Well, ,Happy New Year !
A little late, but it's still a mostly new year :)
No better way to start a new year than with some winter hiking!
So ... I got out kind of late on Friday, BOT 1 PM. That's either late, or very early for a night hike :)
Goal was not to be out at night, though. Solo, cold and dark are not a combination I normally seek.
My original desire was Blue trail up Mt Major, then over to Straightback, then down via Straightback trail and back via JV/Beaver Pond trail.
But with the rain and freeze and snow dusting the last week I didnt want to try the main trail up Mt Major.
That last pitch up to the summit was icy enough the last time I was there, bound to have been worse.
So I switched plans to use Jesus Valley Road, ascend the JV trail to Mt Major from the South side, then cross over to Straightback
and back down to JV Trail and out. About a mile shorter, which was also good considering my late start!
The Old Stage Rd comes out on JV Road , and in the summer/fall there is a little room to park without blocking the gate.
However, that is not plowed out; there's no place but the side of the road. Fortunately, JV Road was plowed wide.
So, taking care to park away from the curve at the bottom of the hill, I pulled my Honda CR/V over into the snowbank ( *love* AWD!!) and got saddled up.
A couple snowmobiles and 1 ATV had been up JV Trail to the main brook crossing, so the trail was packed down but I used my snowshoes the whole trip.
Better traction, I don't generally like bare booting. Even if the snow is well packed I tend to posthole occasionally, and even if I dont I dont like the walking-in-sand feeling.
The snowshoes provided some traction for the occasional unseen ice too. The only drawback was the noise. Crunch, crunch crunch!!
The weather was looking pretty bleak,
but NPR kept saying it was going to turn partly sunny in the afternoon ... pretty soon my confidence in NPR started to pay off ...
I just enjoy hiking a blue sky day much more than overcast ....
The two water crossings were not terribly hard, though the main one was a little problematic, requiring a short side trip to find a place to cross.
Might be frozen enough now, but any moving water was unfrozen as of Friday.
The snowmobile tracks dropped off, but the ATV kept going all the way up to the first ledges on Major.
By the time I reached the ledges, the sun was out & bright :)
Trees touched by the sun were sparkly with a new layer of ice, very pretty. And there was not so much ice as to break the trees.
On to the summit of Major, and a quick look at Lake Winnipesaukee ... which looked none too frozen...
Been to Major a lot of times, and the distance was pretty cloudy. It was cold and I was short on time so very soon I turned back toward Straightback.
Snow was still deep, and the crust was not quite so thick on the north side of Straightback, so breaking trail ( no more machine pack! Yay!) was work. But fun work.
Breaking out of the woods onto the open ledges was a bit of a relief, but I was much surprised to see only one set of tracks - bare boot at that.
The summit ledges of Straightback were very hard going, anywhere from 6 to 20 inches of snow, covered by a pretty thick crust.
Just thick enough to make me wary of going sliding - I dont quite trust my snowshoes on ice - but almost never enough to float over the snow.
So it was lift the shoe - get partway up with the other shoe, break thru the crust , lift the other shoe without catching the toe on the crust edge ....
a good workout.
I got to Straightback with not much sun left, just enough to really enjoy watching it set. Froze my shutter finger taking pictures. Duh. Not the first time.
I get a little too ... um .. focused ... sometimes taking pictures. But I was thrilled with the sunset and the ice. Very pretty :)
Finally had to move on, so headed down hill. Eventually the bare boot tracks came to a snowshoe track. That was somewhat helpful but also difficult.
My snowshoes have always fit the broken trails I've hiked in the Whites, but this track was a little narrower.
Maybe children or women's shoes? I don't know; they seemed to have been made by shoes about 8" wide ... I'm hoping this was a size thing and not a new shoe width standard.
Anyway, from this point it was just slogging back down the JV trail to the road and the car.
Surprisingly, especially considering the many FB posts I've been seeing about the Belknaps, I saw not a single person :O !
I held out for not using my headlamp ... another thing that's fun in the winter, the least moonlight is often adequate on the snowy trails ... and quite pretty :)
What a fun day!
Don't forget to check the gallery! :)