Thursday, February 28, 2013

Waterville Wanderings 2/28/13

Working title: "Throwing in the proverbial towel"

Peaks: None

Trails: Livermore Trail/Road

Mileage/time: ~7 miles, ~1000 feet of gain, book time of 4:00, actual time of 4:15

It's been a good winter season, really beyond all expectation, but the time has come to accept the reality of the situation. There is no longer any way for me to finish my Winter 48 this season. Time has reared its ugly head, with 19 more calender days left, 9 of which I can hike on, the prospect is dim. This isn't to say that it's not possible, but my body has been protesting for the last couple weeks, and I think that I would be putting my health in jeopardy if I were to make a run at it. Long story short, my body is telling me I need a break, and soon. I can look at it this way, next season is going to be a guaranteed win.

Unfortunately, Mike was unable to join me today, as he came down with something that succeeded in knocking him on his ass. The original plan was to do the Tripyramids, to avoid Mike having to repeat them for March. I decided to go for it without him, as it's been a while since I've had a solo hike, however, my plans were stymied in a hurry. Originally, I was going to do an out and back via Pine Bend Brook, but the Kanc was in rough shape when I was coming across this morning, and the pullout was not even plowed. So I drove around to Waterville Valley, to launch my hike from the Livermore Trailhead. What I did not know then, was that this approach gets decidedly less traffic in the winter than the Kanc approaches.

At 7:15, I set off up the road, following a faint snowshoe trough on the left edge of the roadway, as to not mess up the surface for the cross country skiers. Initially, I was dealing with about 4-5 inches of new snow, and the snow was dense, making for slow going. The only tracks on the road were from one lone cross country skier, who I exchanged pleasantries with on his return trip. I found it to be a nice opportunity to photograph a fresh snowfall.

Where the cross country trail system turns off the Livermore Road is where things started to get interesting for me. Up to then, I was dealing with a maximum of 6-8 inches of fresh snow on a firm base. Since there was no defined trough from previous hikers, I was constantly in search of a firm base to walk on. Needless to say, I never found it. The snow was dense, and now I was contending with 12-18 inches of denseness, all by my lonesome. If it had been powdery, it would have been more manageable, but with a consistency I can liken to thick oatmeal, it was a lot of work.

Just beyond the logging camp clearing, probably 0.2 miles from the northern junction with the Mt. Tripyramid Trail, I gave up. I considered several factors, and it was not an easily made decision. First, I was alone. Second, it had taken me about 3 hours to go about 3.5 miles. Third, and not least, the steeps would slow me up considerably more with the snow depth the way it was, and I could probably expect more higher up. Those factors, plus an impending Presidential Traverse on Saturday, led me to turn around. I wanted the peaks, but all they would have done is shoot me. The return trip proved to be nearly as difficult, as the sun had warmed the day, and the snow was turning mushy, balling up under my snowshoes, and clumping on the ends of my poles.

So, here it is, the brutal truth. No Winter 48 this year, not without ruining myself. I can't help but sigh, not only in disappointment, but somewhat in relief. It will be easier these next couple of weeks, knowing that I don't have the finish looming over me, and I can take a more relaxed attitude with it.

Here's some pictures from today, it sure turned out to be a nice one.