Hiked May 12-14. Started at Lincoln Woods Visitor Center, north on East Side trail, east on Wilderness trail, to the Pemigewasset River, then back the way we came. The original plan was changed from a loop similar to our Ethan/Thoreau Falls/Shoal Pond trip, but in reverse and from the south. However the Shoal Pond trail was snowed in, and my knee made us change plans. Always be flexible enough to change plans at last second, even while on the trail!
Temps were down to 40F at night. With our 20F bags, we were both comfortable.
Temps down to 40-45F at 22:45, 40F at 02:00 and <40F at 06:30.
Continuing along we made it to the bridge that crossed over to Thoreau Falls trail and I crossed the bridge to get a feel for it, since it wasn't known if it was going to be torn down yet. It was tilted to the side, but was actually very stable. I felt, mostly safe on it. Seems like a bad idea to take it down, as the river is fairly fast and high at that point.
After a couple pics of the bridge, we went back to the intersection and continued east on the Wilderness trail. When we got to the intersection of Cedar Brook trail, where Pauline hugged the sign, we declared from that point on, that we were blazing new trail! About 1/2 mile further down we happened upon an unmarked trail and decided to check it out. Turns out it went to an old bridge site. You could see the supports, but nothing else of the bridge remained. The area had some nice open spaces for camping, and we kept that in mind for future hikes.
The trouble started when we arrived at the crossing of Carrigain Branch river. I had hiked in my Solomon boots, and hadn't planned on getting them wet. But there was no way across without getting wet. So I decided to take my boots off. That was a bad idea. When the water was that cold it was actually painful, and hard to keep my balance. Once across I decided getting my boots wet would be okay at the next crossing.
In hind sight, I should have brought my trail runners for the crossings. Normally I wear trail runners instead of boots for backpacking, because they dry out so much faster, and don't retain much water while you walk so your feet don't squish squash as much. It makes crossings a breeze. But I knew the temps were going to be cold, and the trail wet. So I opted for boots to keep my feet warmer. But I hadn't thought about wearing the boots, and bringing the shoes for crossings until after the crossing.
But anyway, the next river crossing wasn't too far away.
Crossing Pemigewasset River
The Pemigewasset river was a concern, even while planning the trip. We didn't know how high it would be, or if we would be able to cross it. Gil pointed me to the USGS Water Data page, which showed a fair amount of water discharge. And our hunch after all the snow this year was that it would be pretty high. Turns out it wasn't. Only about 1.5-2 feet high with a discharge of 2600 cubic feet per second. It was about 30 feet across, and no problem getting across. I was almost able to get across without getting my feet wet, but it was a little over the top of my boots.
We started down the Shoal Pond Tr, but it was snowed in and the trees where all crowded in, leaving you with about a 4 foot high tail to walk through. Pauline didn't much like the snow, since her feet were getting very cold in her vibram five finger shoes, and I didn't like catching branches and cutting holes in my cuban fiber backpack. We decided to turn around and check out the camping spot right near the pemi river we just crossed. It was a nice spot when we took this route in 2016, but there were so many blowdowns and widow makers we decided not to camp there.
So back to crossing the Pemi and Carrigain Branch rivers again, which ended with my boots completely soaked.
I suggested we rest and eat a little, but Pauline apparently wanted to setup camp and started poking around in the woods while I wrung out my socks. Once again, she willed a spot into existence, and we spent the night in a nice little spot off the trail. We just had to move a few branches to clear a spot for the tent, break a few branches so we didn't poke our eye out or rip our jackets. But otherwise it was really quite nice. Had a little trouble getting to sleep, woke up a few times, but otherwise got a fair amount of quality sleep.
I slept in my UA thermals and my fleece, and was mostly warm. Got a little chilly around 40F, but not enough to bother putting more layers on.
Next morning we had freeze dried scrambled eggs and were own our way. Those eggs are actually quite good. The trick is to imagine you are eating egg drop soup, and drink the water as well as the eggs. Keeps them warm, gets hot fluids into you, and makes less of a mess.
The original plan was to hike west to the Thoreau Falls trail and check out my birthday spot. But once underway, I noticed a tightness in my right hamstring and shortly after my knee started to bother me. When we got to the intersection for Thoreau Falls trail we decided to alter our plans, and check out the bridge site we had found the day before. It was only 1 mile away, instead of about 2.5-3. That turned out to be a good choice, as I think the bridge site was better anyway.
We spent the day lounging around. I was in bare feet since our boots were wet. Ground was soft with all the leaves. I boiled water, put it into Nalgene bottles, then stuffed them into my boots to help dry them out. Which BTW worked great. Thanks for the idea Gil! My socks dried in the sun. It took a couple bottles and some time in the sun to dry them out.
That night we were both really stuffed up from allergies. Not sure what sets it off. And it only seems to happen at night. We are totally plugged up after laying down, and around 2am our sinuses clear up.
I heard a really cool bird singing, which sung several songs. Wish I knew what kind of bird it was. Next morning Pauline heard what sounded like an engine being started. She heard it from several different locations in the woods, and it had a really low throaty sound to it. Thought perhaps it was some moose calling. When we got home she did some research and discovered it was a ruffed grouse. They sit on a hollow log to amplify the sounds of them flapping their wings. Totally cool.
Next morning I enjoyed my oatmeal and Pauline her scrambled eggs. During the hike back my hamstring was still tight, but my knee only felt a little sore now and then. We just hiked slow and easy, and were able to complete the hike without my knee bothering me too much. In fact, the last 3 miles it felt a lot better, although if I twisted it a little odd, I could feel it.
Just for my own notes, I wanted to keep track of food and fuel usage.
I packed just enough this time, with an energy packet and some trail mix, and beef jerky left over. I also had a spare meal for an emergency meal, which I would share with Pauline.
The Tomato Chipotle Pasta with Chicken was tasty, but there was a celery root was terrible. Way too crunchy. The rest of the items were perfectly soft. The Katmandu Curry was also quite tasty. Oatmeal was awesome :) Not sure if the food is actually good, or the fact that any food is good one the trail after some hard hiking.
Fuel weight was measured in the bottle, without the lid. The fuel bottle weight is included. The bottle can hold up to 566g of fuel, for a total weight of 831g.
525g starting weight, 369g ending. 156g used.
About 5.5L of water boiled. We didn't use a wind screen. Next time I will bring some foil to use as one.
Stove averaged 28g (1oz) per liter of water boiled. A little under the 1.3L per oz spec'ed by manufacturer. Not bad considering how cold the water was.
At that rate, I'd estimate we had enough fuel to boil a little over 8L more water. If boiling 5 cups a day, we had enough for about 7 more days. That's more then I was expecting.
When I boiled almost 2L of very cold water from river for my boots, each liter took about 8 minutes to boil. Stove is spec'ed at 3.5 mins to boil a liter. But considering the wind and temperature of the water, it performed very well. Boiled the same 2L again when it had cooled to outside temps, and it was much closer to spec'ed amount of time, but I didn't keep very good track.
Over all, I was very impressed with how the stove performed and how much fuel it used. Considering we didn't use a wind break, and the water temp was so cold, it did very well.
Brought: Zpacks Duplex, WhisperLite w/ 20oz bottle, 20F bags.