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 EPIC!!!!!!!!!!! 
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I Spend All My Time on This Forum
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 EPIC!!!!!!!!!!!
Scoutmaster Gary had gotten down to his final 3 peaks on his list of the 48. One of those was Osceola, which he had to pass up when the boys did East Osceola on FOT48 due to inclement weather that rolled in. So it was decided that today we would assault Osceola from the Kanc. side, which with the snowstorm Friday/Saturday we knew would be a daunting task. In preparation for the planned attack Dave Bear headed out on Saturday to break out some of the trail. He managed to get to 3500 feet before calling it quits, and this most likely played a key role in our successful bag.

This morning I pulled into the Bow Park and Ride to pick up Cantdog and RLC. Not far behind was Steve and Getawaygirl who would be carpooling together (yes we might have fit everyone into Steve's car, but it a good thing we did not as we will see a bit later). With everyone loaded up we were off. Steve and Getawaygirl passed us on the highway and Cantdog, RLC and I settled in on cruise control and enjoyed a pleasant trip up with a short stop off exit 23 to the Dunkins. We hopped off at exit 32 and headed into Lincoln. Bombing along the Kanc. we managed to fly right by the parking lot for Greeley Ponds. Cantdog had said she thought we passed it, but for some reason I thought it was AFTER the hairpin turn. As we were discussing this we saw Steve and Getawaygirl headed in the opposite direction which confirmed that not only had WE missed it, so did they. I pulled into the Osceola outlook parking lot (where we saw Rocksnrolls, Poison Ivy's and Erin's car, who were off to do the Hancocks today) and turned around. As we drove back the way we came.....Russ and Gary went driving by! Yup, we ALL managed to miss it! With our bearings corrected we pulled into the proper trailhead lot and began getting ready.

The thermometer said temps were in the low 20's, and with the wind it felt brisk! We all started getting ready waiting for the others to arrive, and by 8:00 no one else had showed up yet. By 8:10 we decided to head out, and just as we did Dave Bear and MadRiver showed up. Steve, RLC and Getawaygirl waited for them while Cantdog took off running with me, Gary and Russ in tow. We made awesome time out to the Greeley Pond/Osceola Trail junction thanks to the great work of Dave the day before. Cantdog had kept her momentum going and continued on while Russ, Gary and I stopped for a break (Russ passed around the Thin Mints while a also munched down some Ultralight Joe's Moose Goo......which I go on the record right now as saying this stuff is AWESOME!!!!!!! Great taste and lots of energy given!!!!!!). After waiting around as long as the temps and wind would let us we started up the Osceola trail for our date with destiny. We got barely a 1/4 mile from the trail junction when Dave and Getawaygirl caught up. MadRiver was not too far behind and we kept moving on as a group. By about 1/2 a mile from the junction we picked up RLC and Steve. They had waited a bit for HappyHiker before heading out themselves. So now a cohesive group we moved up under the cliffs off the shoulder off East Osceola.

Down low we moved fairly well, making good time and enjoying the beautiful day with bluebird blue skies above. We kept up this pace until about 1/2 a mile from the slide. Here things got tricky and in a scary way. The extreme steepness coupled with some very loose powdery snow meant that we spent A LOT of time kick-stepping just to go a few feet. Occasionally we would do 2 steps forward and then slide back 4. It was tough, rough going and the grumbling level rose fast and hard. At one point I heard Steve say "hey there little black dog" followed by someone asking "are you Kevin, Judy and Emma?" I would never actually get to see them as at this point the steepness and roughness getting up forced RLC, Kevin, Judy and Emma, and Getawaygirl to turn back for good. It was the last we heard or saw of them for the rest of the day. Steve kept troopering on behind us and managed to catch us in front of him. And so we continued on, 7 of us slogging it higher and ever higher to the summit of East Osceola.

We topped out and blessedly arrived on the summit to Russ and Cantdog sitting down and enjoying a snack. We gathered up and mulled about on the frigid and windy summit. Cantdog decided that since she was wet and cold she was going to call it a day, and Steve chose to join her. So that left 5 of us for a 1 mile trip over deep, unbroken trails to Osceola. I looked out at Osceola and pondered. My knee had started tightening up, so I thought long and hard about what I was about to get into. Push the knee and take a chance aggravating it, or turn back with Steve and Cantdog. In the end I decided that if I were to drop out it would leave 4 guys to do the monstrous task ahead, so I sucked it up, told myself I came here to help Gary get his peak, and even though these peaks meant nothing to me list wise (I got them in winter 3 years ago to the month) I was going to push it. So the 5 of us took off for what would prove to be an EPIC slog over 1 mile and several hundred feet of elevation gain over deep, untracked, unpacked snow. The time was now roughly 12:00......off we went.

I must give credit where it is due. The majority of trail breaking was done by the three strongest guys, MadRiver, Dave and Russ. I pitched in when I could, but my addition to the overall effort was very limited in a lead trailbreaker, and part of the time second behind the leader. We fought long and hard though an average of 1 1/2 to 2 feet of powdery snow, and it was not uncommon to hit a 3 or 4 foot snow bank. The ridge was a battle not just with snow but a shrinking corridor. At 6'4" I had to get on hands and knees at some points to crawl under spruce branches that you normally look UP at during the summer. It appears no one had been on this trail for at the very least the last 2 big snow dumps. An old track was nowhere to be seen and we were punching up to our knees all the way. This made the steep climbs up all the more hard. Free of any feminine companions we began actively voicing our displeasure with long strings of colorful adjectives and expletives and MadRiver, who usually has a set of fast legs, was bogged down and crawling inch by inch up these parts. Eventually we got to the col and the infamous chimney. Dave decided to just go for an all out assault straight up the chimney.....or rather where the chimney IS since it was nothing but a giant, steep snow bank. Russ, MadRiver, Gary and I decided to try the bypass, and this is probably the only time I can say this and have it be true.....the chimney was easier and safer. The bypass was narrow, had crusty/slippery snow, and it was so precarious Russ decided to skip the switchback and head straight for the trees for a bushwhack that at least offered solid handholds. We met Dave at the top of the chimney and continued on with our slog. At one point we climbed a steep pitch and thought we were just about there only to have the real summit poke out in front of us. I think all 5 of us nearly cried, but we came this far and by god we were going to finish things. With one last Herculean effort we plodded the last of the way to the summit where we were treated to endless visibility and surprisingly tolerable wind as Gary celebrated his 46th 4000 foot summit visit. We mulled around snacking, taking pictures and enjoying the amazing day. The time was now about 2:15. 2 hours 15 minutes to go 1 mile and 700 feet up.

We had briefly discussed heading down to Tripoli Road, walking it to Waterville Valley and then have someone come and pick us up. Most of the group who turned back had headed to MadRivers, and since he lived a bare few miles down the road it would have been a short trip for whoever came. But, alas, the trail was unbroken and we made the hard choice.....break it out and walk the groomed ski trail that Tripoli Road is right now or head back the way we came which was now tracked and packed, even though it was at a cost of another 500 feet elevation gain. In the end we decided to just head back as we had had our fill of trail breaking for the day. At the very least we were going to get to use our Swiss Bobs which we had carried up. So it was off back from whence we came. We now made judicious use of our backsides, especially at the chimney, which made for probably the most thrilling glissade ALL of us had EVER had!!!!!! Gary and I were now starting to feel the burn and he and I made the greatest effort to keep putting one foot in front of the other. Bone tired and weary from a tough day we slipped back over the summit of East Osceola and started down for what would be a series of long glissades back to the spot where we lost Getawaygirl, RLC, Kevin, Judy and Emma. We knew from here the "scary" steeps were over, so we switched to the almighty Ass-Shingles-Of-Death (dubbed the ASOD!!!!!!!) It was a rather hair raising adventure, and who knew a simple piece of plastic could turn the human body into a virtual terrified passenger on an out of control freight train.

And so it was we sped down, either by frozen arse or wobbly legs, back to the trail junction where we would make the last, relatively easy, trip back out. Russ decided to run ahead to get the car warmed up. I decided to just hit my own pace and chug along. Gary moved his own pace. Russ disappeared, Gary was now out of sight behind me, I walked along in silence as the sun slowly disappeared off in the distance spreading beautiful pinks and reds into the darkening sky. I poked out of the woods to find Russ, Dave and MadRiver mulling about. Dave handed me a piping hot cup of cocoa, which I downed with sweet relish! Eventually Gary followed, sealing the deal and making number 46 official. We all packed up and headed over to MadRivers where I delivered Cantdog's belongings she left behind to her, ate a few pieces of sweet garlic bread and said my good bye's to my companions to which I had shared a most amazing feat of pure endurance. Thanks for a great day guys, it was a doozie!

Brian

P.S. Should anyone be curious, although my knee had started to tighten up a bit no real pain materialized. It appears my rather intensive strengthening/stretching/R.I.C.E/Aleve regimen is working well. I think things are finally getting back to normal!


Mon Mar 03, 2008 9:02 am
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Hey Brian,

Great TR as usual. Sorry that everyone didn't make it though. Sounds like the trail and trail breaking got to a few.

This is a tough one in good conditions, I can imagine what it was like with all that snow.

Big time Congrats on this one

Bill


Tue Mar 04, 2008 12:45 pm
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Brian --

Nice trip report. I have a lot of respect for what you guys did -- as Bill said, that's a tough hike in even the best conditions, especially going up East Osceola.


Tue Mar 04, 2008 6:06 pm
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What is funny is that when I did this trip 3 years ago the trail was hard, crusty and in some places down right icy. I found it easier then simply because the crampons allowed you to bite in to the trail. The powdery snow for this trip was a nightmare, and simply because she could not get a good bite into the snow with her shoes is why Getawaygirl turned back.

Still have a few aches in odd places, but the victory is still sweet! :lol:

Brian


Tue Mar 04, 2008 6:31 pm
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Trail stewardship doesn't involve turning hiking trails into paved walkways....


Tue Mar 04, 2008 7:01 pm
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Thu Mar 06, 2008 1:43 pm
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