Mud, Snow and Sun-A Perfect Day for Starr-King (April 27, 2013)

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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.

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Start of trail

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.

beginning of the trail

beginning of the trail

Early on in the hike we passed the foundation for an old springhouse. Right after this the first duo of hikers sprinted past us.

foundation of old springhouse

foundation of old springhouse

 

duo quickly going past

duo quickly going past

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.

first section of snow

first section of snow

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.

Moose  print postholing

Moose print postholing

follow the yellow brick road, no I mean the monorail

follow the yellow brick road, no I mean the monorail

We passed a natural spring along the way.

To the spring

To the spring

 

We had a few uphill sections, but I think uphill in snow is sometimes easier than on a bare path.

trail in snow

trail in snow

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.

Getting closer

Getting closer

We are given a teaser of a view, right past this point.

teaser

teaser

The summit is quickly approaching, ok we are approaching it.

Almost to the summit

Almost to the summit

Then we turn the corner, the snow is gone on the summit.

and we turn the corner

and we turn the corner

We see the fireplace, remains from an old cabin and we know we have arrived.

fireplace

fireplace

Quickly we strip off the packs and microspikes, walk around, snap pictures and have lunch.

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lunch time

lunch time

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.

Happy Ann

Happy Ann

As we descended, we stopped to look at the art gallery Mother Nature put together.

fungus artwork

fungus artwork

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reminded me of something from the Muppet show

reminded me of something from the Muppet show

ice crevasse on the trail

ice crevasse on the trail

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.

Couple is ahead of us

Couple is ahead of us

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.

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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.

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