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  • Writer's pictureIzzy Risitano

Pemigewasset & Whitehouse | 1/12/23

Oddly enough, my Franconia-focused day began on the far side of Route 49. I had hoped and planned to ascend Sandwich via Drake’s and Sandwich Mountain Trails, but the parking lot gave me a bad feeling when I immediately began sliding sideways in a high-clearance, snow-tired vehicle. The uncomfortable parking matched with 9 miles of unbroken trail solo was not uplifting.

Just a shark enjoying a view

Rather than pushing through a bad feeling, I decided to go a little further north to some other quick hits on my to-do list. The Indian Head trailhead is a short way off Exit 33 and has another unplowed lot. This one though, had much less snow and was also larger.

No one else had been up since the snow and rainfall, so I got into my snowshoes at the car and threw on my beyond overkill 30-pound pack. Soon, I realized it was the sort of conditions that both need and reject snowshoes, the grinding against the crampons was far more annoying than sliding would’ve been. Being a good samaritan, I kept them on as I crossed underneath the highway twice and ground up against the rocks on several tributary crossings. The snow and grades were minimal for the first half mile but grew steeper and steeper until I was at the summit.

Highway crossing #1

The snowier parts of trail

Overall, I would say the snow was more of a dusting until a notable right turn (~1.2) onto what appears to be an old cut or road, where drifts tripled the snow depth. This is the only spot where snowshoes were truly beneficial. As the sun grew brighter, I was happy to go down to a tank top until just before the summit, where winds picked up at the final ascent of Pemi’s cone. This was notably harder from this side than the other and that’s not just the snowshoes talking.

I always wear a tank top under my winter gear- rarely get to use it

Pemigewasset, looking south

Snow-capped ridge poking up from I-93

When I joined up with the Mt. Pemigewasset trail, I was greeted with the frozen postholes everyone hiking the 48 experienced today. I would say my trail-breaking was far preferable to that bullshit. Nonetheless, I was soon at the viewpoint where I yet again encountered the sensation of experience. I hiked Mt. Pemigewasset with Michelle in 2021 and I had no concept of the view other than the town of Lincoln. This time, I quickly recognized the closest-right peak as Wolf, the beast of a retired 52-WAV I hiked in a downpour a few weeks back. Even then, I had no idea Pemigewasset was just below me! Perspective sure is neat.

After Pemigewasset, I wasn’t quite ready to go home but didn’t have time to do anything too crazy, so I looped back to the Flume Visitor Center to hit all 0.8 miles of Whitehouse Trail, which was the most beautifully packed trail imaginable. Pick of the day I suppose!

Pemigewasset Stats

Distance: 3.82 miles

Gain: 1,469 feet

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