Sunday, February 05, 2012

Super Sunday for the Shortest of the Tall

I've never felt any burning desire to hike Mt Tecumseh.  It sits down there at the bottom of the list of 4000 footers seeming like an afterthought.  It has a ski area on it's side that makes it far from a wilderness experience.  The descriptions of the nearly viewless summit don't add to attraction.  Then again, its location makes it one of the easier spots to access for a day trip from RI and it is on "the list" so we were going to get to it eventually.  With two months since our last hike up north and no snow down here we really needed to get back.  We also needed to break in the new winter boots that Nat and I both bought a few weeks ago and haven't had an opportunity to wear yet.  With a great weather forecast for Super Bowl Sunday and a shortened  time window if I wanted to get back for game time, Tecumseh seemed like the perfect choice.

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

Mt Moosilauke

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:

Some views of the route.


  1. Mark . . . good to read that after a 2-month intermission, you and Nat were able to enjoy a nice winter hike in the Whites. It's also good to read that you included the Sosman viewpoint in your trek. It doesn't take that much longer to incorporate it, and it's well-worth the small bit of extra time.


  2. Excellent! Congrats on 34! Nice to see that you were able to get out after two months. Mt. Tecumseh was my 3rd 4000 footer (now over a year ago), and it's due again very soon for round #2. I didn't have the views you were able to witness though. If I don't get to it this winter, I will just get to try it in the summer.

  3. I love this post for a few reasons. First it seems that you have the end of the list in your sights! Second the list seemed to help you find an awesome mountain that you would not have otherwise found. I finished my list this past October and the experience changed my life. I also like this post because I just skied at Waterville Valley and can't wait to go back!

  4. Mark, Congrats on bagging my favorite peak! Seriously, I'm fond of Tecumseh for many reasons, some sentimental, some practical.

    Nice report and beautiful photographs!

  5. Congrats! It really isn't that bad of a hike, and perfect for a quick day. You had a great day, too, judging by the photos you took. My snowshoes got a free ride on my recent hike there, too.

  6. Looks like a good hike - nice pictures