My most recent mountain therapy excursion included checking out the two Osceolas this past weekend. I usually don’t do 4000 Footer day hikes and I haven’t ever done one without camping. Mainly because driving 5 hours in a day to hiked for 6 is for yuppie trash and people that don’t own tents. However, it was December, an exception to my own rule and I found myself alone and with a free day and I figured I would do a quick cold weather gear check and test the legs out on something short and simple. By that I mean the mileage and vert is less than I am used to, however I loaded up a 30lb pack and the conditions were definitely a surprise…
I got a 30 degree start on the Greeley Pond Trailhead off the Kanc at 9:30am after almost hiking up Greeley Pond Ski Trail which I have never seen on a map. The trail from the real trailhead was iced out so the spikes went on right away and stayed on the whole entire day. As the trail gradually got steeper, the ice situation gradually got a little sketchier. One spot in particular was a 40+ foot super steep ice slide that needed to be crossed at the top and made me question how much I trusted my microspikes.
Two girls tailing me the whole way eventually caught up when I stopped to explore some caves halfway up. I hiked with them for a bit after realizing solo hiking is boring as hell and dangerous with that much ice. I found out that one of them was a park ranger at Mount Monadnock and was the first person to respond to my former neighbor Bryce who very unfortunately died hiking there 6 months prior from a medical complication. Crazy and very sad…
The weather was partly sunny and mostly cloudy with some light but cold wind. Sunny enough to be a nice day but views were totally obstructed towards Franconia Ridge. There is a small viewpoint before the summit area of East Osceola and a nice viewpoint just before the summit where we all stopped for lunch. I had a Protein bar and made a hot cup of Starbucks VIA with my MSR Pocket Rocket Stove. I’m lazy enough to not bring a lunch but smart enough to bring coffee.
I packed up and made my way to Mt. Osceola, a quick one mile each way. Along the way there is a spot called “The Chimney” that looked like a broken leg waiting to happen. The side trail around it isn’t that hard except I almost smashed my teeth into a rock when I slipped climbing up a section. Like two inches away from needing a few new ones…
After almost pissing myself, I made the final summit, took some pictures and hung out with the other two twosomes from East Osceola.
The ledge here is pretty cool and I plan on coming back here to backpack it at some point from Tripoli Rd. Also I would love to explore the Scar Ridge which looks pretty sick.
On the way back I inspected the other hikers microspikes and realized that mine were not only extremely dull (from rockhopping and not taking them off on slab rock, see two pics above) which I already knew, but also an older model with only two “spikes” on the heel vs four on the newer version. What the fuck… Also a large group walking past us were all wearing full crampons. A few other hikers were wearing crampons as well. With my doubt fully cast, I started hiking like I didn’t even have spikes on to be safe; I bushwhacked around the sketchy ice slide and a few other shitty spots. To my credit I only fell once but the 5.5 hour book time ended up taking about 8 hours.
After I said bye to the two girls at the cars I beelined for Woodstock Brewery making a mental note to put some new traction on my Xmas list. All in all I wasn’t as excited about this trip as day hiking to me is anti-climactic compared to backpacking and I don’t think I’ll ever do another day trip. Day hikes are for local places. With so few peaks left these weren’t ones I was overly interested in either. It also didn’t help that my shiny new snowshoes were giving me an anxiety attack being strapped to my back with no damn snow in sight. The excessive ice and realization I need several more pieces of gear and that I’m a dumbass kind of shit on my rainbow. This is what warm up hikes are for I suppose and I believe its my first ever December hike. I also beat last years total vert hiked which was a 2013 goal of mine so yeah, go me.
Total: 7.6 Miles and 3242 feet of Vert
Things I Did Right:
– Hiked with some randoms in case I got pwned by an icy death.
– Came over-prepared with a sleeping bag, stove, and snowshoes.
– Didn’t smash my teeth into pieces! FUCK YEAH!
– SUMMIT COFFEE
– Stretched a ton.
– Didn’t do Webster Cliff Trail
– Immediately got Hillsound Trail Crampons which fucking dominate ice…
Things I Did Wrong:
– Ordered the Cobb Salad instead of the Pulled Pork Sliders. The hipsters next to me at the bar showed me the error of my ways.
– Almost smashed teeth.
– Realized my microspikes were ground to nubs and running at half the spikeage as they needed to be… at the summit.
– Went solo. Not feasible in winter without way more experience & some better traction.
– Need way better CARDIO. Back to the jump rope.
– Overestimated my Kahtoola MicroSpikes. In general they have kicked ass but they are old and off packed snow they are now awful.
Total Peaks Bagged: Two
Total Miles: 7.6 Miles
Total Elevation Gain: 3242 feet
Total 4ks: 41/48
Total Backpacked: 36/48
Ha! My new MSR EVO ASCENTS that got to do their first trip in luxury without touching the ground because I did a shitty job checking trail reports. In later trips, these things have kicked ass however.
Bad Ass Awards/Shout Outs:
Annie & Yvonne for the trail company and Karan for RUNNING down an icey trail with his hands in his pockets while making fun of us. Fastest/craziest Indian kid on the fucking planet…