Tuesday, December 22, 2020
Start/end: Daicey Pond cabins
Elevation gain: 5269′
After going to bed at 8pm and sleeping pretty well, I was up at 4am. I prepped for the day and then headed over to cabin #10 to meet everyone for a 5am departure. We headed off down the campground access road and connected over to the Tote Road and walked the 5 miles to the Marston Trailhead by 6:30, where we met up with another hiker and everyone put on their snowshoes. From there, we were breaking trail through 1′-3′ of powder.
We snowshoed up past the lake and to the intersection with the North Brother trail. There, we split into two groups of four; I ended up with 3 other people heading to South Brother and Coe, breaking out the trail as we went. We summited both in quick succession, battling fierce 30-40 MPH winds above the treeline, so we descending quickly.
We hoofed it back to the intersection, arriving around noon. We had a quick snack and then headed towards North Brother, following the other group’s tracks. We summited North Brother by 12:45pm and nearly got blown off the mountain; there were constant 50+ MPH winds and blowing snow at the summit, resulting in visibility reduced to perhaps a few hundred feet ahead. Just shy of the summit, we had a shouted conversation with the other group; they’d had a rough time of it breaking trail up to North Brother, contending with sections of waist-deep snow, and navigating the bushwhack over to Fort, but the trail over to Fort was ready for us. We scurried down from the summit and headed into the trees as quickly as we could to gain any shelter from the wind.
Thanks to the hard work of the first group, we had a smooth trip over to Fort after dropping our packs and poles, since the bushwhack was a tight squeeze and they would just get in the way. We stashed some food and drink in our pockets or waist packs and dove in. We made the summit of Fort within 35 minutes, quickly took a few pictures, and then headed back across. We picked up our packs and poles, skirted the summit, and quickly made our way back to the Marston trail intersection. We left some clear signs for the other group, and headed back towards the road. We arrived at the road just at 4:30, as the last of daylight was ebbing away. We were grateful to remove our snowshoes; we strapped them to our packs and started walking. Those final 5 miles felt like an eternity, hiking on a road by headlamp in the snow with almost no landmarks to let you know that you’d made any progress.
I was incredibly glad to be back at the campground, arriving around 6pm. I got my woodstove fired up and roaring, and then went over to cabin #10 to start water filtering and take the water I’d need for my dinner. I came back a few hours later to get a bit more water and say my goodbyes.
Because the day was so much cooler and I was carrying 3 liters of water, I managed to have perhaps half a liter of water left at the end of the day and I felt fairly hydrated, given the circumstances.