Hiking Trail Conditions Report
Peaks Mt. Garfield, NH
Trails: Gale River Road, Garfield Trail, Garfield Ridge Trail
Date of Hike
Date of Hike: Saturday, February 16, 2013
Parking/Access Road Notes
Parking/Access Road Notes: Initially hopped into the lot at the end of Gale River Road, but the small area there had not been plowed in several days, so I moved down the road to the 5 Corners lot 0.2mi down the road in case the plow came by during the day. I drive a low-clearance front-wheel drive but with good snow tires (not the crappy all-season tires that too many people think work fine in snow), so I didn't have much trouble, just had to have a running start to get through the short bank along RT3. Upon my descent, there were about 6 cars in the lot on Gale River Road (still not plowed), all were 4WD vehicles with good ground clearance. 
Surface Conditions
Surface Conditions: Snow - Packed Powder/Loose Granular, Snow - Unpacked Powder, Snow/Ice - Frozen Granular 
Recommended Equipment
Recommended Equipment: Snowshoes 
Water Crossing Notes
Water Crossing Notes: Both of the major crossings were fully bridged. The trail immediately above Thomson Brook has a lot of water running under it, but solidly bridged, but watch out regardless. 
Trail Maintenance Notes
Trail Maintenance Notes: Overall in good shape. Easy to follow corridor. Scattered blowdowns, mostly up high in the switchbacks. All take minimal effort to navigate thanks to the efforts of others in limbing them back, but most if not all will need to be removed this Spring, and many will need heavy equipment. 
Dog-Related Notes
Dog-Related Notes: Saw one. Nothing here that should pose an issue to a 4-footed friend. But there are several seeps where they could get wet paws. 
Lost and Found
Lost and Found:  
Comments: Forecast changed last-minute on me (to socked-in cloudy vs partially sunny), but I was up and went for it anyway.

Followed a single person's fresh tracks up the road and trail, bare-booting up until shortly above the stream crossings where the snow was deep enough to warrant snowshoes (previously, I was only leaving 1" marks on the trailbed). The person I was following had done the same. Pretty bony in the lower 1/2-mile or so, but there is complete snow cover.

Slow and steady snowshoe up through the switchbacks. Near the final traverse section I noticed the cloud deck basically where I was. No views today I guess :( In here I also was stalked by a pair of hungry gray jays. For the last 5-6 tenths to the summit, whenever I stopped two of them would land in nearby trees. I'm sure it was the same 2, it was pretty comical.

The 2/10 on Garfield Ridge Trail to the summit was steep as always, and full of loose snow, but not terribly hard to do.

The summit was predictably socked-in, but there was absolutely NO wind. tagged the summit, lunch break at the trail junction, and headed down. Quick descent, snowshoed to the trailhead and bare-booted it down the road (briefly dodging snowmobiles as they use a short stretch of this road walk - they all were friendly and slowed down until past and waved as they drove by).

Ran into 15-20 people heading up as I went through the switchbacks, quite a few of them with full packs heading to Garfield Shelter and/or beyond. Most everyone was using the proper footwear (SNOWSHOES) except for a group of 3 college-age kids microspiking and tearing the trail up a new one...SIGH. Didn't even have snowshoes with them. I spent a while smoothing out their 6-8" deep postholes (and twisting my ankle many times doing it), until I ran into a final group in snowshoes heading up. Hopefully they cleaned up the mess these kids undoubtedly left when they descended. The trail was getting pretty decently packed before they went through, but it is definitely not ready for the bare-booter bridgades yet. Pretty light, fluffy snow.

I never saw the solo hiker in front of me. His tracks, after returning to the junction from Garfield's summit, went off towards Galehead. His appeared to be the first tracks on that stretch since the snowstorm last weekend. So it's at least broken, if not completely yet (there may have been a group doing Twins-Galehead-Garfield, not sure if they stuck with that plan or not). Garfield Ridge Trail South of Garfield did not appear to have been touched since the storm either.

Nice snowy woods walk, but I'll have to come back for winter Garfield views.  
Name: madmattd 
Date Submitted
Date Submitted: 2013-02-16 
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