Franconia Ridge

Franconia Ridge

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Lots Of Snow On Wildcat D

A snowstorm on Friday into Saturday brought 18" to the high summits. I was wondering where I might hike today that had the possibility of broken trails. I decided on Wildcat D (4,062') via the Polecat Trail. I figured this ski trail should be well groomed after all the new snow. It would only be a short hike on the Wildcat Ridge Trail to the summit and manageable even if it wasn't broke out.

The weather forecast called for clearing throughout the day. I took my time getting ready hoping the weather would be better a little later. As I left the house the clouds were clearing. Driving up into Pinkham Notch the clouds were hovering over the high summits and clearing over the Wildcats. There was lots of blue sky and sunshine.

I arrived at the Wildcat Mountain ski area parking lot as it was quickly filling up. The temperature was cool but not cold and I knew that layering would be tricky.
I went into the lodge and purchased my $10 trail pass that's required for using the trails. Back at the car I got layered up and packed up. I carried the snowshoes knowing I would be putting them on when I got to the ski trail. The parking lot was plowed but had enough snow for one person to ski from his car to the slopes. This would dramatically change when I returned from my hike.

I started my hike on the StrayCat Trail. The beginning of the trail was groomed but quickly turned into ungroomed soft powder and while that might have been great stuff for the skiers and snowboarders it was tough on this snowshoer! By the time I go to the Polecat Trail I was already feeling beat. Once I got on the groomed Polecat Trail I got my second wind. While I thought this was better I still had to stay in the shade when I could due to the warm Spring sun making the snow sticky and causing it to ball up on my snowshoes.

About halfway up the mountain I saw a familiar snowboarder coming toward me, it was my son Brandon. He was enjoying some spectacular Spring conditions. There was lots of soft and packed powder without any ice patches. I wouldn't see him again until the end of my hike. I continued to stay in the shade when I could but had to watch for skiers and snowboarders as I crossed back and forth on the trail.

The top of the Polecat Trail levels out just before getting to the top of the chairlift. A nice breather after 2.75 miles of up. There was a stiff wind blowing making it feel a lot cooler. I put on my down jacket as I was quickly cooling off between the temperature drop and sweating. I started up the Wildcat Ridge Trail and noticed ski boot postholing tracks. This is not unusual because lots of skiers like to walk up to the observation tower. The snow was deep and the trail was steep so it was tough going but I was expecting this. I was actually surprised that it was broken out at all.

When I reached the observation tower there were two skiers on the deck. They had been the first ones to break the trail to the tower. There was so much snow that the stairs were covered almost to the level of the observation deck. It was nice and warm without any wind, the down jacket came off. I spent some time at the observation tower basking in the sun and enjoying the views. After photos and something to eat I began my descent.

It was a quick descent. I was making better time than some of the beginner skiers. I heard the comments that I was going to get down before them and I almost did. When I arrived at the bottom my son Brandon came up behind me as I was taking off my snowshoes. He said the trail conditions were great, better than he had seen them in years. I had to agree, even the glades skiing was looking good. There were skiers and snowboarders going everywhere on the mountain, it was all good.

On the way back to my car I remembered the skier going across the parking lot this morning. He would have had a very difficult time doing it in the afternoon. The snow had melted and it was all mud. The snow in the parking lot doesn't stand much of a chance against the April sun. It was a spectacular Spring day to be on the mountain and it appeared everyone was having a great time.

With more snow in the forecast for this week there's going to be some interesting hiking this Spring!

Enjoy the photos and videos from today's hike!

A cloud covered Mount Washington on my drive to Wildcat

Northern Presidentials are covered in clouds

Wildcat under blue sky and sun with some fair weather clouds

Ski slopes are looking great

Top of the chairlift

Heading up the Polecat Trail with a look back

Zooming in on two skiers breaking trail on Hillman's Highway

Same two skiers hiking up to what appears to be recent avalanche activity

Snowshoeing up an ungroomed ski trail

Looking back on a groomed Polecat Trail

Looking down Tomcat Schuss

Tuckerman Ravine

Continuing up the ski slope

At the top of the ski trail

Giving the snowshoes a brief break

A postholed Wildcat Ridge Trail up to the observation tower

A view to the southeast

Looking into Tuckerman Ravine

Time to take off the down jacket

Zooming in on the summit of Mount Washington

A lone hiker seen on the left side of the photo is almost to the top of Washington
A gray jay visiting the observation tower

A skier heads down through the trees from the observation tower

Lots of snow on the observation deck

An unbroken Wildcat Ridge Trail

A view to the east from Wildcat

A look back at the chairlift as I start my descent on the Polecat Trail

Sherburne Ski Trail

Zooming in on the skiers on the Sherburne Ski Trail

Huntington Ravine Trail

Looking up the Tomcat Schuss Trail

Spectacular trail conditions

Zooming in to the top of the ski slope

My son Brandon enjoying the day shredding the slopes

Having Fun in the Great Outdoors!


  1. Great shots... I especially like the Sherburne Trail overview that you were on in a previous blog! We are one week from departure from KW...expect to arrive in North Country around 1st week of May

    1. Just seeing your comment. Have a great trip back to the North Country!