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.
Last modified: July 13, 2017