Matt, David, Jimbo, Robin, Jack, Fritz|
Frank Roberts, John Wallace, Yorke Brown, Tim Smith
The last (I think) winter camp out took place after the last day of winter. In Hanover the day looked like it would warm up. The sun was bright and after working on breakfast for the Hanover Conservation Council we headed north through Lyme, Orford and Piermont to Haverhill. We then snaked our way east and north to the Black Mountain / Chippewa Trail trail-head.
There is still two feet or more of snow in the woods, so we all strapped on our snowshoes. In truth, the trail was hard enough packed that we could have made it up the mountain without shoes, however if you stepped off the trail you found yourself sinking in, up to your knees, "Post-holing". Also is was icy enough the the metal teeth in the snowshoes proved necessary since almost none of us had crampons.
The trail starts out simple enough, which was probably a good thing for me. It was nice to have a half mile to get use to my new snow shoes before things became steep. On this trip I have brought my altimeter. The trail-head is at 1300 ft and the summit is at 2781 ft. As the trail become steeper and people asked the question "how much further?", I could tell them the elevation. This is a very realistic measurement of progress, because it is always going up, it is amazingly accurate, and elevation is really what determines effort.
We stopped at a few overlooks on the way up, which came after the steepest section of trail, but finally reach our campsite. The campsite is only about 10 meters from the peak, but some scout choose to stop there, pitch their tents and make supper with out going straight to the top.
The top was crystal clear and the view of Moosilauka, to the east of us was spectacular! The snow encrusted peaks of the Whites still look like they are in the heart of a deep and epic freeze (but spring is upon us!).
The temperature dropped to about 15o over night. In the evening Matt lite a fire. But in the winter it is hard to judge what wood really is dry. It may feel dry, and even easily break due to it being to cold. So our fire tended to smolder as the wood thawed and the water came out of the bark. Still, we enjoyed the fire for awhile. Jack took us back up to the peak to look at stars for awhile. It is a dark, moon-less night, but Saturn and ten thousand stars are with us. But is has been a long day and it is cold and windy here on the peak - and so to bed.
I am testing out a new tent tonight. It is really for warmer weather, but it is all I have. I am also using my new air-pad (crash-pad), which I received for Christmas. Although I am laying on snow with lumps of ice in it (we dug out a shelf in the slope to pitch our tent on), it is very comfortable. I also have a new hat with ear flaps. Given that it was a cold night with wind howling, and we are camped just a few meters below the summit, I slept well.
The first light in the morning is amazing! The sun rises just to the left of Moosilauke, off over towards Franconia Notch. The air is clear and snow shimmers in the sunlight. Most of us have found our toes and/or boots stiff, and end up trotting up and down the ridge a few times to warm up. On the ridge we speculate as to which mountains we see. Then after breakfast we break camp, shoulder our packs and head down.
It took us a bit over three hours to climb the 2 miles, 1500 feet up. We descend in about half that time. By the time we reach the trail-head it feels like spring is upon us again. The day is warm and the snow is melting.