|Hiking Trail Conditions Report|
||Mt. Monroe, Mt. Washington, NH|
||Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail, Crawford Path, Monroe Loop, Trinity Heights Connector, Gulfside, Jewell Trail|
|Date of Hike:
||Sunday, January 3, 2021|
|Parking/Access Road Notes:
||The road in in the morning was plowed but definitely not clear of snow. Still pretty easy for FWD though. The WMNF lot was not plowed however, and my car made it up the small hill to the parking spots but then couldn’t maneuver to one. Luckily, reverse worked better and I was able to park although not in an actual spot 😜 but at least out of people’s way. The lot still wasn’t plowed but was in better shape due to seeing so much more traffic by the time we got back. I’d still recommend AWD and some clearance if doing this after anything more than a dusting of snow though. Doesn’t seem like the lot gets plowed unless it’s a significant snowstorm :/ One of the first cars there at 5am and one of maybe a half dozen to a dozen at our return at 4:15-4:30pm. Plenty of room though. The Appalachia lot was practically empty at 4:30am but in a similar state although with not quite as much snow. Cars that were there did not properly park (presumably due to this) and took up extra spaces. My FWD car could move around it but not easily. Only a half dozen or so cars left at 5:15pm. |
||Ice - Black, Snow - Trace/Minimal Depth, Ice - Blue, Snow - Packed Powder/Loose Granular, Snow - Unpacked Powder, Snow/Ice - Frozen Granular, Snow - Drifts, Snow/Ice - Postholes |
||Snowshoes, Light Traction, Traction, Ice Axe |
|Water Crossing Notes:
||None were an issue. Most are partially or more or less fully bridged at this point and none seemed high. Some of the snow/ice bridges aren’t real thick yet though so I watched my steps as I crossed outlet of Gem Pool among others. The crossing on the ledges on Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail mostly had snow over it but had some open water running down it on its far side but it was very easy to step over. |
|Trail Maintenance Notes:
||The Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail is blazed in blue. Not sure the blazing is at all frequent but I did note markings indicating which way to go when the trail crosses the brook on ledges and such so it’s pretty easy to follow. The exception to this is above treeline. The broken path does not follow the trail. We were well to the north of it for the last bit above treeline to the hut but we corrected it some and come back to the trail just before reaching the hut. We were some of the first ones up though so not sure if others followed our tracks (most likely) or if it eventually got broken the correct way. We felt bad heading over alpine vegetation with our snowshoes with minimal snow cover :( Didn’t notice any cairns and obviously any blaze is currently beneath the snow. Other trails above tree line were easier to follow and cairns more visible with minimal snow cover. The broken path also seemed to stay on it very close to the trail unlike the top portion of Ammo although I think that’s normally the case in winter. I don’t think there were many, if any, blowdowns on Ammo but there were quite a few on Jewell particularly lower down on the trail including some that were a pain. Some are clustered together too. Nothing huge but some descent sized ones. Blowdown work evident higher up but this lower section could use some love. |
||Too cold, icy, and treacherous for the vast majority of dogs up there. None seen. |
||Maybe a spider! |
|Lost and Found:
||I was so busy trying to grid out December I didn’t have time to post trip reports for all my hikes at the end of the month last month...sorry! This was my 3rd hike in January and these two peaks were my 5th and 6th 4000 footers of the month. I now have 16 peaks for the month of January; 32 more to go! |
We started out in just spikes on Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail as it seemed pretty well packed. It slowly but surely became less and less packed. It was broken out but not fully consolidated. Minimal new snow everywhere below tree line though. When we started to flirt with tree line is where we began to occasionally really sink into the powder and posthole. There were also some stretches of exposed ice though and we were so close to the hut we figured it wasn’t worth switching to snowshoes then just to reach the hut and have to change into crampons. Well low and behold my buddy stepped into deep powder between two rocks and postholed deeply so we switched to snowshoes for all of a tenth of two of a mile at most to the hut. If I were to do it again in the same conditions I would probably say to just throw snowshoes on at Gem Pool although they aren’t needed until a while after. That said, the trail got a lot of traffic after us and I’m sure things became more consolidated. With some snow showers today I imagine there will be some significant drifts and powder once again on the upper section of Ammo and I think it would be foolish to not at least bring snowshoes.
We saw thick ice on the Crawford Path headed toward the Monroe Loop just past the hut and switched into crampons. They were a fine choice but sharp spikes would be fine too as the glare ice here was only at the slightest of inclines. Beyond that to Monroe there was very little ice. Mostly packed snow and bare rock with occasional unconsolidated powder but not nearly enough to warrant snowshoes. Whatever you wear here will get beat up BUT don’t wear rock beaters because they won’t have enough traction. Sharp Kahtoolas are a minimum. Once we got back to the hut a lot of people were starting to arrive and asked us about footwear. I told them I’d already seen people summit Monroe with snowshoes, spikes, and crampons and really any of them would work so long as they’re sharp enough. Snowshoes would get terribly beaten up though. Hillsounds would probably be ideal. Nice to meet Fuzz, Steve, and Hemingway (John) among many others at the hut).
Headed toward Washington, we kept the crampons on although there was more unconsolidated powder and drifts here than there was heading toward Monroe and snowshoes would’ve been more doable here. Mostly semi-packed snow and some bare rock but also some much more extensive sections of ice than what was on Monroe. Not steeply angled though, so no need for crampons (for the toe spikes) but again you’ll need something sharp at least and we were happy to be in crampons although many were doing it in Hillsound spikes.
Met and talked with a lot of nice folk on the summit of Washington although certainly not crowded there were a lot of people out enjoying the great day. The wind seemed to be a bit stronger than predicted as we started to flirt with tree line on Ammo but by the time we reached the hut and set out toward Monroe, the wind was very mild. Never quite as sunny as predicted even in the morning but beautiful undercast and the higher summits stayed in the sun the entire time we were out. Most people were hiking without goggles or a balaclava around Monroe and Washington. Things felt much different as we descended Gulfisde toward Jefferson and Jewell though. The wind seemed to pick up strength to the point where it was a more moderate wind and things seemed colder as well although perhaps this is because we took a descent break at the summit of Washington and weren’t exerting ourselves on the descent.
Definitely a lot more ice coming down Gulfside here and again, not at a steep incline, but sharp spikes are a minimum. The section that comes to the edge of the Great Gulf was totally iced over. It wasn’t steep and we were totally secure in crampons but it wouldn’t be a bad idea to talk out your ice axe here just in case, god forbid, you fall. Again, not steep, but totally iced over. Our crampons gripped great but we still went off trail some just so as not to be so close to the edge as others had done before us. If you had dull spikes on you’d either be a ways off trail and trampling vegetation to avoid this, putting yourself at great risk, or should at least have an ice axe to self-arrest. I think you could avoid this section by following the cog tracks instead and then coming back turning right along the Westside Trail to meet back up with Gulfside after this sketchy section.
The closer we got to Jewell, the more we noticed ice encased rocks. Pretty astounding but made descent a little worrisome as I couldn’t remember how much of a boulder hop the exposed part of Jewell Trail was. The descent wasn’t that bad but even crampons dint necessary handle a thin covering of black ice over rocks. Jewell Trail was a nice trail to descend at the end of the day with its relatively gentle grade below tree line. The trail was well packed and not icy below tree line either. We stayed in crampons for awhile but only spikes are needed or you could even bareboot down which is what I did but her time we finally took our crampons off.
||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.