Skookumchuck Trail To Mt Lafayette
Spring Solo Hike---With Snow

Report

I'd done Skookumchuck in Fall (after Thanksgiving) and in spring with lots of postholing. This time was very fun, with snowshoes needed to break trail above 2500' elevation. I made it to the last leg before hitting Garfield Ridge in just over 3 hours and finally reached the summit at 4.5 hours, after bushwhacking to reach Garfield Ridge. Stupendously clear above treeline; windy but not too cold. The trail gets really closed in on the the upper parts, and I lost it a couple times. Breaking out at treeline, I headed up rather than diagonally to Garfield Ridge Trail. (Well, I didn't actually see the trail at that point, but the objective was clear.) The summit views, with white peaks against blue sky, were tremendous.

map

The day was near freezing and windy at the top. The ascent took 4.5 hours up, including a few excursions off trail when I couldn't find the blue blazes. I was preceeded by a barebooter up to 2500' where the fresh snow started. Beyond there, I wore snowshoes with tails. Not many drifts until the treeline. Nearing the top the wind picked up but was manageable throughout. I met one other hiker on the ridge; he had come up Osseo and across the entire Franconia Ridge. I thought my 7am start was a push; I wonder when he started? The 4 miles to the ridge felt long, especailly because of breaking trail, but the woods was quiet and simply a wonderland of snow and frost. Groovy! I saw a wandering moose cross the path at ~3000' elevation. He'd been there recently and before the Thursday/Friday snow.

I saw a few people at the summit, but nobody on Skookumchuck until I met a couple with bare boots ascending iin my tracks after I had come down 1.5 hours. They were NOT prepared, a rarity on these trails, and were sinking deep with each step. I could not hold back a recommendation to turn around. On the descent, my left snowshoe kept irritating my foot. I had to stop for a taping job on my tarsal arch to comfort the blister. They worked fine after that, especially since I removed the tails and adjusted the straps.

Summary: 10.2 miles over 7.75 hours up and down Skookumchuck Trail to Mt Lafayette, 3927' elevation gain (felt it!), wonderful day

--Fred (aka tarpman)
previous next Fred's Home 18 images
Unbroken Skookumchuck
Unbroken Skookumchuck
The one person who had traveled the trail recently turned back at ~2500' elev
Broken Skookumchuck
Broken Skookumchuck
I wore my tails
fresh snow everywhere
fresh snow everywhere
Looking up
Looking up
not yet at the top---more to go
Narrowing trail
Narrowing trail
I should have put on my jacket to keep the snow off
hoar frost
hoar frost
really gorgeous
nearing top
nearing top
cloudless sky
in the lee on Mt Lafayette
in the lee on Mt Lafayette
wide-angle view of Presidentials
wide-angle view of Presidentials
Franconia Ridge
Franconia Ridge
say a few people doing Bridle Path/Falling Waters
Garfield Ridge Trail
Garfield Ridge Trail
bushwhacked at top, retraced my route
Mt Washington dominant
Mt Washington dominant
such a contrast
East view just below Lafayette
East view just below Lafayette
windy but getting warmer---3 layers on
Descending with Presidentials in view
Descending with Presidentials in view
My trail at treeline
My trail at treeline
Bushwhacked near the top, unable to follow trail
Below Garfield Ridge
Below Garfield Ridge
Heading down
Heading down
I decided to follow my bushwhack back do wn
Moosilaukee in the blurry distance
Moosilaukee in the blurry distance
tried shutter priority, still wrong focus distance.