Mount Garfield 4500’
12.4 Miles 3000’ Elevation gain
Kevin, Judy and Emma
Lucky 13. This was our thirteenth winter 4k this year, and sadly our last until next winter, as we have run out of chances for this season. Again on this hike, numbers seem to have come into play. When we returned to the parking lot after the hike there were thirteen cars. Any numerologists out there? Although we originally had planned a different hike in the Presidentials, we opted to do this one because the weather was iffy and we would have the chance to watch an aquaintence finish his winter list on this mountain, having done them all this season. That's right, all 48 New Hampshire 4k's in one winter season. Not the first to do it, and certainly won't be the last, but a remarkable achievement none the less. We got to the parking lot ahead of the other hikers and set out. Not that we're antisocial, we just wanted to make it to the summit without having to play catch up and figured the stronger hikers in the group would catch us on the trail. We made quick work of the extra 1.2 mile road walk to the trailhead and set out along the Garfield Trail. We enjoyed a light snow that was falling and had coated everything to give it that picture postcard look. It appeared that although the summits were invisible around us, the weather was calm and we would have a pretty hike through the winter woods. I know Jack would have loved the woods all coated in sugar like this and I thought of times he and I had trudged through the snow with his brothers with no real destination in mind. Just out enjoying the winter woods. It seemed there had been about an inch of snow, and as we turned onto the Garfield Trail and began to climb a little there were some icy spots where I wished there was more snow to help with traction. As we hiked along I got my wish. The open spaces out from under the conifers had considerably more snow, and hiking along was beautiful. As we rose through the forest the snow became slightly deeper. We gained elevation at the very gradual rate that you climb on this trail. The water in the brooks had receded from the previous weeks rain and melting, and the water crossings were easy affairs. If this could be called trail breaking, then we continued on "trailbreaking" as we passed through the mostly deciduous forest. A few miles along the trail it passes through a gorgeous birch glade. Here the snow was noticebly deeper than it had been at the trailhead. We continued along, occasionally shaking the powder from the conifers that started to pop up along the trail. The snow had not only changed in depth but also in consistency as we continued to rise. What had been a wet and thin covering was now a drier, lighter layer. As we got to the switchbacks the conifers began to take over and I spent a lot of time shaking branches with my pole before passing through their overhanging reaches. What had been an inch when we started was now several inches. I had taken over the lead as the going was easy and I didn't feel as though I was wearing myself out as had been the case on many other hikes. About 3/4 of the way up I spotted another marten in a treetop beside the trail. He was about ten feet over our heads and I stopped to try to get a photo. This one wanted to stay hidden, he snuck around behind the icy cone of the tree, then jumped from tree to tree to stay out of view. I witnessed one giant leap, I'd guess 10 feet horizontally from tree to tree, reminiscent of a flying squrrel, then he was gone. Soon after the trail became obscure and we followed Emma's bushwhack to the summit. We were surprised to reach the summit before the group caught us. After we ate, Emma let out a few low growls and we knew other hikers were getting close. Mats, Frodo and Hamtero soon showed up, tagged the summit, and after some conversation headed off. Their goal was to hike along the Garfield Ridge to Galehead, then down to Thirteen Falls, (there's that number again), then along Lincoln Brook to the Wilderness Trail and out to Lincoln Woods. Their plans were thwarted when they couldn't find the trail and they arrived back at the parking area soon after we did. Waiting on the summit we had begun to get cold and decided to head down when the others began showing up, and finally the guest of honor came along and clamored to the summit to finish his one season winter 4k's. On the summit stood BikeHikeSkiFish, Steve, Whichway, Doublebow and the hero, Marc Howes, who can now go down in the group of elite winter hikers in the White Mountains of New Hampshire who have finished them all in one season. We had a toast to winter hiking, the White Mountains, 4000 Footers and to Marc. There were several other planned hikes going on this day and I inwardly hoped that each was as successful and as enjoyable as this one was. It was nice to meet new people and put faces on some names. Here's to another winter hiking in the White Mountains, may there be many more!