We made our last minute preperations Friday for a Hike-NH group hike for Saturday. I invited my brother along as he had the day off. I was sticking to my plan to hike Guinea Pond trail to Black Mt. Pond trail. I new this would be a longer hike but figured the weather wouldn't be all that great anyway, so the chances of summiting Sandwich Dome was probably not going to happen.
We arrived at the trailhead and got on the trail at a nice and early 8:00am. Once the thermometer readings leveled after being in the warm truck temps. read a brisk 37*, but crystal clear sky's. It was cold, the frost on everything was proof of that. It was very pretty though against the bright foliage. At one point, ice crystsals on the trail where the sun was hitting looked like glitter scattered about. This entire section of trail is a logging road up to our Black Mountain Pond junction, passing several marshes and beaver ponds.
Now on Black Moutain Pond trail we crossed a river and gradually climbed up to a side path to Mary Cary Fall. Not much to look at right now, but must be pretty cool in the spring. Soon we arrived to the pond's camping area and unfortunately no campers, particularly no "Peesalot" whom I was hoping to see as she had planned on camping here for the hike. We took in the beautiful sights of the large pond and the ridge behind it we would be climbing. The sky's were still clear with temps. in the upper 40's and though there was a slight breeze it was perfect weather.
We passed two more beaver ponds then made the climb with intermitent steep sections and a couple minor scrambles. Snow was now present here and ther on the trail but not a hinderance at all. Views from the ledges were magnificent! We took our lunch break not far from the Algonquin trail junction and once at the junction decided to continue on to Sandwich Dome as the conditions were perfect! Footprints in the snow showed that others had been up here today...perhaps Tim, Brian & Joe... I have to say, this being the second time on this ridge, these are some of the best views in the Whites. You could see Lake Winnipesaukee, snow capped Moosilauke, Franconia range & Presidentials, the Osceolas, Tecumseh, Rocky Jennings Peak & Sachem Peak, black mountain pond and all the other smaller peaks in between. It is quite a place!
Once over the high point on this ridge the trail drops to a col. As we began this steep climb down the snow on the trail made it slippery and slow going. We immediately assesed the situation and decided it was too much. With such a long hike back the extra hour or so to the summit, half hour on top and hour back would be pushing it if we wanted to get back to the truck before it got dark and cold. I drew "Excape was here" for the others to maybe see if they came back this way. Fighter Jets that we had heard all day were now visible as we made our way back down the ledges. They were doing manuevers which was pretty neat from this vantage point.
Once back down to the camping area a tent was now set up and a fire going. A man asked if we were with Hike-NH, we said yes just as Peesalot came walking over. We talked for 10 miuntes or so, very friendly couple whom I was glad to meet! (P.S. Peesalot, I have seen your truck before...lk2hk license plate and I will never forget that "terrorist hunting permit" sticker, the first time I saw it I was like, I love that sticker!) We continued down the now thawed out trail and back to the truck at 3:00pm. Perfect day, awesome hike. Hope to meet the others on the next Group Hike! Pictures of this hike here> http://www.flickr.com/photos/excape1/sets/72157622489421305/