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Summary: Very windy, cold in the wind. All trails broken out except portions of Mowglis with some heavy drifts. 2 ft snow on the ground, 1/4 to 1/2 inch icy crust. Some boiler plate on Cardigan, but passable. Traction recommended


I wanted to get back to Cardigan after my last trip before the winter played out.

I wanted to get a better idea where I went off-trail last time, and what the proper trail was like.

But I didnt really want to go alone again, so I was happy that Jamie, who I knew slightly online,  wanted to hit Cardigan too.

A great day with good company!  It was a little windy, though ....

Gallery / slide show

Jamie and I had not yet actually met, so kind of an interesting experience for me. I've met online friends before, but it's still a pretty new experience.

I had given Jamie some hazy directions , so it took a couple extra minutes for us to meet at the park & ride. No problem, plenty of time for a coffee stop and off we went.

Hit a snow squall just north of Concord, thought maybe the weather was going to get us after all, but it cleared up and by the time we got to the lodge it was looking great.  Cold. But great.

The lodge was full, which I like to see, and we checked in for some trail intel.

Saddled up and off we went. Since I did this hike just a month ago, I knew there wouldnt be any problem following the trail until we got close to where I got off track last time.

The trail was just lightly covered with some fresh snow and some crust, so no issue with trail breaking. One bare booter had been up the trail - we met him as he came back down.

Reaching the crest of the ridge, we continued past the wrong turn I had made earlier. It really was no issue finding the proper trail.

Following somebody else's track is what got me in trouble last trip; focused on the tracks and I missed the blaze by maybe 50 ft. Duh.

The Manning trail from this point goes into the woods, crosses and follows a gully past some nice rock formations, then emerges on a beautiful open ledge.

We marveled at the view for a bit, then headed back into the woods, shortly to emerge on a steeper section of trail that was clearly about to take us into the open.

We knew the wind would be harsh once out of the trees. It definitely was! 

Walking into the wind across Firescrew, we didn't stop for many pictures or much else.  From this point to the other side of Cardigan, any exposed sections were wind swept. Maybe -10 windchill .    Fortunately,  from Firescrew to Cardigan the trail is in and out of the trees so there are lots of little sheltered spots to get occasional breaks from the wind.  I really like this trail section ( Mowglis ).

Apparently Sat night it had rained and all the trees were coated with ice. Not as much as in a really bad ice storm, happily. So no downed trees. But the trees were heavy and rigid in their ice jackets; the few times we had to push branches out of the way it was surprising how heavy they were. Going across Firescrew, I was delighted to notice a sound of wind chimes. It was the icicles from the nearby trees tinkling just like wind chimes. Never heard that before!
Sorry, no recording ... too much cold and wind at that spot!

Just as we were pondering the fact that nobody else was around ... two hikers from Boston popped up in our tracks. Company!  So far, this was 4 more people than I met last time :)  

We crossed the ridge and met two other hikers who had just come down Cardigan. They said the wind was pretty fierce ... but we sort of thought maybe it would be ;)

Starting up the cone of Cardigan the wind took no time turning it up. The other hikers were in microspikes; Jamie opted for crampons; I thought I could make it in snowshoes. I was right, but I think the wind helped :)    Actually it wasnt too bad, I just had to pick a good line to stay off the boiler plate patches.   But I was very happy to be going up and not down. Shoes would not have been adequate.

At the summit, hiding from the wind behind the tower was mandatory. Our Boston friends kept going while we stopped for a few minutes. It was cold and windy and little bits of snow and ice were flying. The tower base was littered with shards of ice from the tower and guy lines.



After a brief summit time, down to the Clark trail we went. We saw a few more people , but nobody was stopping to chat!

Once off the ridge ,  the difference was striking. Out of the wind, in the warm sun there was actually some melt water on my (jet black) snowshoes. By the ranger hut it was like a cold spring day, watching the wind blow over our heads.

From this point, we saw a few more skiers & hikers, but it's a pretty uneventful walk back to the lodge from the hut.

Out to the car, and headed home & still daylight.  What a great day :)

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