Franconia Ridge

Franconia Ridge

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Hiking to Hermit Lake in a Snowstorm

With a snowstorm in the forecast for today and heavy rain on the way for tomorrow I decided to hike in the snow. I wanted a trail that I knew would be broken out so I chose the Tuckerman Ravine Trail. It's not a long drive for me and it's a popular trail. I just wanted to get out in the freshly, falling snow. My first intent was to hike up into the floor of Tuckerman Ravine but with a late start and avalanche warnings I would have to be satisfied with hiking to Hermit Lake.

The roads were very slippery on my drive up to Pinkham Notch so I took it slow and easy. Visibility was limited with the falling snow and I could barely see the ski slopes on Wildcat. Not surprising, there was plenty of parking at the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center. The wind was blowing the falling snow sideways. I layered up and walked to the trailhead. My next decision was whether or not to wear the snowshoes or carry them. When I got to the trail I decided to use them. They would stay on for the entire hike.

It was a very late start for me, just after noontime. I usually like an early start when I hike but sometimes it's best to get a late start. This was one of those days for a late start as the storm was supposed to wrap up around mid-afternoon. There were a lot of skiers skinning up to make the run down the Sherburne Ski Trail. I actually saw more skiers and snowboarders than hikers.

I found the snowshoes to be the right choice for the trail conditions. The trail was somewhat packed by the skiers that were skinning up but the snow was still loose and fluffy so the snowshoes worked well providing good traction. I saw a number of hikers barebooting that didn't seem to be having a problem but I was still satisfied with my decision of wearing snowshoes.

It was an enjoyable hike up to Hermit Lake with the Tuckerman Ravine Trail providing good protection from the wind but I was still covered with a good coating of snow. The wind picked up at Hermit Lake and it felt cold with a temperature of 25°F. The one surprising thing that I saw was an unbroken Tuckerman Ravine Trail past the caretaker cabin. The many times I have been up here in the snow I have never seen the trail not broken out. Seems everyone was heeding the avalanche warnings.

I broke out part of the trail just far enough to get a view up to the Tuckerman Ravine bowl. But between the clouds and snow there was no views of the bowl. This would be my turn around point and after a few photos I returned to the caretaker cabin. I stopped at the cabin briefly for a snack and some more photos. I then began my descent.

Skiers were still arriving as I started my trip down and I would see many more along the way. It was a nice hike down. The snow had stopped and the clouds were lifting. I was able to get some views of the Wildcat Ski Area through the trees. I got back to the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center and removed my snowshoes, they served me well today.

This was my last hike before the official winter hiking season begins next Wednesday, December 21st. I've had some good winter warm-up hikes this Fall. I am halfway through my winter 48 4,000 footers. I look forward to adding more summits toward the completion of this goal!

Enjoy the photos!

Snow and wind on the way up to Pinkham Notch

Lots of skiers enjoying the conditions at Wildcat Ski Area

High avalanche danger in the ravines

Looking upstream on the Cutler River

Looking downstream on the Cutler River

Crystal Cascade

Interesting growth on this tree

Nicely packed and smooth

Snow is piling up

An unbroken Huntington Ravine Trail

I don't know how this CAT got up here

Beautiful trail

An unbroken Raymond Path

Coming up to Hermit Lake

Hermit Lake caretaker cabin just ahead

Tuckerman Ravine Trail is unbroken past the caretaker cabin

The turn around point

Caretaker cabin

Snowfall has ended

Beginning the descent

Snowmobile parked beside the trail

Cutler drainage

Wildcat Ski Area from the Tuckerman Ravine Trail

Storm is over at the end of the hike with clearing clouds and some blue sky

Having Fun in the Great Outdoors!

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