The weather forecast for Sunday had continued to improve all week and by the time we left was pretty much ideal for a winter day in the mountains. When we pulled into the already full ski area lot at 8:30 the temperature was a balmy 8 degrees, there wasn't a breath of wind, and the skies were the shade of deep azure that only come on this kind of winter day. We fiddled around for while readjusting to the winter gear that we hadn't used for almost 2 years and by the time we got on the trail it was a bit after 9:00. The trees were all bare with no recent snow but there's plenty on the ground and the trails the entire way were a white hard packed sidewalk. We wore microspikes from car to car and never considered taking our snowshoes off of our packs (as much as we would have liked to).
There was hardly anyone else there on Sunday (other than skiers) and we only met a few people on the trail all day. We enjoyed the trip to the top and took our time with our somewhat out of shape hiking legs. It was really nice to be on a snow covered mountain after so long away.
Snowy woods and blue skies
Following the white sidewalk
Views to the Tripyramids over the ski trails
Just before we reached the ridge we looked up and found we had a visitor. He seemed to be alone but shortly his two legged companions showed up and they took off ahead of us toward the summit. Nothing happier than a dog bounding up a snowy trail.
The ridge trail was packed out almost as well as the rest so the snowshoes stayed put away. We headed across the ridge toward the summit and decided to take the counterclockwise loop option to get the steeper section of the Mt Tecumseh trail for the way up. Good choice (although it wouldn't really have been bad the other way). The trail along the loop was a bit less well packed and sadly there were several kittens that were sacrificed along the way. ;-)
Skyline along the ridge
Wait, the summit is which way?
Mt Tecumseh Trail loop
A few steep bits before the summit
We were quickly on the summit and got new appreciation for just how beautiful "viewless" can be. Perhaps it isn't this good in the summer, but today is was nothing short of spectacular. We spent a long time having lunch and soaking in the view before packing up to head back.
Tripyramids spread across the horizon
Snow covered Presidentials peeking over Carrigain and the Osceolas
Nat enjoys the views from the summit ledges
Mt Tecumseh makes #34 (and winter #3)
It seems we've been followed. Wonder what he wants...
We started to get cold after the long break and reluctantly packed up and headed out. The Sosman Trail side of the loop proved to be an easy walk down and it a few minutes we were back at the junction. We headed off across the ridge to check out the views that were promised along the Sosman. I love walking mountain ridges - including the wooded ones - and this was no exception. Just a beautiful walk in the snowy woods with a couple of very notable exclamation points for punctuation.
Sosman Trial side of summit loop
Mt Tecumseh summit from the Sosman
Franconia Ridge, Cannon and Kinsman Ridge from Sosman viewpoint
Frosted trees along the ridge
Franconia Ridge and Garfield peeking over Owl's Head
The trail to the top of the ski slopes at the end of Sosman was unbroken and we decide to not head out there for the views (figuring we'd done pretty well already). The walk back across the ridge was quick and we soon turned back down the Mt Tecumseh trail for the way down. Right about then I noticed that one of my mittens had fallen out of my pocket (note to self - when you find yourself thinking "I really should zip those pockets so that the mittens don't fall out" you should probably do it). I turned around a jogged back up along the ridge and finally found the missing culprit at the turn-off for the viewpoint. It was a good excuse to get one more look. I was back to the junction in 10 minutes and found Nat soaking up the warmth in a nice sunny spot. The rest of the way down was easy and we actually jogged much of it (which may not have been the best decision considering how my knees felt the next day). The only bad part of the day was discovering that my new boots (Garmont Momentum GTX) were wonderfully comfortable on the way up, but jammed my toes with every step on the way down. I tried relacing them several times to no avail and between banged up toes and a large blister I'm afraid that they're going back and my search for a pair of winter boots will continue.
Shadow paintings on the trails down
End of a lovely walk in the woods
We were back at the car at 2:00 and the drive home was easy. Back at 5:30 with plenty of time to shower and change and head to my friend's house in time for the opening kickoff. Watching that fantastic game and having the Giants bring home another Super Bowl title was the icing on the cake to end a perfect day! (Yes, I like in New England and am a die hard lifelong Giants fan).
So in the end it appears that being the "shortest of the tall" is not such a bad thing to be. The hike was great and the views were amazing. It also proved a point for me in my ongoing love-hate relationship with "the list". If we weren't pursuing the list we might never have done this hike (and some others that we've done along the way as well). I sure was happy that it lead us here this time and haven't been disappointed with any others either. 14 more to go in this quest and then there will be other lists, new peaks and many old friends to visit again.
All the pictures are here: https://picasaweb.google.com/114856685929776719960/MtTecumseh2512#
Some views of the route.