Wednesday, November 2, 2011

2011.11.02 Mt. Willard + A Winter (?) Hike

This was our first ever hike with snow under our feet!  

We did hike a bit in November of last year but it had not yet snowed. If you follow my blog you know we have been prepping for our first ever winter hike by taking a class and, based on what we learned, we have been 'gearing up' with the appropriate equipment and attire.

Today was expected to be a gorgeous day in the Whites, and it was.  Further, just a few days ago we had received an October surprise of snow so I was anxious to get out and give 'winter' hiking a try.  Admittedly, with temps in the 50's today I would be hard pressed to call this a winter hike!  Nonetheless, we took a day off mid-week and headed to Mt. Willard. 

This was intended to be a short hike to test our new gear and to get ourselves accustomed to hiking with more weight and in different temps and conditions.  Mt. Willard is only a 2.8 mile RT so if all went as planned we would extend our day by going 'across the street' to the other side of the notch to hike Bugle Cliff and Elephant Head.  The latter would only add another 1.7 miles.

Once we finished the first leg of our trip, instead of crossing the street as planned I decided we should hike Mt. Avalon instead.  That was not a great idea as far as Sue was concerned.  She likes to know specifically where she is and what the remaining distances are at all times.  She was not pleased with my change of plans.

We did not start our hike to Mt. Willard until well after 10:30 so as we headed towards Avalon, and not knowing specifically how far we had to go, the amount of daylight remaining became a concern.  With about 1/2 mile left to go we decided to turn around and head back to the car.  No sense pressing on to the goal of reaching Avalon and then getting caught in the dark.  More importantly, Sue was having trouble getting her pack load properly biased on her hips & shoulders and as a result she was experience neck pain.  There was nothing to be gained by pressing on.

That is okay.  We learned a lot about our pack loads and our new gear so this short 5.6 mile trip was well worth it.

The obligatory trail head photos as we begain our day.  The temps were just under 40 degrees.  Sue thought it was cold and I thought it was perfect!

WIthin about a 1/2 mile we had to put our microspikes on.  I had never used these before, in fact I had never heard of them until we took our class.  They are fantastic!  You cannot feel them underfoot but they provide great traction in hard packed snow and ice.  They are well worth the $60 price tag.  Somewhat like putting chains on a car.  Does anyone remember those days?  I am dating myself now...

The snow covered peak of M. Washington in the distance (we are atop Mt. Willard at this point).

Looking South on Rte. 302 through Crawford Notch.

Mt. Willey in the distance.  We hiked this mountain  a few weeks ago (Mt Willey on a Whim).  Too many 'W' mountains here; Willey, Willard, Washington.

Yes, there was snow on the trail (in some spots) but it was minimal with about 2-4" of hard pack.

It was a great outing and I look forward to some 'real' winter hiking.  In this sense I speak for myself and not Sue.  She is still not fully embracing the winter hiking concept.  I have some selling to do!


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