pond and made camp for the night. |
A few people came through looking for camping, but only a couple of guys decided to share the spot with us. They kept us up a until around 10:30 chit chatting and maybe I woke them up packing at 3:30 am to try and catch a sunrise. That's the way it goes in popular camping spots. Sometimes Carrie complains that my site selection is usually rough, but at least we have solitude!
In the morning we high tailed it to Garfield, and although the summit was clear and visibility good, there were a lot of clouds to the east blocking the sunrise. Many of the surrounding peaks were socked in, particularly Lafayette, so I was thankful to at least be able to see the mountains. It was extremely windy and cold, so we didn't stay too long past 6:20am.
We made our way down into the col. I'd never done that section without being socked in so it was a lovely surprise with fantastic views on the section of trail under the tent site, that goes down the waterfall. We thought about stopping for breakfast, but decided to continue on. We had breakfast at a steal camp at 3532' and considered starting our bushwhack from there as the woods were pretty open, but ultimately decide to follow the next stream.
We began our bushwhack at 3527' along a little stream that crosses the trail in the flat. I'll call it the east drainage that runs parallel and eventually joins the west drainage that is show on maps. We followed that for a while, but then I insisted on whacking over to the western one through some pretty open woods with some evidence of human traffic at around 3450'. I was thinking that I didn't want to repeat the mistake of others and continue on the path we were on and completely miss the falls, but this was misguided. But alas, the west drainage flows much better and there were some lovely Cascades surrounded my moss. We followed that down to about 3200 were it turned into a box canyon that was quite inaccessible. We skirted it to the west and did some pretty dangerous whacking back down to the stream at the bottom of the canyon. The top of the canyon is the intersection of the two drainages. The river became very flat at 3100' were I expected the falls to be. I wanted to track back up the canyon to the intersection through the water but my wife was spooked at this point and wanted to continue down. She said she had an instinct that the falls were lower and my info was wrong, which turned out to be correct. I was dejected and thought we had surely missed the main attraction. We had a very miserable bushwhack along the river and I was stunned when the flat river suddenly dropped 50 feet. We got down on the east side, crawling through a tiny crag and making our way over to a loose cliff overlooking the falls. We then zig zagged down loose moss and trees to the base and sure enough, it was Hawthorne Falls! We were on the edge of the falls right at 2850'. We took a well deserved break and I swam in the falls. We continued some pretty rough whacking along the river shortly, but then decided we'd had enough and found higher, clearer ground. At one point around 2500' we made our way back to the river thinking maybe we could pick up a herd path, but no dice, still wet and thick, so we contoured on the 2500' line to the gale river trail. The 2500' was mostly open woods and lovely whacking, with a few hobble bush patches mixed in. As soon as the ridge is attained it's very clear.
With a sense of accomplishment we made our merry way back to the car to get lunch. A very nice weekend indeed.
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.