Hiked: Saturday, April 24, 2021
Ah, a fresh range of mountains to explore. When I first moved to Boston, I knew there would be adventures abound in new mountain ranges. Even though I grew up in New York, I didn’t do a ton of hiking growing up, so the East Coast outdoors are pretty new to me. Before my move back east, I started making an East Coast Bucket List of places to explore. I keep a running list of places I want to go (let’s be serious, I keep MANY lists in digital, handwritten, spreadsheet, journal, and mental forms lol)… just in case I run out of ideas and need a reference for something to do (never happens, but I use the lists anyway).
When I began exploring options on the East Coast, I stumbled upon the 48 peaks above 4000 feet in New Hampshire, AKA the “NH 48.” These mountains are located in the White Mountain National Forest (WMNF) – an area of the United States I’ve left entirely untouched. Extending from New Hampshire to Western Maine, the White Mountains contain 1200 miles of hiking trails in over 800,000 acres of land! In WMNF, you can be a leaf peeper, camper, bird-watcher, fisher, peak bagger, hunter, or climber. It’s also home to some WILD weather, with Mount Washington holding the record for highest wind ever recorded on EARTH (a whippin’ 231 MILES PER HOUR) in April 1934.
In summary, my curiosity was piqued. I have spent a few winter nights reading the “White Mountain Guide” book from Appalachian Mountain Club, weather/snow reports, and sites, such as the aptly named 4000footers.com (love it). With Spring in the air and snow beginning to melt, it was time to see what all the fuss about the ‘Whites’ is about! With my adventure buddy, Amy, we decided to climb the shortest peak on the NH48 list – Mount Tecumseh. Our inclination was correct… shortest, but pretty steep. With over 2000 feet climbed in 2.5 miles, it was a nice climb without switchbacks. (Not quite Washington’s Mailbox Peak with 960 feet of elevation gain in half a mile… but still pretty spicy for the legs.)
Read on for my trip report of Mount Tecumseh on Saturday, April 24, 2021! Also, let’s just admire how quickly I’m getting this trip report published. Thank you, hehe.
Distance: 5.2 miles (round trip)
Elevation Gain: 2,283 feet
Highest Elevation: 4003 feet
Route: Out and back; Mount Tecumseh trail up & down. In the off season, you can also walk the ski trail down (follow Sosman trail x 0.6 miles).
Drive from Boston: 2 hours, 15 minutes
Parking/TH: Waterville Valley Ski area off Tripoli Road; LOTS of parking spots (win!)
Weather/Conditions: Sunny and 70 at the bottom (mm, the smell of sunscreen!), finger-numbing and ~50/breezy at the summit. Snow started at 1.2 miles in. Trekking poles was a solid choice. Micro-spikes would have been nice, too… haha.
Highlights: FIRST summit of the NH48 (woot!), 6-month-old Golden Retriever at the summit that I wanted to take home, never-ending staircase (debatable if this is a highlight or not).
Located in the Sandwich Range, Mount Tecumseh neighbors/shares a home with the Waterville Valley Ski area. I was surprised by the amount of snow on this hike, which made me think carrying skis up could have been worth it… hm, maybe an idea for future adventures. Plus, standing glissades are basically skiing… and this is primarily how Amy and I descend the mountain, considering the lack of traction on our feet. It’s not often that I have gear envy, but every time I saw microspikes on someone’s feet, I thought… “Cute, must be fun.”
Parking was a breeze at the Trailhead, which my GPS pointed out upon arrival. “Your destination is on your right” has never aligned with a trailhead sign so perfectly. Well done, Google Maps. I figure the ski season may make parking more challenging, depending on how busy the ski area can be.
Today was the perfect day to test my Mountain Hardware sun hoodie, considering it was basically summer at the base! We started hiking in 70-and-sunny weather, which inspire my Reggae playlist during the drive to the TH. Once we started on the path, I thought Amy announced that we had climbed 18 feet. I thought, Oh boy, we are going to be counting a lot today… turns out, she was instead saying it was 11:18AM at the time we started. It just so happened this coincided with my watch saying we climbed 18 feet. Silly Kristen.
The beginning of the trail was mixed dust and mud. I heard the shoulder seasons in the White Mountains could make for muddy paths and this was no exception! The trail starts with a stream crossing right away and there is not a single sound of motor vehicles throughout the whole hike. Just flowing water over rocks and the steps below our feet. Mmmm, mountain serenity. I definitely needed this sense of calm, considering the morning I had. I woke up in a frenzy, feeling all discombobulated. I was dropping stuff, forgetting stuff, and running late. We decided to get a late start to the day so we could each sleep in, considering the stress we’ve been carrying from work and life. It was a great idea, but my “slow morning” was just plain SILLY. Eventually, I got all my stuff into my car and we arrived at the trailhead in one piece. GREAT success.
At 1 mile into the trail, there is a stream crossing at a beautiful waterfall. The path down to the falls is where the snow began. It was a slippery path to get down, but nothing too serious. An older gentleman passed us, warning us there was “much more snow ahead.” We shrugged our shoulders and kept walking. About 0.25 miles later, we understood what this man was talking about. At 1.2 miles, we began walking in consistent snow. Amy opted to leave her micro-spikes in the car (“there can’t be that much snow, right?”) and I
decided forgot my micro-spikes at home. There are very limited times I’ve actually used the spikes because kick steps and plunge steps were usually possible. Yet, the depth of snow on this hike combined with the angle of the incline would have been a perfect time to use them. Oh well. We carried on and only had a few falls… one which landed me right on my behind. #winning
The trail went up… and up… and up… and pretty much just straight up. No switchbacks. Just… up. Our trekking poles were clutch in the ascent and we took a few breaks to catch our breath/discuss how many Super Sour Scandinavian Swimmers and Gummy Tummies we would eat at the summit. Important details here, folks. (Side Note: Living across the street from Trader Joe’s has its perks. BEST SNACKS.)
At 0.3 miles from the summit, the path became relatively flat and it felt like we were on a moving walkway after all the climbing and climbing. We reached a sign with arrows pointing right [yellow] and left [blue] to the Summit. Choose your own adventure, how fun! We opted to go right (yellow) at the fork, which was definitely steeper and had a few rocks to shimmy up. We were trailing behind a group with a German Shepherd named Tito (yes, after the Vodka… complete with a Tito’s collar and all) as we considered whether the trip could get ANY more interesting.
More interesting it became. The summit was a giant rock with a giant conglomeration of a very diverse crowd. There were SO MANY DOGS, including a 6-month-old Golden Retriever that I would have loved to take home with me. It wasn’t super peaceful, nor was it a full view. Yet, seeing the snowy Mount Washington to the northeast was well worth it. At the summit, I had a PB&J sandwich… because, you know, Tecumseh is in the Sandwich Range. Sorry, I had to. We snacked on our Trader Joe’s-sponsored rewards until we realized our hands were numb. The temperature dropped ~20 degrees from the summery vibes at the trailhead. Once we got our photos (classic cairn pic included!), we began the descent. It took us 1 hour 36 minutes to climb, then 1 hour 16 minutes to descend.
We took the yellow trail for 0.3 miles from the summit, which was more tame and less rocky/steep than the blue path. Our walk/slide/shuffle down the snowy path was definitely adventurous. I am grateful for having skiers legs because I did a standing glissade/skiing in trail runners for about 40% of the path. We snuck off the trail a little to plunge step in steeper snow, which was way easier than trying not to slip and fall on a rock (still managed to do that).
Our day was completed when we returned to the parking lot, with muddy shoes (and a muddy butt for me), smiles on our face, and a sense of serenity only mountains can provide.
I am grateful for new mountains to explore.
Peak 1/48 DONE!