|Eagle Pass, Greenleaf Trail|
Forecast: early morning clouds and fog burning off to reveal a mostly sunny day with base temps in the upper thirties to begin the hike. Reality: 42*, windy, and very socked in. But we were excited nonetheless; we were meeting up with a handful of people including some new friends and with the optimistic forecast, we got underway by 8:00AM in hopes of reaching Greenleaf Hut and maybe more.
With the fog and overnight showers, the rocks were damp but free of snow or ice for quite awhile and I found myself surprised by the ruggedness of the trail. It was also clear by the narrowness and wayward branches protruding into the trail that Greenleaf Trail is not nearly as popular as its sister trail, the Old Bridle Path, that also reaches the hut from Franconia Notch/Rt 93 in about the same distance despite it's generally moderate grade. Reflecting on the day, despite how much I was huffing and puffing picking around large rocks and following the ups, downs, and more ups of the trail, it's overall grade began as somewhat moderate.
|Ty hit the ground running|
|One of our new friends, Denali! |
Trail variety below Eagle Pass:
|Our other new friend, Titus (Lilo's new brother)!|
|Wet, bloody, but finally found, oye|
After a couple steeper sections and one unfortunate separation from Ty, half of our group reached a wild-feeling section called Eagle Pass. (After turning my phone off airplane mode later on, we learned the rest of the team had turned around.) Even in the fog, the towering rock walls were incredibly cool. Due to the sudden arrival of ice, it was a good place to put on traction while marveling at the rock face.
|Glimpsing the pass from below|
|Conditions immediately following the pass|
|The surrounding woods had a temperate rainforest feel to them -|
Beyond Eagle Pass, ice began intermittently but became more prevalent. Although there were flat or easier sections, the overall grade increased, requiring me to assist Tango up the ice floes. We made a couple of hard turns and stopped once to contemplate turning around.
Trail conditions between the Pass and our turnaround point:
Serious snack break:
|Finally figuring out the wisdom of going around the ice|
We decided to give it another ten minutes (equaling about one our and fifteen minutes since departing the Pass) since Tango was finally grasping the concepts of sticking to the side of the trail or slipping into the woods as needed. Included in the fun were sections of spring snow that he got a bit stuck in, which I figured was better than slipping on. At a left turn, we peered up to see the ice cascading from up the hill, over the trail, and continuing down - no space for him to avoid the ice. In consideration of that, the fact that it looked like a long haul for me to assist (even with the padding of the Ruffwear Web Master Pro Harness, it can't exactly be comfortable for him), and assuming we'd have more sections like that, we called it.
|Our turnaround point|
|Though slick, descending required hardly any assistance|
|Someone is trying to prove himself quickly!|
We soon met back up with Hannah, who had stayed behind to make contact with the departing group and she and Titus had made good time catching up. Descending reinforced that we had made the correct decision in turning around, as all the sudden going down solid ice in microspikes made us realize the steepness! I was wearing my baby crampons and had no issues, score one for Hillsound!
|Just had to share more of the handsome poser!|
We removed our traction in the same place we had originally put it on and gradually, the rocks became drier, adding some ease to the descent. The fog had mostly burned off but it was still cloudy... Except a patch of blue floating above the ridge as we were preparing to leave.
|Zoom in on this one, it's worth it!|
Admittedly, this is a late report but I think still valid. Temperatures haven't been balmy and yesterday we even got a little snow so the ice...is still there. Repeat: THE ICE IS STILL THERE.
|Some of the remaining fog|
We decided to meet for coffee in Lincoln before going our separate ways and laughed at the beautiful blue, puffy cloud skies and milder temperatures outside of the Notch. After our Dunkin run, I drove back towards home along the Kanc and pulled into the Downes Brook parking lot but hung out for a bit, letting the dogs rest, while I decided between Sawyer Pond, Hedgehog, and Potash. Finally, I switched some things over from my winter pack to summer one and we headed towards Hedgehog. No trip report this time but the trails are dry and I'll be adding some general notes about the trail to my post from 5/14/2015.
|Smiling for PB&J|
We definitely plan to return to Greenleaf Trail when the ice melts, though Tango may stay at home to avoid stressing his joints on the ups and downs of the boulders on the trail. It is often rocky and builds in difficulty though I am told it is not a strenuous hike overall. There was a fair amount of small channels of runoff for the dogs to drink from. We enjoyed the trail and scenic variety - Ty perhaps a little too much! Looking forward to a return visit in the future!