October 22, 2011. The plan is to climb both Osceolas, West Osceola and Mount Osceola. The original plan was to do this hike from Tripoli Road starting at Livermore Trailhead to Greeley Ponds Trail then Mt. Osceola Trail down to Tripoli Road and then walk back to the car at Livermore. I prefer to do a loop instead of hiking out and back on the same trail, for me it's more bang for the buck. The route would have to change because Hurricane Irene wiped out the lower portion of Greeley Ponds Trail. So I would have to change the plan and instead park at the northern trailhead off Kancamagus Highway. The route would start on Greeley Ponds Trail off Kancamagus Highway to Mt. Osceola Trail down to Tripoli Road west on Tripoli Road to East Pond Trail back to Kancamagus Highway then a one mile walk back to the car.
Got out of bed at 3:30 AM and out the door by 4:30. The ride up was nothing adventuresome and I hit the trail at 6:30. As soon as I started out it began to snow, nothing in quantity just spitting for about a half hour. Nothing like the first glimpse of snow for the season to put a smile on my face, sorry it's a New England thing for me. At 7:00 I got my first glimpse of East Osceola and after turning right onto Mt. Osceola Trail the steep rocky climb up began. While climbing up this path I started thinking about Dr Suess and Hops On Rocks popped into my head. Don't ask me why Dr Suess came to me, I do not know, but this is where the name of my website came from. Most trails I have been on are nothing more then rocks and boulders even in some of the wet areas there are rocks strategically placed so one must hop from rock to rock, hence Hops On Rocks.
Two hours into the hike and I reach a slide, the third slide in three hikes, thankfully short and nothing like the last two. Twenty minutes go by and I reach the top of East Osceola. Not much to speak of as it is a wooded summit and the top is marked off by a rock cairn. The whole day would consist of no shots from the peaks to other mountains since the cloud cover was very low. I have my snack and head off towards Mount Osceola and on the way see some more evidence of Hurricane Irene with a section where trees have been uprooted and knocked over. Fifteen minutes after leaving East I make it to "the chimney". I've read about this and people make it sound challenging and fearsome but I didn't see any problems with it. Compared to the slides form the past two hikes this was a walk in the park. It's just a jumble of rocks that leads you almost straight up. With plenty of footholds and handholds I was up and over in no time.
A half hour after reaching the chimney I made it to Mount Osceola which was socked in the clouds with views limited to 100 feet. A few shots and off to head down Mt. Osceola Trail to Tripoli Road. On the way down I ran into about 70 people heading up to Osceola, a very popular hiking trail. I reached the bottom of the trail at quarter to twelve and walked on Tripoli Road for thirty-five minutes reaching the beginning of East Pond Trail. I got a few glimpses of Mount Osceola at the beginning of the trail and saw only a few people on this trail for the entire way. Not long into this section it started to rain and continued for the rest of the way. Reaching East Pond there was a couple tenting there, what a perfect and quiet spot to be camping, I was envious of them. 5.1 miles of hiking on this trail plus a mile on the highway and two hours and forty minutes later I am back at the car. A great long hike with the only downside being the lack of any views. I'll definately go back on a better day after I complete my goal of doing the 48.
Final numbers: 14.6 miles, 8 hours and 30 minutes, 2 peak, # of peaks to date - 8.