Member Trip report
Snowshoeing the Osceolas (Lincoln, NH)
Trip Report/Photos from shep5
After the White Mountains received another foot of fresh snow this week, I headed up to hike the Osceolas. I arrived at the trailhead for the Greeley Ponds Trail off of the Kancamagus Highway (Route 112) at just before 8AM. There were already 4-5 cars in the lot, so I knew that I wouldn't have to break the trail. It was overcast, but the temperatures were relatively mild. I quickly got ready with snowshoes and started up the trail at 8:10AM.
The Greeley Ponds Trail was fairly easy, as it heads up towards Mad River Notch. Along the way I passed a family just out on a snowshoe hike out to the ponds. As I passed them the trail was still well-broken out, so there were still a number of hikers ahead of me. I reached the junction with the Mount Osceola Trail by 8:40 and turned onto this trail. As the trail headed west towards the ridge, it began a modest climb. The trail turned south as it parallelled the steep ledges above. At about 9:15 the trail once again turned westward and began a steeper climb up to East Osceola. As I climbed there were views down into the notch and by 9:30 I was at the part of the trail, where it began to parallel a slide. As the trail continued to steepen, it was getting a little difficult to get good footing and my snowshoes were slipping on occasion. By 9:50 I reached the top of the slide at which point the trail crossed it and continued to climb. Here I ran into a guy, who was just climbing East Osceola. There were wonderful views across the notch, to the Tripyramids to the southeast and to the Hancocks and Carrigain to the northeast. The clouds were beginning to break up and the sun was occasionally breaking through. After this point it was only another 10 minutes until I reached the junction with the spur trail out to a view. As I popped out of the woods, I was met with a very strong wind (25-35 mph). Despite this the view towards the peak and ridge was fantastic. I stayed out there only briefly and then headed back into the woods and continued my climb up East Osceola. There was a southeastern view just before the summit (4156'), which I reached at 10:25AM.
As the trail continued, it began a rather steep descent towards the col. This was relatively easy, except for the spots where snow-laden, bent trees were blocking the trail. Along the way, there were good views up towards Osceloa and to the Pemigewasset Wilderness. I reached the "Chimney" at about 10:45 and this was a really challenge. Even the by-pass trail was difficult to climb. Here I ran into three hikers (a couple from the Adirondacks and a woman from NH). At the top of the Chimney the views were fantastic...back towards E. Osceola and into Waterville Valley. As we all continued, we finally ran into two men who were in the lead. They had stopped being totally tired from breaking trail. As there were now six of us, there were three of us who took turns taking the lead. The trail was quite obscurred with all of the bent-over trees, but we continued climbing, even though we may not have been on the trail all the time. Still, it was comforting to occasionally run across a blaze, so we weren't too far off. We pushed on and by 11:45, we reached the open ledge on the summit of Mt. Osceola (4340'). By this time the skies were mostly blue now and the views were spectacular. Proceeding a little further to the east I reached the actual summit and the small ledge view to the north. Even Mt. Washington was out of the clouds! While we all continued to chat, I grabbed a light snack.
At about 12:10PM, I started to backtrack along the trail, as I was getting cold standing up on the summit. Now having broke the trail, the progress back was so much easier! I was passing a number of hikers still heading up and in a half-hour I was at the "Chimney" again. This time someone had created a bushwhack route around it, which was much easier. By about 1PM, I was again passing over East Osceola and by 1:20 I was starting down the steep descent back down to Mad River Notch. I tried to just carefully hike this for a while and then I just gave in and butt-slid it. This was awesome. I don't think, that I've ever lost as much elevation so quickly by just sliding. The snow pack was just right for it. I had to abruptly stop a couple of times, to get out of the way of hikers still making their way up. I reached the trail junction for the Greeley Ponds Trail again by 2PM. From here it took me another 40 minutes to reach my car again.
What an awesome day out! I wasn't looking forward to breaking trail again this weekend, but sharing the responsibility with other hikers made it tolerable. The views were incredible and the slide down East Osceola was a blast!
Total mileage and elevation gain: 7.6 miles with approximately 3040 feet in cumulative elevation gain.
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