First hike of the season (Baldpate)

First hike of the season and it’s official: I’m out of shape.
 
The plan was to do Baldpate via the AT from Grafton Notch, and I was enthusiastic enough to be fully packed before I went to bed the night before, up at 5:00, on the road at 6 and at the trailhead by 7:30:

parking lot

In the parking lot I met a couple who had just come down from spending the night on Table Rock and said the sunrise has been ‘awesome, man.’

It’s always nice to see the familiar icons at the trailhead:

Trailhead

Someone had done some nice work on bridging the swamp near the road:

bridge over swamp

My first clue about how the day would go came within 50 yards of the road:

traces of snow

Within 20 minutes I realized I would not summit. The hiking wasn’t bad, despite the significant snow cover, because the snow pack was very solid. It was fortunate that the snow was not terribly slick as I wasn’t wearing microspikes.    The problem is that as things warm up,  it gets harder and harder to monorail,  and easier and easier to post hole.

And there was plenty of snow:

lots of snow

After about an hour, I had warmed up enough that I shed my hat and gloves, and by two hours I had reached the ridge, which I thought would have gotten enough sun to be fairly clear of snow. Not so much:

snow on ridge
I decided that I’d better turn around if I wanted to be able to descend on firm snow rather than an obstacle course. 

Sure enough, it quickly became a struggle to stay on the monorail (the elevated hard center of the trail). Slipping off the slick monorail resulted in post holing. I also had to listen very carefully for the tell-tale gurgle of sub-snow runoff weakening the hard pack. Several times I had a nice view of the approach to Speck (which is actually hidden behind this):

view of speck

There was considerable melt going on, with some nice little streamlets:

streamlet one

and
streamlet two

 

I post holed here and was very glad I had thoroughly waterproofed my boots and was wearing waterproof full gaiters - I found myself in 18 inches of ice water:

Post holing

On my way home I pulled over into Screw Augur Falls and got some nice shots:

Screw Augur 1

Screw Augur 2

Screw Augur 3

Screw Augur 4


About five hours on the trail, four hours hiking and the rest taking pictures. All in all, a good hike. Another 2 weeks and the summit should be easily accessible. As Arnold would say:

"I’ll be back.”
 



 

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