Franconia Ridge

Franconia Ridge

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Mount Kearsarge North on a Spring Day

I wanted to do this hike today for a couple of reasons. First, I really enjoy this hike and the views that it offers. Second, this is a hike that I did two years ago on March 22, 2012. That day was warm with temps in the 80's, no snow on the ground, I wore shorts and short sleeves and carried a light load in my backpack. There would be no repeat of those conditions.

Trailhead - March 22, 2012

Trailhead - March 22, 2014

 Freshly pecked

It was a day of stark contrasts from that day two years ago. There is LOTS of snow. Microspikes, snowshoes, extra layers, and hot tea were in my pack today. I started with three layers, winter boots, warm hat and gloves. The temperature was 3°F when I left the house early this morning and there was snow in the forecast.

 Mount Chocorua

Summits blending into the sky

Even with a small plowed parking area I initially missed the trailhead and turned around just before the closed gate. The plowed snow banks are very high and I somehow missed the trailhead sign but found it as I returned. So I was first in the parking area and on the trail today. One hiker pulled in as I was getting ready to start my hike.

 Mount Chocorua

 Summit of Chocorua

 Cranmore Mountain 

 Summit of Cranmore

Wasn't sure if the trail was broken and had to climb up on the snow bank to check it. I was glad to see a narrow broken path. With snowshoes in one hand and trekking poles in the other I began my hike to the summit.

 Black Mountain

Inside the Fire Tower March 22, 2012

Inside the Fire Tower March 22, 2014

The snow was soft and even though I was not postholing I decided to put the snowshoes on early into the hike. It was a smooth ascent and I was grateful for those that had broken the trail.

As I got closer to the summit the wind picked up and the temperature got colder. The fire tower came into sight and I was glad to be able to get out of the wind. Off to the west I could see the snow approaching. Despite the overcast there were distant views in every direction except for the high summits that became covered with low clouds. There was still time to get some photos from the surrounding area and the fire tower made a perfect spot to do this.

 Mount Kearsarge North Summit March 22, 2012

 Mount Kearsarge North Summit March 22, 2012

After a quick snack I added a layer and prepared to make my descent. A few more photos from below the tower and I was chilled to the bone. I grabbed my snowshoes in one hand and trekking poles in the other and made a dash down the trail. Once I got into the trees the wind disappeared and I could put my snowshoes on in relative comfort.

 Fire Tower March 22, 2012

 Fire Tower March 22, 2014

The snow started falling as I reached the ledges. I passed seven hikers that were making their ascent, a total of eight for the day. I was actually expecting many more on this popular trail.  

 Cranmore getting some fresh powder

 Rock - March 22, 2012

 Rock - March 22, 2014

Back at the trailhead the snow was falling moderately. The endless winter continues and shows no signs of releasing its grip. Snowy trails are going to be a factor throughout this entire Spring hiking season.

Snowing back at the trailhead

Although not the warm summer-like day of two years ago it was still a very enjoyable hike over a nicely broken, well-packed trail with rewarding views at the summit. Here's a look at my Kearsarge hike on March 22, 2012 - A Warm "Summer" Day Hike on Mount Kearsarge .

Panoramic view from Mount Kearsarge North

Having Fun in the Great Outdoors!

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