“So what time do we set your alarm for?”
“When do we want to wake up?”
“Six, but tomorrow’s daylight savings.”
“Do we want six today time or six tomorrow time?”
“Tomorrow time, but does your clock automatically update with tomorrow’s time?”
“I don’t know. I think so.”
“Okay, so we set the alarm for six.”
“Wait, why do we want to wake up at six? Tomorrow’s six is like today’s five, isn’t it?”
“No, it’ll be like seven, because you fall back.”
“But you fall back to five…”
This went on a lot longer than it should have, and I don’t think it accomplished much, because it was repeated at five o’clock the next morning, which was like six o’clock the previous morning, and… Damn it, I don’t know what frigging time it is! I hate Daylight Savings!
But once Yvonne and I were on the road, everything was fine. Our destination, Mount Osceola. I’d been there once before, on the New England Trail, but I’d only had a few seconds of a view before being enclosed in a cloud.
|It’s starting to get a little icy on this trail.|
On Sunday, I wasn’t too excited about going up to the White Mountains for a hike, since late fall tends to be hit and miss as far as hiking conditions. I’m used to it being too snowy and wet for normal three-season footwear, and there’s not enough snow for snowshoes. When we arrived at the trailhead, though, I could tell this was going to be a spectacular day. Crystal clear skies, brisk air, and clear ground– good hiking conditions for sure.
|When you’re not moving, inch-thick ice coatings on rock slabs look mighty fine.|
The Mount Osceola Trail is a classic in the White Mountains, but not at all typical of the region’s hiking trails. Sure, it has lots of rocks and granite slabs, but the trail mostly goes along even grades with almost no steep climbing. With the ground frozen and the boulders easy for gripping with any footwear, Yvonne and I made quick work of the bottom half of the trail. No wonder it’s such a popular trail for day-hikers. But a little over halfway to the top, the challenges began.
|The trail looked a lot like this for about a mile, but it was a balmy 45 degrees.|
The trail may not have been very challenging on a dry summer day, but with so much slab rock and so many water seeps, there came a point where the entire trail was a sheer, slick sheet of ice. Yvonne had brought her Microspikes, but mine are still in storage at my parents’ house in Maine. I’ll get them out around Thanksgiving, but in the meantime I had to walk slower, step very carefully, and test my balance constantly. It was great on the way up, but going down was a bit harrowing and treacherous.
|Mount Osceola’s famous cliff, looking out at the Tripyramids and Chocorua.|
Up top, I saw the other reason why Osceola is such a popular mountain. For such an easy hike (not counting the ice), you get one of the finest views in all the White Mountains. From this huge, open cliff, where a fire lookout tower once stood, you get a panorama from Carrigain and the Presidential Range to the northeast, to Waterville Valley and Sandwich Dome to the south. The valley where the Kancamagus Highway runs is just below, and ahead are perfect views of the entire Sandwich Range, from the Dome and the Tripyramids to Chocorua. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky, and we beat the crowds to the summit, so it was quiet and clear.
|East Osceola in the foreground, with Carrigain and then the Presidentials further out.|
Yvonne hadn’t hit East Osceola yet for her 4000 Footers, and I would have been game to make the trek over if I’d had my Microspikes, but I wasn’t excited to try what could have been a lot more slipping and sliding to the relatively viewless East Peak. Another day, then. We descended the way we’d come, slower because the ice was just as slick and a little more difficult to navigate than on the ascent.
|A hidden viewpoint to the north adds views of Franconia Ridge and the Pemigewassett Wilderness|
We were down to the car by 1 or 2 (again, I hate Daylight Savings)– a relatively early end to the day. If we’d planned ahead better, I would have liked to do the Welch-Dickey Loop as well, but I was feeling very content with what we’d just done. For the part of the hiking season that is usually hit or miss, this was a very good hit.