The forecast for the day was 35º with a chance of freezing rain...not the best for snowshoeing, but the car was already packed and we had tickets for Great Glen Trails. It must be difficult for these places when the weather does not cooperate. The folks at the Inn assured us this was the best place to go since Great Glen had really good snow making equipment.
The drive to Great Glen Trails from the Wentworth was a nice gentle climb up the mountain. We have no idea which one, but the name of the road was Mt. Washington Auto Road...so it is likely that eventually it will end at the top of Mt Washington.
We found Great Glen after about 20 minutes (the distance on the tourist maps are not to scale). It was not a very busy day so we were able to check in and were on the trail in less than 15 minutes. We thought we would hike around on the groomed trails (green) in the morning and head out to the backcountry trails (orange) after lunch.
The folks at the front desk said to be sure to check out the yurt...so we made that our first destination. Yurts are interesting structures. They are a cross between a tent and a hut.
Walking on groomed trails was pretty easy and we managed to get to the yurt in no time. It was a lot larger than I had expected. I was thinking it would be sized more like a typical ranger's shack. However, it was large enough for about 15 to 20 people.
Since we got to the yurt so quickly, we decided to hike a little more aggressively and cover more ground. A quick check of the HighGear barometer indicated the pressure was holding steady...so the weather was not changing. We took a reading and headed out.
We also thought it would be a good time to mark where we were with the GPS just in case we got totally lost...as much as one could be on a groomed trail :-)
We tried to take a temperature reading but none of the gear we had with us was able to react fast enough. We had the TerraTech and the AltiTech on the outside of our jacket, but they were both reading around 40-45º...clearly a lot higher than the ambient temperature. Next time we'll have to remember to bring along the one from ThemoWorks! In any case, the temperature was fine for using the Kombi gloves.
Our next destination was Great Angel Station. Based on the map, it was pretty much a straight shot from where we were. The change in elevation was minimal which made it a pretty easy hike.
Even though it was a little hazy, the view at Great Angel Station was still spectacular. There was a direct view of the summit of Mt. Washington.
One thing we noticed on the hike up to the station was neither of our snowshoes seemed to be centered. We weren't sure whether it just needed to be adjusted, tightened, or what. We fiddled with them for a while and it didn't seem like we got it adjusted any better.
The Columbia Vertex jackets on the other hand worked amazingly well. Going into the Great Angel had melted some of the snow on the jacket. Both the UnderArmour and the Vertex's OmniShield waterproofing worked as advertised. We had been moving at a good pace and I had worked up a bit of sweat. The UnderArmour wicked away the sweat but the moisture was not trapped inside the jacket. I stayed nice and dry the entire time. I also didn't feel any chill once I stopped moving.
It was getting close to noon so we trekked back to the lodge for lunch. After lunch we decided to hike the Aqueduct Loop. This loop had some mild elevation changes and took us through some woods and some open fields.
As it got later into the day, it started to get colder so I switched to the 180s Exhale gloves. The inner liner gloves were a bit too large for me so I used the Tavos as the liner.
The 180s Exhale were amazingly warm. So much so that I didn't need to use the Exhale finger warming feature of the gloves :-) We'll have more to say about these gloves in a future article.
We marked a waypoint on the GPS at the start of the trip and tracked the entire hike to see how close our trek was to that of the map. Magellan has detail elevation maps available on software. Hopefully, on our next trip we'll have some loaded to see how well they work.
One of our hikers ran into a little problem with her knees (they stopped bending) so we had to take the last third of our trek a bit slower. We also lost the trail about one third of the way around. We knew that it paralled Rt 16, but somehow we just couldn't find the trail markers. We ended up walking along the highway for the last mile or so. Apparently, we were not the only one since we saw cross country tracks along the path :-)
Finally we all emerged out of the woods intact. There was still some daylight left, but the rest of the afternoon was spent soaking in the jacuzzi back at the Inn :-)
After soaking for awhile and a half hour nap, we realized that we were starving! Lucky for us there was a ribs and burger place (Red Fox) just across the covered bridge.
A full rack of ribs was what some of us needed. Others opted for the veggie burger and salad. Dinner and a couple of beers later, we realized that it was time head back to the Inn, fire up the gas fireplace, and fall asleep to the Daily Show.