November Light on the Gale River
Galehead Mountain 4024'
Gale River Trail/ Garfield Ridge Trail/Frost Trail
10.2 Mile 2450'
Kevin, Judy and Emma
If we had gotten an earlier start we might not have wasted this day on a mediocre view mountain like Galehead, but that is the price you sometimes pay when restricting your hikes to "what you need" on some list that nobody cares about except you. With this hike we positioned ourselves to finish our "Autumn List" of hiking NH's 4ks in all seasons. We used to never care about this stuff. Once was enough. Then we learned about "All Seasons" and "The Grid". Before, we'd hike to a mountain where we had no view the first time, or to one we particularly enjoyed the first time around. Never thought about doing them in each month of the year, or even in every season.
Emma leads across a swollen feeder brook
Then we realized, well, we'll leave "The Grid" to others, but we're closer to the "All Seasons" than we had thought, and although I don't know if we'll get them all, I ashamedly admit it's become a goal, and now, once again, against our better judgement, there are mountains "We need". So, if and when we ever get around to climbing Mount Adams in autumn, that will complete our autumn 48. Which brings me back to my original statement about "wasting" this particularly excellent day on Galehead when we might have been on Adams for a perfect November day, but that would have left us to finish on anti-climatic Galehead. Ahhh, lists...
Zoomed view down the valley
That all aside, we were blessed with a beautiful day that was much more reminiscent of a spring day than a late autumn day and we were determined to enjoy it, which proved an easy task. The sun was bright and warm as we started out along the Gale River, swollen from rain and snowmelt which preceded us by a day or so. The trail was sloppy mud and puddles down low and further up it turned to a thin, crunchy layer of snow and ice trying hard not to be reclaimed by the river rushing down below. We managed to bare-boot up with little trouble, but wore the micro-spikes on the descent to get over the slippery, icy sections.
On a sheltered summit
We never saw another person all day, and we had the porch at the hut to ourselves, except for a hungry red squirrel. After lunch we left our packs to tag the summit and purposely left nuts and raisins for the squirrel in hopes of keeping him out of our packs. Of course it was not enough for the little glutton and he went straight to Judy's pack where the trail mix was while we were gone. Now here's the amazing part: apparently he has learned that it is much easier to simply unzip the pack than to chew through it! This he did with surgeon agility though apparently he has yet to figure out ziplock BAGS and finds it much easier to simply chew through them to get to what he wants.
South Twin through the spruce cemetery
We sat in the sun for a long time, really not wanting to leave and just reveling in the day. Along with our squirrel friend we were joined by lazy old flies and Ladybugs enjoying their "Last Hurrah" in the bright sun. Emma found a spot in the shade while we pondered how much money the AMC would want for the joint and where we would put the hot tub. When we finally dragged ourselves away we quickly found ourselves back on the north side and out of the sun for our descent and we were pleased to find that the day had warmed enough that we didn't need extra layers, but hadn't melted the snow.
Classic view of Galehead Hut
The low sun followed in an almost perfect line along the ridge to our southwest and often lit the overhead trees and hillsides to our north and east as we made the descent. The afternoon light cast long shadows and made it feel much later than it was as we criss-crossed the river on the way back. Another stellar day to ourselves in a normally high-traffic area of the mountains!
Complete set of pics HERE: