Monday, November 7, 2011

2011.11.07 Mt. Sandwich - Anyone Have a Step Ladder?

Let's start with a discussion of the summit.  Once we arrived at the summit of Sandwich Dome (a.k.a. Mt. Sandwich) I spent some time looking for a step ladder.  Needed an 8' one.  Try as I may, I could not find any step ladders let alone an 8' version.  I guess I should have carried one up myself.

You see, this mountain has an official elevation of 3,993 feet; a mere 7-feet shy of being a 4,000 footer.  An 8' step ladder would have solved that problem for me.

Moving on...

The weather was expected to be fantastic today, in particular considering it was November 7.  The temps in the White Mountains were forecast to reach the upper 40's to low 50's so we took a day off from work and headed to the mountains.  With the time change this past weekend daylight becomes a concern so it was a very early morning.

The alarm went off at 3:50 am and after a 10-minute snooze we were up and getting ready.  We left at 5:00 am sharp and were on the trail at 7:00 am.  It was a 'balmy' 27 degrees at the start of our hike.  Luckily, things warmed up quickly and the weather ended up meeting and maybe even exceeding the forecast temps.

After the warm weather this past week I really did not expect to see much snow on the trail but, there were on again, off again snow covered conditions.  We would put our microspikes on, then take them off, then put them on.  It went on like that for much of the day.  We found the Drakes Brook Trail on the way down particularly snow covered (as compared to the Sandwich Mountain Trail we took on the way up).

Speaking of the Sandwich Mountain Trail, you'll get warmed up quickly when taking this route.  It is uphill right from the start (after a short drop to cross the brook).  It was not overly difficult but it was reasonably relentless.  We got to enjoy three major outlooks (including the summit) so that made for a nice hike.  Let's look at some photos:

 This pine tree was 'bleeding' white blood.

 The first outlook is called Noon Peak and it had a stunning view of Mt Washington.

 Some of the snow covered trail on the way up.

 Another view of Mt. Washington, this time from the summit of Mt. Sandwich.

The slopes of Waterville Valley ski area.

 We've now reached the third of our outlooks and this one is called Jennings Peak.  This was about 1.3 miles down from the summit (which you can see directly ahead).

 To make a loop we returned on the Drakes Brook Trail.  At this intersection we have 3.2 miles to go. This trail descends very gradually which is good for the knees but it did drag on a bit.

 The late afternoon sun was shining through the trees and it was intense on the white snow.

All in all this was a great hike with a total distance covered of 8.7 miles with a total elevation gain of about 2,800 feet.  We finished this hike in eight hours.


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