Wednesday, January 30, 2013

W48-in-1: Galehead, Twins, Zealand, & Hale - 1/26/2013

This Saturday, I took on a long and difficult hike over five 4000-footers to the north of the Pemi Wilderness. For 26.5 miles, and for just over twelve hours, I traversed solo over Galehead, South Twin, North Twin, Zealand, and Hale each for the first time in winter.  I didn't see a single other person from start to finish. The temperatures were absolutely frigid, and for the duration of the hike, anything exposure over about 2 minutes started to numb the hands. Despite the frigid cold, the weather was spectacular and the views were some of the best I've ever seen from these peaks. These were peaks 22-26 this winter season.

I started at 4:30am from the Beaver Brook Wayside area on Route 3. This was my first time using this shortcut to the Gale River Trail via the Gale River Loop Road on the cross country ski trail. The trail was marked and packed out with ski tracks as well as snow shoe tracks. After about a mile on the ski trail, the spot was obvious where the path veers right and onto the Gale River Loop Road. I then found myself at the start of the Gale River Trail, where I took my first of many super-quick breaks. Wow that shortcut was a lot easier than I anticipated. I then hiked through moonlit woods up the trail to the spot that overlooks the river where there would be views up to the Twins. There was just a slither of blue in the sky above the ridge - I could tell it was going to be a beautiful day in the mountains. I reached the Garfield Ridge Trail (about 5.6 miles) in just a few minutes over 2 hours - a nice warm-up.
From the Gale River Trail at morning twilight
I reached the Galehead Hut to be greeted with clouds whizzing through the pass between S. Twin and Galehead - as they so often do. Without delay, I dropped my pack just beyond the hut, and scooted up to the Galehead summit for the first time in winter.
View from Galehead Hut 
Galehead summit in winter
I've stated this before, but the .8 mi 1,100 ft. ascent of South Twin gets easier and easier every time. With my televator bars propped up on the MSR lightning ascents, it was a steady, but straightforward ascent. As I inched nearer to the summit, I was awe-struck by the views behind me of the Franconia Ridge with the clouds going over Galehead.

As I reached the rocky summit of South Twin for the 7th time and for the first time in winter, I could see mountains forever through my frost-laced eyelashes! Low-lying clouds skirted some of the peaks, and I spent a few short minutes taking in those sights.

Pemi Wilderness and Franconia Ridge from South Twin

I was pleased to see that the North Twin Spur had been recently traveled. It was easy snowshoeing, and I arrived at the summit of North Twin to take in the views. It was the most spectacular view I've had from this summit.
North Twin summit outlook in winter
North Twin Spur
Looking back at South Twin from North Twin Spur
On the way back to South Twin, the Presidential's were eye-catching to say the least. There was some increased wind when I arrived back at South Twin, so without stopping, I went right over the top and quickly down into the trees on the Twinway. As I made my way over, I saw the trail was a fresh blanket of powdery snow, which I basically skated smoothly down in my snowshoes until it leveled out! This is a beautiful area of the Whites, and traversing this section solo through about a half a foot of untouched powder was a nice treat. The white blazes were tough to locate, but the corridor was extremely easy to follow, allowing for pure enjoyment of this remote section of the hike.
Presidential Range from the North Twin Spur
As I passed over Guyot, I slowed down a few steps, did some 360s, and took it all in - this was the spot to be on a day with visibility like Saturday. After that, it was more great trail as I stopped at the summit of Zealand, and continued onto the junction with the Lend-A-Hand Trail.
Passing of Mt. Guyot with the Presidentials 
Mt. Zealand summit in winter 
Right here at the junction sign just a short distance from Zealand Falls Hut, I took a solid 10 minute break. I added a layer as it was starting to get chilly as I was now into the afternoon hours. I ate some peanut butter crackers, a snickers bar, and had some water. The Lend-A-Hand Trail was broken out with skis, and that again became an advantage for me because this was my first time on this trail. It was a beautiful trail, and the 1,100 feet of elevation gain wasn't that bad. All I knew was that I was getting close to success on Mt. Hale. When I arrived at the summit, I stood on the cairn and couldn't see much of anything other than an truly awesome display of clouds for my last peak on this adventure.
Lend-A-Hand and Twinway junction 
Lend-A-Hand Trail 
Mt. Hale summit in winter 
Beautiful view from Mt. Hale to end my day
After Hale, my plan from the start was to head down to Zealand Road and 302, and the plan was to find a ride back to my car. Rather than hitchhiking, I walked an additional two miles to the pizza shop, where I scored a ride back to my car, which was 7 miles up the road at Beaver Brook Wayside Area. It was so nice to walk into the pizza place and get blasted with hot air. I grabbed a small pizza for the ride south to Tilton, and it was quick to bed for a lengthy night's sleep to rest up for another one tomorrow! One of my "easy"  single peak hikes remaining, Moosilauke, it would be.

This hike couldn't have gone more perfect. I had spent a significant amount of time the prior week preparing for this solo hike. I carried two maps, one which detailed the forest roads more than the AMC map. I carried a sleeping bag, emergency bivy, an emergency stove and lightweight pan (to melt snow if needed), and also an emergency tarp to be used as an insulator or shelter. I didn't make any changes to my plan during the hike, and the trail conditions worked in my favor, allowing me to travel between 2-3 mph throughout the entire hike. I attribute the way it turned out to covering every single base I can when it comes to planning for a solo hike of this magnitude. This one was a favorite!

Hike Stats
Trails: Beaver Brook XC Ski Trail, Gale River Loop Road, Gale River Trail, Garfield Ridge Trail, Frost Trail, Twinway, North Twin Spur,  Lend-A-Hand Trail, Hale Brook Trail, Zealand Road
Distance: 26.5 miles (+2 mi. Zealand Rd. to Catalano's Pizza where I got ride back to my car) 28.5 miles
Elevation Gain: 6,150 ft.
Actual Book Time: 12:15

W48-in-1: The Hancocks - 1/20/2013

This single winter season quest has started out with me climbing 19 straight solo winter peaks.  I was excited to be having my brother along for the Hancocks for this hike. He had not hiked in almost 5 weeks after a bout with some tendinitis in his shoulder. This was going to be a good one, in terms of mileage and elevation gain to get him back going again, especially before our upcoming trip to Baxter. Something unique always seems to happen, and this time it was that this hike was my 20th and 21st of this winter season, and it was my brother's 20th and 21st all time in winter. Here we go!
Sunrise from the Hancock Trailhead parking area
We started our hike just before sunrise, at a more "normal" time, you could say. We started the Spot Tracker, and off we went down the Hancock Notch Trail into the wilderness. As we got going, the temperature was not really all that cold. The sun was splashing some alpenglow on scar ridge to our left, and the skies were looking good as we hiked in at lower elevations. The trail was nicely packed out into a highway for us, and the scenery was simply beautiful. We bare booted ourselves all of the way to the junction for North and South peak. Here we put our snowshoes, and snapped up our televators for the ascent.
Cedar Brook Trail in winter 
Cedar Brook and Hancock Loop Trail junction
I had been on the Hancocks two previous times, including once with my brother. Both times I ascended Hancock, North first. This time, we elected to ascend the south peak first. The trail was broken out well from butt-sliders. Our nice warm-up and televators on the snowshoes provided us no problem with the ascent, except for slowing us a little. That was ok, because of course we had arrow slide, the southern Pemigewasset Wilderness and Franconia Ridge in our view as we went up. Since it was my brother's first winter ascent of the Hancocks, he took the lead as we reached the summit for our respective #20's. There was a wind coming from the west, so the outlook on the west side provided not only a good spot for a summit break, but a great view looking east towards Chocoura.
North Hancock and Pemi Wilderness from Hancock Loop (south ascent) 
Me at Hancock, South Peak summit (3rd Round, and 2nd time in winter)
Bill's first winter ascent of Hancock, South Peak 
View from Hancock, South Peak summit
Enjoying some warm tea as a reward
We took a solid break here, but after a while, the fingers started to "feel it" and it was time to get going across the ridge to North Hancock. We proceeded along the completely well marked and broken out trail. It was noticeably different doing the loop in this counter-clockwise direction. The traverse was incredibly easy for us along this section. So much so, after we stopped to talk to a solo hiker, who turned out to be Matt (see his blog here), we had no idea that in just 10 more steps we were already at the summit of Hancock, North Peak. As opposed to the somewhat fair weather we had on south peak, it was snowing like crazy on the summit of North. It was getting colder by the second, so after a couple of photos, we ducked into the trees.

We did some pretty good butt-sliding/glissading down the trail, and it seemed like we were down super fast. The hike out after summiting the Hancocks is always very pleasant. We had a nice weather morning, some views, some snow, and great scenery - it was a great day for the Hancocks in winter, and the end of another solid 4-peak weekend for me.
Crossing a frozen stream on Cedar Brook Trail 
Bill hikes the Cedar Brook Trail 
The Osceola's from the Hancock Trailhead
Hike Stats
Trails: Hancock Notch Trail, Cedar Brook Trail, Hancock Loop Trail
Distance: 9.8 miles
Elevation Gain: 2,650 ft.
Actual Book Time: 7:05

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

W48-in-1: Mt. Carrigain & Tecumseh - 1/19/2013

This Saturday was a great day for winter hiking. It was one of those days where it turned it out just a little bit better than forecast - basically not as cold. The sun tried to poke it's way through, but what you see above is just about all I got. So it turned out that Mt. Carrigain was going to be my next peak on the way to 48 this winter. I arrived at the Sawyer River Road winter lot at about 4:30am. It was 5 degrees and snowing really good (which was expected for the morning hours). I had given myself some time to get ready in the car, and at 5:00am, I was headed up the dark road for two miles.
Signal Ridge Trail
Trail reports described some parts of the old trail were tracked out, and that part got me confused a little bit near one of the crossings. I'm convinced morning twilight is more challenging than any other time of day to hike. It's not easy to see, even with a headlamp. I went backwards a little bit to the old junction, and I found my way more confidently on the old trail (which was slightly tracked), and after that I was smooth sailing up the Signal Ridge Trail. It was a great snowy solo winter climb up Carrigain. When I reached the ridge, the wind was gusting nicely, and the snow swirled in circles to my right on the leeward side of the ridge. About 15 minutes later, I reached the summit of Carrigain for the first time in winter, and my 28th of 48 in winter. I enjoyed the windy and cold summit observation tower for about 10 minutes, and then headed down, ending in 7 hours flat.
Signal Ridge below Carrigain summit 
Mt. Carrigain summit in winter

Since I finished at noon time, I was able to carry through with my plan of bagging two peaks for the day. I removed my boots and gaiters and drove back in to Conway. I took a right, and took in a winter drive of the entire Kancamagus Highway as I made my way towards Mt. Tecumseh. After a nice ride and some water and food replenishment into my body, I was ready to go bag Tecumseh. I started up the Tecumseh Trail at 2:50pm.

I was going pretty light for this one, basically some layers, essentials, and my lightweight Snowboogie sled, which was attached to my pack. I reached the summit in 1 hour. I put on my microspikes when I came across, not a broken-out trail, but a sled-tracked out trail, so that is when they were especially helpful in getting me to the top quickly - and also, that's how I know I'm not the only nut climbing a peak with a sled on my pack. When I arrived at the summit, the views were the best of the day, but it was colder. I felt it more quickly on my hands than I did that morning on Carrigain.

Mt. Tecumseh summit in winter
Mt. Tecumseh summit view
4th time to Tecumseh, 3rd time in winter
I didn't linger very long. I had some quick trail snacks, water, and put on a warmer layer and I was ready for the descent. Looking at the sled tracks on the way up, I knew I was going to be in for a nice ride. There was still plenty of daylight remaining, and I was pumped. I reached two separate-hike 4000 footers, almost 20 miles in 9 hours of hiking. Both summits provided some views, and hiking in the cold and falling snow is always amazing, so this sled ride down was a great end to my day! I was back at my camp in Belmont in time to watch the Bruins, and to get some rest for Sunday's hike with my brother to the Hancocks. Now buckle up and enjoy the ride!

Hike Stats - Carrigain
Trails: Sawyer River Road, Signal Ridge Trail
Distance: 14 miles
Elevation Gain: 3,800 ft.
Actual Book Time: 7:00

Hike Stats - Tecumseh
Trails: Mt. Tecumseh Trail
Distance: 5 miles
Elevation Gain: 2,200 ft.
Actual Book Time: 2:00

Friday, January 18, 2013

Katahdin 2013 - Part 1: Preparing & Submitting a Reservation

(Photo Courtesy of Chris Lang)

Around Christmas time, I announced my plan of a winter attempt of Katahdin. Well, it will be here before I know it, and that means I'm starting to prepare. Planning a winter trip into Baxter State Park (BSP) has gotten easier over the last few years, they say, but when the plan involves perhaps the most challenging winter alpine environments in all of the Northeast, it requires a good deal of coordination, knowledge, and experience beyond just making a reservation. There's a lot that goes into a trip like this, and certainly climbing Katahdin in winter is a big deal to me. For that, we're going to have some fun, and I'm going share my experience of planning and hopefully executing a successful winter Baxter trip. Welcome to Katahdin 2013 by DMOutdoors.

Before the plan and the reservation, it all starts with the idea. Katahdin in winter. No wait, a Knife Edge Traverse to Katahdin in winter. No wait, we can get Hamlin too! This is how it goes down when you have six individuals who either love to peakbag, climb in winter, or indulge in some backcountry skiing. So there it was, before this winter even started there were six of us who agreed that a winter trip to Katahdin was going to be a part of our winter, and here we are! Follow along as I take you through this adventure from idea to execution.

Part 1: Preparing & Submitting a Reservation

I submitted my reservation in the first week of November. Baxter begins accepting winter reservations on November 1st. Winter reservations are required for above treeline travel and camping. Winter day hikes below treeline only require you to check-in and out. Here are the steps I took for completing a winter reservation for our camping and above-treeline excursion in BSP:
  1. Read as much as possible from the Baxter State Park website before sitting down to plan your trip. This includes printing and reading the BSP Winter Handbook in full. Then, print out a Winter Reservation Form which will help you move through the rest of the planning process in terms of the information you will need to obtain about your group and plans.
  2. Establish an approximate itinerary with specific objectives for the outing to include on the reservation. This is where the rough plan is made up, and you start to see who is interested in those objectives. This gets the discussion going with your team so that you can take on the next couple of steps.
  3. Determine your desired group size. Be sure in advance that all team members have the appropriate experience for backcountry travel in winter. After this has been discussed, finalize the list of team members, and obtain all of the appropriate information from each member. This includes emergency contact information to be put on the reservation form and vehicle information for any vehicles being parked at the winter parking area - Abol Bridge.
  4. Determine how many nights the adventure will be, and establish first choices for your reservation. There are several different types of shelters to reserve in BSP, such as lean-tos, bunkhouses, and cabins. This an important early step in deciding your plan, because sleeping in lean-tos is a lot different than a bunkhouse with a heated stove, and will require additional preparation and gear. Although you don't have to have indicate 2nd choices on the initial reservation form, it might be a good idea to do so, or you could either include a backup on a separate piece of paper, or just have it handy and ready at home. The park may call you directly if your reservation request is already booked.
  5. Include the appropriate payment information with your lodging choices, and send your reservation form off to the BSP Authority. This is most likely going to be credit card information, so look up on the lodging prices and know what might get charged to your card.
  6. Wait for confirmation. My confirmation came in about a week for me by phone. Because the Chimney Pond Bunkhouse was already booked for the night we wanted, I made a few quick calls, and after a final call back to the park, I was all set with the agreed upon alternative. A few days later, I received the official confirmation by mail. 
And that was it! Now we wait, plan, and prepare for a long weekend of winter alpine fun in Baxter State Park. In the future parts (posts) to this trip, you can expect to read about our specific itinerary, team member introductions, gear lists, practice and preparation activities. You can find all of these posts, when posted right on my new navigation tab for Katahdin 2013!

PS. If anyone has any good winter Katahdin photos (about 3-5, maybe) that they would like to share with me for this and my next few posts, please send me an e-mail or message on Facebook. I would like to include some photos with these posts. I would be happy to add a link to your site. - Thanks!

Thursday, January 17, 2013

W48-in-1: Franconia Ridge Traverse & Garfield Overnight - 1/12/13

This winter hike started out as anattempt at a solo Pemi Loop in winter, but it actually turned into a Franconia Ridge Traverse plus Garfield overnight with some twist and turns along the way that surely made it another nerve-wracking but exciting outing. I had wanted so bad for this single-season quest to include a 12-peak extended winter-Pemi Loop overnight, but simply, the mountains didn't want it to happen that way, and maybe this wasn't the weekend to do it. Despite the weather forecast for possible freezing rain and warmer daytime temperatures, I decided to attempt as planned and I set off up the Osseo Trail at 2:50am.

Lincoln Woods footbridge
Things were going smoothly as the Osseo Trail was pretty well packed out before me. For the 4th time in the middle of the night, I've hiked the Osseo Trail. I've never hiked it during the day, but I find it to be one of the easiest ascents to a 4000 footer. I reached the summit of Flume in three hours and Liberty in four hours. All was great until I went to descend Liberty en route to Little Haystack. Just like my last failed attempt of the Pemi Loop, I had descended the wrong direction off a summit, and didn't realize it right away, again. Last time, I was affected by low visibility on Lafayette, but this time, it was because I was trying to hard to get as far into this as quickly as I could. After quite a while I realized I had not gone past the rock face of the Liberty summit, and felt quite stupid. Despite having been up on Franconia Ridge in summer and winter and in the dark before, its just too easy to make mistakes up there in the dark, and since I wasn't wearing snowshoes on the packed trail, I had no way to pick up that I was traveling in the wrong direction until I remembered what it should have looked like going off Liberty. I think I simply snapped a picture, turned around, and went in the direction of the cairn. Stupid, stupid.

Faintly in the darkness you might the Liberty summit cairn
With it being still near sunrise time, I decided that I still wanted to continue. I headed back towards Liberty as quickly as I could, and I passed right over the summit, as I should have originally, pressing on towards Little Haystack. The Franconia Ridge Trail travels 1.8 miles between Liberty and Little Haystack. The trail corridor was generally well defined as I trekked through the completely untouched unbroken snow of this section. However, I hit a wall about exactly halfway through where the corridor seemed to just end. I began walking circles trying to find the trail ahead, and after about 10 minutes, I started to get a bit nervous that I'd completely lose my sense of direction again because I now had 3 circles of snow shoe prints in all directions. Although I could tell with my compass which way I needed to go, North, in order for me to finally find the trail corridor, what I did was go backwards (south) on my tracks and twice, re-approached the spot of where I couldn't see the trail ahead. Come to find out, heavy wet snow had created a series of leaning trees directly in front of me. Once I figured that out, I started knocking the snow off trees with my poles, and trees started flying upwards left and right like curtains were opening, and I was again on my way, having again been delayed quite a bit with a lot of added stress.

At this point, I was feeling pretty bummed. It was getting close to mid-day, and when I should have been well on my way to Garfield or more, I was just getting to treeline on Little Haystack. Being behind, I ended up taking very few photos on this hike. My spirits livened for a short period of time as I began the always impressive trek over Lincoln, North Lincoln, and Lafayette. The clouds presented a partial undercast among a mostly overcast sky. The snow on the ridge was surprisingly thin to begin with, never mind it was softening by the minute, but the trail was well trodden, and I found it easy-going over Lincoln and to the summit of Lafayette. This was my 7th time to the summit of Mt. Lafayette. There were a few groups enjoying the summit upon my arrival.
Mt. Lafayette 
Looking back south from near Mt. Lincoln summit 
Mt. Lafayette summit 
View towards the Kinsman Range from Franconia Ridge Trail
After a couple of quick photos at the summit, there was no delay in me continuing on forward as day-light would be quickly on the decline. I was well aware that once I passed over Lafayette's shoulders that I could be dealing with another 2+ miles of unbroken (and now completely water-logged) snow. As I descended into the trees, indeed every step from here on out sunk several inches and sometimes a couple of feet down into the deep, wet snow. Immediately, every step I took lifted about a pound or more of the wet snow with my next step forward. I began to count like this: 20 steps break, 20 steps break, and I found myself moving at a pace of about less than one mile an hour. In addition to the laborious effort required because of the ground conditions, the excessive amounts of snow that the Whites have seen thus far was rapidly melting off the trees. It may as well have been pouring rain at anytime I was hiking within the trees. Every step came with a swish of the socks in my boot, and my gloves rang water with every grip of my trekking pole. I knew I would be able to make it to Garfield by sunset regardless, therefore I could keep my focus on hiking rather than worrying - plus it was warm and my gear was doing its job despite being wet, so I was not worried in that regard.

I did the 20 step count process the entire time. It seemed FOREVER to make it to the Garfield Pond, and then after that, the rest of the ascent also took forever. One thing I'm thankful for was that trail was very easy to follow, but I think I just may officially label this as the worst 3 solo miles I've ever hiked. Around 4pm, as the sun was starting to descend towards the horizon, I reached the summit of Mt. Garfield for the 1st time in winter, and 5th time total. I dropped my pack and walked the last several feet up to the high point to snap a couple of photos. Despite feeling quite defeated and cold as the wind sucked the warmth from my body, I took in, so to forever etch in my memory, the sunset view from my first winter ascent of Garfield.
Cloudy sunset on Mt. Garfield 
Completely drenched on my first official winter summit of Garfield
Sunset silhouette from Mt. Garfield
After that, I wasted no time in descending to the Garfield Ridge Campsite, which was one of the possible camping locations I had planned for on this hike, although I had hoped I'd make it closer to Guyot campsite or the Twinway area. I had never been up the spur to the Garfield campsite, but I knew there was a new shelter there which I was anxious to scope out. After butt-sliding down the .2 to the campsite spur, I was not a happy camper (yet) to find myself needing to trudge up this never-ending spur to the campsite! Again, I was doing the 20 step count, but knew soon I would see some sort of wooden structure. When I finally did, I was elated, as the new Garfield shelter looked like a heavenly and palatial abode to me.
Garfield Ridge Shelter (taken the following morning)
After I had quickly changed into to my heavyweight base layers and was unpacking my gear to get comfy, two hikers of similar age as I, who I had passed on the summit of Lafayette came along. They too had braved the ridiculously difficult stretch of trail, and I was informed that my broken path provided them great company, but not much help for them, as they only deepened the steps that I had broken out. While I was mostly settled, they too unpacked their dripping wet gear and we got down to cooking our dinners and preparing everything for the night.
Plenty of hooks for hanging gear 
Top bunk of Garfield Shelter
The Garfield Ridge shelter is awesome. A top bunk provided plenty of room for all 3 of us to sleep up top. The temperatures were warm overnight, so there was never an issue with being cold. Because I had broken out the treacherous section of trail, I was treated to the first shot of whiskey by my new shelter-mates. A tough, brutal day in the mountains by all of us was somewhat forgotten as we chatted mountains and cooked our dinner on our stoves. Although I will admit to not enjoying anything up to that point, I thoroughly enjoyed spending the night here. While I shared my passion for the peaks in the Whites, they talked about their Adirondack adventures on Marcy, Algonquin, and the like.

Now, how does the rest of this crazy adventure go? Well, I had asked my new companions if they would be kind enough to let me hike out with them in the morning and give me a ride back to Lincoln Woods. There was no problem with that, and after a few more swigs of Glenlivet 18, we slept about 12 hours until morning! As we were getting ready, we learned there was another local resident, Mr. Gray Jay, who was hounding the heck out of us! Anyways, we geared up and started down the Garfield Trail.
Gray Jay at Garfield Ridge Shelter 
South Twin from Garfield & Garfield Ridge Trail junction
Now, here is where things get a little interesting again for me, but I'll try to keep it brief. We were headed down the trail, and I had been assuming they were parked at the winter Route 3 lot at the end of Gale River Loop Road, but they were describing to me that they had parked somewhere off a forest road. When we arrived at the end of the Garfield Trail, and they noticed their car was not parked there, I began discussing with them the possibilities. Knowing the road was supposed to be closed, I tried to use my experience to think of the possibilities of where they could have parked. This was a spotted car, and they had left it over here somewhere before sunrise as their plan was Lafayette to Garfield with the overnight, and out. After talking with a couple out for just a walk, we decided that we'd walk out to Route 3 to see if anything became familiar to them. If we didn't we'd wait at the couple's car for a ride back to their other vehicle. Knowing the road is closed in winter, I was doubtful that this would end soon for us. When we arrived at one of the last bridges, where there are two horse barricades that indicate the start/end of the plowed portion of Gale River Loop Rd, it dawned on them they were parked on that road, up near the logging site. The only problem now was that after speaking with the couple out for a walk, we knew for certain the gate was closed. However, it so turned out that super early Saturday morning, they had the luck of finding an open Gale River Loop Road gate. They told me a logging truck had passed them on the way in, but that it never stopped to inform them that the road is normally closed. How would they get their car out? Well, when we arrived at the gate, it was unlocked. They couldn't seem to re-lock the gate, therefore we are unsure if it was kind gesture on the part of the loggers who may have seen them come in behind them, or whether it is often left unlocked. Being familiar with the closed roads in winter, and the location, I couldn't believe that I had actually found myself in this situation, but we all completely laughed it off, and I was brought safely back to my car. Despite all of the mayhem, it all adds to my depth of experience venturing through these mountains in all seasons. I will happily take these 5 peaks, and use these events, again, as a reminder for myself of all the ways that things can go wrong. With MLK day and a long weekend coming up, look for me on the trails (Or on my SPOT) again Saturday through Monday! 
Stream crossing on Garfield Trail
Hike Stats
Trails: Lincoln Woods Trail, Osseo Trail, Franconia Ridge Trail, Garfield Ridge Trail, Garfield Trail
Distance: 19.4 miles
Elevation Gain: 6,150 ft.
Actual Book Time: 21:30 (total time of outing)