Spring hiking conditions!

Rain Clouds before we even start!
  I got out this past Monday with my oldest son to the Great Gulf Wilderness and did some wonderful
The West Branch of the Peabody from the Suspension Bridge
dodging of raindrops!  We hiked up to the Osgood Trail, continued on the Osgood Trail up to the Osgood Campsite, crossed over on the Osgood Cut Off to the Bluff and then descended back down the Great Gulf Trail.  If you haven't done the segment of the Great Gulf trail to the Bluff before, it is probably one of the easiest hikes in the White Mountains and great for a rainy day.  The colors and the smells were really distinct and the forest floors were carpeted with Trout Lilies, Bluets, Trillium, and Violets for all you flower folks!  The trail was not as muddy as I was expecting but there certainly was some as you would expect on any trail this time of
The majority of the trail is at this wonderful grade!
year.  Climbing up the Osgood Trail was steeper than the majority of the hike but not difficult at all.  Crossing over on Osgood Cut Off was rugged with large rocks and uneven footing.  The Bluff however is spectacular.  It provides wonderful views up deeper into the Gulf with Jefferson Ravine in the background and the shoulder of Washington in the foreground.  The rain clouds hung over it all providing some nicely dramatic pictures for us!
     To be prepared, the Great Gulf is a Federally Designated Wilderness area.  Once in there you will not usually see crowds of people, however...there are less blazes and less trail maintenance than you'll find on your usual trails.  Be prepared for this!  Be sure at each intersection you are noting the signs and correct destinations because if you travel a half mile and aren't sure of your direction, you will often not be able to double check yourself using the blazes.  Carry a good map and compass!  The Osgood Tentsite is not in the bounds of the actual wilderness and has 5 large tent platforms, two bear boxes, a privy and a nice water source!  
     In general the snow is STILL clinging to deeper gullies and heights and most backcountry huts are reporting patches of snow and ice above
The intersection at Osgood Campsite
the huts.  For this reason if you have microspikes or light traction, I would definitely bring them along.  Where snow or ice has been recently and is no more, you can expect mud.  And if you are hiking withing the 24 hours after a rain storm you could also have some higher water crossings than normal.  It's a typical spring...only a little bit later than our normal.
      Tux skiing is still going on although it is approaching "Die Hard" status!  Only a few of the lines are still skiable (Left Gully, Hillman's) at the time of this writing and those are not skiable from top to bottom.  The last General Avalanche Advisory of the season has been issued and can be found on www.mountwashingtonavalanchecenter.org.
The View from the Bluff up deeper into the Gulf.  Jefferson's Knees are in the center background and Jefferson's Ravine is to the Center Right

The Upper Peabody
     For those hoping to summit Mount Washington, the Tuckerman's Trail central section on the Headwall is currently closed due to the snow fields over the waterfall.  They are currently pitting out and forming crevasses and are in life threatening conditions.  The Trail is closed from the Lunch Rocks area up to the Alpine Garden, so that folks wishing to summit at this time are for the most part heading both up and down the Lion's Head Summer Route.
     The State Park is officially open on the summit as is the Mount Washington Auto Road.  The season is making their daily status dependent on weather so be sure to check with them if you are desiring to get into a building on the summit.   Also be sure to check the local weather forecast before you head out!
Besides your microspikes, make sure you have packed good rain gear and plenty of warm layers to stave off early season chilly temperatures and hypothermia!  If you want to check out the Great Gulf hike, you can do that on the AMC Map #1, Presidential Range and you will find the trails written up in the White Mountain Guide.  Happy Hiking!!!

With the changing conditions stay tuned for trail updates! For any general questions, conditions information, or trail advice, please feel free 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 9:00 PM or by email at amcpinkhaminfo@outdoors.org. To make reservations at AMC Lodges and Huts, please call (603)466-2727 available Monday through Saturday 9am-5pm. Be sure to check weather conditions and avalanche reports before you come and call us here with any questions! We'll see you up here!

Backcountry Information Specialist
Pinkham Notch Visitor's Center

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