Don and I decided to try the Six Husbands Trail below Mount Jefferson. We were looking for something challenging and new for us. We were unable to gather a lot of information about the climb but we did read some summer trip reports and got some good info off of some hiking forums. We spent a long time looking at maps, downloading maps into the GPS, and planning our route as well as watching the weather. Our weather looked great and we were both up for an adventure so we headed up Friday night where we saw a great sideshow by Steve House where I was totally inspired and I was even lucky enough to get my book signed! We also ran into our favorite guide (who taught us how to climb!) Marc Chauvin and he got us super excited about our little adventure we planned! Between Marc and Steves motivation we were so excited about our climb!
We camped out Friday night and got to sleep around 10 pm. We woke up at 4 am and made some cereal, got dressed and and took off down the Great Gulf Trail.
The first part of the trail was easy going, nice and packed and easy to navigate. Then the trail started to look less and less traveled until at one point we came onto a stream crossing and saw a faint set of tracks on the other side. We crossed the mostly frozen stream and then the tracks were gone. Being on the leeward side of the mountain there was a ton of blown snow and breaking the trail began. We crossed a river by using a really cool bridge and then the navigational nightmare began. Trees were drooping over the trail, the GPS was far from accurate the whole time as the maps on the GPS and the paper map we had did not show the same terrain. We did manage to get onto the six Husbands Trail but that was even worse than the Great Gulf Trail! At some points it felt like bushwacking! We were jumping over and under trees, crawling on our hands and knees, and yes, this was the trail! We found an interesting way to find the trail. We would dig down into the snow and brush off stumps to see if they were cut with an axe or a saw and that let us know it must be a trail. Toward the top we were reduced to searching for 1/4 clipped branches! It was really silly but it kept us on the trail! Crawling under the trees managed to drop snow and pine needles down my back. The snow melted but the pine needles managed to fill my underwear and pinch me in the butt the whole time! I had my R1 hoody tucked into my baselayer pant! After a ton of wandering around we finally found the trail up the steep part of the Six Husbands Trail and the true fun finally began!
It was steep, it was deep, it was spicy, and it was hard! We were again only able to navigate by looking for little snippings off of the tree branches and it worked! We managed to find the ladders which were a hoot to go up! Some of the trail was so deep that I was up to my waist in snow and it felt more like swimming than kicking steps. There was one icy area where I was really glad to have brought my technical ice tool instead of my mountaineering axe. I was very leery of avalanches as the conditions seemed perfect for one that day. I would try to step slowly and gently. Sometimes, even if we were not standing near each other I could feel Dons footsteps quite some distance away as the crust broke under his feet. The scary part was when I stepped on a steep section that was on an open slope traverse and before I even weighted my foot all the way I saw a fracture line about 10-15 feet below me. I backed up and went higher up the face and crossed while grabbing the trees above me. It would have been a very long ride down at that point. Don and I continued to break trail but at this point they were shorter intervals. We really did a great job taking turns breaking trail on this trip. It helped with the motivation. Trying to break trail in waist deep snow is not easy. I had to drink a Redbull and eat two candy bars up to this point (caffeine and sugar always pick me up)! The views were spectacular during the climb up and we just enjoyed ourselves so much! Then, before we knew it we were standing below Jeffersons summit! It was a bit windy and much colder but the sun felt so nice and the views were spectacular! Off in the distance we saw a party of 4 coming down Jefferson but that was it for people that day!
We took a well deserved snack break where I ate pepperoni and cheese and drank a ton of my water. We looked at our watches and decided we should pass on the summits of Jefferson and Clay and just make a b-line to the summit of Washington. It was so awesome when we finally got onto a packed trail just before the Sphinx Col area!
We watched the sky as the sun started to get lower towards the horizon. It was so beautiful! We got onto the cog tracks for a bit before cutting off and walking up towards the summit building. We snapped a summit photo and then watched the sun set over Pierce. The pinks and purples were breathtaking! I even shed a few tears as I was living one of my dreams! I have been wanting to watch the sunset from the top of Mount Washington and also to stand on the summit and see stars at night! Of all of my Mount Washington summits, this was the only time I had a view, making this even more special! Usually I am summitting in a whiteout or fog, this time I could see so much! The only way to describe how I felt that night is to say it felt like someone was filling my heart with hot cocoa! It was the most amazing night of my life!
We hung out in the small opening near the summit building and put on our warm clothes, had another candy bar and cooked a Mountain House Pasta Primavera meal and warmed up some water for our hike down. Warm food never tasted so good! We finished up and came outside to see millions of stars twinkling in the night! They looked so close that it felt like I could jump up and touch one! This night just could not have been more perfect! We decided that we had enough adventure for the day and hiked down the Autoroad. It was great because it was groomed and after such a long day we really enjoyed the mindless walk. We just looked up at the sky as we wandered down on tired legs and happy hearts. We ran into a guy who drives the snow cat up the autoroad on our way down. It was late at night and he saw our headlights and was concerned. We told him we had a long day and were just really tired. He told us to be careful walking down route16 to get to our car which was 2 miles away. Sixteen hours after leaving our car we were back. We were so happy and couldn't believe we pulled it off! I was so touched by this day as it was just so fun and everything I could have ever wanted. The best part was doing all of this with my boyfriend who is not only my best friend, but also my favorite climbing partner! I feel so lucky to have found someone I can share so many adventures with! We are already planning our next adventure! Hopefully next weekend we do the Trapdike in the Adirondacks!
Here is the link to the pictures! http://www.flickr.com/photos/kfolcik...7623253341595/