Saturday, October 20, 2012

Cold Night on the Mountain

A night on Mt. Pierce, New Hampshire
Mt. Washington in Snow
View of Mt. Washington from Mt. Pierce 

This is the perfect adventure for the experienced hiker looking for a one night backpack with great views and cool weather.  

My friend Jenny and I decided to try our first overnight in early fall snow.  We went up Saturday, Oct. 13 and returned Sunday, Oct. 14, 2012.  We experienced amazing views, some icy trail, and uncrowded summits.

Saturday morning we drove up to the AMC Highland Center in Bartlett, NH and took the Crawford Path up to Mizpah Hut/Nauman Campsite.  The hike took us about 2 hours to get to the hut.  I was glad I had my trekking poles as the trail had some slick parts.  It would have been helpful to have traction in the form of microspikes or yak traks, but it wasn't absolutely necessary.

We set up camp at Nauman tentsite in a dusting of snow and summited Mt. Pierce at 5 pm and were back down at 6 pm as it was getting dark.  We got water and used the restroom in the hut (their last weekend open), then cooked dinner at our campsite.  Since the summer season had ended, camping was free.

Summit of Mt. Pierce
Jenny and I at the summit of Mt. Pierce
Jenny and I agreed that the trip was overall wonderful, but it could easily have been catastrophic had we not prepared with 35 below sleeping bags, lots of warm clothing, and proper hiking gear.  Only hikers with experience and proper gear should try this weekend adventure.


Camping in Snow
Prepare for Cold
Hiking Challenge Level: Experienced
Camping Challenge: Experienced/Challenging

Gear: AMC White Mountain Map #3 (Crawford Notch-Sandwich Range), Overnight Backpack, Pants (3 layers, non cotton - shell, fleece, long underwear), Tops (5 layers, non cotton - long underwear, fleece, puffy, shell), gloves, hat, scarf, hiking boots, wool socks, 35 below sleeping bag, tent, sleeping pad, 2 L of water bottles, camp stove (whisperlite), fuel, food/hot drink mix, camera.

Directions to Trail Head:  Drive to North Conway, New Hampshire.  Take Rt 302 West into Crawford Notch State Park.  Park at AMC Highland Center.

Trail:  We took the Crawford Path from across the road from AMC Highland Center to the Mizpah Cutoff, stayed at Nauman Campsite.  Slackpacked up to the summit of Mt. Pierce and back down.  In the morning, we hiked out.

AMC Mizpah Hut in Snow
AMC Mizpah Hut is 1 min walk from our campsite