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|
|View from Galehead Hut|
|Galehead summit in winter|
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|
|North Twin summit outlook in winter|
|North Twin Spur|
|Looking back at South Twin from North Twin Spur|
|Presidential Range from the North Twin Spur|
|Passing of Mt. Guyot with the Presidentials|
|Mt. Zealand summit in winter|
|Lend-A-Hand and Twinway junction|
|Mt. Hale summit in winter|
|Beautiful view from Mt. Hale to end my day|
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!
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