Hiking/Trekking Jeanne & Peter


Mt. Garfield

Posted on June 10th, 2013
by PeterD in Hikes

Tropical storm Andrea was set to blow through on Friday, the 7th, but with gradual clearing throughout the weekend. We’d been looking forward to our first significant hike of the season, so we optimistically latched onto the “gradual clearing” part and set off northward in the pouring rain. We were able to grab a room at the Wilderness Inn B&B in Woodstock for Friday night – which would enable us to hit the trailhead earlier on Saturday.

Our plan had been to park at Gale River Trailhead, walk the logging road (1.6mi) to the Garfield Trailhead, head to Mt Garfield summit (4.8mi), then back to the hut along Garfield Ridge trail for saturday night (2.7mi), quickly bag North Twin on Sunday morning (5.2mi RT), then return to the car via Gale River trail (4.6mi)…

That was the plan…

Unfortunately, plans change.

While the weather reports said gradual clearing on Saturday, and a good Sunday – that never materialized – at least not at 4500 ft elevation. We’d started out, overcast but good visibility. The rain from Friday night had ended and the air seemed to be drying out. After a wonderful breakfast at the Wilderness Inn, we headed to the trailhead. Before parking, we decided to take a quick drive over the logging road to scope out the Garfield trailhead. En route, we quickly decided to park at that trailhead and leave the logging road trek for Sunday’s promise of better weather.

After donning our gear and a quick photo shoot (by a trio, originally from Hopkinton!) headed to the Garfield Ridge campsite (ha, little did any of us know of the weather conditions on the summits!), and off on the trail. The Garfield trail was easy footing for much of its distance, only in the last mile or so taking on the more customary rocky type ascents. It was in that last mile before the Mt. Garfield summit that the weather seemed to deteriorate – we went from the overcast, but clear, to drizzle and reduced visibility, as if entering a cloud.

Reaching the junction of the Garfield and Garfield Ridge trails, we decided to stash our packs in the woods to make the brief 12 minute jump up the brief spur to Mt. Garfield. The weather at the summit was even worse – a pretty steady 20mph breeze, cloudy, with a heavy drizzle. Not pleasant. We stopped for a photo op, our customary kiss on the summit (number 36 for us!) and a quick return to our packs.

The books say that the Garfield Ridge trail (which stretches from Greenleaf hut, over Lafayette and Garfield to Garfield hut), is more strenuous than the numbers suggest – we can certainly attest to that. The 2.6 mi trip between Mt Garfield and the hut was difficult – all the going was wet. Rocky as it was, it took us slightly over 3 hours for just that short distance. We were relieved to arrive at the hut by 3:30, just a little soggy from the now persistent drizzle and drops from the leaves.

The hut didn’t disappoint – even though there was no heat, it was still nice to be able to change into some dry clothes, grab a hot cup of tea and nod off for a quick nap before a nice turkey dinner :-). In bed by 8:30pm, we both slept fairly well, barely noticing the two hikers who arrived at the hut at 2:30 in the morning (!).

Sunday morning broke with no change in the weather (at least as we could see). Outside the hut was the same persistent grey wall of nothingness. When talking about our day’s plan, we both looked at each other, and near simultaneously said – nope, we’ll leave North Twin for another day and simply planned on heading down Gale River trail to the car. Another hearty meal, and we were on the trail by 8:45, back in the car by 11:30. Not before another quick photo. It was nice to be out of the clouds and drizzle.

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