2006-05-23 10:13:56.000 – Cindy Terry, Summit Volunteer
Snowshoes in May!!!
What a wonderful way to wake up in the morning! We are seeing intermittent sunshine! My stay here, sadly, is almost coming to an end. We have been fogged in for the last week but regressed to winter-like conditions over the last three days. Upon walking around the summit, there are piles that are up the eves of some buildings. I keep thinking, I’m gonna roast when I get back to Pennsylvania.
I had one of the most exciting hikes in my five years as a volunteer up here last Sunday. Jim told me we had a window where the summit would be clear. Taking the Observatory radio, I decided to hike down to the headwall of Huntingdon Ravine and back up the summit cone via Tuckerman. There was the usual snow pack above Huntington that made foot plants and poling essential. Where were my skis? Since I had hiked to the bottom of Huntington the previous week from Pinkham Notch, I was curious to see how far into the Ravine I had hiked. From the headwall, I spotted a two-story boulder at the Alpine level that marked my turn around point. Discouragingly, there would have been much more to hike to get to the Fan. Seeing the gray clouds come flying over the Cow Pasture, I quickly went on my way down the Alpine Garden Trail.
The spring run off was awesome especially above Raymond Cataract. Here it started spitting sleet. I meet a group of five hikers on the far side of Raymond who seemed intent in hiking DOWN Huntington. I told them this was a very bad, bad idea and even in good weather, hiking UP is dangerous. They listened!
Snow clouds made the view down into Tuckerman a striking backdrop to the green at Hermit Lake Hut and spring foliage of the valley. No skiers today. At the Tuckerman trail up the summit cone, it was very, very wet. Better going up than down when the snow starts to accumulate. One of the perks about hiking from the summit is that you usually hike up when you are the most tired… which is much safer footing than going down. Even in wet, heavy snow conditions.
With the winds kicking up, there was icing on the west side of the cairns and me. I checked in with Jim via radio and was assured that the most severe weather was to the south of us. At no time was I cold and I felt the money spent attaining proper foul weather gear was well worth it. I respect the mountain and its moody changes. Even my spring hikes consist of survival gear although it makes for a heavier pack.
The summit cone is always strenuous pitch but in a partial white-out, you have no concept of how far you are except the distance to the next few cairns. It was with real surprise that I saw the summit trail head sign. All signs of truck tracks had been covered by spindrift and the State Park crew had left early for the day. Dripping wet, thawing out, and grateful for warm and dry, I relayed my day’s wanderings to the crew.
I would like to thank my family, especially my husband Dale. Without his help with my son Padriac at home, I would not be able to make this marvelous journey every year. I get much more out of this than I can repay anyone here. You really should try it!!!!
Again, here are some pics from the crew this morning
Cindy Terry, Summit Volunteer