Saturday, February 18, 2023
Start/End: Gale River Rd/Rt 3
Elevation gain/loss: 6604′
Peaks: Garfield, Galehead, South Twin, North Twin
After a relaxed evening, I was awake early. I swung by Gorham to get breakfast, and then drove the 45 minutes to the trailhead. I started out at 6:30am; I was the first person in the lot. The trail up to Garfield was smooth and well-packed, with some dirt and leaves visible at lower elevations. I enjoyed the relaxed hike to the summit, and then headed back down and took the right to continue over towards Garfield. I was most concerned about the section from Garfield over to the intersection with the standard ascent of Galehead; it’s often not broken out but I’d seen a trail report of 4 people packing it out. The crust had melted and refrozen, so the surface was perfect for traction; unfortunately, a single hiker had gone through when it was warm and postholed knee- to hip-deep holes for the entire 2 miles. I spent my time on that section trying to avoid falling into the ankle-breaking pits, though the light powder from the night before had covered up some of them so I wrenched my back and my knee falling in a few times.
At the Galehead hut, there were lots of people, all eager to take advantage of the low 30s blue-bird day. I tagged the summit and then headed for the summit of South Twin. Before and after the summit, I ran into a few different groups of hikers who had crossed the Little River and ascended North Twin first. This made me excited, because it let me know that I could descend from North Twin, rather than having to turn around and descent as if I’d gone to Galehead.
After a quick climb up North Twin, and a dodge around a group of 12 sitting in the trail, I descended towards the river. The river crossing itself wasn’t too bad; I had to get creative but it felt safe, even with a lot of rushing water. I passed by the summer trailhead and then walked the closed road back to the main road; normally a snowmobile track, there wasn’t enough snow for snowmobiles to be riding so there were no tracks. It was kind of nice to not have to worry about getting run over or smell exhaust on my walk.
Out at the Rt 3, I packed my bag up tight and stuck out my thumb. It only took me ~5 minutes to get picked up and dropped 3 miles down the road by my car. I was proud of my miles; it only took me 8.5 hours and it was a truly perfect day.