Franconia Ridge

Franconia Ridge

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Hiking Into Huntington Ravine

The Winter Solstice was to start at 6:03 this evening so it would be the last weekend before the winter 4,000 footers would be official. I didn't feel the need for bragging rights therefore I would not be hiking Sunday evening. I did feel the need to keep the hiking legs limbered up so a hike was in order. At the last minute I decided on a hike into Huntington Ravine to check out the snow and trail conditions as it looked as though it might not be a day for scenic views.

Avalanche Advisory at Tuckerman Ravine Trailhead

Corridor of heavy snow on the Huntington Ravine Trail

When I left the house the cloud ceiling was very low, maybe 500 feet. As I drove out of the valley where I live and got closer to Pinkham Notch the clouds started lifting but there was still a good overcast. It was a cold morning but temperatures were supposed to rise into the 20's with occasional snow flurries.

Mushroom with a snowy cap

I reached the parking lot at Pinkham Notch and there was plenty of parking available. I wore two layers under a fleece, EMS Endo pants, winter boots and gaiters. No one was carrying snowshoes so I left mine behind anticipating the trails to be well packed. The microspikes were packed as they always come with me in the winter. I would not need them and barebooted without difficulty for the entire hike.

First glimpse of Huntington Ravine

Clouds in the ravine

The Tuckerman Ravine Trail was well-packed and smooth. It was a quick trip up to the Huntington Ravine Trail. I was a little concerned that this trail might be a problem but I found it to be packed and only an occasional posthole with easy water crossings. There was plenty of snow along this trail. As I reached the steeper part of the trail I thought this might be the only place that I would need the microspikes but I had no problem climbing here with the bareboots.

A very deep hole beside the trail

Huntington Ravine from the first-aid cache

Downy woodpecker

Climbers zoomed in from high up in the ravine

After crossing the fire road the trail turned to soft powder with some significant postholes. I postholed once up to my thigh. One noteworthy hole was directly beside the trail and was big enough for a small hiker to be swallowed up. It went down ten to fifteen feet deep and care needs to be taken so as not to inadvertently step into it.

Snowflakes resting on my frosty fleece

I passed the first-aid cache and continued on to where the trail crosses over some large boulders. I decided to make this my turnaround point. Snow flurries were starting to fall but no accumulation. There was a large boulder I could stand on and get a good panoramic view. Clouds were coming across the top of the ravine but I managed to capture some photos and videos. I could see climbers making their way up the steep portion of the ravine and hear them calling out, "on belay".

Back at the first-aid cache

Sun through the clouds

Harvard Cabin

Starting my descent I was conscious of the deep loose snow hiding postholes and stayed in the somewhat packed center of the trail. Down at the Harvard Cabin there were a couple of climbers inside. I ate lunch and chatted with them. They were on their way up to check out the conditions in Huntington Ravine. I exchanged my wet layer with a dry one and replaced the damp fleece with my primaloft jacket. 

Huntington Ravine avalanche advisory

Wildcat Ski Area

This is the time of year when the snow covers the rocks on the trail and it was a nice smooth hike back down to Pinkham Notch. This was my last Fall hike for this year. After today it will offically be Winter hiking!

Panoramic view from inside Huntington Ravine

Climbers ascending Huntington Ravine

Hiking on the Huntington Ravine Trail

Having Fun in the Great Outdoors!

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