The forecast was cold, but the winds were going to be within our limits, so we decided to head out to the Twins to bag a few more peaks.
It was really cold in Twin Mountain, at 6:30a, it was -6 without the windchill. Not sure what the temperature was an hour later when JohninNH and I arrived at the winter trailhead at the end of Little River Road to meet Greg YEAH!, but I’m sure temperatures didn’t rise to a balmy 0! Suited up and on our way, we proceeded across the bridge and on to the snowmobile path. Two of us had never done this route, and the one that had, it had been a while. According to the GPS, we were just west of the preferred route, but since what we were on, was nicely packed by the snowmobiles, it didn’t matter too much. Besides, we knew we were headed toward Haystack Rd. We arrived at Haystack Rd. a little lower than we wanted, so we shuffled up the road to the summer trail head. At the summer trailhead, we started the usual trek up the North Twin Trail, passing the first river crossing and were soon on the herdpath, heading toward the third river crossing. No worries about the crossings today, as they were fully snowbridged, but it was nice to take the most direct route. We passed the junction for the abandoned Fire Warden’s Trail to Mt. Hale, and noted the route for a future hike. I’d hiked it last summer, and it would be fun to go back and hike it again in the winter. Continuing on, we were off the herdpath, back onto the trail and soon at the third crossing. We walked right across on the snowbridge, the easiest I’ve ever done that crossing.
Once across the river, it was time to start the long trek up to the summit of North Twin. This would be the slowest section of the day, but we knew that as we started up. We had some nice sunshine and eventually through the trees, we could catch a few views. Higher and higher we went, and then even though I was working pretty hard, I realized I wasn’t hot, in fact, I wasn’t even staying warm. It was really getting cold, so we stopped for some extra layers. This was the right thing to do, and more comfortable, we were able to push on to the summit. This was the toughest section for some reason, it didn’t seem like that corridor through the trees was ever going to end! Logically, I knew it would, I’d come this way more than once and remembered the trail quite well. Sure enough, there was the sign and Greg YEAH! waiting for the rest of us to catch up. Meanwhile, we’d hiked up into a cloud. None the less, we headed right down the spur trail to the “view”. We’d all seen the inside of a cloud before, so with the bagging of the peak, we headed back to the more protected junction for a bite to eat, and adding shells and balaclavas before heading over to South Twin. With some food and one peak behind us, we started the trek over with renewed energy. The trip over wasn’t too bad, starting with a nice descent and then an easier climb up to South Twin. At one point, the summit was visible from the trail, which was encouraging to see, meaning that we were close and that the clouds might be lifting a bit.
One by one, we all arrived at the summit, noting that fact that while it was pretty cold, the winds were not nearly what had been predicted. I was pretty thankful for that, because the temperatures weren’t exactly warm, probably still in the single digit range. After admiring the few views we had, we started the way we had come. Since we had bagged Galehead last winter, we agreed that it could wait for another day for those who wanted to bag it in February. Along the way, the clouds started to lift. As luck would have it, we all knew we’d be driving home with abundant sunshine and the summits in the clear!
Back at North Twin, we went right back down the spur trail and hung out at the ledges for a bit, enjoying the views we didn’t have there earlier. With a little more fuel, it was time for the fast and furious descent. Three hours after leaving South Twin, we were back at the cars. I couldn’t believe it, but the official time keeper said so, and that’s good enough for me. On the way back, we took a different path (actually the better one) back from the summer trailhead to the end of Little River Road. Turns out we should have taken a sharp left directly after the bridge when we started out in the morning. This path was straight and easy to follow, and was a pretty quick trip back to the start. Next time we’ll know!
Although cold and in the clouds for a bit, we had a pretty good day! We now know how to get to the North Twin trail head in the winter, bagged two more peaks and I got to catch up with a friend.
Special thanks to JohninNH and Greg YEAH! for another good trek in the cold and to JohninNH for his generous sharing of some of the photos in this post!