Sunday, May 30, 2010

I Prefer Loop Hikes...Mount Osceola

Mt. Tripyramid from the Summit of Osceola

Jill and I climbed Mt. Osceola this weekend for a few reasons. We had heard that it was one of the less demanding 4,000 footers (elevation 4,340’), having an elevation gain of 2,050ft over 3.2 miles. This is by way of the only trail that ascends the mountain, the Mt. Osceola Trail from Tripoli Road. Let me add that you can also ascend the Osceola Summit from the East using the same trail, however you have to also climb over Mt. Osceola’s East peak to gain access, which is also considered a 4,000 footer by itself (elevation 4,156’). But, for our day hike, this option was out of the question. We only wanted to reach the summit of Mt. Osceola.

We had been excited about this hike for a while. It would be my 4th 4K and Jill’s 2nd 4K. We are in no way counting them down or setting a goal to climb all 48, but it is still fun to count them nonetheless. The hike was fun as always, just being outside and absorbing nature in the Whites is always a great time. The summit ledges were incredible and well worth the 3.2 miles of trail that we needed to cover. We were able to find a few wildflowers on the trail to snap pictures of as well as found an obstructed view of Mt. Tecumseh (I think this mountain is cursed, I’ll tell you that story another time) on the way up. At the summit, we had great views of Mt. Tripyramid, Mt. Chocorua, Mt. Washington and many more. A side trail on the summit leads you to a north lookout point, which provides great views of Franconia and many more mountains.

Descending from the summit, I did catch myself not enjoying the trek as much as I did when ascending. In fact, I typically enjoy descending as much as ascending, so I caught myself asking, “what was so different about this trail?” Well, it could have been the black flies. They were out in full force and were ruthless (even after being covered with a couple layers of deet). It may have also been the humidity. I’ve noticed that hiking in humidity is tough, even if the temperature is pretty decent. I get very hot and can’t seem to hydrate enough with humidity in the air. It may have also been the rocky path. The Mt. Osceola Trail was very rocky. I know, it’s a mountain, right? It should be rocky. But these were the rocks that stick out all over the place, like uneven cobblestone, just waiting to be the one that turns your ankle. Maybe it was a combination of all these things.

The more I thought about it, I think it was truly that I just prefer loop hikes better. Sure, the factors mentioned above weigh in without a doubt, but really, with an in-and-out hike (as this was), after reaching the summit, there’s nothing new to see. You have already walked that road. Jill and I try to plan loops wherever we go because it makes the whole trip a discovery mission. On an in-and-out hike, you’ve already investigated the trail and then must retrace your steps. This just isn’t as much fun for me. I really like the summit to be the halfway point of our journey.

Jill and I on the Summit

Please don’t take this as me knocking the Mt. Osceola Trail. I just wish there was a loop option available. Of course, one could thru hike the trail and end up at the Kanc, but you need two cars and a lot more time for logistics, which Jill and I don’t have with our day hike schedule. I think from this point on, Jill and I will seek out the loops and really think hard before pursuing another in-and-out hike anytime soon. Regardless of if the trip down the Mt. Osceola Trail was a little miserable, it was still a great day in the Whites, and the trip up and the summit made up for the long trip down.

Also, when we got home, we had the two little rug rats (Hank and Lily) waiting for us. It was their birthday and they turned six. They had their Frosty Paws as a birthday snack and then lounged with us for the afternoon. Happy Birthday Pups!

Pups, Happy We're Home!


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