Friday, August 29, 2014

North Twin Mtn - Success On Our Second Attempt

Today was day 5 of our hiking vacation in the Whites.  The next morning we were scheduled to return home so we decided to end the week with our longest and most aggressive hike of our vacation.  This begs the question; shouldn't we have started with the tough hike while our legs were fresh on day 1 and then have done the shorter less aggressive hikes later in the week?  That would have been way too logical!

In 2011, two weeks or so after Hurricane Irene had done incredible damage to the White Mountains, we attempted to hike North Twin.  The "Little" River remained swelled from the storm as well as subsequent rains and after significant effort we could not find a safe way to make the first crossing let alone the two more river crossings required ahead of us.  We were also ill prepared as we had not brought along any water shoes or clogs.  A little more research in advance would have made that need clear.  All of that said, I admit that we are both wimps when it comes to water crossings. 

Since that attempt in 2011 we've also learned of the now well defined and oft used herd path that allows hikers to avoid the first two crossings of the Little River.  Though the first two crossings today were more than passable with aggressive rock hoping or by fording, we opted for the herd path.  Honestly, the AMC should relocate this trail to the area generally defined by the herd path or, relocate boulders in the river to make for more safe crossings (probably some green reason not to do this).  Continued use of the herd path without good trail building techniques will eventually cause significant erosion issues, or so I assume as I am no expert on trail building.

In any case, we reached the third crossing using the herd path and it was only moderately difficult to rock hop.  This crossing is about 1.9 miles into the hike and the elevation change from the trailhead to this crossing is only a few hundred feet.  The real climb begins after this last river crossing.

The elevation change on this hike is 3,100' over a total RT distance of 8.6 miles.  "Book time" for this hike is just under 6 hours but it took us 7 1/4 hours.  That said, the two sets of views near the summit were some of the best I've experienced so we meandered there for longer than normal.  Let's move on to some pictures.

Sue is not flashing the peace symbol.  She is instead indicating that this was our second attempt at hiking North Twin Mountain.

At this point we have reached the first set of open ledges just shy of the summit which is pictured here.  The summit appears wooded but there is a view a few yards past the summit cairn.

The summit of South Twin is in the distance.

This photo and the next several are from the ledges of North Twin just before reaching the summit.

The Presidential Range is way off in the distance with much of it in the clouds.

We've now reached the summit and have gone just a few yards beyond the summit cairn to another outlook.  The views from here were so stunning that we could have stayed here for hours.  The next few shots are from this second outlook.

Fraconia Ridge in the background running left to right.

The sharp point of Mt. Garfield can be seen in the center of this shot.

Touching the cairn at the actual summit.  It's official.  Another 4k in the bag.  This was #34 for me and #35 for Sue.

This is the sign for the outlook near the summit.  Interestingly enough a group passed the summit headed to South Twin just after we had gotten here.  Only one of the 3 or 4 people hiking together decided to hike the few yards from the summit to the outlook.  Boy did they miss some great views.

This is the trail between the summit and the first set of ledges (we are now heading back down).  It was both beautiful and unique.

We've now reached the first ledges again on our descent and we pause to enjoy the views for a second time.

A pretty spot in the Little River that we passed on the way back to the car.

I must say that North Twin is now one of my favorite hikes.  I hated the fact that I could not cross the river back in 2011 so I found myself putting this hike off while knocking out other 4k's.  Today we were rewarded with perfect weather and views.  This is a definite "do over" in the future.


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