Waterville Valley. Tri-Town - Yellow Jacket Snow's Mountain (attempt) | 12/20/22
Still frazzled after going from the most stressful week of the year to a standstill as the semester came to a close, I knew I needed to get out for a hike to reset before the holidays.
Though I was close to calling everything off when I got home late on Monday night, I decided to find a happy medium and get a late start on trails in the somewhat nearby Waterville Valley.
I left my house around 7:45, which put me at the Smarts Brook Trail pull off at 9am sharp. After assembling a remarkably over the top winter* bag, completely with snowshoes, extra jackets, a sleeping bag, and a full first aid kit, I decided to start in microspikes and adjust as needed.
Out from the lot, I took a left onto Pine Flat trail which was very packed out, and immediately passed a ledgey stream-side area that has frozen over nicely. This trail passed quickly, with nothing notable to report in terms of conditions or occurrences along the way.
After the 0.7, I came on the junction that was well marked with a laminated cross country ski map point me right towards the Yellow Jacket Trail, which was again mellow in grade and remained similar in its crunchy and packed nature. In fact, hyper-exposed areas of the trail were even muddy. I chuckled as I hopped over the mud, as my pointless snowshoes hit me in the ass on my landing.
After crossing a wide bridge, I was soon back on Smarts Brook, which I bore right on briefly in order to get onto the Tritown Trail. This section, again, was not notable, partially covered in micro-worthy crust, and was largely overshadowed by the Sounds like a Search and Rescue episode I was listening to at the time.
At the close of the loop, I took the spur back to my car and came out to a relatively full (5-6 car) lot, despite not seeing anyone the whole time.
With this loop only taking me about an hour, I pushed forward to the second item on my list which I had already sent to my folks in my solo hiking day plan. Just a couple miles up the road, I was looking at doing Snows Mountain due to the recent netrailconditions post that first drew my eye to it.
I struggled quite embarrassingly to find the parking lot, and was close to parking in the residential area I knew the trail popped out, but I decided the home owners were paying too much for their privacy for me to rudely walk about their properties like some kind of Home Alone burglar. So, I drove down the road, used my brain a little bit, and parked at the lot at left of the Snow’s ski lift.
Realizing things were different here, I got my snowshoes on and frustratingly had them come off three whole times before I even got out of the parking lot. Boy did I not miss those things.
When I got to the base of the lift, I looked up and had a nice “what the hell did I just commit to” moment. Looking up at the gorgeous powdered covered SKI SLOPE I began to hate myself for bringing my skins but NOT MY SKIS. Can’t win them all I guess.
After processing the loss, I started up the slope on what I would not describe as a “broken” trail but a “lightly fractured” trail. For all intents and purposes, I was breaking trail up a ski slope. It was hard. I got tired really fast. But once I got over the worst part, aka the skid slope, it wasn’t quite as bad in the woods.
Even though I was still working a lot to pack out the powder, the switchbacks aided in my exhaustion. By the time I got to the junction with the Greeley Ledges Trail, it had taken me 47 minutes to travel 0.7 miles and I knew I would never finish the loop in time to finish my to-do list at home so I turned right to Greeley Ledges to make a loop out of that and Cascade Path, which at first looked travelled, but quickly succumbed to a post hole that ate me alive. And because my pack weighed some 30 pounds because I refuse to be accused of being unprepared, I couldn’t get up for a minute and afterwards decided to turn around.
On my way down, I ran into bluecollar4khiker, apologized for the only half broken out trail, and was soon back down to my car where I de-geared, and pulled some RXbars out to sit on until they weren’t too frozen to bite into. Oh the joys of winter.
Despite only doing 5.5 miles collectively, I was satisfied in my re-orientation with my packing essentials, snow shoe use, and first time experience breaking a trail. Moreover, I was pleased with myself for still getting out even though it was for merely a quarter of the day and only a 0.1% towards my trace. Sometimes it’s about more than the list :)
Day-End Stats: 5.5 miles | 882 gain | 0 animals