This post is a little late, but it’s been a busy week. On Saturday morning, Yvonne and I found our way to Kinsman Notch in the White Mountains to start a rugged, end-of-winter day hike over the Kinsman Range. This was going to be a very long and difficult hike, made more difficult by the facts that new snow had fallen overnight, and that part of the trail was not a popular winter hike.
We started out from Kinsman Notch, a part of the White Mountains I hadn’t set foot in since 2007, immediately realizing how difficult the snowshoeing would be. Underneath about four inches of fluffy powder was a solid crust, hardened by warm weather over the past few days. The combination of fluff and crust meant that the claws on our snowshoes didn’t grip as well as they should have, and the irregularities in the surface of the crust were hidden, making for occasional slipping and tripping hazards.
Judging by the solidity of the underlying crust, no one had set foot on the Kinsman Ridge trail in quite some time. Breaking trail wasn’t so hard, since the crust was solid enough to float across, but the trail turned out to be pretty difficult to follow– there was enough of a snow base to completely hide the trail, obscure white blazes, and weigh tree branches low across the trail. We hurried up the first section of trail, but still made slow time as we lost the trail for precious minutes from time to time, and slogged through sections of thick, snow-laden branches.
By the time we stopped for lunch, not even at Mount Wolf, one third of the way through the day, we started to realize we wouldn’t make our intended fifteen miles. Still, the walking through fresh, snow-coated forest was beautiful enough to satisfy my wilderness craving. At times we would stop and hear the utter silence that is only possible in the winter woods when no other people are around for miles. Even without many open views from the ridge, I was happier to have just the deep forest around us and the sense of solitude.
The slog to Mount Wolf took four hours, effectively killing the plan for the Kinsman Traverse, but that was no problem. It’s been a while since we’ve had the forest to ourselves, which is rare enough in a popular place like the White Mountains. For an end-of-winter hike, it was a good way to get reacquainted with the silence of the woods.
A lot of new snow fell in the past few days, meaning I could keep my snowshoes out of storage a little longer if I’d like. I love winter, and this one has been much more fun than the last several for me, but I’m feeling ready for some three-season hiking. Good show, winter. Let’s move on.