Franconia Ridge

Franconia Ridge

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Cold Calm Before the Storm in Tuckerman

I stepped outside this morning to a temperature of -12°F but there was no wind which made it quite tolerable. But make no mistake it was still very cold! The weather forecast called for very cold temperatures with a Nor'easter on the way for the overnight hours. I was looking for a short hike to test my cold weather gear and check out the conditions in one of my favorite places that is close by. That would be Tuckerman Ravine. The plan was to go as far as the first-aid cache and capture some photos of the surrounding terrain.

 Sun coming up on the way to the trailhead

 White summits

 Snowy trailhead

Recent blowdown

 Frozen Cutler River

There was plenty of parking available at Pinkham Notch. Either the cold or the approaching storm appeared to keep many hikers away today, maybe both. It was turning out to be a beautiful day despite the cold temps. I layered up and was on my way.

 Frozen Crystal Cascade

 Snow-packed trail

 About 100 yards into the Tuckerman Ravine Trail there is a large blowdown that requires going around. There was several inches of snow packed down on the trail and I was able to bare boot to Hermit Lake.

First glimpse of the Tuckerman Bowl

Just before reaching the caretaker cabin I met one of the Snow Rangers and his dog Lilly. I asked about the conditions up to the floor of the ravine and he suggested using some traction. He said he had slipped a couple of times while descending from there.

Tuckerman Ravine from Hermit Lake

 Ranger snowmobile at caretaker cabin

Ranger's companion

 Sun dropping

A few more minutes and I reached the cabin. The sun was shining on the deck and it felt good. I enjoyed a snack and some hot tea while snapping some photos. The ranger's dog was full of energy and entertaining as she grabbed a hiker's glove and ran off with it while he was putting on crampons. The ranger said that was one of her favorite games.

Lion Head from Hermit Lake

 Basking in the sun on the deck

 Top of Wildcat

 After a short break I put on the microspikes and continued my ascent to the first-aid cache. This was not a well-beaten path and there were very few footprints in the snow. It was a bit slippery in spots but managed to remain upright, I was thinking I would have to be a bit more careful on the way down.

 First-aid cache

 Sun sets early in the ravine

I met four hikers on the way up. Seems we were all not going any further than the floor of the ravine today. Reaching the first-aid cache the sun had already dropped and the drop in temperature was very noticable. I didn't stay long, took a few photos then started my descent. There was only one other hiker and his dog that I saw on my way back to Hermit Lake.

Arriving back at the caretaker cabin I removed my microspikes and continued back to Pinkham Notch. Several more hikers were making their way up to Hermit Lake as I made my way down. Most of the rocks were covered with snow and there was only a few insignificant patches of ice.

Sun going down on the way home

It didn't feel any warmer back at the parking area. Any wind today would have definitely been a challenge. Trail conditions were much better than I thought they would be and while the cold weather attire kept me warm it was still a little damp from sweating. I even managed to keep my water tube from freezing. So it was cold temps, good trail conditions, sunshine and no crowd...a very enjoyable hike into Tuckerman Ravine!

Having Fun in the Great Outdoors!

No comments:

Post a Comment