|Hiking Trail Conditions Report|
||Mt. Hale, Zealand Mountain, Mt. Guyot, South Twin Mountain, North Twin Mountain, NH|
||North Twin Trail, herd path, Firewardens Trail, Lend-A-Hand Trail, Twinway, Zealand Spur, North Twin Spur|
|Date of Hike:
||Saturday, November 28, 2020|
|Parking/Access Road Notes:
||Haystack Rd can be bumpy but was in fine shape. I was the first car in the lot at 6am. The lot has overflowed when I returned at 4pm. |
||Ice - Black, Snow - Trace/Minimal Depth, Wet Trail, Ice - Blue, Snow - Packed Powder/Loose Granular, Wet/Slippery Rock, Snow - Unpacked Powder, Standing/Running Water on Trail, Mud - Minor/Avoidable, Mud - Significant, Snow/Ice - Small Patches |
||Light Traction |
|Water Crossing Notes:
||I avoided the northernmost two crossings of the Little River along North Twin Trail by using the herd path that bypasses them and gives access to the abandoned Firewardens Trail go Hale. I’m sure that these would’ve required wading. The southernmost crossing, which I did on the descent, was pretty tricky. It required stepping on a submerged rock with gushing water over it (a little miniature cascade if you will) and other wet rocks. Poles were definitely helpful as were high-cut waterproof boots. It may be safer just to wade although I imagine that most people did what I did. Not sure that regular gaiters would’ve cut it for wading. The other, more minor, crossings along the herd path, North Twin Trail, and Twinway (nearby the hut) were more readily rock hoppable but could also be a bit tricky for some particularly the one along the herd path. |
|Trail Maintenance Notes:
||North Twin Trail is blazed in yellow but the first blaze doesn’t appear until just before the first water crossing. From there on I believe it was blazed fairly regularly. The abandoned Firewardens Trail to Hale is unblazed and unmarked but easy to follow although it would be easy enough to walk by the start of it so a GPS may be helpful if you don’t know where it starts. The trail is still unofficially maintained and blowdown work is evident. There is one newer blowdown (within the past month) near the top of Hale right by the old oil cans (or whatever they are) that could be taken care of. I think it was a duck under/leaner. Same two duck under blowdowns along the herd path that bypasses the first two water crossings on North Twin Trail too. I’m sure that there were other blowdowns throughout the day as well but I’m not recalling them. Lend-A-Hand Trail is occasionally blazed in blue. Twinway is blazed in white as it’s part of the AT. It seemed to me to be one of the better or more regularly blazed sections of the AT. North Twin Spur was blazed in blue. I don’t recall how often but I think it was fairly regular. All the trails are well travelled and easy to follow with the abandoned Firewardens Trail only being a little less so. Note that rather than deal with some of the larger blowdowns on this trail, the trail just reroutes around them over time. |
||I ran into a dog when I reached the summit of South Twin. It began barking at me. Other dogs soon came and began barking. They all came toward me as well. The owner told me they’re friendly. That very well may be so but I don’t know that when they’re barking at me and forgive me if I don’t take your word for it. If you’re going to have your dog unleashed it should be well trained and not bark at people. Or, at minimum, if it does, you probably should have it on voice command so that it will actually listen to you when you tell it to come. Needless to say, these dogs would not listen. You know your dog; others don’t and sooner or later you’re asking for either someone else to get hurt, or for your dog to get hurt. Please do the right thing and EITHER have your dog truly well trained or on a leash. You never know what sort of traumatic experiences others on the trail may have had with dogs. I kindly request that you do the right thing. |
|Lost and Found:
||I was hoping to finish my November grid Saturday but due to a late start, a bit of a slow pace, and not wanting to finish in the dark, I opted to skip the out-and-back to the Bonds and just did the Hale-Zealand-Twins loop. The hike is 18mi with about 5400ft of gain (add 6.0mi and roughly 1850ft of gain for all three Bonds which is what I’d planned on doing). These were my 34th-37th peaks this month and my 42nd-45th peaks for my November grid in total. |
I was surprised at just how wet and sloppy the trail started out with standing/running water at the beginning of North Twin Trail with a little leap across a stream to avoid wet feet first thing. Oh goody. I started at 6am in the dark and I believe it was in the low 30s. It was still raining/drizzling when I started. Mostly flat trail to the start of the herd path that bypasses the first two crossings of Little River and gives access to the abandoned Firewardens Trail. The start of the herd path, if my memory serves me correctly, used to be blocked by debris, but most of the debris seemed to be gone Saturday morning. The herd path has some reroutes due to washes away trail and such but is mostly easy to follow. The tributary brook here that flows into the Little River was a little hard to cross.
The abandoned Firewardens Trail offered moderate grades, nice birch forests, and some very muddy spots, some of which had workarounds. Similarly, there are herd paths around larger blowdowns. I waited to out on microspikes until I reached the summit but they should ideally go on well before that. Not sure exactly where but probably somewhere around 3500ft is when there began to be ice underneath the snow. Not sure at one point the snow started either but never really offered teicjynfooting other than when there was ice beneath it and it began to be slick. Of course once I put my microspikes on, there seemed to be less ice on Lend-A-Hand Trail. Still recommended for a ways and there was on again off again ice but not as consistent or slick as the top of Firewardens Trail seemed to me. I forget where exactly I took them off but with on and off ice there was no perfect time to do so. I must’ve had them on for at least a half mile down the trail, maybe closer to a mile.
At the jct of Lend-A-Hand Trail and Twinway is when I ran into the first people I’d seen all day including Dawn who I had the pleasure of meeting once before. I put my my microspikes on probably around 3/4mi into Twinway and left them on until partway down North Twin Trail. Long walk to Zealand with some exposed ice (worst I’d seen all day) but nothing very tricky for spikes so long as they aren’t rock-beaters. I was happy to have be wearing my rain pants today as I brushed up against a lot snowy trees with my legs. At the jct of Twinway and Bondcliff Trail is where I decided not to continue into the Bonds. The major factor was the difference between getting out at 6pm vs 3pm. The weather, while not ideal with the summits being in the clouds really wasn’t that bad as visibility was at least a few hundred feet, temps weren’t all that cold, and the wind was actually pretty mild. Then again, I was solo. I ran into a trail runner here as well.
Happy with my decision to not be using a headlamp on my way out for the first time in some time, I made my way over to South Twin. Somewhere along here (or possibly sooner??) is when the snow showers began. Very light and nothing to worry about but I did note that others tracks down South Twin had been obscure already. Snow depth was consistent along the ridge as the spikes stayed on but never significant. I ran into “Hikes with Piper” and friends including Marilyn (I hope I’m remembering tour name correctly!) on the summit of South Twin and had a nice chat :) Began to run into many others as I continued on to North Twin and down. Took my spikes off once down maybe a mile plus North Twin Trail. The snow showers turned into a bit of a harder rain down lot as I was on the herd path to avoid the water crossings again. Should’ve threw on the raincoat but was too lazy so close to the car.
||Liam Cooney |
Disclaimer: Reports are not verified - conditions may vary. Use at own risk. Always be prepared when hiking. Observe all signs. Trail conditions reports are not substitutes for weather reports or common sense.