Franconia Ridge

Franconia Ridge

Saturday, April 6, 2013

"Winter" Hike to Hermit Lake

Earlier this past week I had planned on hiking above treeline today but that changed this morning with wind chills dipping to -35 degrees below zero. This was going to be a hike with mid-winter conditions. I wanted to get outdoors, work off some of the winter flab and stretch the hiking legs. The choice today was Hermit Lake and  even though it was a solo hike I knew I wouldn't be alone.

 A snowy start with slippery roads

There was a snow squall as I was leaving this morning. The roads were snow covered and slippery. I was hoping that I left early enough to get into the parking lot in Pinkham Notch, did not want to park on Route 16. The wind was picking up as I made my way up to the Notch. I had no problem finding a place to park in the lot.

 Ski tracks on a frozen tributary

 Clouds clearing

I put on some layers and was uncertain as to whether I should take my snowshoes. Looking around I noticed that no one was carrying snowshoes, mostly skis and snowboards. The snowshoes stayed behind.

 Buried shelter

Shortly after starting up the Tuckerman Ravine Trail I put on the microspikes, probably could have managed without them but I like the traction. The higher I went the colder and windier it got. There was plenty of snow and it was hanging heavy on the trees.

 Need a taller sign post

Halfway up the tube started freezing on my water bladder. To try and prevent this I would blow the excess water back down into the bladder after drinking. This worked for a while but by the time I reached Hermit Lake it was frozen solid.

I arrived at the Hermit Lake caretaker cabin where a very large crowd of hikers, skiers and snowboarders were gathered. Most appeared to be continuing up into the ravine. The wind had really picked up and it was very cold. I had a quick snack, took some photos and a video then started my descent.

On the way down I cut over to the Sherburne ski trail to check on the conditions. There was plenty of snow and I saw no bare spots or ice. It was primo conditons and I would like to have skied back down but just didn't want to carry the extra weight today.

 Wildcat from Tuckerman Ravine Trail

Crystal Cascade

Back at the parking lot I found that arriving early paid off. There were vehicles parked along Route 16 north and south as far as the eye could see. The parking lot full sign was posted at the entrance.

Although I like a nice Winter hike I'm ready for a warm weather Spring hike. This may be a year when we go from Winter to Summer and skip Spring.

A windy panoramic view from the Hermit Lake caretaker cabin.

Having Fun in the Great Outdoors!

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