Mud, Snow and Sun-A Perfect Day for Starr-King (April 27, 2013)
We narrowed down our list to three viewing spots, Imp Face, Doubleheads or Starr-King. Well (and I mean that literally), we were in need of water for the house and Mt. Starr King was the closest viewing spot to the well in Jefferson. So after the hike, we could easily fill up our five jugs at our favorite watering hole. Love how our decision process works. Off we went to grab a view on a lovely White Mountains Spring Day.
The trail head is located past a few summer “cottages” on Starr King Road. When we arrived one car was in the lot and two other cars were directly behind us. I knew all the major trails would see heavy foot traffic because of perfect conditions; sunny, spring like, little amount of bugs and barely a breeze stirring the branches.
We threw on our packs, that were loaded with food, extra clothes, snow shoes, and microspikes. Off we went, knowing full well that the occupants of the cars behind us would soon catch up and pass us. I am still trying to find my mountain legs. This is a great hike for short legs because there were NO large step ups on boulders, just a path that was easy to follow that goes steadily up, but I was still being a pokey hikergal.
Early on in the hike we passed the foundation for an old springhouse. Right after this the first duo of hikers sprinted past us.
After this the trail started to become muddy. Sometimes you could rock hop, avoid it altogether or just give into the mud. What do I mean give into it? Why, sink your feet right in, feel the suction on your boot, slide and slip, pull your boot up(hoping it comes with your foot in it) and laugh out loud. Sometimes giving yourself over to the mud, is easier than trying to find ways to avoid it.
The forest changes and we discovered a small amount of monorail left. This was not traction worthy.
Then we reached 3,000 feet and the snow became a constant till the summit. We learned last week (Mt. Crescent) to put on traction as soon as possible. On the microspikes went and it made it so much easier, no postholing for us. However Mr. Moose was postholing quite a bit.
We passed a natural spring along the way.
We had a few uphill sections, but I think uphill in snow is sometimes easier than on a bare path.
We started the steady climb up to the summit. This is where I start to get giddy on a hike, anticipation of the view that awaits us.
We are given a teaser of a view, right past this point.
The summit is quickly approaching, ok we are approaching it.
Then we turn the corner, the snow is gone on the summit.
We see the fireplace, remains from an old cabin and we know we have arrived.
Quickly we strip off the packs and microspikes, walk around, snap pictures and have lunch.
The temperature on the summit was 50 with a wind gust of 3 mph. What a great day to be out. We opted not to continue to Mt. Waumbek to bag a 4,000. We want to hike this beautiful trail again on a snow-free day. We hung out on the summit for about 30 minutes. We loaded our packs on and put the microspikes back on. I was a very happy girl.
As we descended, we stopped to look at the art gallery Mother Nature put together.
The descent went much quicker. You could smell spring start to awaken on the lower elevations. With a little less than a .25 miles to go, we had a chance encounter with a couple that were just out for a short jaunt to enjoy the day and check trail conditions.
The couple had to be in there in their late 70s. They had retired to New Hampshire and we found our lives had similarities in relation to places. They asked where we were from, we replied Connecticut. They wanted specifics and we told them. Come to find out they knew our town, had gone to college there, as we had (though it was called Teacher’s College back then). They grew up in CT, as I did. We mentioned Mike was from Indiana and they said they spent 44 years in Indiana. We chatted about the woods, how some people fly up a mountain and never stop to notice the little things around them. This encounter just helped to round out a great day. We hope our hiking paths cross again.
We arrived back to the cottage and I had my after hike treat. What a great way to end a day of hiking in mud, snow and sun.
The Details: 5.2 miles, total hike time was 4 hours 10 mins., elevation gain of 2400 feet. An easy trail for the White Mountains to hike, even in snow.