Let’s see if this makes sense: there’s no truly difficult part of climbing Bondcliff in New Hampshire’s White Mountains and the Pemigewasset Wilderness. The first 50 percent of the hike covering the Lincoln Woods Trail and Wilderness Trail is all flat, heavily traveled ground. Yes, there are a few steep sections on the Bondcliff Trail—show me a 4,000-foot mountain in the Northeast that doesn’t have some serious ups—but even these are quite forgiving by White Mountains’ standards.
Valley Way is the access route to Mt. Madison and Mt. Adams most travelled by, and for winter hiking that makes all the difference. The easiest and most direct route to Madison Hut, hikers come one and all for day hikes to the aforementioned summits, overnights at the Valley Way Campsite or above treeline (winter only), to venture into the Great Gulf for ice climbing, or to begin treks across the Presidential Range.
A fresh coat of snow, drizzled in hues of blue from the early morning light, blanketed the Mt. Moosilauke field. The snow was broken only by a classical cross country ski track showing the way. To the west, through the towering trees, the hills were awash in sunlight, fulfilling the promise of a rare cloudless day. The ascent of Mt. Moosilauke via the Glencliff Trail (also the Appalachian Trail) was just beginning, and already it was hard not to love this idyllic winter hike.
It was nine degrees in the Lafayette Place parking lot and the car was getting blasted by wind. At a little past seven on a February morning, I had a good mind to retreat home to the warmth of my down comforter. Fortunately, common sense was in short supply.
You can’t sleep. You toss. You turn. Visions of the “world’s worst weather” pummel the sugar plum fairies trying to dance through your head. Bitter cold. Biting winds. Fickly visibility. Winter hiking Mt. Washington—New England’s highest peak at 6,288 feet—is all fun and games with the added disclaimer of avalanche danger.
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