Franconia Ridge

Franconia Ridge

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Ramblin' 'round the Ravines

Woke up this morning with the wind howling, cold temps and cloudy skies. The plan today was to hike into Huntington Ravine then around to Tuckerman Ravine. My son Brandon did not have any plans so I asked if he would like to go...and he did, the first time in a year and a half. It was sure nice to have him along!

 Clouds rolling over the summits

Wind-blown haze

Checking the avalanche advisory

Commencing our hike

We arrived at Pinkham Notch to a very gnarly parking lot. There were deep frozen icy ruts and very high snow banks, still a lot of snow in the Notch. It was cold with a good wind blowing, like a mid-Winter day! Looking around I noticed that no one was carrying snowshoes, so ours stayed in the vehicle. We layered up and hit the Tuckerman Ravine Trail. 

Bright sunshine

On the Huntington Ravine Trail

Negotiating a large posthole

There was a steady stream of skiers, snowboarders and sledders going up but not as crowded as I expected it to be. The trail was firm and we stayed with the bareboots. Brandon was setting a good pace and it wasn't long before we were turning onto the Huntington Ravine Trail.

Easy under

Except for a few old postholes this trail was also firm and in pretty good shape. The large snow bridge over the Cutler River was also in good shape although someone before us had a major posthole incident that went down into the water.

Trekking pole in a deep posthole

Getting closer to Huntington Ravine

Albert Dow first aid cache

We crossed the Fire Road and continued toward the floor of Huntington Ravine. I wanted to get close enough for a good panoramic view and watch the climbers as they made their ascent. The wind was still blowing steady and we stayed long enough for me to get some good photos. We then began our hike over to Tuckerman Ravine.

Climbers in Huntington Ravine

Ice climber

Huntington Ravine

It was a very nice hike along the Huntington Ravine Fire Road. We stopped briefly at the Harvard Cabin, which was closed, and got a photo. We turned off on the Raymond Path. This was also nicely broken and firm so we were able to continue with bareboots without postholing.

Harvard Cabin

Back on the Tuckerman Ravine Trail the steady stream of people continued. Most had either skis or snowboards and a quick descent would be their reward for carrying an extra load although some were skinning up thus avoiding the extra weight on their back.

We were passing a group just before the Hermit Lake caretaker cabin when I heard,"Hey, Don Weeks!" It was fellow hiker Jill hiking with her friend Lynne. We all walked to the cabin where we stopped to eat and take a brief break. I was also hoping to get some momentary shelter from the wind which seemed to be coming from every direction. At least the sun was bright and it "felt" warm.

Heading up single file

A shoveled-out water pump

Brandon and I commenced our ascent to the floor of Tuckerman Ravine. He was once again setting a good pace and it wasn't long before I knew the microspikes should have gone on by now. The trail turned into a steep and slippery slope. I found a flat, dry rock and put the spikes on. The going got much better after that.

On the floor of Tuckerman Ravine

Starting our descent

Arriving at the floor of the ravine I thought the wind would die down a bit, it didn't. There were a number of skiers going up the safer parts of the ravine but no large crowds. It's still a bit early in the Spring season for going over the headwall and there was a moderate avalache danger posted for Tuckerman. It appears there will be some great late Spring skiing in the bowl.

Jill and Lynne going up the Tuckerman Ravine Trail

Wildcat in the distance

After some photos we turned around and started our descent. On the way down we passed Jill and Lynne on their way up into the final stretch of trail to the bottom of the Tuckerman bowl. They were going to be rewarded, as we were, with some great snowy scenery!

A steep slippery slide

I helped Brandon put his microspikes on as we were nearing a steep slippery section of the trail with some very loose snow. We took our time and reached the bottom unscathed. Back at HoJo's there was still a crowd and many dogs running around having a great time. We didn't stay long and were soon continuing our descent to Pinkham Notch.

Hermit Lake shelter

Completed the loop

It was early afternoon and there were still many skiers heading up. They were going to find some great conditions for skiing down. We could hear a lot of hooting and wa-hooing over on the Sherburne Ski Trail that runs beside the Tuckerman Ravine Trail, people having a good time on their run down.

Crystal Cascade opening up

The air was getting warmer and the wind had diminished. The snow was very soft and loose as we got closer to the trailhead. We arrived back at the parking lot to deep slush and water. While not exactly a warm Spring day it was hard to beat the sunny, deep blue sky above the snowy ravines. It made for a great day of hiking!

Panoramic view of Huntington Ravine

Panoramic view of  Tuckerman Ravine

Having Fun in the Great Outdoors!

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