Rime ice on the Lions Head Trail.

Mt. Washington Climb via Lions Head Trail

Mt. Washington

This prominent mountain is located in the Presidential Range of the White Mountains in northern New Hampshire. The summit stands at 6288′ above sea level and is the highest peak in the northeast. It was known to the original inhabitants of the area as Agiocochook. There are a few translations for the name such as “home of the great spirit” or “home of the storm spirit”. Each can be considered appropriate, especially the latter, given the history of the mountain’s weather.

The first person of European ancestry to climb Mt. Washington was Darby Field, in 1642. He was an Indian translator and was aided by them on his journey. The purpose of Darby Fields climb remains debated. Some say he was looking for treasure or seeking shorter fur trading routes. The mountain might have been called Cristall or Crystal Hill by some early settlers. In 1874 it received the current name in honor, of course, to General George Washington.

In the following years, the summit would be climbed for scientific study and recreation. In the mid-1800’s the first of many summit buildings were built to accommodate guests drawn to the windswept peak. In April of 1934, a record surface wind speed was recorded on the summit at 231 MPH.

Today, Mt. Washington is climbed by adventurous hikers looking for a challenge. To do this safely, hikers must take into account the unpredictable weather characteristics of the summit as well as the surrounding mountain range. It is best to carry clothing and gear appropriate for the worst conditions possible and pay close attention to the conditions should they begin to change. The old saying “prepare for the worst and hope for the best” applies here.

 

Hiking up the Lions Head Trail

The hike below was done in mid-October just after the New England fall foliage erupts in color across the White Mountains. It was October 17, 2003. A little past peak, but the valley trees still had a bit of color left in them. The higher elevations were starting to receive light snow on the colder days which can add another level of difficulty as well as an even more rewarding sense of beauty.

I decided to hike up the Lions Head Trail. Which is the preferred winter route. The weather at the summit was 20F with 50-70MPH gusts (-5F wind chill), light snow and freezing fog. The valley forecast was 50-55F, 10MPH winds and sunny. I decided on the Lions Head route thinking if things got to dangerous I should be able to get back down to an elevation that was suitable for a safe retreat.

Starting near the Pinkham Notch Visitors Center, I hiked up the Tuckerman Ravine Trail to the junction with the Lions Head Trail. The trail was dusted with light snow and the cloud cover was on and off with the winds. Just the kind of wild weather I had read about for the mountain. As I hiked above treeline I ran into another hiker named Bill. He had climbed mountains all over the world and was doing a training hike for an upcoming winter trip in the Adirondacks. We decided to stay together for safety reasons, especially since we had not seen any other hikers in a while.

The trail above treeline in the snow, wind and freezing fog was certainly challenging but doable. The cairns marking the trail remained visible and we had the right clothing for the conditions. Rime ice was thickly stuck to any trail signs or protruding obstacles. Once we reached the summit, we were fortunately able to go inside the visitors center for a warm up and a rest. It did not close for the year yet (I think it was going to close in the next couple days for the season).

After a rest on the summit, we suited back up into our winter gear and headed out. We decided with the deteriorating conditions, to walk down the Mt. Washington Auto Road. It was closed to traffic and easy to follow in the stormy conditions. We followed the Auto Road down to a trail called the Old Jackson Road which was able to bring us back over to the starting point of our hike at Pinkham Notch.

Mt. Washington climb via the Lions Head Trail, Auto Road and Old Jackson Road.

Mt. Washington climb via the Lions Head Trail, Auto Road and Old Jackson Road.

Lions Head Trail Via Tuckerman Ravine Trail to Mt. Washington Summit:

Distance: 4.1 Miles
Elevation Gain: 4,250 Feet

Mt. Washington Auto Road to Pinkham Notch via Old Jackson Road: 7.5 miles

 

View of the Presidential Range from the south on Route 16.

View of the Presidential Range from the south on Route 16 in New Hampshire’s White Mountain National Forest.

Huntington Ravine from Tuckerman Ravine Trail

The higher elevations jumping in and out of the clouds. Huntington Ravine is slightly visible to the right. I will be heading to the left on the Lion Head Trail.

The snow-covered spruce and fir forest is a nice and serene place to hike.

The snow-covered spruce and fir forest is a nice and serene place to hike.

Lions Head Junction AMC Sign

The Appalachian Mountain Club sign marking the junction of the Tuckerman Ravine and Lion Head Trails. This is at about 3800 feet. This is about 2400 feet and 2 miles from the Mt. Washington Summit.

A glimpse through the clouds at the mountain.

A glimpse through the clouds at the mountain.

Tuckerman Ravine from Lions Head Trail

Tuckerman Ravine as seen from the Lion Head Trail. The trees are showing the effect of the elevation here with stunted growth. This is around 4500 feet.

A view toward the headwall of Tuckerman Ravine from Lion Head Trail.

A view toward the headwall of Tuckerman Ravine from Lion Head Trail.

Looking southeast from above Tuckerman Ravine.

Looking southeast from above Tuckerman Ravine.

Vegetation covered in rime ice.

Vegetation covered in rime ice.

 Rime Ice Mt.Washington

As I get above treeline, the wind picks up and appears to have coated everything in snow and rime ice.

The Lions Head Trail heads into the clouds.

The Lions Head Trail heads into the clouds.

Rime ice on rocks above tree line.

Rime ice on rocks above tree line. Rime ice is caused by freezing fog.

Approaching the Lions Head.

Approaching the Lions Head.

Lions Head on Mt. Washington

The Lion Head that the trail is named for. The resemblance is supposed to be visible from route 16 below.

The rock cairns guide our way as we approach the summit.

The rock cairns guide our way as we approach the summit.

Bill at the Mt. Washington summit sign.

Bill at the Mt. Washington summit sign. 6,288 Feet.

John at the Mt. Washington summit sign.

John at the Mt. Washington summit sign. 6,288 Feet.

Mt. Washington Visitors Center Weather Board

Inside the visitors center at the summit. The boards below the sign indicate the weather for the valley and the summit. There are not many climbs that can have a snack bar reward at the top!

The Tip Top House on the summit of Mt. Washington.

The Tip Top House on the summit of Mt. Washington.

We decided the safest way down was to follow the auto road.

We decided the safest way down was to follow the auto road.

Rime ice on a road marker.

Rime ice on a road marker. You can tell the direction of the wind. The accumulation of ice is on the windward side.

Bill walking down the Mt. Washington Auto Road.

Bill walking down the Mt. Washington Auto Road.

Bill with views of Mt. Adams and Mt. Madison in the distance.

Bill with views of Mt. Adams and Mt. Madison in the distance.

Blue Sky with Snow

As we descend in elevation, the blue sky makes a fleeting appearance.

Another view hiking down the Mt. Washington auto road.

Another view hiking down the Mt. Washington auto road.

Mt. Adams and Mt. Madison from Auto Road

The shifting clouds made for constant lighting changes for the nearby peaks of Mt. Adams and Mt. Madison.

 

For more information on Mt. Washington: https://www.mountwashington.org/

AMC White Mountain hiking guide with maps:

https://amcstore.outdoors.org/books-maps/books/hiking/white-mountain-guide-trail-set

The United States Forest Service Site: https://www.fs.usda.gov/main/whitemountain/home

 

6078 View from Lookout Rock

Mt. Minsi loop – Delaware Water Gap Hike

It was our first hike up to Mt. Minsi in the Delaware Water Gap National Recreation Area since the fall of last year. We took our usual route of climbing up to the summit on the Appalachian Trail and then hiking back down the Mt. Minsi fire road to the parking area. This is the best way to hike this loop, as the Appalachian Trail can be quite steep and rocky in places making it a better choice for ascending, the fire road is more evenly graded making it easier on the knees while descending.

The elevation gain from the parking area to the summit is about 1,060 feet. The distance from the parking lot to the summit is about 2.3 miles on the Appalachian Trail, and from the summit back to the parking area via the fire road is about 2 miles. The loop hike total is about of 4.3 miles. This hike was a little longer because we started with the short trail around Lake Lenape before heading toward the summit of Mt. Minsi.

To reach the Lake Lenape parking area, Turn onto Mountain Road from Route 611 next to the Deer Head Inn. Follow Mountain road uphill for a few hundred yards and turn left onto the small and narrow Lake Road. The parking area is on the right. You can begin following the white blazes of the Appalachian Trail into the woods and up Mt. Minsi.

Mt Minsi trail loop map

Here is a map of the loop hike. The Appalachian Trail is in Red and the Mt. Minsi fire road is in blue.

 Lake Lenape

Lake Lenape, Just a few yards from the parking area. There is a short trail that follows the perimeter of the lake for further exploration.

Lake Lenape Painted Turtles

Painted Turtles sunning themselves on a log in Lake Lenape. As I moved closer, they were startled and leapt into the water.

Skunk Cabbage Lake Lenape

Skunk Cabbage around Lake Lenape. It is one of the first plants to emerge in the spring and is aided by the fact that it can produce its own heat to help melt its way through the snow! The leaves when torn produce a smell like the plants namesake. Despite the odor, it has many food and medicinal uses.

Hemlock trees with Wooly Adelgid Lake Lenape

Hemlock trees on the surrounding ledges of Lake Lenape. They are suffering the unfortunate effects of the invasive Hemlock Wooly Adelgid.

A view north from the southern edge of Lake Lenape.

A view north from the southern edge of Lake Lenape.

View of Delaware Water Gap from AT

The cliffs of Mt. Tammany as seen from the Appalachian Trail while hiking up Mt. Minsi. Chief Tammany was a highly regarded chief of the Lenape or Delaware Indians in the 1600’s.

Solomons's Seal

Solomons’s Seal growing along the trail.

Rhododendron on Mt. Minsi

The Delaware Water Gap is visible through the trees as the Appalachian Trail winds through thick rhododendron.

ViVrginia Creeper on Mt. Minsi

Virginia Creeper, a vine that is sometimes confused with poison ivy. It lacks the aerial roots of poison ivy (looks like thick hair) that are attached to the vine and usually has five leaves instead of 3.

The trail heading for Overlook Rock.

The trail heading for Overlook Rock.

6078 View from Lookout Rock

The view from Overlook Rock. It is on a very short unmarked side trail about halfway up Mt. Minsi.

Some Trailing Arbutus and Polypody Ferns growing among the rocks.

Some Trailing Arbutus and Polypody Ferns growing among the rocks.

View of mt. Tammany

A view of Mt. Tammany from a rock outcrop south of the summit. There is no view from the actual summit, but this one is quite nice.

Kristy in front of a few Juneberry trees near the vista.

Kristy in front of a few Juneberry trees near the vista. Juneberries, also called serviceberries, shadbush, or saskatoon yield a delicious red fruit in june that is often compared to blueberries.

Five Lined Skink at Delaware Water Gap

A Five Lined Skink on one of the rock outcrops. This is only the second time I have seen one of these. They are not a common sight while hiking in Pennsylvania.

Skink near Mt. Minsi

Here is another photo of the Five Lined Skink. He turned toward me a little for a better look. I would guess this one was about 7″ long from head to tail.

Old firetower on the summit of Mt. Minsi. Delaware Water Gap

The remains of an old fire tower on the summit of Mt. Minsi. They now hold a place for the white blazes that mark the Appalachian Trail.

Vista south of Mt. Minsi

The view of the Delaware River from just south of Mt. Minsi. This is looking toward Portland, PA and Columbia, NJ.

 Kristy hiking Mt. Minsi

Kristy hiking through the Pennsylvania rocks back down to the Delaware Water Gap.

Spring on Mt. Minsi fire road

A spring on the fire road that leads up Mt. Minsi. It is a refreshing stop on a hot summer day.

May Apples growing in the forest understory.

May Apples growing in the forest. Come early summer these plants will bear interesting edible fruit. They were also used medicinally by Native Americans.

The Deer Head Inn at Delaware Water Gap

The Deer Head Inn, a historic hotel and jazz club, is just a stones throw from the Appalachian Trail in the town of Delaware Water Gap.

 

 

 

 

Parapet View

Tobyhanna State Park – Parapet Trail

The Parapet Trail – Tobyhanna State Park

A new trail, with an interesting past.

Back in the year 1912, the area that comprises what is now Gouldsboro State Park, Tobyhanna State Park, the adjoining State Game Lands 127 and the Tobyhanna Army Depot were all part of the Tobyhanna Military Reservation. Early on, this facility was used for a tank and ambulance corps training center as well as artillery training. In 1949 the land that is now state park and state game lands was transferred over to the state of Pennsylvania. The remaining area of federal government land became what is now the Tobyhanna Army Depot.

There are some remnants of the old artillery sites still visible today. The Parapet Trail in Tobyhanna State Park will lead you to get a first hand view of these pieces of history. The parapets are rock structures used by the military to protect soldiers while firing artillery. According to a sign at the trailhead, the parapets have been restored by Mr. William Beehler. He is the grandson of the original builder of the structures, a man named Simpson.

The first artillery unit arrived in 1912. Back then, much of the forest had been clear cut. This allowed the soldiers to see better distances while training with artillery.

The Parapet trail is only a few hundred yards long at most. It would make a nice short destination for someone looking for a quick retreat into the forest without a long or difficult hike.

The trailhead is east of the main entrance of Tobyhanna State Park on SR 423. If you are driving east from the park entrance (toward SR 196) the trailhead is just past the power lines on the left. There is a small area to park and a trailhead sign with information.

For maps of Tobyhanna State Park click here.

Parapet Trail Map

A section of the map from Tobyhanna State Park that includes the Parapet Trail.

Parapet Trailhead

The Parapet Trailhead on SR 423.

Kristy on the trail.

The trail is wide and easily found.

Parapet from back

A view of the back of one of the parapets.

Parapet side

A closer view of one of the sides of a parapet gives a glimpse of some masonry restoration.

Parapet View

Another view of a parapet.

Two Parapets

A view of two parapets from the trail. They are in great shape after 100 years!

 

Gouldsboro State Park 2/28/2016

It was hard to resist going for a short hike on a spring like late February day. We hiked on the Blue Trail old entrance up to the old route 611. We took the old 611 south to just past Frame Cabin Run.

Old 611 at Gouldsboro State Park

Apples trees along the old route 611.

Hiking companions

Hiking companions for the afternoon. Kristy and Lily.

There are many interesting things along this abandoned section of road. Many apple trees and an old stone well are reminders that this land once had a different story.

Old well near the old 611 trail.

Old well near the old 611 trail.

Raptor nesting platform

Raptor nesting platform used to help breeding raptors protect and care for their young.

White birch on the trail

White birch trees growing on the sides of the old 611.

A still frozen Gouldsboro Lake.

A still frozen Gouldsboro Lake.