DD & Willow here! You all know by now that Willow adores winter. She is the one who exclaims with glee every time the white stuff is falling and love to spread her love of winter with others whenever possible, or at the very least, annoy those around her who hate winter with her excitement. She was more than happy to take DD up Mount Tecumseh challenging winter hike!
When we first met, our adventures were relegated to spring and summer, but in DD’s irrepressible, optimistic way, she wanted to play outside in winter too. Willow was skeptical and wasn’t sure that the Florida girl had what it took for cold, windy days on the mountainside, but DD has proved that she is a Mainer at heart time and time again.
Even though it has taken her several years to come around, she now loves winter. Last March we hiked DD’s first New Hampshire 4000 footer and first Presidential for an early spring ascent of Mt. Pierce. She loved it and committed to gearing up over the coming months to be ready for winter in 2017. See that story here and stay tuned for her post on the gear she needed to get to become a winter hiker!
We were in Massachusetts for the AMC Summit with our friend Laura, and decided to head back through New Hampshire and tackle DD’s first winter 4000 footer up Mount Tecumseh the following day. We were able to convince our friend Jenny to join us as well since DD and Jenny had never met IRL – In real life for those of you not hip to the interwebs codes – We connected through Instagram! (PS Follow us – Willow DD Jenny + of course Love Maine Adventures
The AMC (Appalachian Mountain Club) is a fantastic organization that supports the outdoors and oh so much more. The Annual Summit is a day long event, with over 20 speakers – it’s Choose Your Own Adventure style. The three of us took different sessions so we could maximize our learning and get the most out of the day. We’re hoping to go more in depth on that in a future post.
Tecumseh is a great starter mountain for winter since it is sheltered, has relatively low mileage and for the fact that the trail is usually packed out – we didn’t need snowshoes, only Kahtoola microspikes. We arrived at Waterville Valley Ski Area shortly after 8:30 and hit the trailhead around 9. We parked in the lot with the rest of the skiers/hikers and then navigated our way over to the trailhead. The trail starts with moderate grades through open forests before crossing a stream and ascending steeply for several miles before evening out and skirting along the southern side of the mountain to the peak.
About 1.2 miles in, you’ll reach a view point, which will connect you with the ski slopes. It’s pretty cool to watch the skiers come down and the cut out gives you great views!
We were exceptionally fashionable on this trip – we have a leggings addiction problem, as well as an addiction to fun, funky colors, so we like to take photos of our gear for reference. DD is especially proud of her yellow poles, which were a gift. You’ll notice she pairs them well with many of her outfits. To fuel your own leggings addiction – head on over to Backcountry.com and take a look – they have sales pretty often, and while funky leggings can be pricey, the compliments you get on them are worth every buck! Plus Backcountry is WONDERFUL and their customer service is second to none.
Our friend Laura referred to Tecumseh as a StairMaster – and she was not kidding!!!! The ascent started aggressively and the difference in DD and Willows physical abilities soon became clear. Fortunately, since we hike together often, we divide and conquer, both going at our own pace. It’s a pretty amazing feeling to be sort of alone in the magical wilderness of winter.
DD sometimes has a little TOO much fun on her own, but at least she enjoys herself throughout the brutality of winter hiking. An excerpt from her trail journal –
“I climbed my first winter 4,000 footer yesterday in NH with Willow and Jenny. It was BRUTAL. I am out of shape. My lungs were burning – I had to stop many times on the ascent. My heart was RACING and my breathing was very fast and loud. I thought about turning back many times, but knew I had to reach the summit + keep going no matter how hard it was. I met many people on the trail that were very encouraging and that was super helpful!”
The summit gives you a real life “Choose your own adventure” – you can go left or right. We went left – and reached the glorious summit in no time. There were a number of people up on the top, and we all celebrated, took some selfies, and did a ceremonial CHEERS with Fireball 🙂
The summit has nice views of Mount Tripyramid and the Sandwich Range of the White Mountains. And gives you a nice reminder that
“It is not the mountain we conquer – but ourselves” – Edmund Hillary
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We then began the decent, and we BOOKED it. Microspikes and trekking poles give you lots of confidence on the way down, and the descent is fast and steady.
We made it back to the parking lot a little after 1 pm, meaning we spent about 4 hours on the mountain. The trail itself was 5.2 miles round trip, so we made pretty good time! After we reached the parking lot we were debating going into the lodge for some celebratory food and drinks – but we just all opted to head back home, since we all had a few hours to drive.
Elevation: 4,003 feet
Prominence :1,722 feet
Lists: AMC 4,000 footers
Distance: 5.2 miles RT
Approximate Time: 4 hours
Gear: Kahtoola Microspikes, Outdoor Products and Leki collapsible trekking poles, leggings (with an additional fleece layer underneath), Spyder + Skida beanies, gloves (2 pairs – heavy and light) wool socks, Outdoor Research Rocky Mountain High Gaiters, hand warmers, Camelbak bottle(so your water doesn’t freeze), Turtle Fur balaclava, chap stick, Deuter pack. Extra waterproof jacket layer for the top – because once you stop you’ll get cold, fast. You’re warm while your moving but the threat of frostbite and hypothermia is REAL. (Don’t forget your emergency blanket!! and first aid kit!!!) Willow loves her Ultralight down jacket from LL Bean – and she also loves her Winter Stick that she got from one of her Cairn boxes
So – that’s all for Mount Tecumseh! Stay tuned for many more adventures as DD attempts to hike 35 mountains this year in honor of her 35th trip around the sun. (Follow #DDs35for35 for all of her peaks!) Questions about winter hiking? Shoot us an email at LoveMaineAdventures@gmail.com. Have you done this peak? Show us some love in the comments below!
Until next time,
DD and Willow