Friday, March 8, 2013

An Amazing Journey through Winter 2012-2013....

Hi Everyone, What an amazing journey it has been this winter season hiking and climbing the White Mountain 4000-footers. Going into my final weekend of this journey, I thought I would put together a quick article with some of my thoughts on this attempt to climb all of the White Mountain's 48 4000-footers in a single winter season.  It's been an incredible challenge, and one that I am so thankful that I chose to do this year. I will remember it forever. If I get the chance to do it again, I certainly would, but I look forward to working on the other lists and doing more unique adventures, including big ones!

As you may know, I've just returned from an awesome winter trip to Baxter State Park, and experienced first hand its toughness, and the physical ability required to venture there. The way I had it planned, I had hoped to complete my winter season before my Baxter Trip. However, there were three times that the weather prevented me from hiking, one time I fell sick, and two times, my hike plans didn't pan out resulting in me needing to go on additional hikes. That's the story with winter hiking, though; there will be some days that its not safe or possible to hike, and you just have to accept it.
View from Franconia Ridge near North Lincoln (Jan. 12th)
Hiking every single weekend since December 22nd has been unreal. Never mind the actual hike or climb, the planning and preparing for these hikes while working a stressful and busy full-time job has not made this an easy task one-bit at all. These winter hikes have presented me with a variety of conditions and new scenarios that have really challenged me. Being closed out by weather to go on a hike is something I'm thankful to have experienced this winter. That hasn't happened a whole lot to me, but it helped me understand that it's not such a big deal, even when you're trying to squeeze in 48 summits, and about 200 miles of trail into about 17 or so hiking days.  For example, when I didn't have success on a winter Pemi Loop, it allowed me to do a Galehead, Twins, Zealand, and Hale hike that turned out to be quite a memorable solo adventure. Early on this winter, I hiked my 48th solo 4000-footer. I have done 39 of 48 peaks on this quest solo, and I plan to finish with 44 of 48 solo.
Mt.'s Galehead, Garfield, Lafayette, and Lincoln from the Twinway just below South Twin summit (Jan. 26th)
Amazing clouds on Mt. Hale to finish a long and challenging solo hike (Jan. 26th)
Certainly, the weather is the biggest factor in the winter to take into consideration. As I started the quest, I remember it snowing on my first many hikes in a row. There were multiple hikes where it snowed from start to finish. Time after time this season, I started a hike in the early morning hours (most often in the dark) with temperatures in the single digits. It has been darn cold this season, and has been one of the most challenging aspects of the weather that I faced this winter. Despite the cold, I've been treated to blue skies for peaks such as the northern Pemi peaks, Moosilauke, Cabot, Waumbek, Isolation, Northern Presidentials, Mt. Washington, and Owl's Head. The other hikes have offered their own epic-ness by requiring difficult trail breaking, dealing with blowing snow, and/or navigational set-backs, such as during my Franconia Ridge Traverse, Sandwich Range Traverse, and hike of the Osceola's.
Mt. Passaconway from the Rollins Trail near Whiteface (Dec. 22nd)
Osceola Trail required epic trail breaking (Dec 28th)
So here I am with a couple of great solo hikes planned this weekend as I attempt to finish this goal, this tremendous challenge. On Saturday, I will be headed back up to the Presidential's to Mt. Monroe where I finished my first round of the 48, and to Mt. Eisenhower for peaks 44 and 45. If I'm feeling it and weather is good, I may hit Mt. Washington for March. With the "abundant sunshine" expected for tomorrow, I will dreaming tonight of those magnificent Southern Presi views, which are among my favorite. On Sunday, my last hike of this journey will be to the Bonds - one of the best and most challenging winter hikes of all of the 48. Sunday morning, as the sun rises in the east and begins to light up the Pemigewasset Wilderness, I hope to be standing on the summit of West Bond, to take it all in. When I reach West Bond, I will reach my 48th winter peak, completing the 48 4000 footers in winter, and also the 48th and last peak of this amazing single winter season attempt of the same. It's been a long winter and an amazing journey, and now that I have these two amazing hikes left to accomplish this goal, I'm more excited than ever to be heading into the mountains tomorrow. With the winter coming to an end, I know that many will be out and about this weekend working on winter lists, so perhaps I'll see some of you on the trail! Thanks to all who have followed me along this winter or shared words of encouragement along the way.
On the summit cone of Mt. Washington after climbing South Gully in Huntington Ravine (Feb. 16th)
Don't forget to track my progress live on my Spot page, or right here on my blog. If you have not liked my Facebook Page or followed me on Twitter yet, now would be a good time, as that is where you all can receive updates on my progress and be informed when I (hopefully) reach West Bond Sunday morning. Happy Trails everyone!

Facts from my 2012-2013 Single-Winter-Season attempt:

Miles: 267.7
Elevation Gain: 78,740 ft.
Solo Hikes: 44 of 48 summits completed solo.
Trailbreaking: My first 6 hikes and 8 total hikes (all solo) required epic trail breaking. The Valley Way to Madison after the blizzard was the toughest trail break I've ever done.
Average Summits: Average of 4 peaks per weekend and nearly 3 peaks per hike
Average Miles: Out of 11 total weekends of hiking, 9 weekends consisted of at least 15 miles of hiking.
There were 3 weekends in a row I hiked over 30 miles. This final weekend could push 40 miles.
Injuries: None
Gear lost: None
Gear malfunctions: None noteworthy
Longest Hike: 28.5 miles, 6,150 feet of elevation gain, Galehead to Hale
Toughest Hikes: Sandwich Range Traverse, Osceola's, Flume to Garfield, Galehead to Hale, Madison, Adams, Jefferson, and lastly the Wildcats to Moriah Traverse
Easiest Hikes: Tecumseh, Hancocks, Moosilauke, Waumbek, Jackson and Pierce
Best Views: Tecumseh, Galehead to Hale, Moosilauke, Cabot, Isolation, Northern Presi's, Washington, and Owl's Head.
Scariest Moments: Struggling to stay on and locate the trail through the damaged Kate Sleeper Trail and very deep snow on my first hike of the season and losing the Franconia Ridge Trail and hiking in the wrong direction (again) in early morning hours of my Pemi Loop attempt.

If you have any questions about my adventures this winter, want more facts, or have any inquiry at all, feel free to leave me a comment here or message me directly!

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