North Twin was the only peak I needed to finish all the peaks from Mt. Garfield all the way around the Pemi Wilderness through to Mt. Willey. Since the round trip wasn’t too long at 8.6 miles, I asked my son if he’d like to come along. He was happy to come along on another adventure.
The weather wasn’t too bad, but it was a bit cloudy with the promise of the clouds lifting in the afternoon. We set out plenty early because I wanted to have enough time to hike without hurrying my son along. We were on the trail at 7:30a, headed toward the first stream crossing. Now, there is a bushwhack that will take you from the the first crossing to the third crossing without having to cross at all. Since I had never been on this trail, I wasn’t sure what to expect. The crossing didn’t look too promising, and while my son and I debated and prayed about how to cross the river, a group of four showed up. I asked if they were using the bushwhack and could we come along. They were happy to let us trail along behind, not exactly the answer we were seeking, but we were able to skip the first two crossings. Soon enough, we were at the the third stream crossing.
The water was cold and there was no way we weren’t going to have wet feet. I was hoping that the water at the third crossing would be low enough so that we didn’t get wet, but that wasn’t the case. Since we didn’t bring sandals, wet feet it was. My son had extra socks, and when layered with a couple of repurposed gallon size ziplock bags from our packs (there are good reasons for packing in ziplocks besides keeping the contents dry!), his feet were ok for the rest of the hike.
Once we were ready to go, we started the second part of the hike. There were a few times when my son wasn’t sure whether he wanted to continue the hike. I assured him that we could turn back at any time, with no regrets and no problems. I reminded him that many climbers make it very close to the summit of Everest and have to turn around without a summit and that while it is disappointing, it is ok to go home. After a rest, he asked to hike on about 15 more minutes and then see how he felt. Twenty minutes passed and he was happily hiking up the steep section and chatting away, so I didn’t mention that the time was up. The steep section really isn’t that long, at about .5 mile, and wasn’t as steep as we thought. We sat down for a snack, and while chewing on his partially frozen granola bar mentioned that eating his bar that this would be a good way to get those loose molars that he has to come out. Obviously, his sense of humor was intact and he was feeling much better.
The temperature was continuing to drop as we hiked up and soon enough we started to see frost, icicles and rime ice. My son kept asking if it was snow, and I told him it was just a bit of frost. The grade became very easy after the steep section and we headed through a nice corridor of evergreens towards the trail junction of North Twin Trail and North Twin Spur (which leads to the South Twin summit). We took the side trail labeled “View” from the junction to the summit. About half way down this little trail, my son turned around with half a smile and said, “I don’t think I can make it. Can we go back to the car?”. Of course, he was only kidding, he knew the little side trail was very short.
After adding another jacket layer in addition to the fleeces we were already wearing we popped out of the trees onto the ledges and enjoyed the summit views. It was nice to have some views, because I wasn’t sure whether we’d have any at all due to some of the cloud cover.
We headed back down to the trail junction to eat our lunch. My son commented that he had never had a crunchy cheese sandwich. Of course, it was a bit frozen. Since we weren’t getting any warmer sitting around, we decided to head back down the trail to generate a little body heat and get back to warmer temperatures.
The trip down was pretty uneventful, and we chatted with the groups headed up and out to Galehead Hut or Guyot Shelter while we headed down towards the stream crossing. The water was a little lower making the crossing easier, and although we got wet again, we both thought the water was a bit warmer. We were a little anxious about the bushwhack, but we made it through and was back at the car in good time. I think the bushwhack or herd path might be easier to follow in the spring or summer. Because it is autumn the trail is covered in leaves, making it a little harder to figure out where the herdpath actually is.
Overall, we had a very good day and a good ending to what will probably be my son’s last 4K this season. Although I know it is possible to hike with children in the winter, extra care must be taken to make sure they stay warm, hydrated and fueled. Since many of the peaks that I have left are longer treks and even longer due to road closures, I’m going to keep him off the trails until next May or June. Besides, I’ve promised him a trip to Mt. Washington with a stay at Lakes of the Clouds Hut next summer. Let’s hope they don’t have cream of mushroom soup that night!