Happy Spring?!? Garfield, 3.20.14

Happy Spring!  Not exactly the soft green grass, butterflies and daffodils you expected, huh?

Happy Spring! Not exactly the soft green grass, butterflies and daffodils you expected, huh? This was our first day of spring on Mt. Garfield, and yes, it was actively snowing in this photo.

Just because the calendar says it is spring, it doesn’t always mean that it is spring.  At least not in the White Mountains.

Our hike for the day was to Mt. Garfield, a Plan B hike, due to the weather.  Our original plan (Schorman, Lady Di and I) was to hike the Twins and Galehead.  After consulting all the weather websites, and discovering that a good amount of new snow had fallen and that the system wasn’t quite out of the region, we decided to just hike Garfield.  Beside the weather, Garfield had the advantage of being and out and back hike.  This meant that we’d only have to break trail one way, rather than all the way around the Twin/Galehead loop.  This would make the trip much, much easier.

I was picked up at the usual spot, and of course the discussion turned to the weather.  Thirteen plus inches of new snow was the amount the local TV station said some areas received.  We could tell we were in for some work!  Arriving at the end of the Gale River Loop, we were very thankful for the Subaru Outback as the small area in front of the gate was not plowed.  We made it in easily, but cars with less clearance might have had trouble.  The snowshoes went on right away and we started up the road to the official trailhead of the Mt. Garfield Trail.

We made good time, considering the four inches or so of new snow on the road.  Once at the trailhead, we started upward.  The snow depth increased and we had no trouble crossing the streams on solid snow bridges.  We kept plowing along, noting the condition of the snow – heavy and wet.  This made breaking harder, but not unmanageable with three people.

Here's the trail.  This was completely broken out 24 hours prior.  Now it is hard to see the snowshoe trough.

Here’s the trail. This was completely broken out 24 hours prior. Now it is hard to see the snowshoe trough.

Soon the snow was about 10″ deep and then came the drifts up in the switchback section – even deeper!  Schorman was now really having fun, taking the lead and plowing right through.  This was great because he knows the trail very well, and with the new snowfall, there were some places where it didn’t seem the trail actually went.  After what seemed like a little longer than it should have, we arrived at the junction of the Garfield Ridge Trail.  At that point, we knew the rest of the trip would be easier.  With only .2 miles left to break, we left our packs at the sign and headed up to the summit.  In no time, we were at the top.  Not that we could see very much due to the wind and clouds, but we made it to the top nonetheless.  We took a few photos, then the fun would begin:  a quick buttslide back to the junction for lunch.

Checking snow depth on the way to the summit.  I had to be careful not to lose my pole.

Checking snow depth on the way to the summit. I had to be careful not to lose my pole.

Summit of Garfield, rimed and fogged.

Summit of Garfield, rimed and fogged.

After lunch, Lady Di lead the way back to the car.  It was really nice to be going downhill and on a somewhat broken out trail!  Overall, a fun and safe day out with friends, and a peak that we really worked for even if it didn’t seem like spring!

Special thanks to Schorman and LadyDi for a fun day and for the use of their photos!

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