Winter is the season of my discontent. Colds, flus, injuries tend to bring my hiking to a decent halt. So it was no surprise on Friday when I crouched in front of the wood stove, as I have innumerable times over the years, that my knee made a funny noise, and then hurt like hell. Sigh. Up and down the stairs at work, sometimes it was good, other times it was quite painful. Sigh. So much for the Pilots on Saturday. Hopeful a day of rest would help, we scheduled East Scar Ridge as it was nice and short, and bunching it with Rosebrook (aka Bretton Woods) quickly snuck in.
On the bright side, E. Scar was the last of the peaks I had tried and failed at. So we set out on the East Pond Trail at 8:00, planning to turn in higher than I did last time, at a point closest to the peak. It was supposed to be a nasty third of a mile, but we had time, and we'd just horse our way through. As a bonus, low snow totals should made it comfortable. The Pine Brook crossing was tricky, with a thin ice bridge upstream. The guys found a way near the trail. We set a steady pace, with my knee feeling good so far. Ice was the order of the day on the trail, as expected. Coming near the whacking point, Greg joked he was going to get covered in snow, as the trees were nice and bare. Suddenly, however, the trees were loaded in a matter of 500 feet further. Ugh.
So at the point we were to turn in at 9:15, on came the hard shells and gloves, and I asked Greg to lead. I just wasn't feeling like trying to find my way through, and more importantly, Greg has a good way of finding easier woods. It was steep, but we had good moderate woods, and the trees were not dumping anything on us.
As we kept getting closer, I was wondering if this was another over-hyped peak as to its nastiness, and finally spoke it, jinxing us all. Oopsie! About 400-500 feet of the summit, that was the end of the decent woods. The woods closed right in, and we were pushing our way through dense spruce and the snow was back. It was bad, but not horrible, and we emerged into a blowdown field. We got some views of the Osceolas and the other bump of E. Scar, but the going was slow, climbing over and under trees, and getting snow dumped.
The feet ticked by ever so slowly. At one point, we saw a ton of blowdown ahead, and possibly good woods to the left, and Brian and I decided to go left, with me leading and Greg following us. We broke into open woods, much to my relief. Yippee! 75 feet later that all ended, and it was back to blowdowns. I could now why the going was so slow. There was deep snow, and I had no idea what lay underneath it. It could be a deep hole, it could be a big blowdown, it could be a tangle of little blowdowns. I was being careful not to twist my knee, so I'm gingerly poke ahead. We could see two bumps, one on our left and another ahead, which looked higher, so we decided to push forward on that. It slowly got closer, and I was trying to turn left with great difficulty, but Greg noticed I had walked right by the summit. D'oh!
Phew. We spent little time on the summit, as we were soaked and cold, so we headed back to the open area, now making good time since we could see where we were going. Look for footsteps and a green corridor. We had hoped to stay in the open woods at that spot, but nothing stood out, so figuring we were already halfway through the crap, we just backtracked, again making good time. It was quite a relief to break back out in the moderate woods, and we made great time to the trail, arriving back at 11:30. We then cranked it heading out. It seemed clear we were now going for Rosebrook. At the crossing, I was the last across, and the ice broke, but moving quickly I avoided wet boots. We were done just before 12:30, later than I expected, but still plenty of time.
Off to Bretton Woods. I was thinking this would be an easy summit, but I was a little surprised to find out the vertical was 1300'. This could be rough. Greg suggested the direct way up, which was fine by me. So we ascended, and considering the easy grades on East Pond, this was tough. Only 100 vertical feet went by before I had to rest. And so it continued. We avoided the lifts as much as possible to avoid dumb comments, but we were generally unbothered. And the views, despite the clouds, didn't suck.
We trudged up, and came to one long steep stretch. Yuck. We stopped and had a nice chat with a skier, and then pressed on. I was going back and forth between freezing and roasting and couldn't adjust layers to get a nice in between. Being wet didn't help. Slow progress up the steep bit, and the grade relented, but then I saw one final stretch. The top of the lift signaled the summit area, so I pushed, definitely feeling this was a real mountain. At the top, I headed into the woods, wondering how far I'd have to go. I kept looking in, but glanced left and there was the highpoint, no more than 10 feet from the ski clearing. Dang. Easiest whack ever.
The steeps worked in our favor on the way down, and the total time on this mountain was an hour and forty minutes. OK, I guess that was easy. We were done for the day at 3:00, pretty danged good considering, and my knee never acted up. A day of rest was a good thing after all, and now the Scar Ridge peaks were done, and we FINALLY worked in Rosebrook with another peak. So I managed to get the number of trips left down from 16 to 14 to finish up the NH3k list. With plenty of time left, we hit Truant's, sitting near the fire, and I swore I'd never not bring a change of clothes again.