December 26, 2021
Start/end: off the road by the gate at Haystack Rd
Elevation gain: 2608′
After stopping for lunch in Gorham, I parked at the end of Haystack Rd, joining 3 other cars. I decided to bareboot it in just my microspikes, and that was a good choice; bushwhacking in tight quarters with snowshoes is rough.
The people before me had packed down the road nicely and I made good time to the herdpath split. I followed footprints until they stopped right as the herdpath started more steeply uphill. I hiked up, enjoying the trimming someone had done to the herdpath, making it much more like a full trail. Midway up, I started seeing some faint footprints. The hiker had navigated the bushwhack before the last 2-3″ snowfall, and their occasional hint-of-a-footprint gave me something to follow. There’s definitely more of a defined herdpath now than there was when I first did it in 2018, and for that, I was grateful. There was some wandering uphill, but I always found those footprints again.
The final 20 minute push to the actual summit was rough, with a ton of blowdowns and tight squeezes, but I don’t think it’s possible for it to be much easier in winter than it was. I was glad to have hiked this early in the season. I made the summit before sunset, and made it all the way back to Haystack Rd before I needed to put on my headlamp. Overall, it was a nice struggle that I enjoyed.