Sunday, January 04, 2009

Cardigan New Year's Weekend - 1/2 - 1/4/09

We spent a wonderful New Year's weekend at Cardigan Lodge. First time at Cardigan (and the only AMC facility outside Carter Notch Hut that we hadn't visited). It was wonderful! Cardigan used to be self service in the winter but this year added a meal plan on weekends so we were treated to the always excellent AMC gourmet fare (if you haven't experienced Shem's eggs you'll just have to go there and see for yourself). Thanks to Pat, Tom and Russ (the Croo) for a most excellent job!!!

Got there on Friday at about noon and headed out for the first hike. Our daughter decided that hanging out at the lodge and reading a book was better than snoeshoeing so she hung out at the lodge while Nat and I hiked. We did a loop to Welton Falls which was just spectacular. It's a 2.5 mile RT almost completely along the Fowler River on the Lower Manning Trail. I've never seen anything like the color of the ice that covered the river. It was a surreal translucent green that I couldn't reasonably discern the reason for (glad for input on this). The pictures don't do it justice. The trail was beautiful (including the unplanned glissade down one section) and was capped off with a cable railed boulder cave over the head of the falls (very cool). The river crossing was a bit intimidating at first since it appeared that nobody else had crossed there. Other than dunking my boots in the slush on the far side shore all was well. The falls were spectacular with the frozen pool below.

Welton Falls - you had to be there to appreciate it...

When we got back to the lodge we dragged Jamie out for some sledding on the hill next to the lodge. Suffice it to say that we all added a couple of bruises to the collection. If you haven't ever seen something called a Swiss Bob you've got to check it out. I'm going to have one strapped to my back for all winter hikes in the future. This thing has been sitting in our shed for I don't know how many years and I had no idea how much fun it was. 

The Cardigan Lodge sled hill

The Swiss Bob is really fast!

And flies high!

And yes, I did it too...

On Saturday the weather was better than forecast - sunny blue skies all day - and we convinced Jamie to strap on the snowshoes and join us. With Tom's (the caretaker) advice we headed up the Manning trail to Firescrew. It was very quiet (deserted) and beautiful. We got to the ledges just below the summit and decided that based on the iciness (we just had shoeshoes and no other traction) and the really strong winds that it was time to head back. Going down we passed our local AMC chapter heading up (which was a surprise since they were supposed to be at Monadnock - which was closed after the ice storm). It is definitely a small world in NE. This was a great hike even without the summit and after hearomg accounts from others who went over the summits and were "nearly blown off" I didn't feel bad about missing it.

Jamie agreed to go

But we apparently killed her

First views of Cardigan from the ledges below Firescrew

The icy ledges are saying "go back..."

Evening fire over Firescrew

Sunday was an even nicer day than Saturday with a bit warmer temps and lighter winds. Jamie was content to stay at the lodge and read again so Nat and I headed up the Holt/Cathedral Forrest/Clark route to Cardigan. This was an even nicer hike than Saturday. We stopped at PJ's Ledge just below Cardigan summit since we'd promised Jamie when we'd be back and we'd already hit the killer view spot. The Whites were spread out at before us with a view that just takes your breath away. We strapped our snowshoes back on (bare booted on the way up) and coasted back down to the end of a perfect weekend.

Morning light on Cardigan

Beautiful morning on the Cathedral Forrest Trail

A couple of challenges on the trail...

Worth the climb!!!

On top of the world!

Cardigan may not technically be the Whites, but it's a wonderful mountain and we'll definitely be back!

Cardigan and Firescrew over the Lodge

Complete photo album here: