Today, I hiked the 7.6 mile round trip up East Osceola and Osceola peaks via Greeley Ponds and Osceola trails from the trailhead off the Kancamagus Highway. The first 1.3 miles is a gentle grade up Greeley Ponds trail. All the stream crossings were simple – no trouble when the water is frozen. At 1.3 miles, the Osceola trail heads up towards the East Osceola peak. This is a steep and arduous ascent, some of the steepest terrain I have ever hiked in the White Mountains. I’d come around some corner, and peer up at another little section, and just laugh. Okay…catch my breath…here we go.
The ridge is pretty well protected by trees, but the wind still got through from time to time. There were views, but I had to work for them, following lookouts and peering through trees. The day was so overcast, that there just wasn’t much to see anyway.
East Osceola is a non-descript peak. In the snow, I could have walked right by it and not even known there was a peak there. There was no sign, although according to the books, the summit is marked by a cairn. What with all the snow, I didn’t see any cairn anywhere. From East Osceola, the trail dropped (steeply at times) into a col with a steep ascent back up to the summit of Osceola. Again, disappointing views today because of the cloud cover, but I took a number of pictures nonetheless.
I wore full crampons the entire hike, which cost me a 2 inch gash on one of my gaiters. That happened while negotiating a drift up on the ridge; I’m pretty sure the gaiters lose that battle every time. I saw perhaps 8 other hikers on the Osceola trail. I’m guessing it was 50/50 either full crampons on snowshoes with serious traction folks were wearing. I met a nice couple from New York who were just starting on the NH 48 4,000 footers, and were planning to do Tecumseh the next day.
Here’s a series of pictures from the Osceola summit. I hear it’s a quite a vista on a clear day, which today sadly was not.