Like me, you might be feeling a bit blue about these less than perfect wintry New Engalnd conditions. Despite the warmer temps and precip, there's still great winter hiking to be had up here in the whites. Today I met up with an old college classmate, Justin to hike Mt. Hale (4054ft) via the Fire Warden's Trail.
The peak's namesake Edward Everett Hale, is an interesting Bostonian who earned this honor with his contributions to the 19th and early 20th century religious communities, fiction and non-fiction literature, and social reform/justice. He was an early pioneer in modern science fiction topics, writing about time travel and publishing the first known description of now ubiquitous artificial satellites in his story "The Brick Moon". We thank him for his contributions and this peak!
With the warm weather and rain we've had lately we expected soft snow and possibly icy trail conditions. We parked at the end of Little River Rd., hiked across the bridge, and headed up the "Herdpath" to the North Twin Trail trail head. Road access to this trail head is closed in the winter. We enjoyed the next ~mile of the hike with river music dancing on our right and continued on down the east side of the river. The trails got a little confusing here with tracks crossing the river at various points and others continuing on the east side of the river. Continuing on, Justin spotted the Fire Warden Trail , but it looked like someone had just wandered off trail for a bit so we kept going down North Twin. After another ~0.5mi we got the feeling we had missed it, since the map suggested the junction should be less than a mile from the trail head. Ready for an adventure, we strapped on our snowshoes and started breaking trail straight up to Hale from that point. The climb was definitely an adventure with some thigh deep snow, some sections of dense pine, and a few good scrambles, but manageable for the most part. Justin led most of the way since his snowshoes gave him better purchase in the soft snow than mine. There were some beautiful gnarly pines draped with Spanish moss along our bushwhack (it's actually neither Spanish nor moss, it's related to the pineapple!) and plenty of animal tracks likely pine marten and hare, maybe some small cats. We got some fat rain drops as the clouds moved near 3500ft. As we neared the summit we were caught in the saddle between Hale and an unnamed neighboring peak, but soon found our way onto Fire Warden and made it up to the summit. After a customary tap of the summit marker and a quick layer change we let our legs loose and bombed down Fire Warden and some ski tracks between the switchbacks. The down hill was a blast and it looked like the skiers had a great time breaking trail the day before. We made it down and back with a short 2mi jog along North Twin Trail and Herdpath. Overall a great adventure. I look forward to checking it out again in the summer.
Check out Justin's website, JCCrossCrountry for great trip write ups and his inspiring passion for the outdoors.
Justin got me thinking about my 2017 hiking and general outdoor goals. I have some ideas including a Pemi, hut traverse, and 48. I'm going to dig in and make some solid plans for this year and further down the line. You can expect to see those here soon.
Race update! I'm organizing an 8mi/5km race at Gunstock this Spring. I'm finalizing the date and wrapping up plans in the next week. Registration should be open by Jan. 30th. After working on other organizer's racers in a number of roles, I'm excited to be organizing this one from start to finish. Keep an eye out for an announcement on the Fresh Tracks Facebook page.