Anti-Avy Adventure

Our "summit" for the night
Zeusdaddy photo used with permission, please respect all copyrights

Special Thanks to Guest Trip Reporter EWB:

Spring: The New Winter!

So sayeth ZeusDaddy after surveying the surreal arctic conditions surrounding us upon our return to the summer trail. And it was funny, because it was true. The calendar said April 14th, but the weather said January 10th. Or February 3rd. It was deep winter with falling snow, a cold wind, variously vacating extremities, and multiple feet of mostly unconsolidated Cascade slop. And there in the middle of it all, on a lonely and darkening trail on Mt Washington, stood a handful of the TNAB faithful. On snowshoes. Heads bent against the stinging snow. Enjoying every minute of it.

It began badly enough, in a steady cold rain alongside Homestead Valley Road, below the Olallie State Park parking lot, which is inexplicably reserved for “day use only”. There ZeusDaddy (sans Zeus and Athena), Larry (plus Digger), GQ Hiker, Weimar Steve (and the pups), and I changed into our hiker boyz uniforms and hit the trail. Larry took off a little early, Steve a little late, but we all arrived at the Owl Hike Spot at about the same time. Blessedly, about half way there, the rain and ground both turned to snow, the former as large graceful flakes, the latter as easy trekking slush over a fairly firm trench.

Altogether we proceeded to and over the creek, around the switchback and up to the second creek crossing. The faint trench we’d been following faded, except for the path beaten down by ZeusDaddy’s snowshoes, which he’d donned a couple hundred yards before. Larry and I climbed into our snowshoes at this point, too, while ZeusDaddy began smashing trail straight uphill, followed by GQ Hiker and Steve in post-holie boots. Larry and I were soon shod and stomping up ZeusDaddy’s track, ogling Steve and GQ Hiker’s knee-deep post-holes. Before long we caught GQ Hiker, who had stopped to put on his shoes, and shortly after we all caught ZeusDaddy and Steve at the road near the pond.

Here we learned of Steve’s plan to turn back. His excuse was that he’d forgotten his headlamp. Of course, we all carry extras and offered them up, but he demurred, saying, “Yeah, I figured you all would have spares, so I also forgot my snowshoes.” Touché, Mr. I’d-rather-eat-dinner-with-my-wife. We bid Steve and the pups adieu and proceeded up the road toward its intersection with the north ridge.

ZeusDaddy laid track for us like a machine, ceaselessly cutting into a foot or more of barely supportive goo. After a while he stepped aside and I led, realizing for the first time the extreme effort required (and this on a now very gentle grade). This was short lived, though, as my stride proved too short for these Giants of the Northwest. Joseph soon moved out front and led us to the hard left turn around the ridge, which proved too messy to ascend. On good advice from Larry we retreated a bit then turned right and put ZeusDaddy to work again, this time swimming up the slope in waist-deep mush cutting a path into the trees.

After we wore out our ZeusDaddy plow, GQ Hiker and Larry moved into the lead, kicking a way for us up and around the trees until finally, after much thrashing, they found the spine of the more gentle north ridge. From there we meandered along the ridge, captivated by its beautifully flocked trees, tripping over its many hidden man-traps, until finally exhausting our time and turning for home around 800′ below the summit.

GQ Hiker marked the turn-around spot by falling into a waist-deep tree well and getting his right snowshoe caught. While he struggled to dig himself out, we checked out our surroundings, consulted maps, added layers, got drinks and snacks, and such. After a while we took pity on him and dove in to help free his foot, then watched as he spent even more time digging out the shoe. It was suggested that we mark a GPS waypoint and come back for it in the summer, but he finally got it out, though one of his poles didn’t survive the melee.

After a couple of pics and some final thoughts, we headed back, with Larry and Digger out front. The return was mostly uneventful, with only minor thrills coming off the ridge to the old road. The going was considerably easier and quicker in our well packed trench. Soon we were back at the pond, then down to the summer trail, where in addition to noting Spring’s new winter gig, ZeusDaddy also pointed out how well we could still see without headlamps after 8:30PM. And this too was funny, because it was true, and a little sad. If it weren’t for the wind and snow and cold one might have thought summer, with its long long days, was nearly upon us.

The shoes were dropped and headlamps lit just before the creek crossing, and the rest of the descent was a long quiet contemplative march. Later, at the Pour House, stories were shared, plans made, beers drunk, and fries and chicken tenders eaten. Well, except for that last one, because it looked eerily like Joe Camel.

By the numbers, it was 6.8 miles roundtrip and 2,325′ of gain. By the adventure, it was one to remember.

Scott Plows Mt WA
Ewb photo used with permission, please respect all copyrights

Trail details, NOAA weather, driving directions, maps and past trip reports can be found here: Mt Washington Info

5 Responses to “Anti-Avy Adventure”

  1. ZeusDaddy says on :

    That chicken strip did look like Joe Camel… that was really weird!

  2. Ingunn says on :

    No photos of the chicken tender??

  3. ewb says on :

    @Ingunn: No, I’m afraid we were so mesmerized by the uncanny likeness (and confounded by the beer) that we didn’t think to memorialize it with a picture. However, we did get independent confirmation from Kim. It probably still haunts her dreams. Btw, I’ve begun smoking chicken nuggets. Unfiltered.

  4. Josh says on :

    Hi TNAB, the last couple weeks I’ve done a couple of the hikes you’ve done in the past. I’d love to do a trail at the same time as you this Thursday. What is the best way to find out where this week’s hike is? Cheers, Josh

  5. Jo says on :

    Josh, I’ll shoot you an email containing our schedule for this season ~Jo