Ascent of McGaffey Mountain on 2019-03-30

Climber: Chris Rudolph

Other People:Solo Ascent
Only Party on Mountain
Date:Saturday, March 30, 2019
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:McGaffey Mountain
    Elevation:1310 ft / 399 m

Ascent Trip Report

I took the 'Y' trail, which is billed as a mountain biking trail, unmarked, unfinished and unmaintained. It starts at the trail head lot for the Round Top Mountain trail, but at the far end of the lot. To me it appeared nobody had stepped foot on this trail in a month or so. There was the faintest impression of x-country ski tracks in a few spots. and near the summit area some snowshoe impressions off trail. Having never hiked this trail before, I was in for a route finding treat (no GPS)! There were occasional trees marked with pink, orange, and black dotted orange tape. Most of these were reduced to just the tied portion around the branch with nothing to flutter in the breeze. Essentially the few markers for this trail were dime sized, or blended in with the dry beech leaves still clinging to the trees. It took me 4.25 hours to get from parking lot to true summit. I lost 'the way' about 3 times, the upper part of the trail is unfinished. I followed the trail about 90% of my hike, the last part I stitched trail and bushwhacking together to gain the summit. The most interesting part of this mountain was near the top, a pine "Christmas" tree, with about 12 ornaments in varying states of decay. A couple of them had names or dates, most had rotted from the sun exposure over the years, Turning black or silvery. I don't know the story of this tree but it has in-tree-ged me! The summit of this mountain is not impressive, but a good place for a snack before descending. On the map there is a lookout, I did not find it. The 'Y' trail if you take it all the way (give or take) is 9 miles round trip. Not a quick up and back like one might expect out of a relatively small COHP. I took 2 hours to descend, since I could follow my snowshoe tracks. Despite the rains recently, the snow still has some depth to it. I was generally sinking 6-10 inches and sometimes even 18 inches. This is a winter hike not to be underestimated! I'm sure it is lovely in summer or fall, and would come back to hike it again then. The solitude was pretty fantastic.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:1720 ft / 524 m
    Total Elevation Loss:1720 ft / 524 m
    Round-Trip Distance:9 mi / 14.5 km
    Route Conditions:
Unmaintained Trail, Bushwhack, Stream Ford, Snow on Ground
    Gear Used:
Ski Poles, Snowshoes
    Weather:Cool, Calm, Overcast
Some fog around the summit, otherwise cloudy with good visibility.
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:1470 ft / 448 m
        Gain Breakdown:Net: 820 ft / 250 m; Extra: 650 ft / 198m
    Loss on way in:650 ft / 198 m
    Distance:4.5 mi / 7.2 km
    Start Trailhead:490 ft / 149 m
    Time:4 Hours 15 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:1070 ft / 326 m
        Loss Breakdown:Net: 820 ft / 250 m; Extra: 250 ft / 76m
    Gain on way out:250 ft / 76 m
    Distance:4.5 mi / 7.2 km
    End Trailhead:490 ft / 149 m
    Time:2 Hours 

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