Salty's 11/23/2008 Trip Reports

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Distance: 4.8 miles

Low Elevation: 940 feet
High Elevation: 2600 feet
Elevation Gain: 1663 feet
Elevation Loss: 1663 feet

Start Location: Nancy Pond TH
Finish Location: Nancy Pond TH
Route: Nancy Pond Trail, Nancy Cascades, Nancy Pond Trail

Weather: Very cold and windy
Companions: (none)

Photos: http://good-times.webshots.com/album/568874549VulpMu

My wife thinks Iím nuts. My kids think Iím nuts. My friends think Iím nuts. ďYouíre going hiking this weekend????Ē Well, yeah, lots of people are. Explain again and again about how many layers Iíll have, blah, blah, blah. One friend of mine, who bartended in Franconia for some years, at least gave out advice after being incredulous. The usual things we all know already (but which we canít be too cautious in telling others about), but he did remind me that in all of my efforts to get ready, I had forgotten to strap on the sleeping bag. For a cold weekend like this, thatís a must for me. Thanks, Ron! kpmmbm and I had been PMíing about the weather for our planned Osceloa trip on Saturday, and gracefully left me a bail option. Soooo, I bailed. I just wasnít comfortable with what appeared to be socked in conditions, and a forecast of 50+ mph gusts on open ledges. kpmmbm did summit Osceola on Saturday Ė kudos! A tremendous job for the first 4k in many years! As previously said, Iíve had my eye on Nancy and Osceola lately, and the weather for Sunday looked much better, at least as far as the sun went. Winds and temps. were no better, but I wouldnít be exposed much doing the Nancy trip. Depending on conditions, I wanted to do Duck Pond Mtn, and/or Nancy, of which Iíd decide once I got up to Nancy Pond. One of the things I recently picked up were some poles, despite being perplexed at seeing the popularity of this item for some time when I got back into hiking. As time went on, I was starting to see how many places they could come in handy. This would be their test hike. I headed out of the house at 6:30 after a lazy time of doing the final prep. The ride up was uneventful until I hit 302, where the roads had some snow and ice. Twin Mtn. and Bretton Woods had a nice layer of snow on the ground, and the ride down into Crawford Notch was fairly icy. As reported elsewhere, the snow petered out the further south one got, and by the time I reached the trailhead for the Nancy Pond Trail at 8:30, there was only a light dusting. I stacked on and headed out, and quickly noted that the nice fresh layer of leaves (beech, I guess) under the dusting was a little slick. The tributary crossing comes up quickly, and here, the poles paid for themselves immediately. Half of the rocks are covered in snow and ice, and impossible to step on without traction. Had to stop and look to find a spot, and plunking the poles at the bottom of the stream really helped for balance. I had no problem keeping warm, and had to peel off layers as the hike progressed. I trudged on, but I had to pause a lot, and on moderate slopes, too, gulping for air. I could see two dusted-over sets of smaller footprints on the trail. They must have gotten a really early start. Upon reaching the first crossing of Nancy Brook, I could see this was not going to be easy. Itís maybe 10-15 feet across (Iím a lousy judge of distance), but a good chunk of the boulders were iced up. I had some brandy-new Microspikes, but again, didnít want to go through the hassle of putting them on just for this. I wandered up and down the brook a bit, still not finding anything adequate, and finally spotted a place 15 feet up or so. The trick was a big rock and a little one right next to it (both ice covered) where I could wedge my foot in between. Some more easy rock stepping did the trick. Woo hoo! I kept climbing and stopping, climbing and stopping, at one point seeing Duck Pond Mtn. ahead, and coming up further, I could see ďthe wallĒ above the cascades leading to the pond. The doubts of going forward were creeping in, but after every stop, I just kept going forward, telling myself I was getting closer to the goal, even if it was slowly. I finally arrived at the cascades, now frozen over for the most part, but with a nice low rumbling sound coursing underneath it. Time to take stock of the situation. I checked the time and was shocked to see it was 3 hours from when I started, just to get 2.4 miles up the trail. I still had a steep climb of 400 feet and a mile to get to Nancy Pond, then a Ĺ mile whack to get to Duck Pond Mtn. and back, never mind the extra distance and vertical involved in doing Nancy instead. This was just taking way too long. I just had no stamina today, and did the only sensible thing. Turn around and try to make the best of it. The trip down went quickly, sometimes a little more than I cared for. Because of the snow and leaves, I slid a few times, and upon planting my butt on the ground, decided it was absolutely time for the Holy Microspikes. Alas, for that they might fit thine feet so well at home, the cold contracteth, and maketh thy rubber not so stretchy, and impossible to adhere to thine feet. Crap. I wear a 10 Ĺ shoe, which is the border between medium and large for these things. Truth be told, they were a little tight at home (and I had heard they seem to run a little small), so Iím going to exchange them. So I took a little extra care getting out without much incident. No longer trudging up the mountain, I was seeing things I hadnít noticed on the way up. Because I was watching my footing so intently, I had missed the brick oven on the way up (despite seeing the pipe plain as day). I assume this was a kiln of sorts, the purpose of which I can only imagine would be to manufacture charcoal on the spot. But Iíve been told I lack imagination at times, so it could have been for something completely different. Ice formations grew out of the trail in spots. For lack of a better understanding of their growth, I guess Iíd call them dendrites, as they were crystalline in nature, although they grew mainly along one branch. Whatever you call them, they looked cool. At the tributary crossing, I finally noticed a deepish pool with some nice greens and blues. Ice was starting to form around the rocks, and some snow was atop of this, forming concentric rings. Looked like a large ice fungus to me The ride home was in better shape, but I was feeling grumpy that night. I was bothered at how long it took me to get up there, and at not reaching one of my goals for no apparent reason other than ďlack of staminaĒ. If I had felt off for any other reason, or the weather was getting lousy, at least thatíd be something, but I felt fine in the morning, and my legs feel surprisingly normal today. I hope to get out this weekend for something short, low and easy (Carr or Smarts comes to mind), and hopefully things are not the same and I can just write this off as a random bad day. On the other hand, Iím a firm believer in everything happens for a reason. In hindsight, it was probably a very good thing I turned around when I did. Coming down the ďheadwallĒ above the cascade could have been very, very tricky without being able to put the spikes on. The herd path to Nancy is also steep, and the whack to Duck Pond in my condition might have taken up way too much time. I thought this would be a short trip report given the shortness and lack of a summit, but I now realize Iím completely incapable of that