Sunday, December 29, 2013

Tecumseh Winter Night Hike 12-29-13


Mt Tecumseh (winter) 12-29-13

Tecumseh trail (with part of ski slope down) 04:30 pm – 09:30 pm , (5 hrs vs the AMC 3.5 hrs book time)
Approx. 5.0 miles (probably closer to 4.5 since I took a short cut down), 2000 ft elevation gain.
I’ve been planning on chipping away at my winter New Hampshire 4Ks list this winter. Since I haven’t hiked since finishing my NE67 in September at Baxter Sate Park in Main, I figured I start small and hike one of if not the easiest and closest one. I was planning on going up on Monday (12/3) but late Sunday morning after seeing single digit forecasts for Monday and beyond, I changed my plans to a late hike on the much warmer Sunday(20F+ even at night) . I arrived at Waterville Ski area ~ 1600 as the last of the skiers were leaving and was able to park right near the Tecumseh trail trailhead in the skiing lot. At the start as expected the trail was well broken out and no traction was required. I had seen on-line that at least 10 people had hiked it on Saturday. It was just starting to snow at that time but it seemed light and the forecast I read had only a 20% chance of light snow so I wasn’t concerned. By the time I got half way up the snow was quite heavy and the trail was filling in pretty good with several inches of light powder. It was also starting to get slippery in parts so I put on my micro-spikes. It was still relatively warm (~25F) and there was zero wind so I was comfortable. I’d have preferred it to be a bit colder so the snow wouldn’t melt on impact with my hat and jacket. The upper part of Tecumseh trail is wide and easily followed even by headlamp. When I arrived at the summit, it was really snowing heavy and there was a bit of a breeze so I took a quick summit pic, sent out a position signal on my “SPOT” ( which my wife would receive by email) and headed back down. Going up I took the eastern part of the small trail loop near the top but didn’t continue the loop because I figured it’d be easier following my own foot prints back down. I was amazed how quickly my tracks in the snow filled in and after ½ hour after submitting there was barely to any sign of my own tracks. With about 4-6 inches of light snow over patches of ice I found that my micro-spikes weren’t adequate traction going downhill, but I had stupidly left my crampons in my truck. Going down more slowly on the steeper sections I managed not to completely fall more than 2-3 times. But on one slip one of trekking poles sacrificed itself to stop the fall and its lower section broke off. Funny I went over 60 4k peaks without breaking a pole then broke one on each of my last 2 hikes .
About half way up Tecumseh trail there is a short spur to a viewing area adjacent to one of the ski slopes. By the time I reached it I was getting concerned with being able to follow the trail lower down were it winds through the woods and isn’t quite as wide. I figured I check out the slope and see if taking it down would be an option. (If the snow makers were on, it wouldn’t be). I found that the slope had 2-3 feet of a fresh light powdery man-made and natural snow. They must have made snow after the last skiers left and didn’t plan on grooming it until the morning. I tried it out and found that pushing through downhill in the knee deep snow wasn’t that bad. I also found that once I got my night vision that I didn’t even need my head lamp on even though it was still heavily snowing. It was an easy, fast and direct path down to the parking area from here. At the lot I found my truck covered in 6 plus inches of snow and an unplowed lot and ski area access road. (Luckily I have 4 wheel drive). The trail crew was long gone with only a slight sign of truck tracks on the road. With the snow and black ice further south the drive down RT 93 home was really slow (5 hrs vs. a normal 3.5 hours). All in all it was an interesting and different hike and I was happy with my decision to go a day early and avoid the cold.
only took a few pics (of course).


   Summit pic.  No I'm not taking a nap - blinked