Friday, January 24, 2014

Old Speck - 12/26/2013

With the crazy weather on the winter solstice, and the passing of Christmas, I was ready to get into the madness of my winter hiking goals and plans.  I was all packed in advance for my departure on the day after Christmas for a week-long adventure in Maine, my year-end vacation time.  The first hikes on my radar were Old Speck and both Saddlebacks on 12/26, before meeting my brother the next day in Millinocket for a planned North Brother trip.  I arrived in Grafton Notch shortly after sunrise on the 26th to a wintry scene.

Old Speck Trail in winter
Old Speck as seen from the Old Speck Trail
As has been the case in my two summer hikes of Old Speck, it was just as beautiful in the winter.  The familiar waterfall now frozen solid and the tall green pines in snow all looked amazing.  There were signs of some previous travel, but there was around an inch over everything.  Beneath, there was an icy surface.

On the ascent, and in the area where the col is, my snowshoe got caught on a root that was protruding from the snow and I took a pretty nasty fall, falling head first on a down slope, almost hitting the back of my neck on a tree pretty hard, but I did whack my knee so hard on some ice, that I'm still feeling it every hike after I do several miles.  Come to find out several days later, I should have checked the dullness of my snowshoes before setting off on my winter plans.  There were no longer any teeth on my snowshoes, and they eventually broke two weeks later on the Bigelows. 

Old Speck fire tower
Old Speck summit

Despite the pain that left me wondering what the color of my knee would be after the hike, I reached the summit of Old Speck for my first New England 4000 footer in winter outside of the White Mountains, #49.  There was no view, and therefore no need to endanger myself by climbing the tower with snowshoes on.  I quickly descended, got in my car, and drove through horrible driving conditions to the Saddleback Mountain Ski area to take on my 2nd hike of the day.  So here we go with the rest of the New England 4000's in winter.

Hike Stats
Trails: Old Speck Trail, Mahoosuc Trail
Distance: 6.9 miles
Elevation Gain: 3,189 ft.
Actual Book Time: 3:55
GPS Track: Garmin Adventures

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