Feb 7,2015 – Today we headed up Mt. Garfield. Located in the southern range of the Pemigewasset Wilderness adjacent to Franconia Ridge. I had the company of a friend that I made during an AMC Winter Hiking Course that I attended in the fall. More on that in another post.
The night before it had snowed heavily in the whites, there was A LOT of fresh snow so snowshoes were a mandatory item. The original plan was to do a big loop and tie in Mt. Galehead as well. This would lead to a 16 mile traverse of both mountains and returning via a cumbersome road walk. However our plans would soon change.
We hit the trail at 8:15AM The Garfield Trailhead is located 1.3 miles down a forest road that is closed in the winter. This adsds 2.6 miles to your round trip total as it must be walked. Most of the forest road was covered in 1 foot of snow , this required immediate use of our snowshoes.
We made it to the Garfield Trailhead at 9AM and met a solo hiker who was on his way up Mt. Garfield as well. As we looked up the trail we noticed there were no footprints… just fresh snow. This would be the case all the way to the top. We quickly befriended the stranger solo hiker and combined forced to break trail up the mountain.
The snow was deep, almost comically deep. As we ascended it continued to get deeper, and deeper. Even with my snowshoes on I was sinking to my knees and sometimes my waist! This proved to test our endurance it was an exhausting haul. Our friend that we had previously made ended up turning around about a mile from the summit… he was just too beat!
We made the summit by 2PM. Much to our disappointment we were socked in the clouds with no views. Winds picked up and I had decided not to wear my hard shell for the short jaunt above treeline so our summit celebration was short. We snapped our pictures and moved on.
the descent was much more enjoyable… nicely packed trails and some excellent butt sledding opportunities got us back to the car in a fairly fast manner… So much for bagging Galehead while we were up there huh? Next time!
This trip was a total of 13.3 miles and 3350 feet in elevation gain. Moderate by most standards but when you throw in 2-3 feet of snow it gets interesting! On a normal day I would say this is a relatively easy hike with short sections of moderate grade. The views on the summit of Mt. Garfield are some of the best in the Whites! Bring a windbreaker year round as the summit can take on some serious wind gusts.
Here’s a short video I made summarizing our trip to some intense music. Enjoy!