Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Mt. Rowe, Gunstock, & Belknap - 12/15/13

About a week before Christmas, a few hiker friends of mine were drumming up the idea of Belknap Range Traverse, and maybe in a day.  Mother Nature had other plans though, and decided to unload with a dumping of 6 inches + of fresh powdery snow.  Who knows how the day would go.  Immediately on the access road to the summit of Mt. Rowe, we trudged through shin deep snow, and higher drifts.  Once we passed the summit, we were faced with completely unbroken snow on the Ridge Trail.  I have to say I was pretty impressed at the size of the drifts on the ridge that day.  It wasn't easy, and we had only just started!

John makes his way through the fresh snow
Gunstock Summit
We reached the summit of Gunstock where there was a frigid wind and not much of a view.  After a few pictures, we got back into the woods on the Yellow Trail, and then the White Trail, which would take us to Belknap Mountain.  Still, untouched trail for us to enjoy in the Belknaps. It was my first time hiking in the Belknaps in "winter", so it was pretty cool.
Ridge Trail / White Trail junction (we went straight) 
Xena loved the fresh snow!  
Baha is ready for Mt. Belknap! 
Chilled out for a minute on the summit of Mt. Belknap 
Not sure on this one...there were only two...no other prints around...
My first thought was a Marten, but I don't think it is. Anyone? 
After Belknap, we continued on towards Piper, but this was a tough hike and it was clear we would not be making it too much further on this one.  On the way, near the ledge pictured below, we had some difficulty finding where there trail continued.  We backtracked a couple of times, but at that point the decision was easier to revert to plan B.  Plan B ended up being that we'd loop around back to Gunstock where we started, by skirting Belknap Mountain, almost in a figure eight fashion, which was an even 8 miles, a solid 8 miles of effort.

A ledge on the way to Piper Mountain 
Our tracks from earlier, as seen on our way back on the Ridge Trail 
Baha and Xena had a ton of fun in the snow...we all did! 
Scott gave his knee a good pre-winter work-out!
When all said and done, this tough little hike packed a punch equal to a mean 4000-footer in winter at 3,376 feet of elevation gain through fresh unbroken snow.  This was the perfect first warm-up with the snowshoes in advance of winter, and I'm thankful for it, because I've been breaking trail ever since this hike! It was awesome to meet Baha and Scott and hike with John again, it was a fun day, and the company was great, as we chatted up the start of winter!

Hike Stats
Trails: Mt. Rowe access road, Ridge Trail, White Trail, Blue Trail,
Distance: 8 miles
Elevation Gain: 3,376 ft.
Actual Book Time: 6:33
GPS Track: Garmin Adventures

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