Friday, October 9, 2009

Galehead guest post

This is the guest post for the trip up Galehead Mountain that Mark mentioned a few days ago. My name is Paul and if you have read this blog over the months you will recognize my name. Mark and I have known each other for almost a half century and during the past few years, I have been his walking companion most mornings—rain, shine, snow, sleet. You have also seen my picture a few times including one from our hikes in the White Mountain two years ago. And 43 years ago we took a traverse across the Whites, staying at several of the huts that he has mentioned.

As you know from Mark’s post, I invited myself along when he decided to add to his list of 4,000-footers, especially when he blamed it on me that he couldn’t count our 1966 trip to Galehead. (Of course he could have kept notes himself but that’s another story.) Since I am not the expert, knowledgeable hiker that Mark is, I let him plan the event and provide me with some of the equipment that I lacked. For example, when I decided that my daypack was a little small for the trip, he said that he had eight packs (beside the Osprey that he took) from which to choose!*

I had been watching the weather forecasts and they were not very good: sunny for the morning as we drove north to the trailhead and then rain for the time we were to walk up and also for the following morning as we descended. Unfortunately, they were correct--although as Mark has indicated they underestimated the amount rainfall for the morning.

Paul at the sunny start.

This is not a trip to be undertaken for the great views. Except for a couple of places where we could look down upon the valley of the Gale River, there was nothing to be seen. Almost all of the trail is in the deep woods: fir, hemlock, birch and mountain ash. The “peak” of Galehead Mountain is totally wooded. (There is a cairn to mark the spot). The one outlook near the peak looking out over the Pemi Wilderness was completely fogged in! 

Mark at the soggy summit.

So, what were the positive parts of hike? Obviously reaching the summit. (Incidentally we did this the following morning since it was getting dark and we were very wet by the time we reached the hut.) And more importantly, our time staying in the hut.

 Galehead Hut

Galehead Hut was completely rebuilt less than a decade ago and is a very nice place to stay. It is most isolated of the huts but the accommodations are very good. They had a very friendly staff of three who provided great food and also a lecture on the “fir waves” of the White Mountains. There were six other hardy hikers staying there that night, along with a thru-hiker who arrived a couple hours after dark.

Galehead interior
I cannot end this post without mentioning the one really negative event on the hike. On the way down in the morning, it was raining quite hard. The trail was covered with large rounded rocks. As we descended into the deciduous forest, we found that the rocks were covered with wet leaves and about halfway down, my feet went out from under me and I ended up with a twisted ankle—along with a few other smaller complaints. Obviously, the last couple of miles went rather slowly. Perhaps if I had a pair of Mark’s Pacer Poles, I would have not had my problem!

* Paul used an early version of the Cold Cold World Chernobyl. Great, simple, tough pack...New Hampshire made!

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