Franconia Ridge

Franconia Ridge

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Mount Hale via Hale Brook Trail

Partly sunny, cold temps and windy on the high summits was in the forecast for today. I decided to hike Mount Hale but was not sure which trail to use. It was a choice between the Fire Warden Trail or Hale Brook Trail. After the fresh snow from this past week I figured the best bet for a broken trail would be the Hale Brook Trail. So I left the house at 6:30am heading for Zealand Road.

Ammonoosuc River 

Sun peering through a snowy forest

View from Zealand Road

There were several vehicles in the parking lot when I arrived. With the amount of frost covering them it appeared that these hikers had spent the night at Zealand Hut. I layered up and was on my way. The sun was just coming over the mountains and it made for a beautiful walk along Zealand Road. There was a nice firm path on the road and I bare-booted to the trailhead. It was a nice warm-up prior to the actual hike to the summit.

Arriving at the Trailhead


Sun shining through a cloudy veil

I arrived at the trailhead and found the Hale Brook Trail to be nicely broken. As the trail began its moderate climb I put on my snowshoes for some added traction in the loose powdery snow. There was no change in snow depth or trail conditions all the way to the summit although the trees did get heavier with snow with elevation gain.

Reaching the viewless summit I walked around and found no other footprints or broken trails, that included the unbroken Lend-a-Hand Trail as well as the Fire Wardens Trail. It appears I chose the right trail for today's hike.

A rare view through the trees

View from the top of Mount Hale

Another view from the top

After taking a few photos I learned my first lesson of the day. When I picked up my backpack I noticed what appeared to be a pee-hole in the snow only to discover that I had not screwed the cap to my thermos on tightly and every drop of my hot tea had drained out. Lesson learned, always double-check the cap on my thermos.

Summit of Mount Hale

Back at the beginning

Another 2.7 miles to the parking lot from here

I spent about ten minutes on the summit and then started my descent. It was time to learn my second lesson of the day as I made my way across a small brook crossing. I was heading down at a pretty good pace and stepped on the snow bridge over the brook, the bridge collapsed and I did a nice face plant into the snow. Lesson learned, step over the snow bridge if possible. Now I ask, what's a good hike without a few lessons learned?

Mount Hale

Zealand River


It an was uneventful hike back to the trailhead, no more lessons. This had been a truly solo hike having not seen another person until now. I heard voices and a group of cross-country skiers were on the Zealand Road. Then a group of snowshoers followed them. There were many people coming and going on the Zealand Road.

I removed my snowshoes and bare-booted back to the parking lot. The sun was shining brightly and made for a pleasant 2.7 mile walk. Another beautiful winter day in the White Mountains and I was glad to be able to get out there and enjoy it!

View of Mount Washington from Zealand Road

Having Fun in the Great Outdoors!

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