Quick trip to White Mountains, NH, Nov. 30 weekend

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Quick trip to White Mountains, NH, Nov. 30 weekend

Postby Selkie » Tue Dec 04, 2012 4:37 am

My favorite go-to place when the big city gets even bigger.
A dusting of snow in the western notches, 3-5 inches in Pinkham Notch and Evans Notch, causing this season's closure of all roads not maintained for winter travel. It was a winter wonderland, with very little foot or auto traffic. The unbroken snow cover on the trails showed animal tracks skittering about. I did a day hike to Zeta Pass in the Carter-Moriah Range; 7 miles RT and about 2000 Microspiked feet of elevation gain. That's not a lot, but foot placement when walking up a semi-snow-covered, bouldery creek bed is intense, and I took it slow. Lunch was chocolate and an apple, both frozen (temps about 10-12 deg F).

Folks on Mount Washington, opposite, were practicing various winter skills or headed for the top, in full winter gear, with ice axes and wands to mark trail. High winds can cause temporary whiteouts, sufficient to become disoriented, so climbers can't rely on cairns for guidance.

The lodge at Pinkham had its Christmas tree up with home-made cookies. With few guests at Joe Dodge Lodge, the staff invited me to share their dinner table, and we talked about indoor maintenance and the outdoor work staffpersons engage in during the winter, then watched a movie about climbing Everest.

I then went round to the other side of Washington and waved off the last Cog Railway train of the season, helmed by Santa Claus.

It's a wonderful place any time of the year, and quite special in the shoulder seasons.

(I'll link photos if I ever get set up with an external hosting site.)
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Re: Quick trip to White Mountains, NH, Nov. 30 weekend

Postby toddnick » Tue Dec 04, 2012 7:50 am

Sounds like fun; I can't wait to hike NH for the first time come Memorial Day. Had to be beautiful with frosting on the mountains, though I prefer just boots to having to use microspikes.

Just made reservations at Dolly Copp this morning for my final 3 nights (5/30, 5/31, 6/1)

I'll be at Lafayette Campground, Franconia Notch State Park (5/27, 5/28, 5/29)

And, in Vermont, at Gifford Woods Campground the first 3 nights (5/24, 5/25, 5/26)
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Re: Quick trip to White Mountains, NH, Nov. 30 weekend

Postby scott-atl » Tue Dec 04, 2012 11:19 am

the white mtns are as rugged as anywhere i've hiked. didn't care for the fee based hikes and drive. didn't have the extra money at the time.
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Re: Quick trip to White Mountains, NH, Nov. 30 weekend

Postby paul » Tue Dec 04, 2012 2:07 pm

I live a few hours away from the whites but I don't get up there that much. I mostly go in the winter to X-country ski. Been meaning to try winter hiking up there but need to get more equipment first (like winter boots, spikes and clothing).
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Re: Quick trip to White Mountains, NH, Nov. 30 weekend

Postby Selkie » Tue Dec 04, 2012 5:15 pm

Here's a trip report from Views from the Top of a hike on the same main day nearby, in the Northern Presidentials,
with photos on Facebook (I stayed below treeline):
http://www.vftt.org/forums/showthread.php?47167-Adams-amp-Madison-Winter-Fun-a-Little-Early-12-1-2012

toddnick wrote:Sounds like fun; I can't wait to hike NH for the first time come Memorial Day. Had to be beautiful with frosting on the mountains, though I prefer just boots to having to use microspikes.

Just made reservations at Dolly Copp this morning for my final 3 nights (5/30, 5/31, 6/1)
...

Every Memorial Day I've been in White Mntns there has been snow beginning about 4,000 ft. If it is a good snow winter, there will be an icy spine down the middle of the trail from snowshoers. The improvised glissade!
There was some boilerplate ice under the snow on my hikes this past weekend. I was very happy to put on spikes.
scott-atl wrote:the white mtns are as rugged as anywhere i've hiked. didn't care for the fee based hikes and drive. didn't have the extra money at the time.

Do you mean the $3 iron ranger at trailheads? A lot of those are gone; the agency did not meet its own terms (e.g., signage, a paved area for cars, ...). The $5 weekly pass works well. And those holding the Senior Pass or America the Beautiful Pass do not pay. It's been a thorn in the side, and those ticketed have (often) simply sent the parking fee (not the ticket amount) directly to the ranger station with an explanatory note.
paul wrote:I live a few hours away from the whites but I don't get up there that much. I mostly go in the winter to X-country ski. Been meaning to try winter hiking up there but need to get more equipment first (like winter boots, spikes and clothing).

I haven't done hard-core winter hiking; do not own plastic boots or Grivel 12-pointers or double mitts or a face mask. In the shoulder seasons I use my regular hiking boots plus Microspikes, gaiters, and thermal pants, and I'm set for a few hours of dealing with snow (borrowing snowshoes from AMC). Nov, Jan, and May are turning out to be good months.
It's a wonderful place.
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Re: Quick trip to White Mountains, NH, Nov. 30 weekend

Postby Selkie » Tue Dec 04, 2012 5:25 pm

Todd - you'll love the White Mountains! So much good stuff!
:arrow:
(I'm looking for cheap January flights. :D )
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Re: Quick trip to White Mountains, NH, Nov. 30 weekend

Postby elscout198 » Tue Dec 04, 2012 6:08 pm

Don't know if this close enough to where your going or even cheep enough but southwest has $93 one way fare from Chicago to Manchester near the end of January (this week 12/4)
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Re: Quick trip to White Mountains, NH, Nov. 30 weekend

Postby mikie » Tue Dec 04, 2012 8:24 pm

The Presi Range in NH is an exceptional place. It is one of the few places on the east coast that remind me of GNP. But, beware that it is one of the windiest places on earth (record of 231 mph). You can get yourself into deep trouble quickly if the weather changes. They are very intolerant on SAR missions too. I would always carry a topo GPS and use NiCd batteries (NO MiMh batteries!). They also have hut-to-hut hiking like Europe. If going when there might be snow I would bring Microspikes, Cramp-ons, and quality snowshoes. Want to use waterproof boots outside of the summer months.

If you get to Mt Washington summit check out the summit cats. You can read more about them here: http://www.accuweather.com/en/weather-blogs/clarkb/my-favorite-pictures-part-4-summit-cats/83106 . Also check out: http://www.mountwashington.org/

Make sure you do your research before going.
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Re: Quick trip to White Mountains, NH, Nov. 30 weekend

Postby Selkie » Wed Dec 05, 2012 12:41 am

mikie wrote: They are very intolerant on SAR missions too. ...
Want to use waterproof boots outside of the summer months....

Make sure you do your research before going.

Mikie,
I won't go into SAR missions here other than to note the statement above is broad brush, and I would not use the words "intolerant" or "they."
I did not see any plastic boots on the trails I took over the weekend. I do not know what footgear the technical climbers were using.
Please start another thread if you want to discuss winter hiking precautions.
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Re: Quick trip to White Mountains, NH, Nov. 30 weekend

Postby mikie » Wed Dec 05, 2012 1:54 pm

No need for plastic boots. Any high-top boot that is truly waterproof will work. I use OR gaiters over my snow pants. Most people use Asolo boots. I personally use Scarpa. My main Winter hiking boot is the Scarpa Escape GTX:

Image

To determine if a boot is waterproof, I put them in a large pail of water. But, keep the water level below the top. After a week, they should be completely dry inside the boot.

It is important to find a pair that are perfect. I have wide boxy feet, so the Scarpa Escapes work well. Usually Scarpa is for narrow feet. Asolo is good for people with tapered toes. Keep trying on different pairs until you find the perfect fitting boots. Good mountaineering boots will NEVER break-in, so they must fit perfect.

In regards to Winter hiking precautions. This is a very long conversation. Much longer then just a new thread. But, essentially you need to stay (1) Dry; (2) Warm; (3) Hydrated. Everything in winter hiking revolves around these 3 concepts. Sounds easy to achieve, but so many things can go wrong.
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Re: Quick trip to White Mountains, NH, Nov. 30 weekend

Postby paul » Thu Dec 06, 2012 8:47 am

Don't winter boots need to be insulated too?
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Re: Quick trip to White Mountains, NH, Nov. 30 weekend

Postby mikie » Thu Dec 06, 2012 10:15 am

Simple answer is No. Most hikers use Thorlo Winter socks (or something similar) which are quite thick and warm. Since you are moving continuously, your body provides enough heat to keep your feet warm. Most good mountaineering boots have thick heavy base which also provide insulation. In extreme situation, you can also use hand warmers inside the toe of your boot. There are also foot warmers, which are very similar to hand warmers. A very small number of hikers use a battery heated foot pad.

There are also hiking boots that have felt liners like snowmobile boots. Some people do like them on colder hikes, but complain that they are not rigid enough or too warm.

You also do not want your feet to be too warm. Otherwise, your feet will sweat. Sweating while winter hiking is to be avoided at all cost. You want your feet to be comfortable or slightly cold. That is the optimum foot temperature. You can adjust the temperature by hiking faster or slower. Or, but putting on more clothing. You also have to remember that snowshoeing requires a lot more energy, so your body will generate a lot of heat in the Winter. This is especially true if you are breaking trail. There are times when I am hiking in a light summer hiking shirt when it is 10 degrees out to avoid overheating and sweating.

The optimum overall body temperature while hiking is to be slightly cold. You want to avoid being too hot where you start sweating. And, you do not want to become too cold where it becomes very hard to warm up. Body temperature is something that Winter hikers have to think about constantly. It is vital to surviving.

It is also important to remember that snow is closer to freezing temperature of 32 degrees. Even when it is -30 degrees. Snow is actually a good insulator in very cold conditions. That is why some people use snow caves in difficult weather conditions. The temperature differential can be 40-50 warmer in the snow. So, your boots are in contact with warmer conditions then the rest of your body.
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Re: Quick trip to White Mountains, NH, Nov. 30 weekend

Postby paul » Thu Dec 06, 2012 9:28 pm

Thanks Mikie,

I guess I'll have to shop around and do more research to figure exactly what I'll need for doing extended hiking in the White Mountains. I x-country a lot and my feet never are a problem in the cold. But I'm always moving.

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