January 5, 2013.
The goal today is to do another section of the Crawford-Ridgepole Trail up in the Squam Lakes region. A climb up to Mt Webster from Old Mountain Road then over to the junction with Mt Morgan Trail and back the same route. The weather is in the high 20's and sunny and supposed to be not that much wind, at least by home, but up here it was blowing pretty good all day.
Didn't leave the house until 7:15 am and after missing the road due to GPS malfunctions I get to the trailhead at 8:50 and fifteen minutes later on the trail. Up Old Mountain Trail, the one and the same I did six weeks ago, and quite the difference today. About 8-10 inches of snow cover the very eroded old road.
In less than fifteen minutes I reach the high point of the road and make a left turn onto Crawford-Ridgepole Trail. The trail starts to descend down at a slight pitch following an old stone wall, gotta love this New England feature, for a ways. About a half mile in and the trail, which has been broken by other snowshoer's, veers to the right and the trail significantly changes. I immediately look back and see a faint resemblance of a trail heading up the hill but figure this track must be the right way because there are no other trails that veer off from Crawford-Ridgepole. Then I see a horizontal red and orange blaze, the blazes up to this point have been vertical yellow, on the tree and through the trees I can see Squam Lake. Now I know this can not be the right way and must be following an old unmapped trail, will have to look into this one at some other time. Turning around and I reach the point where I believe the trail goes, it is unbroken from this point on, and soon see a yellow blaze and know I am on the right path now. I resign myself that for the next three and half miles I will be breaking trail by myself in my snowshoes. Nothing like tromping through ten inches of snow for quite some distance. It actually wasn't too bad as the trail up to Mt Webster never got that steep.
The sky is a beautiful deep blue when looking straight up.
A little over an hour from starting and I reach a bonus ledge I wasn't aware of. The views are pretty good for nearby peaks but the higher up ones are still flirting with the clouds. Mts Morgan and Percival are visible, the two peaks I did last weekend, and the cliffs are even more impressive from this vantage point.
Back on the trail and half an hour later I pass another ledge with the same views but higher elevation. The peaks are still in the clouds and I continue on and remind myself to stop here on the way back if the views are better. Crossing over to the other side of the ridge via the trail and I get a view west of Mt Prospect and others but the wind is biting cold coming in from the west so I only stay to take one shot.
Moving on and I reach the point at the top of the ridge and time to dive into the woods to my right to reach the high point of Mt Webster. It is supposed to be only a couple hundred feet in but there is no trail or path leading up the hill to the actual top. Picking my way through the brush and trees I reach the top and as close as one can get to an "official" summit. The GPS says I am at the high point and the terrain agrees so this is as close as it gets. Back down to the trail and a decision needs to be made. It is about another mile to the junction with Mt Morgan Trail and so far it has been a little exhausting breaking trail. I decide to press on for a ways and see how I feel and how the trail is heading down to the junction. About a quarter mile in and I see my first person of the day heading towards me. I thought for sure I would have another NPD as this trail has seen no activity for at least a week or two. This lifts my spirits as I am not the only one breaking trail now and with some renewed vigor I continue on down to Mt Morgan Trail in no time. I stop at the junction and have some snacks and then return the way I came and eventually meet up with the same guy who is returning about halfway up the trail. I make my way back to the second ledge and now the views are much better. Chocorua and Whiteface can now be seen cloud free.
I even get a shot of bird who was flying by as I was taking a shot towards Sandwich Dome and Whiteface, I did not notice the bird in the picture until I got home. I do remember it flying by me but only got a glimpse of it as it flew by me on the right side. It looks like some type of hawk but what type I don't know.
I can even see as far away as Mt Pleasant in Maine which is about 40 miles as the crow(hawk) flies.
Heading down all of a sudden the woods are quiet as the wind has stopped for the moment. Then I hear what sounds like a plane off in the distance. It is a strange roaring sound and definitely not a plane. Then it hits me as to what it is, it's the wind coming across the valley towards me. It takes about ten minutes and then it is blowing through the trees above me. What a unique experience. Another stop at the first ledge and the view of Squam Lake.
A zoom of Chocorua and no evidence of any hikers.
Heading back to Old Mountain Road and finally reaching it and one last shot of now and before.
Back at the car and the time for the conditions was pretty dang good. Book time for this hike was 5:31 and that is not winter time nor breaking trail time. All in all a pretty good day with some surprising views.
Final numbers: 9.3 miles, 5 hours and 35 minutes.
Redline Miles: 4.0, Total to Date: 284.9