OK, so we weren't sliding on Ice per-say, but boy what a tough hike! It all started with an overnight in Twin Mountain at the Boulder Cabins. Scott and I were out the door about 8:15 & arrived at the trailhead for Cook Path at 8:45am. A couple friendly dogs came out to the road to watch us gear up. We headed out under partly cloudy skies and some brisk moutain air. No bugs, YAY!
We quickly came to Boothman Spring and the Mt. Cresent trail head. Onward. The trail soon crosses a few rocky spots with scattered boulders to the sides of the trail but remains gradual. We passed across half-a-dozen logging roads of varying ages and tree harvesting sections visible when looking up some of the newer roads. Once the Cook Path hits it's high point at about 2700ft. it levels and gradually descends through Hunters Pass and what looks like an old dried up marsh now overgrown with trees. At about 2500ft. we passed a wood pole marking, the trail descends a tiny bit steeper and soon we arrived at the Head of Ice Gulch. We breaked here as we looked straight down to the rocks 50ft. down.
Once nourished we slowly made our way down to the point of no return! For the next mile we would see plently of boulders for about a mile. This trail reminded of King Ravine and the Ice Caves only picture it squeezed into a ravine no wider than 200ft. wide with tree covered sheer ledge on either side. Boulder Caves, Moss, Lichen and Alpine (actually rare Sub-Alpine) abound in this ravine leaving a very narrow trail area. And yes we did find ice! Two sections 10 ft. below our feet in the cold boulder traps.
Speaking of traps, I stepped off trail to relieve myself and upon returning I stepped on some moss covered branches which gave loose to a very deep boulder trap. I fell in to my waste! Not able to feel any ground below my feet I had to lift myself out with my arms. I was fortunate to walk away from that with just some scrapes! Scott also had a fall slipping on the wet, slippery rock landing on his hip and almost sliding into a cave. YIKES, the trail is trying to kill us! We slowly and cautiously made our way through the very difficult and dangerous terrain with a few stops to admire the beautiy and serenity this trail offers. We finally made our way to the open, dry and easier-to-manage talus slope with a dissapointing view toward Gorham. Once past this lovely area we arrived at Fairy Spring with an attractive mossy pool and the sound of water rushing under ground. Here we passed the only person of the day who was on his way up.
We came to the Peboamauk Trail Loop which we took despite our exhuastion. The trail is steep but footing is good. We made several annoying brook crossings then steeply down again to the foot of Peboamauk Fall "Winter's Home". The fall was nice though the dead tree that toppled into it ruins the perfect waterfall look that this fall could provide. Onward and steeply upward we made our way back up and out of the ravine. We arrived back onto Ice Gulch trail. The trail is now an annoying 2 miles of ups and downs crossing once again a couple logging roads. The trail ends on a field with a barn and dirt driveway ahead. The owners clearly mowed a 20ft. wide path to accomadate the hikers. We hiked down the road about a mile passing a run down house with an unleashed violent Rotty dog and hurried on arriving back at the starting point at 12:45.
The book states that the Ice Gulch trail segment is the most difficult in the Whites and I agree. Most difficult & dangerous I have done. Due to the lack of sunlight this trail receives and abundance of moss, the craggy boulders are wet and slippery and create many open holes on the trail and difficult and steep sections to negotiate. The scenery is beautiful though it gets old after about a mile of tricky scrambling and rock hopping. The view towards Gorham is nothing special. The site of ice that has been there all summer was neat and I was glad to check out this rare ravine. BE CAREFUL!! I heard on Monday that a family with a ten year old got trapped on Ice Gulch on Sunday. I can see why. Not an easy trail to negotiate and no way out but through the gulch as the AMC Book suggests.
Picks of this hike> http://www.flickr.com/photos/excape1/sets/72157622321353226/