Our 10.8 mile snowshoe walkabout.
We headed to the White Mountains this weekend to explore a mountain peak on the NE Hundred Highest list, the “Peak above the Nubble”. We arrived an hour later than we had hoped and pulled up to a trailhead infested with a rather large group, like 15+, gearing up. With sunken hearts, we discussed our options. Could they really be hiking the same peak we were headed to? The same trailhead leads to North Twin mountain, one of the 4,000 footers. I had my suspicions the group was with the AMC (Appalachian Mountain Club) or, as John and I now call it, the Appalachian Mountain Caterpillars. Maybe they were headed to North Twin. We only hoped, and decided to make a go of it.
While we were waiting for the group to move along, John really had to pee. Like bad. We were parked on the side of a busy road (50 mph speed limit) and the group was hogging the entire area, preventing John from being able to simply head into the trees. His legs, bouncing up and down, were shaking the car. I asked him if bouncing his legs really helped, his reply: “It makes me think it does, so yes.” I promise I felt bad, but I did laugh. John was desperate and desperate times call for desperate measures. We each had enjoyed a homemade smoothie on our drive up and the empty cups were of the right size and volume. You guessed it, a sacrificial Vitamix smoothie cup!
In the winter, the road (Haystacks Road) that you have to walk a couple of miles down is shared with snowmobilers so we had to be extra cautious. Since it was still somewhat early, the machines were few and far between. We made quick progress as the road is flat and essentially groomed from the snow machines. As we came upon the three boulders that mark “trail-less” Nubble Peak we saw the caterpillars slowly making their way up. Darn.
Looking on the bright side of the situation, we were glad to have seen them heading up the trail so that we could make our decision to go elsewhere. And that we did. We weren’t interested in summiting North Twin so we decided to hike along the trail and see if we could find the bandit trail that was known to lead to Mount Hale.
As we made our way to the official start of the North Twin trailhead, we saw only one set of bare boot prints and a set of dog prints. Score! Solitude. The trail had been skied on fairly recently, giving us an idea for another day. The route was enjoyable as we walked about 5 miles up the trail to where it crossed the Little River before heading steeply up North Twin.
At this point, I checked the GPS and we had long passed the junction where the bandit trail was said to be. A second darn of the day. Making the best out of this new situation, we decided to climb “up” and see where it would lead. It was certainly a Choose your own Adventure kind of day. Ever read those books as a kid?! Loved those. Anyway, we climbed for a bit in the powder and came to a nice spot where we could sit for a quick snack and enjoy the view of the peaks we had hoped to climb that day. We were in a special spot, one that perhaps only we had ever sat at. It was peaceful and beautiful.
As we made our way back to the trail, we opted not to backtrack, but to walk along the side of the hill we were on and explore. Fairly quickly, we found ourselves back on the North Twin trail. No sooner did we start trudging along did we see a side path with snow blown ski tracks. Could it be? The bandit trail to Mount Hale? We were determined to find out…well, somewhat determined. We hiked up just over a mile before turning around. I was tired at this point (and still not feeling 100% from a virus that knocked me on my butt) and we knew that if we were to make the summit of Hale, we would be hiking back via headlight and sketchy snow machine traffic.
All in all, a great day in the trees and tromping in the snow. I got to hug my March tree (a biggin) and we found the bandit trail to Mount Hale. You can bet that I recorded the GPS coordinates for a future trip!
P.S. Peak above the Nubble…we will be back.