Winter Hike: Return to Chocorua

Trail Report

As the last weeks of winter rolled around I considered a winter ascent of Mount Washington. Unfortunately, there were a lot of icy trail reports that dissuaded me from attempting Washington. Instead, I decided to return to Mount Chocorua as I really enjoyed the summit and I was hoping that the lower elevation would mean less ice. Plus, in a few months the weather would be nice and undoubtedly the crowds would return to the mountains and I wouldn’t be hiking Chocorua then.

I chose Piper Trail as the starting point of the hike and would go up Nickerson Ledge Trail, Carter Ledge Trail and Middle Sister Trail to make the hike into a lollipop loop. I got to the parking lot at 8:00 am, and there were no cars in the lot. It was pretty windy (the final icing on the no-go-Washington cake) and partly cloudy. The forecast was calling for a significant drop in wind speed and a clearing of the clouds.

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Winter Hike: North Crocker

Trail Report

In my plan to hike all of the New England 4000 Footers I still had a bunch of peaks to do in the Carrabassett Valley area of Maine. So, in late January I decided to tackle a few from Route 27 just north of Sugarloaf Ski Resort. The plan was to hike the Appalachian Trail from the road to North Crocker Mountain and South Crocker Mountain, and if the bushwhack was broken out to Redington Mountain (and I felt up to it) do it as well. I chose to do the Crockers from the north because they were accessible from a major road that I knew would be open. I could find very little information on trail conditions and road closures online.

I left home at 4:30 am for the two and a half hour drive north. As I approached Carrabassett Valley the full moon was setting just above the ridge line of Mount Abraham. I looked for a good place to stop to take a photo of it from Route 27, but failed to find one and didn’t want to take the time to explore side roads for a better vista.

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Winter Hike: Mount Chocorua Sunrise

Trail Report

For my son’s 9th birthday we spent the weekend in North Conway, New Hampshire at the Red Jacket Resort. The resort had an indoor water park with water slides and a wave pool that the boys could play in all day. Early Sunday morning I got up to make the short drive to Mount Chocorua to hike it for sunrise.

Mount Chocorua, one of the more difficult peaks in the White Mountains for me to pronounce, was named after a Sokosis Chief.  Legend had it that the mountain’s namesake leaped from the summit to his death while cursing the surrounding land rather than being killed by the white man who was pursuing him. It is that beautifully rocky, shark-fin peak you see peaking between trees when driving from Maine toward the Kancamagus Highway.

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Winter Bushwhack: Owl’s Head

Trail Report

A couple of friends and I took advantage of mild winter conditions to bag one of the more difficult winter 4000 Footers, a bushwhack to the Peak above Owls Head. The Peak above Owls Head is considered one of the more difficult hikes for several reasons: it is one of the more isolated peaks, by trail it is a 19 mile round-trip hike, there is no official trail to the summit of the peak and there are many water crossings which can be dangerous when the waters are high. To top this off, the best way to get to the peak in the winter is to do two bushwhacks known as the Black Pond Bushwhack and the Brutus Bushwhack.

Three of us drove up to the mountains Friday evening after work and camped at Hancock Campground, which was open year-round and across the street from the start of the hike. On the drive over Kancamagus Pass we pulled over to watch a moose munching leaves on the side of the road. Once at the campsite and after some food by the fire we turned in for an early morning start.

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Winter Hike: Flume/Liberty

Trail Report

For the first hike of the new year a friend of mine and I took the opportunity that some mild weather provided to grab a couple winter 4000 Footers. We considered different peaks for a while and landed on doing a traverse over Mount Flume and Mount Liberty from Lincoln Woods Visitor Center to Liberty Spring Trail. We considered the idea of doing Lincoln and Lafayette as well, but the forecast had some weather threatening in the afternoon and that was not a place we wanted to be stuck in bad weather.

After planting my car at Liberty Spring parking lot we shot back to Lincoln Woods and arrived at 8:00 am. It was overcast and there were light flurries, but the temperature was in the 20s and there was no wind at ground level. We headed up one of my least favorite trails, Lincoln Woods Trail, with microspikes in our pack. The trail reports were looking good with a nice solid pack on most trails. We considered whether or not to carry snowshoes as the conditions of Osseo Trail were unknown, but it had been long enough since the last snowfall that someone had probably already broken out the trail.

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Winter Hike: Willey Range

Trail Report

I’d been wanting to do a snowshoe of the Willey Range for quite some time. It seemed like the perfect place for a day-long snowshoe: it’s on the eastern side of the range (the weather infamously comes from the northwest in the winter), it’s almost entirely protected by forest, it includes three 4000 Footers and it affords some great views of the Presidential Range and down into Crawford Notch. Two friends and I attempted the Willey Traverse back in March but when one of us became sick we bailed after Mount Tom.

So on the morning of Christmas Eve I headed up to the mountains. My plan was to get an early start so that I could be back home in early afternoon to spend Christmas Eve with the family. I got up at 4:00 am, brewed some coffee and packed up the car. I’ve done the drive from Gorham, Maine to North Conway, New Hampshire about a hundred times, so it didn’t matter that it was pitch dark. I could have driven it with my eyes closed.

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Hike: Cabot Loop

Trail Report

I got up early on a Sunday morning in November in order to hike Mount Cabot in the northern White Mountain National Forest. I normally like to leave home early enough to arrive at the trailhead at sunrise. But the trailheads for Mount Cabot were located beyond the Berlin Fish Hatchery, which had a gate. I found information about the gate’s hours but most of it was a few years old. Not wanting to risk sitting around waiting for the gate to be opened, I left so I would arrive at 8:00 am, when the gate was supposed to open.

I got to the hatchery at 8:00 am as planned and the gate was open. I drove around York Pond and parked at the lot for the Unknown Pond Trail. There was one other car in the lot, and the weather was cold and breezy. Although the sky was mostly clear, there were clouds sitting on top of Mount Cabot. I hiked down the road to the start of the York Pond Trail. York Pond Trail and Bunnell Notch Trail were very flat for a while but with some mud, ice and water crossings over the Ammonoosuc Brook. As the trail started to climb beside the brook, I stopped to put on my microspikes.

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