North Twin Mtn.
Bushwhack --> North Twin Trail --> Bushwhack
Distance: 10.15 mi.
Elevation Gain: 3,173 ft.
Time: 5:01 (base to summit) 7:52 (back to car)
Having been almost 4 months since I have hiked on a day that wasn't cloudy and/or snowy, today's great forecast had me picking a hike with great views. The plan was to hike both North and South Twin, but in the end changed to just North Twin.
I parked at the end of Little River Rd at the bridge over the river. I decided to put on snowshoes before starting and then crossed the bridge. The path to the summer trailhead is only maybe 20 feet past the bridge on the left. I thought it was hard to miss, but with a bit of a snowbank in front of it, the two hikers that showed up before I headed out did miss it. Taking the snowmobile trail to the road then breaking trail up the road.
"Bushwhack" to the summer trailhead
The path to the summer trailhead is pretty much a straight line and was well packed from snowshoes and skis. Quickly I was at the North Twin Trail and it too was well packed. When I got to the first river crossing, snow conditions made it appear that no one had used it all season. There isn't much need to and many use this route in winter for the Fire Wardens Trail anyways that is between the first two crossings on the bushwhack side of the river. The trail through here was good and only became a little less packed after other hikers (and most skiers) turned off. After a while longer, I got to the 3rd river crossing that was solidly bridged all the way across.
The only river crossing needed
After the crossing, the trail starts to gain elevation quicker. The few small brooks and wet spots were easy to get over or around. A couple of the small ones got punched out later in the day after things warmed up though. The trail was nice and smooth, but had softened up a bit. In places where the sun was on the trail, the snow got down right sticky and clung to anything. It's surprising how much heavier your poles and baskets can get, nevermind your snowshoes.
A nice trail to follow
The trail gets steadily steeper. And today, I got steadily slower. My legs weren't doing too bad, but I was just physically getting tired. Not enough sleep during the week I guess along with a short night before the early drive up today. I kept pushing on hoping for a more level spot to take an easy break. There aren't many, and it's hard to sit down somewhere when the snow covers everything that is solid. Eventually I was at the last steep pitch before getting up onto the ridge.
Coming up onto the ridge
Up on the ridge, you could start to fully see just how nice the day was. Things also mostly leveled out. I went past the rock outcropping viewpoint and right to the summit. Once at the summit viewpoint, I was able to sit on something solid and take a nice break. It was here I finished deciding that I wouldn't do South Twin today. While I wasn't too far behind book time (and my schedule), I knew I would get further behind and more tired. The great views on North Twin were more than enough though to make up for a cloudy 4 months.
Snow crusted trees around the summit area
After a nice break and plenty of pictures, I headed back to the other viewpoint looking over to the Presidentials. Without a cloud in the sky, the view couldn't be beat. This is part of why we hike in winter. After another break here, I was headed back down the mountain. Everything went smooth on the decent. More sections had sticky snow, but going downhill made them not as bad. Once down by the river, I started hiking out with a couple of others and the trail started to firm back up again. Since the other hikers had done a loop, I gave one a ride back to their car while the other stayed back with her dog. I was back to the car a little before I planned to be had I hiked South Twin.
A seat with a view
Even though I was more tired than expected and I missed a peak I planned on, the hike was still great and the views were spectacular. Finally, it had been a great day out in the woods.
They sure put signs close to the ground in winter
Finally, the view I've been waiting for
Carrigain has a big presense in the view from North Twin
For all the pictures from the hike, just go HERE