The theme of a too mild winter has continued into March, and this hike to Carrigain was no exception, with very soft snow conditions. (It should be noted that as soon as this post is published, we’ll probably have a snowstorm that dumps 3 feet of snow on us. If so, hooray! It is way better than all the ice currently on the trails.)
The day started out warm, and in less than a mile of leaving the parking area on Rt. 302 for the trek up Sawyer River Rd. with Schorman, LadyDi, WildBill and HikinGuy, we were delayering. Along the way, I eventually delayered into short sleeves and stayed that way until having lunch during our descent. While the warm temperatures and sunshine were welcome for our upper bodies, what was happening underfoot was another story. The warm temps made the snow soft, slippery and slushy. The roadwalk was not exactly easy, but we got to the trailhead and continued on in light traction. The snow wasn’t super sticky – yet.
We got to the old junction of the Signal Ridge and Carrigain Notch Trails and it seemed everyone had been hiking the old trail, no traffic on the new one recently. We proceeded up the old trail, where the water was low enough to make the crossings easy. Once we hit the steep stuff, the snowshoes went on, not so much for traction, but for the televators to take some of the stress off the calf muscles. Eventually, though, it really didn’t matter. It was warm enough to cause the snow to become sticky. That means it stuck to the snowshoes, adding a little extra weight with each step. Not much that could be done about it, except to keep going.
Eventually, we did break out onto Signal Ridge and were rewarded with beautiful views in all directions. It was a nice break before the last short bit to the summit and observation tower. Since we were traveling in a group, we stashed our packs on the ridge and hiked on to the summit.
After enjoying the summit views, we headed back for a well deserved lunch break on the ridge. It was nice to hang out in the sunshine and look at the Presidential range while eating. After lunch, we packed up, changed traction to light traction and headed down the hill. To our delight, there was enough snow in about four sections for us to glissade down the hill giving our legs a little bit of a break and adding a little fun to the day.
Back at the level sections, it was the usual routine of hiking out. Well, with the exception of Sawyer River Road. It was worse than ever in the afternoon and we dragged our feet through the slush for the entire two miles. Thankfully, the parking lot appeared sooner than we expected – ending a hike that was a good yet rewarding workout!
Special thanks to Schorman, LadyDi, WildBill and HikinGuy for another fun and memorable day in the mountains!