|Hiking Trail Conditions Report
|South Twin Mountain, Southwest Twin, Galehead Mountain, NH
|Beaver Brook XC ski trails, Gale River Road, Gale River Trail, Garfield Ridge Trail, Twinway, bushwhack, Frost Trail
|Date of Hike:
|Saturday, January 7, 2023
|Parking/Access Road Notes:
|Snow - Trace/Minimal Depth, Snow - Packed Powder/Loose Granular, Standing/Running Water on Trail, Snow/Ice - Frozen Granular, Snow/Ice - Postholes
|Snowshoes, Light Traction
|Water Crossing Notes:
|Trail Maintenance Notes:
|Lost and Found:
|A couple inches of fresh snow everywhere, plus an additional inch or so from today's snow showers. This all got packed down in the course of the day. Gale River Trail has plenty of spots with exposed rocks and water. As the temperature dropped today some of those spots froze up a bit so it was easier coming out.
Twinway ascending S Twin is pretty lumpy and frozen from both snowshoe holes and barebooting. It got a little more squashed with today's traffic, but it all really needs some snow to fill it in. The same thing on the Twinway heading out to SW Twin and beyond, those these tracks are a little less lumpy.
SW Twin bushwhack: the snow is completely solidified and I could walk right on top with my snowshoes. (That's one of the reasons I chose to do this hike today.) A dusting of 1-2 inches showed up my track, although if it snowed more after I left they may be a bit hard to find.
The bushwhack (from the time I left the trail until the time I came returned) took 2 hours and 20 minutes, partly due to the aforementioned amazing bushwhack snow, but also because I had a pretty good route. I used the same route I did with a friend in the summer a few years back (roughly the same, since I go by map and compass, not GPS), since I remembered it worked, and was not disappointed this time around. Here's how it works, for any that follow: after the Twinway descends S Twin (including a slight up and down), it enters a flat area. I went into the woods at the point where the trail starts to curve SE. The area is pretty flat right there; a USGS topo map will show where this is quite accurately, including the turn in the trail. I generally headed SW, although at first I trended more in a WSW direction, so as not to get too far down the slope. The goal is to contour along the ridge on the SE (left) side going out while gradually descending. However, at first, the terrain is relatively flat, with a slight rise on the left. Curving more WSW will make sure you end up along the side of the ridge. Don't go too high along the ridge, though; it's thicker up there. A nice middle point has pretty open woods, with the occasional stuff to push through. Once the slope becomes pretty steep both above and below, it's time to start thinking about crossing over to the other side of the ridge, where the going is great. I think the first time we went out we crossed over almost down in the col, but this time I crossed earlier. It's going to be thicker in the crossing over part and you have to figure out how to do it and when to do it, but the result is that you end up on the NW (right) side of the ridge where you can continue to descend along the contour of the ridge in really open woods. It's ok to go down lower on that slope if need be, to keep to the open woods. Keeping an eye on the ridge crest you'll notice where the col is, and it is thick and full of blowdowns, which is why you don't want to go that way! It quickly starts to rise again toward SW Twin, and then you can continue to contour and come up the side (which we did last time), or you can start heading up right away, which I think is a little thicker but not really bad.
There were plenty of open woods on this route but you aren't going to avoid some thick stuff here and there - mostly when crossing over the ridge and ascending the final peak. It never got to the point of pushing through a wall of trees, though, and actually turned out to be a better bushwhack than many I have experienced. Hopefully these notes will help other folks to avoid the horrid 6-hour bushwhacks that I've heard about for this peak!
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.