The morning didnít start out so great. I slept through my alarm and was
woken up by my friend wondering when I was going to be at his house. I
jumped out of bed and told him Iíd meet up with him and another hiker off
the highway. From there I quickly packed and hit the road. My
oversleeping caused us to get a later start than we expected, only
by 20 or 30 minutes. The skies were overcast the whole ride north.
We got off at Tripoli Road and headed for the parking lot in the Thornton
Gap at the trail head for the Mt Osceola Trail. There we suited up and
met another hiker headed for the same destination than we were. The clouds
were still covering us overhead. Being the first hike of the year, my body
took a while to adjust to the rigors of hiking the White Mountains. After
twenty minutes or so, I got into a good rhythm. With some new music in my
player and good conversation the first couple of hours flew by. The trail
was relatively straightforward. There werenít any major ascents on the way
to Osceola which was a godsend since I was light on water. I was hoping that
I would be able to use my new water filter to refill my water bottles, but
to my surprise there were no rivers to be found on this day. It was my time
to try and conserve. After a few hours, we came to our first viewpoint which
did not offer much since we were still under total cloud cover. Another hour
or so after that we reached the summit of Mt Osceola. It was an open ledge
that was quite ominous due to the fact that we were amongst the clouds.
After a quick stop for a bite to eat and a drink, we continued on our way
to East Osceola. The trail started to descend quickly and before we knew
it we came upon a chimney that we decided to bypass and climb on the way back.
Soon after that the trail started to ascend and after a while we noticed some
cairns on the path. Not thinking too much about it we passed them and noticed
that the trail started to descend. We turned back thinking that we passed the
summit somehow. We backtracked to the last cairn and took a small side path to
a viewpoint. At that point we noticed that the clouds had started to clear.
Was this the summit? I think it was. There was nothing but the cairns to mark
the summit, so noting that there was not much to see we headed back.
Following the trail back was undemanding until we reached the chimney. One at
a time we climbed up the vertical wall or rock. Being very wet, it was a slow
process. We all made it and headed back towards the summit of Mt Osceola. By
the time we got back to the summit ledge, the clouds had all but cleared. There
were great views to the south, I believe, of Waterville Ski Area and Mt Tecumseh.
I didnít have my compass with me, but Iím almost sure it was Waterville. We
took another long break for lunch and enjoyed the beautiful views we missed on
the way up. Afterwards, we headed back down the trail which was quite uneventful.
It was perfect for the first hike of the year, not too long, not difficult. Two
more 4000 footers done, only about forty to go.