Looking Back at February 2016

I’ve done quite a bit of hiking in February, but just did not have the time to detail all the hikes, so I thought I’d put together a highlight reel of the month’s hikes with a quick description of each.

2.4.16 – Bond/Zealand Traverse

February continued the trend of a weird winter – warmer than usual temperatures and less than average snowfall.  In fact, many of our stormy days have started with snowfall and ended with ice and rain.  The day we did the Bond Traverse was one of those days – I was hiking in a short sleeve t-shirt for almost the first 9 miles.  I layered up at the Bond step right before breaking treeline on Bondcliff.  Out of the trees, there would be no protection from the wind we could hear in the trees.  The top of Bondcliff was quite icy, with very little snow and the snowpack even on the Twinway and the summit of Zealand was not as impressive as previous years.  It was good hike and enjoyable day with Claudette and Kevin.

The summit of Zealand, with hardly any snow. Some years, the snow is up near the bottom of the sign.

The summit of Zealand, with hardly any snow. Some years, the snow is up near the bottom of the sign.

2.13.16 – Klem and Mack in the Belknaps

This was a quick, more local hike with good hiking friends, JohninNH and GregYEAH!  It has been harder for the three of us to get together for a hike in recent years, so this was a fun morning together right before the temperatures plunged below zero for a couple of days (the only REALLY cold weather we’ve had this winter!).  We hiked over Klem, then Mack and then back down to Round Pond to finish the six mile loop.

Cold, but bluebird day at Round Pond, looking toward Mt. Belknap.

Cold, but bluebird day at Round Pond, looking toward Mt. Belknap.

2.15.16 – The Tripyramids

This was a last minute trip to the Tripyramids with JebB., Rachel and Billy.  It was unusual in that we had a -9 start!  Cold, but we had sunshine and it wasn’t so bad once we really got moving.  The weather warmed up as a warm front passed through and we were fortunate in that it just started snowing by the time we got back to the parking lot.  I also had the pleasure of meeting Charlie and Nancy Foote and their hiking companions for the first time – super nice and super accomplished hikers!

Even the car thought it was cold at almost 8:00a.

Even the car thought it was cold at almost 8:00a.

 

A peek out to Mt. Washington from one of the outlooks along the upper portion of the Pine Bend Trail.

A peek out to Mt. Washington from one of the outlooks along the upper portion of the Pine Bend Trail.

 

View of the North Tripyramid Slide from the Scaur Ridge Trail. It was a pretty neat view, and much easier to see when there aren't any leaves on the trees.

View of the North Tripyramid Slide from the Scaur Ridge Trail. It was a pretty neat view, and much easier to see when there aren’t any leaves on the trees.

 

Last view on the way out up to the Tripyramids. The sky has already clouded over, bringing the next round of precipitation.

Last view on the way out up to the Tripyramids. The sky has already clouded over, bringing the next round of precipitation.

2.19.16 – Jefferson, Adams and Madison

Another great hike just before bad weather came in, the time with Schorman, HikingGuy and Iron Mike.  This hike was also the first one in which the theme of this winter was really evident:  ICE!  We were able to ascend to the ridge in light traction and actually hike all the way to Jefferson that way.  The descent off Jefferson, heading toward Adams was another story.  It was the first time I had worn real crampons in 4 or 5 years.  Due to the steepness of the slope and the large ice flows which resulted from this winter’s weather patterns, true crampons were necessary for safety.  We also bushwhacked around the Jefferson snowfield, due it not be tracked out – evidently others were doing the same.  The summit cones of Adams and Madison were a mix of rock and ice, so we changed back to light traction for the rest of the day.  There was more ice than anyone could remember seeing in some spots.  Thankfully, the trip down Valley Way was less eventful than it could have been.  Warming temperatures softened the ice enough for good grip with light traction.

Sunshine and blue skies over Jefferson, seen over the ridge right at the scrub line.

Sunshine and blue skies over Jefferson, seen over the ridge right at the scrub line.

 

Mt. Washington from Jefferson, still sunny, but we knew it wouldn't last.

Mt. Washington from Jefferson, still sunny, but we knew it wouldn’t last.

 

Looking back to Adams from Madison, with the sun trying to make an appearance. By the time we got to Adams, the clouds had already started to overtake the blue skies, and stayed that way through the trip up Madison and down Valley Way.

Looking back to Adams from Madison, with the sun trying to make an appearance. By the time we got to Adams, the clouds had already started to overtake the blue skies, and stayed that way through the trip up Madison and down Valley Way.

 

Ice on Valley Way. Thankfully, the first half mile was packed snow and then we encountered this type of ice. The temps were warm enough to where this ice was soft and easy to get a grip on.

Ice on Valley Way. Thankfully, the first half mile was packed snow and then we encountered this type of ice. The temps were warm enough to where this ice was soft and easy to get a grip on.

2.22.16 – Liberty

GregYEAH!  was available for a quick hike, so we chose Liberty – a short distance, only one steep section and good views to take advantage of a super nice day above treeline.  With warm temps and no wind, we could fully appreciate the views from the summit.

Looking toward Lincoln and Lafayette from the summit of Liberty.

Looking toward Lincoln and Lafayette, with Garfield off to the right from the summit of Liberty.

2.23.16 – Monroe

Liberty the day before had fantastic views, Monroe the next day did not.  It was supposed to be nice according the forecast, but things often change in the Presidentials and quickly, too.  The day looked to be really nice and the ridgeline was in the clear when Schorman, LadyDi, HikingGuy and I set off from Marshfield Station for a southern Presidential tour of Monroe, Eisenhower and Pierce.  We enjoyed easy, packed trails to Gem Pool, and even the steep section of the Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail wasn’t too bad – only a few ice bulges to work around.  By the time we got to treeline, the clouds rolled in.  These clouds covered the ridge to the south, plus Monroe and Washington.  It was time to start thinking about our exit strategy – did we want to continue down the ridge or call it a day and head right back down the Ammo to the car?  Since the wind and clouds were coming in from a southerly direction, that would be in our face all the way down the ridge.  We decided to summit Monroe and then head back down to the car.  Of course, we did end up hiking below the cloud level, but the ridge was still clouded over.  We reminded ourselves that we’d made the right decision and could enjoy the rest of the hike in sunshine rather than wandering around the side of Eisenhower in the clouds!

LadyDi working her way up the steep section of the Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail. The trail was in pretty good shape, which was nice since it is so steep!

LadyDi working her way up the steep section of the Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail with sunshine in the valley behind her. The trail was in pretty good shape, which was nice since it is so steep!

 

 

Beautiful blue icefall on the Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail. The trail continues in the trees to the right side of the photo and eventually comes out near the top of the falls.

Beautiful blue icefall on the Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail. The trail continues in the trees to the right side of the photo and eventually comes out near the top of the falls.

 

Monroe is out there, somewhere. This picture was taken from the corner of Lake of the Clouds Hut. Needless to say, visibility was poor and we stayed close together on the ascent and descent.

Monroe is out there, somewhere. This picture was taken from the corner of Lake of the Clouds Hut. Needless to say, visibility was poor and we stayed close together on the ascent and descent.

February was an interesting month, weather-wise, but with great friends, the right gear and God’s protection, I was able to enjoy some pretty nice days out in the mountains.

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