Ascent of Mount Garfield on 2014-03-04

Climber: Spencer Corcoran

Other People:Solo Ascent
Only Party on Mountain
Date:Tuesday, March 4, 2014
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Mount Garfield
    Location:USA-New Hampshire
    Elevation:4480 ft / 1365 m

Ascent Trip Report

I wanted to chip away at the 4K list some more, so I decided to hike 4,500 ft. Mount Garfield.

I arrived at the Gale River Rd. winter lot at 10 AM, where there was one other car, but I wouldn't see a soul the entire time. I geared up and then set out at 10:09 AM.

The Gale River Rd. was closed, so I walked it to the Garfield Trail summer trailhead. There was a well-beaten track all the way to a fork, where I walked a snowmobile track to the TH. I took a look at the map and then ascended the abrupt hill at the start of the trail.

The Garfield Trail, although long, was one of the easiest White Mountain trails I've ever hiked- the grade was easy to moderate the whole way and the trail was so hard packed that I was able to bareboot almost the entire way, putting on spikes for the last 0.1 mile to the summit. I reached the top of a lowly ridge, descended, and soon began to follow the old tower access road, crossing a few brooks in the process. After crossing a snowmobile trail (not broken out by man nor snowmobile), the grade picked up a bit, but it wasn't steep by any means.

Near the top, I started ascending by switchbacks and soon reached the junction with the Garfield Ridge Trail, 4.8 miles from Gale River Rd. I took a breather and ate a cereal bar to get the necessary steam to climb the final 0.2 mile.

After the junction, the GRT climbed moderately for a short distance and then became fairly steep, although the trail was hard packed and smooth from buttsliders, which warranted spikes. I wore them from there to the summit and all the way back to the winter lot.

The trail opened up, and then the snowshoe track ascended some ledges, where the old fire tower base was. I clambered up the ledges and climbed into the fire tower base, therefore reaching the summit at 12:50 PM. The view was incredible and included the Franconia Ridge, Scar Ridge/Mount Osceola, Owl's Head, the Bonds, the Twins, the Presidentials, Galehead, and some of the Kinsman Range peaks. I didn't stay too long, as it was quite cold- so cold that when water from my bottle or the snow got onto my camera, it froze on contact. I soaked in the view one last time and then headed back down the way I came, returning to my truck at 2:44 PM.

This hike was one of my favorites. The trail wasn't the most scenic, but the awesome summit more than made up for it. Today was also a day for milestones: Garfield was NH 4,000 footer #29 and Northeast 4,000 footer #30 for me, my second winter 4K and my first solo winter 4K, and my longest winter hike to date. All in all an afternoon well spent.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:3200 ft / 975 m
    Round-Trip Distance:12 mi / 19.3 km
    Route:Gale River Loop Rd, Garfield Trail, Garfield Ridge
    Trailhead:Gale River Loop Rd. winter lot  1280 ft / 390 m
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Snow on Ground
    Gear Used:
    Weather:Frigid, Breezy, Overcast
Ascent Statistics
    Time:2 Hours 40 Minutes
Descent Statistics
    Time:1 Hours 45 Minutes

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