Mt Garfield With Gale River Overnight
2013 Apr 6-7

Report (and bonus poses of Tarpy with gear)


Day 1: Presidentials to Franconia Ridge Viewed from the Mt Garfield summit
Click once to get full field; click again to get higher resolution and pan across image.
Panorama


mapThe hike was a return to Tarpy's namesake and a repeat of a summer hike with my son-in-law Jason Shelkowitz. With a cozy overnight at the junction of the Garfield Ridge and Gale River Trails, the two-day hike had both easy and grueling parts. The hike up Garfield Trail was the easy part, as I reached the Garfield Ridge Trail after 3.5 hours, well under book time on a well-trampled trail. The grueling part was the up-and-down Garfield Ridge Trail---2.1 miles in about 2 hours---using a single previous hiker's footsteps. Overall, it was a fun hike, with some other contrasts noted below.

After leaving late to reach camp in later afternoon, I started up at 10am along the Gale River Road to the Garfield Trail. (The road walks to start and end are my least favorite parts of the hike, but at least the bridge has been repaired, elimnating the bushwhack.) The initial slow pace is my new method to avoid later fatigue. I put on microspikes at the car, as the road was snow covered, and wore them throughout, even though the initial trail had some bare spots. On the ridge, the snow is >2' deep still. The trail was well trampled due partly to some families with younger kids marching ahead of me. I met them at the top, still going strong. Sweet! I met one other pair who had slept at the Garfield shelter, my presumed destination. The day was clear and cool, but I was down to one layer early with my 37-lb pack (weighed at home after the hike). I dropped the pack at the first junction, layered on, and went to the windy Garfield summit for some great vistas (see panorama above) The detailed map shows some historic features. Since the day was young, I opted to do the Garfield Ridge Trail, which doesn't seem long (at 2.1 miles) until you get on it. It is up and down, over and over again. When I finally reached the Gale River Trail junction, I was ready to camp (Translation: stop hiking!).map

I carried out Tarpy's plan: remove the top layer of snow with my snow shoes (their only use!), pile it around the area just big enough for my sleeping arrangement, lay on the tarp with a trekking pole rafter, and make the cocoon tight with snow over the tarp. Inside, I put down the Tyvek bivy, built my sleeping nest, including the parka-sleeping-bag-bottom inside layer. As I was getting cozy for dinner, a solo hiker happened by and inquired about the condition of the Garfield Ridge Trail. After I related my traverse, he opted to go down the Gale River Trail and then called his wife to give his status. Well, that was an eye-opener for me. I guess cell phone reception is available high up, so I'll have to reform and call in. It was definitely cold because I had to keep putting my gloves on. I cooked my dinner, poured the hot liquid into the Nalgene bottle for inside my sleeping bag (Thanks again for the idea, Mike), and I was ready to sleep at 6:30pm. After two calls of nature in the night, I had to unzip my outer bag part way because I was too hot. By morning the temperature had risen to 23 deg F, which seemed balmy. After heating the water for breakfast, I managed to tip over the pot into the snow, but I reheated the snowy mixture and had watered-down warm tea for the hike out.

The hike down on the Gale River Trail and Gale River Road took just under 3 hours. Steve Smith and I came up and down on this trail in 2011.

Summary: ~15 miles over 24 hours, 3600 elevation rise to Mt Garfield and then the up and down of Garfield Ridge, cozy sleepover at Garfield Ridge/Gale River junction
--Fred (aka tarpman)
previous next Fred's Home 9 images
Garfield Trail Stream
Garfield Trail Stream
sunlit
Franconia Ridge from Mt Garfield
Franconia Ridge from Mt Garfield
windy, clear, cool, brilliant
Morning in camp
Morning in camp
Packing up, 23 deg, after cozy night
Easy walking
Easy walking
Coming down Gale River
Gale River
Gale River
downhill, open, easy trail
Pose 1
Pose 1
Pose 2
Pose 2
Pose 3
Pose 3
Pose 4
Pose 4