|View of Mt. Washington on a remarkably clear day!|
Last Sunday, I was trying to make a decision for what to
do with my day.
With so many great
trails near the PinkhamNotch Visitor Center
, it can be difficult to pick one.
Luckily, one of our information volunteers,
Brenda, invited me to go on a hike with her.
Her plan was to hike past Lost Pond to the Wildcat Ridge Trail, hit the
summits of Wildcat D and E, and then descend through the Wildcat Ski Area
I’d been thinking about the Wildcat Ridge
since seeing it on my Glen Boulder snowshoeing adventure, so I agreed to come
along and went to go pack my bag.
|Heading up the Wildcat Ridge trail with Brenda |
Remember last week when I only brought snowshoes?
I was smarter this week, and packed both
snowshoes and microspikes
Brenda and I started our hike at noon. We crossed Route 16 and jumped on the Lost
Pond Trail, snowshoeing a relatively smooth and flat mile along the Ellis River
and Lost Pond. The trail had been packed
out as well, so that first mile went pretty quickly. I would share a picture of Lost Pond, but
it’ll be more fun if you come and find it.
I will say that it was a nice sight: a pristine layer of snow over the
frozen pond, Mount Washington looming in the background, radio towers visible
against the clear sky.
At the end of the Lost Pond Trail, we turned left onto
the Wildcat Ridge Trail. Within a few
minutes, we found that the trail was too steep for snowshoes to be convenient. If you’ll recall from my last post, I
mentioned that the Wildcat Ridge is supposedly the steepest part of the
Appalachian Trail. It’s not hard to
believe, if you’ve ever hiked up the ridge.
Accordingly, I switched to microspikes and Brenda switched to crampons,
and we started working our way up.
White blazes, measuring 2 inches by 6 inches like the one
on this boulder, delineate the entire Appalachian Trail, which stretches for
2,185 miles from Georgia to Maine.
|White AT Blazes along the trail|
The trail was relatively easy to follow. There was evidence of traffic in the past day
or two, although in many areas the wind had obscured the tracks. Brenda and I switched back and forth with
leading. A mile and a half up the ridge,
the trail started to level out. The wind
had blown away the powdery snow here, so we pulled off our snowshoes and
switched back to crampons and microspikes.
It was a great place to take a short break and enjoy the view of Mount
It was just a false summit, and as we dropped down the
other side, we were up to our knees in snow.
The snowshoes went back on, and we slowly pushed our way forward and up,
toward the top of Wildcat E. We kept
alternating positions, as breaking trail while climbing uphill is no easy
task. We took a much needed snack break,
and then kept climbing.
Eventually, we reached the top of Wildcat E, a wooded
summit. Dropping into the col a couple
tenths of a mile later, we reached the Wildcat Ski Area. The top of the ski lift looked wild with dusk
on the horizon. With one final push,
Brenda and I made our way to the observation deck on top of Wildcat D. It was perfect timing to catch a beautiful
sunset on the southern shoulder of Mount Washington.
|Wildcat Ski Area|
No longer working to climb uphill as we’d done nearly all
afternoon, and with the sun disappearing, we donned extra layers.
We put the snowshoes away for the day, put on
microspikes, and headed down the Wildcat slopes.
After making it to the bottom by moonlight,
we put on our headlamps and hiked down Route 16 to the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center.
Brenda and I parted ways in the parking lot:
she was headed home after a rejuvenating weekend in the mountains, and I was
headed into the visitor center in search of a freshly cooked meal
|Sunset looking at the SE Shoulder of Mt Washington|
Interested in volunteering with the AMC
There are plenty of opportunities available
for people like you!
You can provide
trail information at Pinkham Notch like Brenda, educate guests about flora and
fauna at the huts, maintain a section of trail, and much more!
With the incoming of fresh snow over the weekend stay tuned as we will have an updated backcountry skiing report! The
AMC also offers and hosts clinics and group trips for ice climbing,
avalanche certifications and winter mountaineering. All of our programs
for the '14/'15 season can be found on our Activities and Events Page. 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 email@example.com. To make reservations at AMC Lodges and Huts, please call (603) 466-2727 available Monday through Saturday 9am-5pm.
Happy Winter Adventuring!
Backcountry Information Specialist
Labels: 4000 foot peaks, alpine skiing, Alpine Zone, Appalachian Trail, avalanche reports, Hiking, Joe Dodge Lodge, Mount Washington, New Hampshire, northern peaks, Pinkham Notch, showshoeing, Ski Trails, White Mountains