Category Archives: Winter Trekking
I found some old winter photos today. They are of my loop hike of Mt. Hayes I did many years ago, which was and still is a memorable trip for me. (Mahoosuc Trail to Centennial Trail and Home).
My landlord dropped me off in Gorham, where I walked to the Mahoosuc Trail. I noted the temp. as 10 degrees f. (The summit sits at 2,555 ft. and climbing Mt. Hayes from the Mahoosuc side has an elevation gain of 1,750 ft. in 2.5 miles.) I had a goot start, stopping to photograph the stream before heading up to the freshly fallen snow. It was a pleasure to be the trail breaker. The scenes before me were breathtakingly beautiful. It didn’t matter if I were looking straight ahead or around a bend, loveliness greeted me. Trees stood frozen in time, planted in deeply in the snow among the early morning shadows. Light played across both creating a distinct sharpness in some places and softening the harshness in others.
The climb was definitely a cardio workout. But it was once of the nicest I’d every done. I was happy to be on top and once again noted the temp. which had fallen to 15 below 0. A fierce wind battered the mountain, but the trees on the west side of the ledges protected me from it. Not so with Mt. Washington. The winds were blowing so hard up there that spindrift was flying off the summit and ridges, spraying the sky with fine powder. I thought Mt. Hayes was a great place to be that day.
My challenge for the day was to find the Centennial Trail. I tried my compass first. It wasn’t much help. I knew the general area but the snow was too deep for any distinguishable features. As far as the trail sign, What Sign? Buried! I did make a few pokes into the trees to find the trail. No go. You see, the trail takes an elbow turn, bending sharply to the east and and then skirts the Mountain. I decided to start from a point I knew was wrong and work in one direction. I had to step off the rocky ledge in places.while doing this and a snowshoe hare hopped right by me during one of those times. That was worth not knowing how to get there from here in itself.
My challenge became a whole lot bigger once I did find the trail. The deep snow clung to the mountain in an almost vertical wall, cutting through the trees. I had mountaineering snowshoes but the going was going to be tough, tougher than I expected. I didn’t have an ice axe and had to turn each foot 90 degrees and jam it into the snow. The farthest in my feet went was barely beyond my toes. It was a slow and painstaking process, step by step, grabbing tree branches or doing a full body lean to hold on or rest. Every step was taken with care as falling wasn’t an option! This process was only for a half mile. It took me three hours to cover that distance. And I tell you, even the tiniest muscles in my toes were cramping and burning by the time I found flat ground. Actually before, but you get the picture.
I did lose the trail again but found it easily and loved the flat surface of this part of the trail. I had a three miles to go but they were gentle. I made it down and also the next mile home. The toll of the work shows on the final photo in this gallery.
p.s. I went out and bought an ice axe the following day! [click on photo for full screen]