|Hike Name:||White Mountain National Forest - Osgood Campsite|
|Trip Date:||July 27, 2002|
|Trail Conditions:||Fair to Good|
|Trip Weather:||Sunny, Partly Sunny, Partly Cloudy, Cloudy, Fog|
|Trip Precipitation:||Rain, Showers|
|Trip Temperature:||High: 71-80, Low: 51-60 degrees Fahrenheit|
|Trip Report:||7/27/02: Pixie and I left the Marriott in Nashua, NH by 9:40am this morning and expected a two hour drive to the base of Mt. Washington. It took four hours, as it turned out, largely due to an indirect route and heavy traffic in Conway (since all the stop lights in town were out.) At the base of Mt. Washington, we paid our $22 toll, got the obligatory “This car climbed Mt. Washington” bumper sticker, and fired up the “Welcome to Mt. Washington” CD courtesy of the toll collector.
The weather was decent at the base of the mountain with some sunshine and temps in the 70’s. On the summit, however, it was quite different: heavy fog, mist, strong winds, and temps in the 50’s. We had no views of the Presidential Range on the drive up, and the visibility was less than ten feet by the time we hit the parking area. After a brief wrong turn in the fog bank, we found the steps to the summit house and headed inside to speak to a park ranger. An older group of volunteers were staffed inside, and they advised us that the rocks were very slippery today and that the Great Gulf Trail would be difficult. Pixie and I originally planned on hiking the ridge, but there was nothing to see with the fog, and we figured we’d be better off out of the wind and mist below tree line.
So Pixie and I talked it over, and decided to try the Great Gulf Trail. If conditions were bad, we’d just turn back. Pixie bought a fleece hat at the hiker store in the base of the summit house, then we headed to the car to pack up and head out. It was damp with all the mist in the air, and we donned the rain jackets during the first two miles which were especially difficult with wet and slippery rocks. The Gulfside Trail descends from Mt. Washington and loops around the summit to join with the Great Gulf Trail. We followed it across the Cog Railway and took some photos as the train crawled up the mountain along the tracks. It was eerie to cross the tracks with the train so close, but with no way to see it. The fog was so thick, the cog popped in and out of view in under a minute.
After we left the train tracks, we met up with the Great Gulf Trail in only a few minutes. We briefly debated following the Appalachian and Sphinx Trails along the ridge (and down to our campsite), but decided that the Great Gulf Trail was better sheltered from the elements. It was also steeper, however, and we hiked only a short distance before Pixie fell the first time. She was genuinely scared during the steep decent , but we ran into two older couples climbing the trail, and they seemed unconcerned with the wet conditions. Pixie struggled until we reached 4500 feet, but was in good spirits most of the way. Fortunately, things flattened out by the time we reached Spaulding Lake (but it was still very rocky.)
The trail to Wetamoo Falls was easier, but still difficult by most standards. At times, it was also a major challenge to follow. The GPS and USFS map were helpful, though, and I never felt like we lost the trail during the hike. After a short break at a second set of falls past the Sphinx Trail, we picked up the pace and made some descent time on the trail. Both designated campsites were taken tonight, but the USFS permits camping a short distance from the trail, and we found some suitable sites in the area around 7:30pm.
Both Pixie and I were very tired from the hiking and plopped down to drink some water and eat a few snacks once we got to the campsite. We pitched the tent about thirty minutes later, and neither one of us left it until we hung our food to turn-in for the night. This was my first evening with the REI Half-Dome and we both liked the dual-doors and gear loft (which was a perfect place for a headlamp to illuminate the tent.) I bought a Caesar salad kit (the first I’d seen), and a Mountain House lasagna dinner for tonight, and both were excellent. I cooked from my sleeping bag, and the meal was one of the more relaxing I’ve had in a long-time.
Both Pixie and I were whipped from the four hour descent today, and by 10:30pm we were both ready to sack out. I flipped through a USA today that I brought in case of bad weather, then we crashed for the night.
7/28/02: The neighbors were banging around by 7:30am this morning, and I never could fall back asleep. After a quick trip to the bathroom, I cooked up some hot chocolate and a Mountain House eggs and bacon breakfast from inside the tent. Pixie got out the bagels and cream cheese as well, and we had a pretty tasty meal. We lounged around in the tent until about 10am when a southbound thru-hiker wandered through our campsite and asked about blazes. I thought he was looking for the Great Gulf Trail and sent him toward Mt. Washington. He hiked back through our area an hour later, and was understandably upset that he hiked six miles out of his way. He was looking for the Appalachian Trail and took a wrong turn a few miles back.
Our neighbors were long-gone by the time we hit the trail this morning. We had to hike about five miles to Route 16, but the terrain was much easier today, especially in the lower elevations. We took a brief break at a suspension bridge and passed a large group of backpackers, including the southbound thru-hiker we met earlier. There were a bunch of intersecting trails on this hike, and I understand how someone could get them confused.
Pixie and I finally crossed a long suspension bridge over Peabody River and walked into the NH 16 parking area around 12:50pm. We met a USFS ranger and a host of hikers during the descent, and all said we could get a hiker shuttle out of this lot. When we checked the time table, though, the next bus was not due for three hours. We tried (with no luck) to score a ride from some guys in the lot, then headed to NH 16 to hitch a ride. A USFS ranger pulled into the grounds, but was forbidden from giving rides. So we tried our luck on NH 16 again, and within 15 minutes scored a lift with a young mountain biker from Boston. He dropped us at the guard gate to the toll road, but we had to walk back across NH 16 to the main building to book passage. Once there, we downed some Cokes, a tuna sandwich, and bought a ride on the shuttle. Pixie was going to wait for me at the base, since they wanted another $22 per person for us to ride up the mountain. The manager came out, though, and said she could ride for free (without any prompting on our part.)
It took us about 30 minutes to reach the summit of Mt. Washington this afternoon, and we rode up with a three other hikers. It was sunny at the base, but conditions were similar to yesterday on top. It was foggy, and rainy on the summit. So with very little to see, Pixie and I decided to head out, and drove into Gorham to get gas, then hit the road for Hanover.