That Time I Hiked with a Broken Face – Backpacking the Great Gulf Wilderness

Join TJ & I for 3 days of hiking, camping & backpacking in New Hampshire’s Great Gulf Wilderness.  Oh, & I also fall on my face.  

For this adventure, we’ll be revisiting an attempt at a hike that I originally did as a solo backpacking trip a few years back.  A rather aggressive loop, chalking up 30+ miles and over 15,000 feet gross elevation gain, the plan was to give it another go while giving TJ an ultimate sampler platter of the White Mountains.  As fate would have it, things would corkscrew towards another outcome…

Great Gulf Loop Route Overview - Sintax77

Great Gulf Loop Route Overview – Sintax77

Trailhead Used: Imp Trailhead on Rt 16 – N44° 19.408′ W71° 13.016′

Full GPS track data and waypoints for various POI’s on this trip are available for download on the Trip Data Page.

Trails Used, Day 1 (in order)
Road hike north on Rt 16 to Dolly Copp Campground
Daniel Webster Scout Trail
Appalachian Trail South
Sphinx Trail
Camp along Sphinx Trail, just before junction with Great Gulf Trail

Great Gulf Loop Day 1 Elevation Profile - Sintax77

Great Gulf Loop Day 1 Elevation Profile – Sintax77

Day 1 Mileage: 12.5 miles
Day 1 Gross Elevation Gain: 6,661′

Trails Used, Day 2 (in order)
Double back on Sphinx Trail
Appalachian Trail South
Trinity Heights Connector to Summit of Mt Washington
Have a Chili Dog at the Summit
Nelson Crag Trail
Appalachian Trail South
Great Gulf Trail
Camp near Gulf Trail along ridge

Great Gulf Loop Day 2 Elevation Profile - Sintax77

Great Gulf Loop Day 2 Elevation Profile – Sintax77

Day 2 Mileage: 9.2 miles
Day 2 Gross Elevation Gain: 3,658′

Trails Used, Day 3 (in order)
Great Gulf Trail
Short road hike back to car parked at Imp Trail Head

Great Gulf Loop Day 3 Elevation Profile - Sintax77

Great Gulf Loop Day 3 Elevation Profile – Sintax77

Day 3 Mileage: 3.9
Day 3 Gross Elevation Gain: 108′

 

Mileage Grand Total for Trip: 25.6
Gross Elevation Gain Grand Total for Trip: 10,319′

When Sub-Zero Camping Goes Wrong – Winter Backpacking in the White Mountains


Join us for some frigid winter camping and backpacking along King Ravine in the White Mountains.

For this overnight backpacking trip we’ll be heading up towards Mt Adams, along the Presidential Range in New Hampshire’s White Mountain National Forest in early February.  This trip was done almost a year to the day after our High Winds Hiking trip during the previous season.  Only instead of temperatures in the 20’s to 30’s, we had a dramatically different temperature range the low teens at it’s warmest, down to roughly 20° below zero at night.  Ouch.  Luckily, we didn’t have the extreme winds that we encountered on that last February trip.  One or the other is one thing.  Both together, now that’s what you don’t want.

As you’ll see in the video though, things still didn’t go – how should I say – well, as planned.  Thankfully, we were able to make the best of it and play things by ear.  While I certainly would have like things to have gone a bit closer to our anticipated itinerary, I think it still ended up be a quite memorable trip.  When things go as planned, that’s a vacation.  When things go awry and you have to react and adapt, that’s an adventure.  And that, after all, is what we’re truly after.  As long as know one get hurt, or suffers too much mental trauma, I’ll chalk it up as a win.

Below is a list of trails used, in order, as well parking info and other logistical items.  Unfortunately, due to the sub-zero temps, there was no full gps track recorded for this trip.  After ripping through two sets of Ultimate Lithiums in my Garmin Oregon 650 GPS on day one, I made the call to reserve my remaining rechargeable batteries for emergency route fining only.  On my last winter trip to the Dolly Sods, with temps in the low 20’s, I was able to go the entire 3 day trip on one set of lithium with juice to spare.  My performance was quite different at 15 or so below zero, though.  Once it warms up a bit, we’ll get back to recording full track data as usual.

Parking Location
Appalachia Trailhead
44.371470, -71.289391
(Not too far from the intersection of US Rt 2 and Dolly Copp Rd, in Gorham NH)

Trails Used
Airline Trail to
intersection with Upper Bruin Trail, just above treeline in the Alpine Zone
Planned Campsite:  Valley Way Tentsite or nearby vicinity, via Valley Way Trail
Actual Campsite:  Back below treeline, along the Airline Trail.

Our plan was to summit Mt Adams the following day and return cheerfully to our previous night’s campsite, base camp style.  As seen in the video, things got a bit more complicated, due to extreme snow drifting along King Ravine’s Alpine Zone, heading towards Madison Hut and the intersection with the Appalachian Trail towards Mt. Adams.  The plan was to save Adams for day two and to use Upper Bruin Trail to head back below treeline to establish a base camp, after getting some  brief views in the ravine above treeline.  Despite having been to this area twice before in milder weather, the high snow drifts and unbroken trail made navigation, umm, complicated, to say the least.  Add Mike’s little ordeal to the mix, and you’ve got yourself a very interesting little winter camping trip.  But I’ll let you find out how all that goes in the actual video…

 A Quick Overview of some of the Gear Used
Big Agnes 6p tent (yes, is a car camping tent.) Split three ways.
EMS Longtrail 70 Backpack
MSR Denali Ascent Snowshoes
Kahtoolah MICROspikes (the plan was to feel things out while ascending Mt Adams, and turn back if it felt like crampons were more acceptable)
CAMP Snow Shovel
MSR Rapidfire Stove (Inverted canister stove, no longer produced)
*Mike carried an MSR Whisperlight Universal, rigged for white gas, which we ended up using at night due to the colder temps.
Big Agnes Q-Core SL Sleeping Pad
Hammock Gear Burrow 0 Top Quilt
GSI Halulite Tea Kettle, 32 oz, for snow melting
Vargo 450ml titanium cup
Sea to Summit Alpha Light cutlery set (knife, fork, spoon)

Camera Gear Used
Sony Handycam HDR-cx380, primary cam
GoPro Hero 3, Black edition, secondary cam.
RavPower 10,000 mAH usb battery pack recharger

Solo Hiking the White Mountains – Backpacking the Presicat Loop

Join me for 3 days of hiking, backpacking, and stealth camping in the White Mountains.

For this late Summer trip (August), I’ll be going for the full range of White Mountains backpacking and hiking experiences. From the seclusion of rugged wilderness areas, to the tourist laded summit of Mount Washington. Encompassing both the western and eastern sides of Rt 16, the goal is to complete a 3 day loop comprised of the Presidential Range, Tuckerman Ravine, Wildcat Range, and the Carter-Moriah Range before returning to the car.

If you’re interested in the gear, you can check out my full Ultralight Backpacking Gear List Video

The 11lb base weight system seen in that video is identical to my system for this trip with the exception of the following changes which increased the base weight by about 2.5 lbs:

Fleece Sleeping bag (21oz) replaced with Suisse Sport 30 degree mummy bag. (3lbs)
Mont-bell Ultralight Down Parka (9oz) was brought for additional warmth.

I carried around 7lbs food and water (usually only 1 liter), so total pack weight was still around 20 lbs or so.

GPS Tracking Data for Entire Trip is Available for download on the Trip Data page.
**Tracks for each day end on the trail prior to picking a specific campsite. Recording is resumed on the beginning of each day, back on the trail from night before.

Parking: Imp Trail head 44°19’23.40″N 71°13’0.99″W
(**not starting on Imp trail, this will be the finish)

Trails Used (in order):

Day 1
Road Hike to Dolly Copp Campground
Begin on Daniel Webster-Scout Trail
Osgood Trail
Gulfside Trail (passing Madison Spring Hut on descent)
Mt Jefferson Loop Trail
Return to Gulfside Trail
Sphinx Trail
Stealth Camp towards bottom of Sphinx Trail in the Great Gulf Wilderness
Daily Totals: 11.40 Miles, 6,008 feet elevation gain

Day2
Back up Sphinx Trail
Gulfside Trail
Trinity Heights Connector (to Mt Washington Summit)
Tuckerman Ravine Trail
Lions Head Trail
Alpine Garden Trail
Tuckerman Ravine Trail
Grab a drink at Pinkham Notch Visitor Center and cross Rt 16 to
Lost Pond Trail
Wildcat Ridge Trail
Stealth Camp before getting to Carter Notch Hut
Daily Totals: 13.80 Miles , 6,755 feet elevation gain

Day 3
Carter-Moriah Trail
Carter Dome Trail
Nineteen Mile Brook Trail
Totals: 8.77 miles, 2,471 feet elevation gain

Trip Grand Totals: 34 Miles, 15,234 feet elevation gain.


Summit’s for this Trip in order:
Mt Madison, Mt Jefferson, Mt Washington, Wildcat D, Wildcat C, Wildcat B, Wildcat Mountain, Carter Dome, Mt Hight

Camera Used: Samsung H-300