Early Winter on Tecumseh - 22/Nov/98

By David Metsky

We were staying at a friend's house in VT after a party, and Sunday dawned clear and cold, perfect early season hiking conditions. We were looking for one more 4000'er with a relatively short hike since we'd be getting on the trail late. The only one that fit the bill was Tecumseh. After a fine breakfast of waffles and strawberries, we hopped in the car and headed to Tripoli Road.

Only Tripoli Road was gated, it must have just happened that week cause it was open the previous weekend. Oh well, we drove south on I-93 to NH 49 and headed into the Waterville Valley ski area, to find the other side of the Tecumseh trail. We had to stop in at the ski area and ask where the trail starts but we found it easily, just 100 yards from the skier drop off spot. We didn't hit the trail until 12:00, but it was only 2.2 miles, a beautiful day, and we had lots of gear including headlamps, we'd be fine as long as we didn't get lost.

Only we did get lost. It seems that the trail was recently relocated and it's not marked very well. We were following footprints in the 1" of snow and they completely missed the stream crossing so we missed it as well. They followed the old trail, then lost it, then they petered out, and we bushwacked up hill until we found the old trail again, which dropped us off on a closed ski slope. Along the way we hooked up with a father/daughter team, Joe and Sam from Bedford NH (Hi guys!) who had the new map and trail description. With the help of a hiker coming down we found where the trail heads back into the woods and we vowed not to lose it again.

Yea! We didn't lose it again. The trail takes a pretty steady angle up, staying to the east of the ski area. It passes very close to one lift but other than that you don't get too distracted by the ski area. By now there was maybe 2" of snow and a bit of ice. We met a group coming down, some in shorts (!), who made the tracks that we followed. They told us to take the left hand loop to the summit instead of the right hand loop. A short while later we met another father/daughter pair stopped for a rest. As I said hi the father called me by name and said that he'd read my trip reports on the web and recognized Brenda and me. So much for anonimity. The Sosman trail comes in from the top of the ski area about here, then we hit the loop junction just .3 miles from the summit.

Here we ate a Cliffbar and drank water, talking to the various groups going up and down. The final push to the summit is a little steeper, with some nice views west towards Moosilauke. The summit itself is wooded with some nice views to the east and north, especially from a small ledge just 20' to the north. Mt Washington was brilliant, as were the Osceolas and Carrigain. After a lunch that was shared with the Canadian Jays, we packed back up and headed down. We decided to take the Sosman trail, thinking it was a short distance to the ski area. It's actually about .6 miles, taking you over a good sized bump with views back to the real summit and north and west. The view here is slightly better than that from the actual summit.

When we hit the ski area by a tower of some sort, we were a bit worried about walking down the ski slopes. The first part was on a closed trail, but we quickly were dumped out onto an active slope, dodging the snowboarders while making practice telemark turns on the manmade base. Actually, the skiing looked pretty good. A ski patroller headed our way, we thought to tell us to stay off the ski trails, but he said we were fine and to have a great trip down. The rest of the journey was on closed trails and we had fun with the boot skiing and the views. We hooked back into the trail near the chairlift we heard on the way up, this time following the new relocation. Back down at the stream crossing, which is about .3 miles up from the trailhead, we built an obvious barrier so others wouldn't miss the turn.

Even with getting lost and playing on the ski slopes, we were back down in about 4 hours. It's a nice hike, much better than I remembered from my trip up from Tripoli Road. You have to deal with the sounds of a ski area in the winter, but the walk in the woods is worth it. To get to the trailhead, drive to the Waterville Valley Ski Area and park in the skier parking lot. The trailhead is to the right of the ski area, 2 tenths of a mile from the drop off area.


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