Hiking Trail Conditions Report
Peaks Mt. Madison, Mt. Adams, NH
Trails: Howker Ridge Trail, Osgood Trail, Airline Cutoff, Airline, Israel Ridge Trail, Gulfside, Randolph Path
Date of Hike
Date of Hike: Saturday, December 12, 2015
Parking/Access Road Notes
Parking/Access Road Notes: As far as I know I was the only one at Randolph East parking all day. 
Surface Conditions
Surface Conditions: Snow/Ice - Small Patches 
Recommended Equipment
Recommended Equipment: Light Traction 
Water Crossing Notes
Water Crossing Notes: All simple rock hops; no black ice. 
Trail Maintenance Notes
Trail Maintenance Notes: I debranched a blowdown on Howker Ridge into a walk under but it will work its way down sooner than later. Otherwise no blowdowns; someone did some nice axe work on Randolph Path. I seem to recall that Randolph Path from Edmands Col to its meeting with Israel Ridge could be hard to follow in winter, but today it was just fine. Some of it is the lack of snow, some may be that it gets more use these days, but perhaps some cairns have been added or improved? 
Dog-Related Notes
Dog-Related Notes: The trails were fine for Pepper. We met Liam on Israel Ridge; his buddy is an RMC caretaker. The wind gusts on Adams in particular were pretty strong; Pepper has a lot of experience with them and quickly finds sheltering rocks. Being low to the ground probably helps as well. At this time of year he doesn't need water much and can get it from snow; Howker Ridge once it leaves the falls/brook and Osgood are dry and the trails on Madison and Adams have frozen water. Randolph had a couple open water spots below treeline and quite a few drainages lower down. Pepper sipped but no dip.  
Lost and Found
Lost and Found:  
Comments: Summits were in the clouds, with spot moments when the clouds cleared some for brief scenic vistas, sometimes over undercast and sometimes below. It seems we get at least one of these each winter on these peaks. The winds were fairly strong on Adams summit area, less so on Madison and the open Howks, and hardly a factor at all on Howker/Osgood in the Madison wind shadow, and on Gulfside in the Sam Adams wind shadow. The fog varied in thickness but I could almost always see multiple cairns ahead. Pepper has led me and others through thick fog back to safety several times on Adams, so I wasn't worried about being socked in, but there never was any problems today. I used microspikes for maybe 10 minutes on Howker Ridge up and down the last Howk, and maybe 20 minutes on Randolph where packed snow had turned to ice. I could have gotten by without using them at all, and I could have used them a lot more with some benefit. Howker had little snow above 3300' or so; Gulfside and Randolph had several inches with some deeper pockets. Madison and Adams summit cones had mostly clear rocks but they had lines and spots of rime which made them somewhat slippery. It was a touch call, use microspikes to improve the grip but wear them down on the rock, or skip their use and slow down. I mostly chose the latter. Pepper didn't need to choose but he had to wait for me. We ran into Dan M who came up King Ravine in his spikes and kept them on for Adams. The only other hikers we met were the RMC caretaker who was in bare boots, and his dog Liam, barepawing it. But it looks like the Perch has been getting some use.

It was an odd day for December. Below roughly 3300' I was down to long underwear, bare hands and summer hat, walking on bare trails, with Pepper happily checking out the birds, woods and various smells. Well, Pepper handled the smells alone. Up on the peaks I put on a balaclava and knit hat, gloves and softshell, slowed down, and like Pepper just hiked. But in the wind shadows it was a delightful walk in the fog. This is a nice loop hike, with mostly easy grades, solitude and lots of vistas when the ridge is clear. I didn't decide to do this hike until last night and then the forecast changed, but we went anyway figuring we would turn around if the winds were too strong. Thanks Pepper for a great hike.  
Name: Pepper and Me 
Date Submitted
Date Submitted: 2015-12-12 
Link: https:// 
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