Franconia Ridge

Franconia Ridge

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Winter Preview on the Tuckerman Ravine Trail

With an uncertain weekend weather forecast I had no firm plans for hiking. But after driving through Pinkham Notch yesterday and seeing the snow I was anxious to get out on a trail and put down some footprints in the white stuff. High winds were forecast so I was looking for a sheltered hike. I decided to hike up to Hermit Lake via the Tuckerman Ravine Trail.

Snow covered slopes at Wildcat

Pinkham Notch snow

It had been two weeks since my last hike so I needed to stretch my legs and work out the kinks. This would be a good hike for that and get me into the snow that would provide a little preview to the winter that will soon be here. As I began my drive into Pinkham Notch the first trace of snow appeared. When I passed by Wildcat the ski trails were covered but they're going to need some help from the snowmakers before the slopes are ready for skiers and snowboarders.

Crystal Cascade

Snowy path

There was plenty of available parking at the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center. The wind was blowing and the temp was cold so I put on a couple of layers and also my gaiters for some added wind protection. I was soon heading up the Tuckerman Ravine Trail. Along the way I passed two groups of hikers. There were occasional gusts of wind but the woods provided good shelter from the brunt of the blasts of cold air.

The trail conditions were a combination of wet, mud and snow with just a few patches of ice. Good foot placement was necessary and I managed to keep from falling but did have a few minor slips. I knew that I would have to be extra careful on my descent. The microspikes were in my pack but I never needed them and didn't want to wear them down on the rocks.

Hermit Lake caretaker cabin

Tuckerman Ravine

Turnaround point for today

I reached the caretaker cabin and went inside for a moment, there were two other hikers already standing in there taking a break from the wind and cold. I checked the wind speed guage and saw a gust of 35 mph. There was really no sustained winds just gusts of varying speeds with occasional calm periods. Back outside I put on my primaloft jacket, had a snack and drank some hot tea.

Hot tea on a cold picnic table

The two groups of hikers that I passed on the way up arrived as I was taking my break. After eating I walked around and took some photos of the obscured views. Clouds were even hanging down into the Tuckerman bowl. This would be as far as I was going today. Although I was warm overall my fingers were cold to the bone from taking photos. I put on a warmer set of gloves, put on my pack and started the descent back to the parking lot in Pinkham Notch.

Descending Tuckerman Ravine Trail

Wildcat ski slopes between the trees

I was careful to watch my footing and slow the pace just a bit because descents are usually when I take a good fall. About half-way down I changed out of the primaloft jacket and back to a shell. I also took off the gaiters and noticed the difference immediately. I hadn't realized how much warmer it was with the gaiters on but I didn't really need them now.

Sherburne Ski Trail

Cutler River

Back at the parking lot with a view toward the Wildcats

Coating of snow on Pinkham Notch Visitor Center

Back at the parking lot the wind was still kicking up some good gusts. Seems that Maine got the brunt of this latest Nor'easter. It was actually a good day for a hike in the woods that was sheltered from some of the wind up here in the White Mountains. Above treeline was a different story and I had no desire to venture up onto the high summits with clouds and howling hurricane force winds. But at the lower elevations it was great to get out and sample that first taste of winter! 

Snowy trail to Hermit Lake

Having Fun in the Great Outdoors!

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