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Osceolas (Winter) - Trail to Summit

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January 24, 2013 / Comments (4)

Osceolas (Winter)

The Osceolas were the first two mountains I hiked when I decided I wanted to officially hike the 48 mountains in New Hampshire that are 4000 feet or higher. Now I have all of the 4000-footers under my belt and have recently been hiking the 4000-footers (yes, again) in winter. As of now I’ve done 14 in winter. As I repeat some peaks, I can’t help but notice how wonderfully different it is the second time around.

My first time I summited the Osceolas I did it the hard way from the Greeley Ponds Trailhead because I didn’t know any better. This time, I’m back at the same trailhead because the other approach (from Tripoli Road) is not plowed in winter.

When we started to gear up every member of my group had the same issue: our collapsible trekking poles were frozen. We pulled and twisted as hard as we could. One of the guys even brought out a wrench. The heat from a car exhaust was the fix for the last stubborn pole. I guess that’s what happens when the trailhead temperature is three degrees.

 

The trail began very gently through a winter wonderland complete with several streams that were very easy to cross from planks or snow bridges.

 

 

We decided to start out in snowshoes. We ended up wearing them the whole way up to Osceola and only switched to microspikes to try our luck at sledding on the way down. The area had received about an inch of new snow which was light and fluffy. The snowshoes helped pack the trail out more.

Our 1.3 mile warmup promptly ended at the turnoff for the Greeley Ponds. The trail began to steepen and consisted of patches of ice under a dusting of new snow. The aggressive teeth on my snowshoes were helpful.

 

The summit of East Osceola was cold! The forecast for the summit was -2 degrees with a wind chill of -18. Thankfully it was wooded. The first time I did this hike it was extremely foggy. This time around was very clear. We had some beautiful views.

 

We could see for miles and miles!

 

 

 

Carrigain with the Presidentials behind

 

This is my “cold smile”

From the East Peak, Osceola is only a mile away. It’s not an easy mile though. The chimney is a short, but very steep section that can be hazardous in dry conditions. In winter, there is a bypass that is almost as challenging.

Nice viewpoint between the peaks

 

When we got to the chimney we spent a little time contemplating what we would do. We were all wearing snowshoes and had to decide whether or not to keep them on or switch footwear. We knew this would be the only really steep and potentially icy section so we didn’t bring crampons.

One member of my group wanted to try to go up the chimney as he thought there would be enough handholds. The problem is there is a huge section of ice that you can’t get your leg over and nothing to hold onto for that section. He was happy to have investigated and went up the bypass with the rest of us. Another member in my group switched to microspikes and said he would have preferred going up in snowshoes.

 

With some careful foot placement, the bypass wasn’t too bad. On the descent I went down to the tune of Domino sung by a fellow hiker. Needless to say, we kept our distance on this section!

 

The summit of Osceola was surprisingly bare with only a dusting of snow on parts of it. It was also less windy than the east peak. Who would have thought? We spent a little while eating lunch and chatting with a couple who skied Tripoli Road and hiked up from there.

On our way down we attempted to sled down. The sledding (for all of us) was too scary on the upper sections. The combination of steep trails, ice patches, and sharp turns did not turn out well and we had an injury on the trail. Thankfully the injury happened after most of the steep sections and it wasn’t too bad. The hiker was on a pretty steep section and tried to turn and slow himself down using his foot and instead had a little chat with a tree. He sprained his ankle and after getting wrapped up with a compression bandage and having some Ibuprofen, he was able to walk out of the woods. Having trekking poles to reduce the weight on his ankle was helpful. The hike ended up being longer than we expected, but with a shorter hike planned, we made it out in daylight and with everyone in decent shape.
Some people have enjoyed sledding down East Osceola, but for us, it was filled with sledding on our butts rather than the sleds and a lot of anxiety.
Overall, it was a great day to be outdoors and not at work on a Monday!

Last modified: July 13, 2017

4 Responses to :
Osceolas (Winter)

  1. Anonymous says:

    I love the report the Osceola’s are a great hike. The Greeley ponds trail is closed from Tripoli road due to the bridges out along the trail anyway I don’t know when the trail will be open again if they get the bridges done during the winter

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