Spring is Coming!

View of Pinkham from Lila's Ledge 3.24.13
It's beginning to feel a lot like spring here in Pinkham Notch!  The last week has seen bluebird skies and temperatures in the 70s almost every day.  Trees are beginning to bud by day and the spring peepers have been croaking a loud chorus by night

Besides the natural springtime happenings, several other changes pointing towards spring have taken place in the Whites over the last few days:

A sure sign of the changing seasons is the fact that the Lion Head summer trail is opening today, replacing the Winter Route as the most direct access to the summit of Mount Washington from the east.  But don't let this change fool you into thinking that winter is gone for good.  Some steep snow traverses still exist just below treeline on the summer trail, so ice axe and crampons are recommended for a safe ascent.

With the summer season approaching, other options for ascending Washington are beginning to open as well.  The Cog Railway and the Mount Washington Auto Road are now both offering limited weekend hours.  For rates, schedules and more information, call (603) 278-5404 for the Cog Railway and (603) 466-3988 for the Auto Road, or visit their respective websites at www.thecog.com and www.mtwashingtonautoroad.com.

Three more of the AMC's high huts open today for a month of self-service prior to the start of the full-service season on June 1st.   Mizpah, Galehead and Greenleaf now join Carter Notch Hut, Zealand Falls Hut and Lonesome Lake Hut operating on a caretaker-basis for the next few weeks.  For more information on the huts, what to bring, and what to expect, visit http://www.outdoors.org/lodging/whitemountains/huts/.  To check availability or book a stay at a high hut, or any other AMC facility, give our Reservations department a call at (603) 466-2727 Monday through Saturday 9:00 AM - 5:00 PM, or go to www.outdoors.org/lodging/.

For up-to-date conditions information straight from the horse's - I mean, caretaker's - mouth, take a look at the Backcountry Weather & Trail Conditions page (http://www.outdoors.org/recreation/tripplanner/go/backcountry-weather.cfm#NH).  The Mount Washington Observatory also provides detailed daily weather reports for the White Mountain region (http://www.mountwashington.org/).  Despite the warm weather, many trails are still covered in patches of snow and ice.  Light traction devices such as Microspikes or Hillsound trail crampons are recommended.  Snowshoes may be helpful to avoid "postholing" in deeper drifts.  Finally, despite the dry weather of the past week, the warm temperatures and melting snow have contributed to some muddy ground conditions at lower elevations.  Waterproof boots and gaiters will help keep your feet dry!

Old Jackson Road 3.24.13
Melting Stream on George's Gorge 3.24.13
For those of you out there hoping for a longer winter, never fear!  Although this week's warm temperatures have been contributing to rapid snow melt, the snow stake outside the caretaker's cabin at Tuckerman Ravine is still reading at 37 inches.  If you're looking to get in a couple more runs before the end of the spring ski season, now is your chance!  With beautiful weather in the forecast, this weekend is looking like a perfect opportunity to hit the slopes in the bowl one more time.  The Sherburne Ski Trail is still open for the top third of trail down from Hermit Lake, after which point you will need to cross over to the hiking trail and walk down to the parking lot.

View of the Ravines from Lila's Ledge 3.24.13
Crevasses have opened up in the Lip and Center Bowl, but there are still plenty of other options for making turns up in the Ravine.  As always, before heading into the bowl, please be sure to check the latest Avalanche Advisory, posted online every morning by the U.S. Forest Service Snow Rangers (www.http://www.mountwashingtonavalanchecenter.org).  While avalanche dangers have been low for the past week, other springtime hazards such as crevasses, waterfall holes, undermined snow and falling ice are real concerns.  As tempting as it may be to soak up the sun and the atmosphere from the Lunch Rocks area, this is a prime target for falling ice and not a safe place to sit and watch the action.

Whether you are just spectating or taking part in the action, please use caution and common sense at all times.  With beautiful weather and plenty of snow, we're expecting a fun and busy weekend.  Don't ruin your day, or someone else's, by skiing recklessly.  Last weekend saw hundreds, if not thousands, of skiers headed up to Tux, but for the two individuals carried out in litters by rescuers and volunteers, the fun was certainly cut short

For current weather and avalanche reports, or if you have any questions about your upcoming hiking or skiing adventure, please don't hesitate to contact us here at the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center front desk.  We are available by phone at (603) 466-2721 every day from 6:30 AM to 10:00 PM or by email at amcpinkhaminfo@outdoors.org.

Happy trails!  And happy spring!

Backcountry Information Specialist
AMC Pinkham Notch Visitor Center
(603) 466-8116

Labels: , , , , , ,