My husband and I got a rare day where we could hike together, so he chose to go to North Twin. North Twin is one of the two remaining peaks for his New Hampshire 4K list. Another reason for this choice is that once we get the first big snowstorm, Haystack Road leading to the trailhead for North Twin Trail will probably close and then it will be a much longer hike to bag the one peak.
We got up really early and drove up to the trailhead, getting on trail right around 7:00a. We were the first ones in the lot, and we didn’t see anyone until we were descending, about .3 mile from the summit. The temperatures were cool, right around freezing, and there was just a dusting of snow on the ground. The trail is nice in that there is almost two miles of flat and realatively easy grades with nice footing before the ascent really commences.
Hiking along the Little River was really pretty, and it was hard to imagine that this place was once totally cleaned out of timber during the logging years around 100 years ago. Of course while the trail itself was easy, there were three river crossings that needed to be addressed. When we came to the first junction, we had to decided whether to take the bushwhack or to do all the crossings and follow the trail. The water wasn’t too high, although flowing fast enough, so we decided to follow the trail using the logic that if we were to ever red line, we wouldn’t have to come back just for the sections of trail we skipped and that we could use the bushwhack on the way back. The crossings weren’t too bad, although there were plenty of rocks covered with a glaze of ice which was extremely slippery. In some places, since we had Gortex winter boots and gaiters, I felt it was better just to step on a slightly submerged rock than to risk slipping in some place deeper off an icy rock.
We did pretty well on all the crossings, with minimal getting wet and were off on the next section: the long hike up to the summit. Ethan took the lead and set a nice, steady pace up. As we hiked up, the sun started to warm up and light up the valley and side of the mountain we were on. Although we started the hike on mostly bare ground and frozen mud, as we ascended the ice and snow became more prevalent and we stopped to put on microspikes. This light traction was perfect for the conditions, and we were able to continue the ascent safely. By peeking through the trees, we were able to get a few views on the way up and it seemed like we might get an undercast, which we were excited about. We finally reached the first ledge and were impressed with the first views. We continued along a corridor of stunted trees, imagining that during the winter with a heavy snow pack, this could be a really interesting snowshoe. Within a few more minutes, the cairn appeared and there we were, #47 for Ethan.
After a putting on an extra layer, we headed out to the ledges to admire the views. We were fortunate to have brilliant sunshine and an undercast consisting of small, puffy clouds rolling by between Garfield and the Twins. Since we had seen no one to this point, we enjoyed the ledges all by ourselves, taking pictures and looking out over the landscape.
After a quick snack back at the junction where the North Twin Spur heads off toward South Twin, we decided that our 45 minutes at the summit was enjoyed thoroughly and it was time to pack up and head down. The trip down was very quick, and thanks to the traction was really easy. After the first river crossing, we headed back down the trail to the middle crossing and followed the bushwhack out. It was easy enough to follow and saved us the last two crossings. Soon the parking lot was in sight and we were in the car and on our way home before 1:30p!
It was fun to be out hiking together again! The views this day were really great, and being to watch the little puffy clouds drift by below was a real treat. Fingers crossed that we might be able to pull off another hike this week so that Ethan can finish his NH48 list on Cabot!