Waterville Valley Ski Area - Mount Tecumseh Trail - Sosman Trail
Distance: 4.97 mi.
Elevation Gain: 2398 ft.
Time: 2:49 (base to summit) 5:30 (back to car)
When it dawned on me that I finished my first round of the NH48 by doing 39 of them in the last 12 months, I started thinking about doing all of them in one year. This turned into me setting the goal of doing all NE67 in the year of 2014. After a slow start due to poor weather, poor timing, and days when I didn't feel good, I finally got my first hike of the year in.
Since I had somewhere I needed to be tonight at 5pm, I decided my first hike needed to be a short one. So I choose Mt. Tecumseh. It's short and one of the closest to home. Plus with cold, windy, and cloudy weather predictions, the mostly viewless summit and mainly wind protected hike made sense. At 8am the ski area wasn't that busy yet and I was able to park pretty close to the trail. After a quick change into some of my gear and short walk through the lots, it was time to head out on the trail. The brook crossing at the start of the trail was easy using the rocks to walk across. A lack of snow cover and packed trails meant I wasn't even going to use the microspikes to start.
The summit behind the lodge
Walking up to the next crossing was a breeze and a good warm up. This crossing was also easy using rocks maybe 10 feet away from the intended crossing. Heading uphill from the brook, the trail had a bit more ice under the snow and some rocks sticking up, but still nothing to worry about. It went along pretty easily and smoothly all the way until you switch from the open hardwoods to the conifers. Here there was one small brook (only about 4 feet wide) that took careful foot placement. The ice was all very smooth, and there was one spot where the top layer was very thin before a layer of water and sluch, then thick ice. One the way down, I noticed someone had stepped through that thin layer.
Soon I was at the downhill into the last crossing of the Tecumseh Brook. Spikes would have been good here as the snow was packed and slick, but I was still holding off putting them on and made it fine. The crossing was again easy if you paid attention to foot placement. Rocks and sticks under the ice gave support, but just a foot or two away would be small open spots of water. Coming back uphill again after the brook, the trail was pretty icy for a bit, and I really should have used the spikes here, but still didn't. Shortly after turning onto the main trail corridor above the view point I did put on my spikes since it gets steeper and you could tell there was more ice under the snow.
This main corridor of trail stays at a steady incline and to me it seems to go on for a long time. There aren't many breaks through here, but there are occasional views through the trees up to the summit and peaks across the valley. Eventually the trail turns to the left and gets steeper. Time for the last hard push up to the summit ridge. Through here the trail was still nice and packed even with the snow now covering the trees more. As I approached the ridge, I could start to feel more of the wind that I had been protected from. Once I hit the junction with the Sosman Trail, I layered up and put on my balaclava for the last stretch. The trip to the summit went quick and easy with the first hikers of the day going past me or starting back down. Once I got to the summit, they had all headed down and I had the place to myself the whole time.
Main trail corridor
Miles the mountain monkey (my hiking partner this year) finally comes out of the pack to pose with my favorite sign and choose which way to use to the summit
The clouds had gotten lower and it had started to snow lightly as I neared the summit, so there wasn't much for views today. I could see the village of Waterville Valley below, but not the Tripyramids across the valley. On the summit my Kestral said it was 5 degrees with a -3 wind chill (3 mph avg with 6 mph gust). Listening to the wind just above the trees though, I suspect wind speeds were closer to 25 mph. All in all, almost identical to last year when I hiked this peak, except less snow base.
Not much of a view
After some pictures and a drink/food break, it was time to head down again. I didn't meet any more hikers until the split of the Sosman trail headed to the top of the ski area. I left my microspikes on for the entire hike down, but once back into the hardwoods they weren't needed. A fair amount of others were now hiking up, mostly in microspikes with a few in snowshoes. Apparently my early start or carrying my z-rest to sit on made multiple people wonder if I camped out on the summit as I was asked that a few times.
Sosman trail to the summit
Frost and ice formed under a rock along the trail
Ice before the upper crossing
I've hiked Tecumseh three times now. Once from Tripoli Road in the summer, and twice from the ski area in winter. So far, I still enjoy the route from Tripoli Road more. This could partly be due to the seasons, weather, and lack of views in the winter though.
Ice pools along the Mad River on the way home
For all the pictures from the hike, just go HERE