Franconia Ridge

Franconia Ridge

Sunday, October 23, 2016

A Preview of Winter on Waumbek

Rain on Saturday turned into snow overnight. The forecast on the high summits called for cold temps, snow and high winds. I was looking for a sheltered hike today that would keep me off the exposed summits. A hike up the Starr King Trail to Mount Starr King (3,907') and over to Mount Waumbek (4,006') seemed like a good choice to get a taste of winter.

When I stepped out the door to leave this morning the wind was howling and there was some light snow blowing around and it was cold. I loaded up the vehicle and was on my way. It was dark when I left and as daylight started I could see snow on the higher terrain. When I passed Appalachia parking lot there were only two cars there, an indication of the harsh conditions on the exposed Presidential summits today. I'm used to seeing overflow parking here on the weekends. 

There was a couple inches of snow on the ground as I drove through Jefferson. I pulled into the Starr King trailhead parking lot and was the first one there. Not for long, within a minute another hiker arrived. He was the first one to hit the trail. I was still trying to decide what to wear. I definitely needed a waterproof outer layer. The wind was blowing and snow was falling off the trees in clumps. My hood stayed up for the entire hike to keep the snow from going down the back of my neck.

I was soon on the snowy trail and did not have to go far before I was having to go through and around limbs and small trees that were bent over from the snow. This was only on the lower part of the trail and as I went higher the trail was clear but there was more snow. I stopped to change layers twice on the way up. Once to remove my fleece as I was starting to sweat too much and then further up I put it back on because it was getting cooler. I also traded my liner gloves that were getting wet for my waterproof mittens. That was the last change for the rest of the hike.

Up on Starr King there were no views as I expected. A quick pic of me beside the fireplace and I moved on to Waumbek. The section of trail between Starr King and Waumbek is my favorite on this hike. The wind was calm and there was lots of snow hanging heavy on the trees, it was a winter wonderland today. There were three hikers on the summit of Waumbek, the first one I saw in the parking lot and two young ladies that passed me on the trail. A few pics and I kept moving.

I was on my way to the view on the Kilkenny Ridge Trail which was about 50 yards away. As expected there were no views here either. But I was the first one here today. With no view I turned around and started back to the trailhead. I met more hikers on my return trip. I had already gotten my photos on Starr King so I didn't linger here and kept going.

I thought I would escape the stinging frozen precipitation that had been blowing into my face on the way up and especially irritating to the eyes. No such luck, it blew into my face on the way down too. There were many hikers on their way up and it made the trail slushy and very slippery. I fell once after stepping on a snow covered rock but did a slow motion controlled fall into the snow. I got back up, brushed myself off and kept on going.

Back at the parking lot the wind was still blowing and clumps of snow were still falling from the trees. I could not leave the car doors open for long as these clumps of snow were getting inside. A quick change into dry clothes and I was on my way home. Going back by Appalachia I counted only five cars in the parking lot and this was at 1:00 in the afternoon. It's not unusual for cars to be lined up and down the highway with hikers accessing the trails from here on a weekend.

Today's snowy hike was exactly what I was looking for...a nice winter hike on a trail that offered some protection from the huricaine-force winds and cold temps that were hitting the high summits. It was a great day to be out experiencing this first snow of the season!

Enjoy the pics!

 Snow right from the start

 Lots of small trees bent across the trail

 Old spring

 More snow-laden trees across the trail

 Lots of white

Heavy snow on tree limbs

 On Starr King

 No view from Starr King today

 On the summit of Mount Waumbek

An unbroken Kilkenny Ridge Trail starts here

Viewpoint from the Kilkenny Ridge Trail as snow pummels the camera view today

Snow and ice encrusted spruce bough.

 Colorful trail

 Back at the trailhead as big clumps of snow start falling off the trees

The snow on this sign was appropriate for today's hike!

Having Fun in the Great Outdoors!

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