East Peak and Mt. Osceola Hike
Hiking/Walk DATE: 12/02/2017 - 12/02/2017
Trip/Event Location: Lincoln, NH
Meeting Time: 9:00 AM
Max # People: 15
Trip Guiding / Event Fee: No, I will not be asking participants for money
Difficulty Level: Strenuous
Mt. Osceola commands terrific views from its clifftop perch over the Waterville Valley region!
Take Exit 32 off I-93 and drive through Lincoln onto the Kancamagus Highway past Otter Rocks Rest Area and the forest service’s sign for East Pond on your right. Don’t turn off at the sign for the Greeley Ponds Cross-Country Ski Trail. Continue on to the next sign on your right, for the Greeley Ponds Trail parking. The distance from the exit to the parking area is 10.3 miles.
Jon and I met Rob, Phil and Craig at the Greeley Ponds trail head just off of the Kancamagus Highway around 9 AM. It was 26 degrees with clear skies! The parking lot was full so we had to park further up the Kancamagus Highway. It is always nice to see people out on the trail. Trail was icy in steeper sections so we made good use of some trees. MicroSpikes were enough.
The Mt. Osceola Trail is GayOutdoors’ adopted trail and because of all the downed trees that needed to be removed, we all carried saws. Our original plan was to hike both peaks because there was only a mile between them but with the time needed to cut back all the downed trees, we were expecting possibly of only reaching East Osceola. Kudos to those who cleared some of the downed trees since Halloween- amazing job!
The first 1.3 miles of Greeley Pond trail is relatively flat with a few bog bridges helping hikers from getting their boots wet before the trail begins to elevate. The major brook crossing was starting to freeze over and we easily made it across with our MicroSpikes.
Once we reached the Mt. Osceola trail junction we began working our way towards the top. The first half mile is relatively tame but then we ran into snow and ice that felt like a never ending uphill battlel. The trail does even off in some places to allow for a quick rest. The higher we climbed the more snow we encountered making us get into the Holiday Spirit!
As we continued up towards East Osceola there was a break in the trees which led to an exposed slide with scenic views. We were already tired of the uphill, and this slide definitely made us think on our feet! It was exhausting but fun as we gained the ridge along the north shoulder of East Osceola.
On the ridge, we took a right turn to enjoy the scenic overlook of the surrounding peaks. The rest of the hike up to East Osceola was fairly more gradual. This was also the location where we had to cut downed trees that a hiker would either have to duck under or climb over. There were a significant amount of chain saw sized downed trees alongside the left of the summit cairn so hikers were going to the right. We made this new route more obvious and decided to let the Forest Service assess if these downed trees needed to cut. We received lots of thanks from all hikers who passed us by!
The temperature was great at the East Osceola summit…thirty degrees. We decided to break for lunch here and since we were making good time, decided to head over to Mt. Osceola. Phil’s Achilles were exploding so he and Craig decided to turn around.
There are some nice views heading down in the col. Mount Osceola’s main peak can be seen in full view and the Pemigewasset Wilderness to the north.
The main attraction to this one mile section between both peaks is the “Chimney”, a narrow fifty foot chute that you climb up. We took the safer route called the bypass. The bypass is a rock scramble of sorts. After the bypass, the trail flattens out which provides spectacular views down into the Waterville Valley ski area and mountains that surround the town. We began to encounter people returning from the top.
We made the final push up to the summit of Mount Osceola. The summit area of Osceola has old foundations left over from an old fire tower.
We were socked in the clouds for the most part but did get some views of Waterville Valley. We took a break and enjoyed the views we could get. Except for a couple, we were the only ones on the summit. When we started to descend we did get a killer views of the Tripyramids!
The hike back down and up East Osceola went quickly but we did stop a couple of times to remove some downed trees. The Chimney bypass was tricky to descend but we all got down safely.
The hike down from East Osceola was done carefully as the ice was a bit treacherous. As we approached the Greeley Ponds Trail junction we noticed how much warmer the temperature became and enjoyed the final mile and a half back to the trailhead.
It ended up being a great day clearing downed trees from our adopted trail and enjoying some pretty sweet views! The weather cooperated with no snow, rain, sleet or wind!
After a month away from hiking up 4,000 footers it was great to get back into it. We can’t wait for our next hike, Mount Major!
~ Mike Boisvert
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Robert.L Dec 4, 2017 at 1:54 PM
A brilliant time with equally brilliant company - thanks gentlemen!! Welcome Craig to Gay Outdoors!! It brings me to life to be outdoors and breathe the beauty of nature! Until the next adventure - cheers mates!!