Coldest Night ? Hike, yeah!

Flash! Bubbas hit the trail.

Last night Craig and I  headed up the George’s Highland Path from the Thorndike Brook Access.  It was predicted to be the coldest night left this season as we approach Daylight Saving Time change next Sunday and the official start of Spring two more weeks ahead.  When I awoke this morning it was  just 1 degree outside.

We left the road at 5:45 PM while it was still light out. Snowshoes were a must.  While there was  depression on the trail marking someone’s ascent, it was clear no one had been up since the last storm.  We believe that someone skied up, because our snowshoes did not fit in the track, making for extra work as we broke through the edges.  We both agreed that we were in desperate need of a couple of hours exercise in the quiet of the snowy woods.

The first half mile of travel is relatively gradual, ascending about 22 vertical feet.  Headlights went on  as we approched a stream.  After crossing a narrow, snow covered footbridge at the 550 foot level, it was time to go up.  After about a mile, the packed trail was no more, so Craig and I took turns breaking the trail out, packing it down for the other guy.  I discovered that I had lost the tip of one of my Leki poles somewhere in the deep snow, rendering the pole useless.  We struggled with the increasingly steep trail, eventually reaching Thorndike Junction at 1150 feet.

After a quick drink from a thermos of hot chocolate and gnawing away at one of Craig’s home-made pemmican bars, we reversed direction and skidded down the trail, this time without stopping at all.  At times the steep pitch and deep snow allowed us to ski down on our snowshoes, despite the heavy metal claws on the bottoms of our feet that should of held us in place.  We both fell several times, and thankfully the powder cushioned out falls.

Nelson: horizontal

We never made it to the top of Ragged Mountain tonight, we just ran out of time.  I had to be home by 8 PM.  Nevertheless, we averaged about 2 miles an hour on the way up, a very respectable speed given the conditions.  We also broke trail all the way up to the GH Path, so if someone else wants to pack the additional mile south to the summit, that’s OK with us.

Highland map.

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