Mega Whites loop from Passaconaway to Tecumseh 11-15-2015
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Author:  rich99 [ Thu Jan 07, 2016 5:19 am ]
Post subject:  Mega Whites loop from Passaconaway to Tecumseh 11-15-2015

Hi there,

This is my first post here. I usually hike in the Adirondacks because I'm from Montreal, but I will try hiking the 48th this winter and will start with a report of my last trip in the Whites. I’ve done the Presidentials and Pemi loop many times, but just started to discover all the other awesome mountains over there! I've read some of your reports and there's some jaw dropping photography here! This report is a bit lenghty, but so is the hike. I'm open to any comment or critique, hope you enjoy!

This was a very nice 18 hours 50 mile solo loop in the Whites going through Passaconaway to Tecumseh and the Osceolas and why not, going through all of the NHHH summits on the way. I had also planned to do the Scars but didn't have enough time and from what I have read, the bushwhack is horrible. Kancamagus is also missing. My distance calculation were pretty off since it would have taken over 60 miles.

Average temperature was 32F and there was snow pretty much everywhere plus some avoidable ice on summits. I had micro spikes but never used them, which slowed me down on descents, but used poles extensively.
I didn't eat much overall, 6 chocolate and 8 dates. Pack was about 10lbs including food and 2L water. I had a filter straw, spikes, down jacket, eVent pullover, headlamp w/ extra battery, sat phone, cell phone, USB charger battery pack, 1 pair of socks, safety blanket, fenix watch. That’s about it.

Original planned route, with optional return and including the scars from the Pond. Blurred background to protect map copyright.

I made sure to really step on all the summits and even came back on my steps were I missed it. I made many little orienteering mistakes, but nothing major and stopped really fast each time I was lost or my direction or elevation wasn't right. I had made a plastified map that I carried in my pants ready to look at any time and it helped me correct mistakes very fast. I didn't have a GPS tracks, only map and compass and GPS point on the watch for Fool Killer and Scaur.

I left a bit late around 4am and the goal was to summit Passaconaway and see the sunrise. It was very windy and cold on the 112 highway, the wind was pushing me. I'm always scared at night in these conditions! But it was going well and I even slowed down to not submit too early. Finally I made an orienteering mistake missing the trail towards summit and missed the sunrise by 20 minutes. Sunrise happens earlier at higher altitude!

Missing the sunrise summit!

Wearing orange for hunting season would have been camouflage :)

Some ice but no need for spikes here.

Summit of Passaconaway!

And the view from there.

I was going fast towards Whiteface and completely missed it too, so I went back and started bushwacking to find it, when I realised the summit was on the trail! After that I continued and went straight ahead on Dicey's Mill Tr, but realised it 300ft later, what a chance, it was going fast downhill! The Sleepers sections was very impressive, completely blown down and the route open with a beautiful chain saw job.

Awesome Rollins Trail around The Bowl Research Natural Aera

Finally found Whiteface's summit, it was on the trail and I bushwacked three high points to get it :shock:

Going towards the sleepers.

Summit of East Sleepers

Going uphill towards South peak was an exposed scramble. I found it dangerous with the ice. The pyramids were impressive and deserve their name.
Some scramble to get there, but very nice view.

View of the pyramids

From the middle pyramid and view of Tecumseh. I glad I didn't know this would be my next destination at this time, it looked way too far.

After the Mid Trypiramid, direction to The Fool Killer! What a name. I didn’t expect to lose so much elevation there, from 4100’ to about 2000’. I crossed the first person here, an older guy in shorts climbing up. After that, very pleasant bushwhack towards the summit. It’s a very calm and nice place on top. There’s a sign with Fool Killer written on it and some weird plastic cylinder. Learned later that these are register canister! Fast descent back without following my footsteps.

Happy to have finished this bushwhack easily, very pleasant place here.

Going back up the pyramids was pretty intense, but I started seeing more people and it’s a nice feeling knowing I’m not alone. Although I wouldn’t cross anymore after this. Past North Tripyramid at 4180’, direction Scaur Peak. Another bushwhack, but stumbled on the herd path. It took me some time to find the sign, turning around the summit. Lots of blowdowns hiding it. Coming back, I almost made a monumental error descending on the wrong mountain face, I decided to trace back my footsteps in snow and follow them back through the herd path.

Blow downs around the area, but easy to get there if you find the herd path

At this moment, I started to worry about the time I would finish this hike. I could see the ski tracks of Tecumseh and it looked so far! Maybe my plan was a bit too much. After some calculations, I expected to get to the base of the ski tracks at 2pm and summit at 3pm. The sunset would be at 4pm, this wasn’t very encouraging. Hopefully, all routes going there were gravel and I was walking under 15 minutes mile. My adductors were hurting (this is an old injury of mine, can’t run flat roads, but it’s all good, I can walk) so I had to walk a lot, but all was runnable. When I arrived at the Tripoli route, I took the wrong direction, but came back on my steps and just decided to bushwhack directly towards the ski tracks. Success! I found the hiking trailhead at the end of the parking and start the ascent around 2h07pm.

Descending the pyramids towards the faster gravel roads

Almost there, it's a bit closer now :)

The trail towards Tecumseh summit is very well maintained. I thought that if I go hard towards the summit, I would be there at 3pm and manage to start ascending Osceola before the night, which would be a good idea in case it was hard to find the trailhead. Obviously the Scars were out of the question at this point. I really gave it all on Tecumseh et spent all energy I had. I knew I was going to suffer later!

View from Tecumseh summit and looking at the Osceolas

After Tecumseh, route towards Tripoli road

Again, descending towards Tripoli, I'm posting these in case no one goes here often

Orienting towards Osceola was much easier than I though

I did summit at 3pm, I run all the downhill and get to the trailhead of Osceola exactly at sunset. I felt so much safer at this point but weak. Ascent from 2000’ to 4380’. Ouch, this is going to be a tough one, because I’m totally bonked. The plan in these conditions is to just go slow and safe. At 2600’ I get the headlamp out. The mountain is icy and the wind starts to blow hard. I’m worried it could blow trees down, I was getting pushed by the window through the thick wall of pines along the trail! It’s impressive. Step after step, no breath, the legs are good but my lungs (another problem of mine after 12h+ of effort) are shut, but I finally summit Osceola! Another mile to descend and uphill towards East Osceola! I manage to descend pretty fast, but going up is terrible and the wind is horrible.

Steep descent after Osceola

Finally got to the summit. Some weird shapes on it, but I don’t stop a long time, because contour lines on the map show it’s going to be a very steep downhill. I find out it is and it’s all frozen! This is what north faces are like I learned later. It took forever, without ice I could have ran all of this.

Osceola East!!

Down there, I had the chance to continue on the highway and do a 5 miles walk or bushwhack 1 mile… tough choice, I decide to bushwhack and I don’t know if it was a mistake. It took 1h20 and it was very unpleasant. I used the compass and contour lines to orient, I needed to climb 800’. I was hoping that the highway access would be possible and I wasn’t entering in any private land and that the forest wasn’t too dense. It turned out to be pretty dense and later I though a light was following me. Not sure if it was an illusion or hallucination! Finally I get to an area completely blown away and on top there’s a huge gazebo?!! I’m worried it might be some rich guy’s backyard, but finally it’s an observation point for this special blown down area and the highway is there!

2.5 miles of speed walking in freezing wind and I am at the car! It’s surprising how it’s much colder on the highway than anywhere on the trail and I was very glad most of the summit were not exposed. My skin was burning, I’m hurt everywhere and I’m cold. I eat whatever I had left of my frozen McDonald’s meal, take my sleeping bag and fall asleep instantly. When I woke up, I felt so good and satisfied :)

3:34 AM Start from Lily Pond
6:54 AM Passaconaway 4043 (sunrise)
8:04 AM Whiteface 4020 (came back twice)
9:00 AM East Sleeper 3860
9:15 AM West Sleeper 3881
9:44 AM South Peak 4090
9:56 AM Middle Tripyramid 4140
10:44 AM The Fool Killer 3548 (goes down low from tripyramids)
11:42 AM North Tripyramid 4180
12:05 PM Scaur Peak 3605
1:59 PM (base of tecumseh)
3:02 PM Tecumseh 4003 (went hard)
4:08 PM (base of Osceola, sunset)
5:46 PM Osceola 4340 (totally dark and windy, very slow, bonked)
6:19 PM East Osceola 4156
7:19 PM base of Osceola (crazy steep descent)
9:26 PM back to car (1h20 bushwalk)

GPS track

Peakbagger link to trip and topo

Author:  Walrus [ Thu Jan 07, 2016 8:00 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Mega Whites loop from Passaconaway to Tecumseh 11-15-201

So was one of the errors a short descent down Passaconaway's northern view spur a little ways? I was up there on 11/15 and saw one set of tracks go down a little bit and turn around thinking, "man, what a chump". . .

. . .I would like to retract that thought and apologize. damn man, congrats.

I know it's a little late but there's an XC trail called Pipeline connecting the Livermore and WV parking areas that's really convenient for loops joining the two.

And one question if you don't mind. Would you have done anything differently if you had ran this after your 12/27 adventure on Saddleback(I think most people read every regional forum)? That was a scary trip report.

Again, amazing work.

Author:  thegibba [ Thu Jan 07, 2016 8:26 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Mega Whites loop from Passaconaway to Tecumseh 11-15-201

Welcome to the forum! Holy moly that's one trip report! 4k+M of gain. I'll have to convert that to feet but I know that's well over 10k feet. I kinda skimmed by cause I'm getting ready for work so I'm going to re check this out later. I guess if you are coming from Montreal you may as well get your money's worth out of the day! Thanks for sharing.

Author:  madmattd [ Thu Jan 07, 2016 9:27 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Mega Whites loop from Passaconaway to Tecumseh 11-15-201

thegibba wrote:
4k+M of gain. I'll have to convert that to feet but I know that's well over 10k feet.

4663m = 15,299ft elevation gain. Honestly I would have ballparked it as more than that, doesn't seem so bad! (kidding).

Holy cow, what a trip!

Good call on skipping the Scar Ridge from Little East Pond. I've yet to read a happy story from that side (Steve Smith, co-editor of the White Mountain Guide) told me recently that it's gotten worse in the last 2-3 decades, haha. I know several people that did all 3 Scar Ridge Peaks (plus the in-betweenies) a couple years ago and took something like 19 hours, and that was by traversing out to Loon, which is much quicker/easier than returning to Middle and East!

Author:  Granite Guy [ Thu Jan 07, 2016 10:19 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Mega Whites loop from Passaconaway to Tecumseh 11-15-201

Quite a detailed trip report on an amazing hike, and welcome to the forums! I could do this too, but it would take me a long weekend of backpacking. :D

Since this appears to be your MO with these mega hikes you probably know about the hut-to-hut and other ultra/endurance hikes in the Whites that go on, but since these are not your usual stomping grounds and just in case you don't you should look into it. Stats are pretty much the same as this hike but would take you to many other areas of the Whites.

Author:  Beckie and Prema [ Thu Jan 07, 2016 10:10 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Mega Whites loop from Passaconaway to Tecumseh 11-15-201

We could do this, too ---- if they gave me at least a week off from work! Great report! Welcome to the forum! Hope you come back and do more stuff to write about!

Author:  Beckie and Prema [ Thu Jan 07, 2016 10:13 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Mega Whites loop from Passaconaway to Tecumseh 11-15-201

Oh yeah... and thanks for the nice picture of the other side of Tecumseh!

Author:  rich99 [ Thu Jan 07, 2016 11:04 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Mega Whites loop from Passaconaway to Tecumseh 11-15-201

Walrus, lol I think I took all possible routes around Passaconaway and then retraced back. You can zoom in the linked maps and see that. It was still early in the day and I wasn't too careful with orienting correctly, but I'm glad I corrected this one fast enough. On december 13 I dropped 1 mile and 1000' coming back of Moosilauke and retracing wasn’t fun!

I did see the XC trail, it wasn't obvious from down there where it went. Looks like it follows the Tecumseh Brook, thanks for the tip, I'll use this for sure.

Other than bringing sharper spikes like hillsounds, not really, because I also had a bigger jacket here expecting the bushwhacks to be much worse. On Saddleback I made bad decisions pressed by the situation and based on how easy I assumed the climb should have been.

thegibba, yeah the gain took its toll, but it's the bushwhacks and distance that made it much longer. I too thought it would have been much more than this!
madmattd, I'll take note of the Loon, I've read it was the "standard path" there and horror stories from other ways like black flies and walking tens of feet high over blowdowns!

Granite Guy, yeah, I'm aware of these hikes and will be doing them for sure in the future, hut to hut planned next summer. But I find these kind of loops like here completely different, much harder to plan and full of surprises. Plus hut to hut, I’d have an easier time finding partners :)

There’s a guy we know from the trail running community that regularly runs the presidentials out and back in winter. He actually ran part of it the day before my loop and was slowed down by too much snow and wind. I was sleeping in the car on the 112 hw and it was shaking hard all night. Then a month later on dec 12th while traversing the presidentials with friends, we crossed him on his way back from his out-and-back presidentials "jog"!

Author:  Salty [ Thu Jan 07, 2016 11:21 pm ]
Post subject:  Re: Mega Whites loop from Passaconaway to Tecumseh 11-15-201

Bravo! Absolutely outstanding strength and a great trip report. It's a refreshing change from the usual mega-trips.

Be glad you didn't have the time to attack the Scars. From the parts I've experienced, it's a mix of beautifully open to downright awful. :D

Hope to see more TR's from you in the future.

Author:  hophiker [ Sun Jan 10, 2016 9:17 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Mega Whites loop from Passaconaway to Tecumseh 11-15-201

Wow. Amazing hike. Like some of the others, I think I could do this too. In July. Over a 4-day period. If someone else carried all my stuff.

Author:  hiking lady [ Fri Jan 15, 2016 9:44 am ]
Post subject:  Re: Mega Whites loop from Passaconaway to Tecumseh 11-15-201

Wow amazing trip! A wonderful read. Sounds quite epic. Well, we here at Hike-NH are looking for new blood, any past trip reports of ADK's or previous "mega-loops" we would love to read, feel free to post them P-L-E-A-S-E. it was enjoyable read. Sounds like a long day. Glad you stayed safe.

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