Hiking to Glen Boulder
Some days aren't meant to be spent above tree line
TrailsThe Direttissima, Glen Boulder
Distance5 miles, 2,285ft Elevation Gain
Time3:05 Round Trip
WeatherWarm and partly cloudy at the base, incredibly windy (70 mph gusts according to Mt Washington Observatory) above treeline.
Trail ConditionsCrunchy snow and icy below treeline. Icy and rocky above.
GearMicrospikes, Poles, Snowshoes
Partners in CrimeCody & Rye
The plan was to hike up to Mt Monroe + Mt Washington via Glen Boulder, Davis Path, Crawford Path, and down Nelson Crag Trail, which would have been a new one for us. The parking lot at Pinkham Notch was surprisingly empty considering winter’s draw to Tuckerman’s Ravine for extreme skiers. We started on The Direttissima (Italian for “shortest link” — I had to look it up) at 8:15am. The trail was super crispy/crunchy owing to days of warm temps melting the top layer of snow, and we put on our snowshoes to avoid too much postholing, though we probably would have been ok in microspikes. The Direttissima wound it’s way moderately up, past beautiful ice-covered and rock walls to our right. At 1.2 miles (0:37) we met Glen Boulder Trail and the trail started climbing steeper, with some nice views behind us of the 16 and the Wildcats.
We saw our first person of the day right before we reached treeline (1.7 miles, 0:53). He mentioned that the trail seemed to disappear and that it was very icy up there so after a few attempts, he decided to turn around. We hoped we knew better so we exchanged our snowshoes for microspikes and carried on upwards towards the threateningly windy sounding treeline. Immediately our faces felt numb as raging wind whipped us and we had to duck down to grab ahold of rocks for stability. But it was clear and sunny and we decided to push on, eyes watering and too lazy to reach for my sunglasses. We didn’t find it too difficult to follow cairns and stay on the trail, though it was glare ice nestled between boulders, which felt precarious despite our spikes due to the high exposure. Right before we reached our favorite named boulder, Rye started whimpering and dragging behind us. Cody went back to encourage her on, but we knew she would be happy with turning around there. We climbed a bit higher and then assessed our options — it seemed unwise to try for Monroe or Washington given the amount of gusting wind (which was forecasted to be ~25 mph…), so we could continue on to summit Boott Spur and make a loop down with the Boott Spur Trail. That still seemed too far away though, so we made the safe but sad choice to turn back at just about 4,000 feet (2.7 miles, 1:51).
Rye was clearly happy with our decision as she bounded down ahead of us, leading the way. We snapped a few photos with the knowledge that our freezing mitten-less hands would be warmed once we hit treeline again. It was a really enjoyable decent with snowshoes down the packed trail and we moved quickly, reaching The Direttissima at 2:37 and back down to the car in just over 3 hours. We decided to give summiting another shot at a less exposed peak and drove to Moosilauke (see post).
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