March 30, 2013.
Big plans for today and from the title they obviously did not pan out. This was going to be my first over night hike and a trial run for next year's Appalachian Trail adventure. My plan was to park at Sawyer River Road and hike over Mt Tremont down to the Kancamagus Highway and then back up to Sawyer Pond Trail and find a decent site to spend the night. The planned hike:
The actual hike:
It's a beautiful day out with bright blue sunny skies and mild temps. Arriving at Sawyer River Road just off of Route 302 at the winter parking lot. It's a late start for me due to my taking time to prepare and insure I have everything I need. On the trail, actually the road, at 10:30 walking south on Route 302 to the trail head for Mt Tremont Trail. Reaching the trail about twenty minutes later and some of my apprehensions of the trip are put at ease.
The trail is broken and a 100 yards up the trail I stop to put the snowshoes on due to the softening snow. Leaving my backpack I head back down as I forgot to get a picture of the trail sign. Back up to get my pack and off I go up the easy grade of Mt Tremont Trail. It follows a brook for a ways through the woods and then out into some open birch glades with the sun beating through the leafless trees.
Down into a valley and then it all changes, the easy part is a short memory. The climb becomes steeper and the snow pack deeper. The trail also begins to peter out as there is only two sets of tracks up this section of trail. As I get higher up so does the snow pack, ducking under branches and limbs that normally during the non-winter months would be above my head. Snagging branches here and there as they tug and get caught on my external frame pack. The snow is an easy three to four feet deep here and the excitement of this hike is quickly dwindling. About three quarters of a mile from the summit and the track ends it is now trail breaking time. This section is steep, tiring and frustrating with the low branches. Getting slowly close to the summit and I get a peek at Mt Washington through the trees.
In a few spots and just locating the trail also adds to the struggles. I should have heeded the guidebooks comments and not chosen this loop for today. If the trail is not broken out to Mt Tremont on this trail then certainly it will not be broken out on the other side as that trail is rarely used. Still slogging up and I start re-evaluating my plan and the time it is going to take me to get to a reasonable spot to overnight. It's just about two o'clock and I am probably two to three tenths of a mile from the summit with no relief from the steeps. It will probably be another half hour to hit the summit then a couple three hours to get down to a reasonable spot and a good four hours to get to where I really wanted to sleep. Breaking trail for at least the next 10-12 miles is not a pleasant option and I decide to abort the plan and head back. Turning around and I am rewarded with a consolation prize.
Looking back this probably the wisest choice as it would have been nothing but a slogfest given the unbroken trail and the height of the trail being in the trees. I will save this loop for after the snow and repeat my original overnight plans later this year.
Final numbers: 7.2 miles, 5 hours and 25 minutes.
Redline Miles: 2.6, Total to Date: 350.8