Peter and I were eyeing something from the 52WAV. Conditions/Trip reports are pretty sparse online these days so there wasn't much info on what had been broken out and what hadn't. Our original plan was for Black and Blueberry but the idea of some unplowed road walking, even for a little bit, didn't interest us so we decided to save them for "real" spring. After comparing who had hiked what already we settled on Mt. Tremont. We arrived to find the parking unplowed and the sign almost covered in snow, but managed to park off the road near a little bridge a few hundred feet from the trail and by 9:45 we were on our way.
Just enough room to park off the road
First order of the day was getting over the snowbank
The lower section of trail had a slight depression and faintly recognizable tracks from the last visitor but it wasn't always obvious where the trail went. The trail is very lightly blazed in most places and often has some older faded blue paint mixed in with newer but very sparse yellow blazes. It is probably obvious where the trail is when there is no snow but in winter it wasn't always clear. But you usually hug the embankment of the brook as you go, and the forest was a gorgeous older growth hemlock mix that made for great scenery as you looked around for which way to go. Filled with huge, old, towering evergreens, much like the forest in the Nancy Brook Scenic Area (which is one of the best in NH if you like that stuff) but much easier to get to. The lower portion of this trail would actually be a beautiful mile or so hike all by itself. The woods and water were that nice!
The brook was thawing in spots but it's still pretty snowy up there
Trail follows the embankment along the brook for a mile or so
Beautiful forest full of big hemlocks to stroll through
Some spots made you work for it but overall the first mile was pretty easy going
View ahead to Tremont. Looks like you're almost there!
Straight line I think it's less than a mile but it takes a series of 20 or so switchbacks to get you up 1500 feet in that mile
Eventually you end up high above the brook valley, and we finally crossed what was then just a trickle of water, and that's when things got interesting. Whoever had gone that way anytime recently had stopped at the crossing, so there was no longer even a hint of a trail. What blazes there were (and there weren't many in this section) were knee high with the deep snowpack so finding them and the correct route took some splitting up and exploring at times. Slowly but surely we made our way up the trail that progressively gets steeper until it finally starts a series of 20 or so switchbacks to get up the last 500 or so feet of the mountain. An inch or two of crust over fluff made for some nasty sidehilling on the 45 degree slope of the mountainside, so every step was a punch down with the edge of the snowshoes to break the crust and make a flat step followed by a little slide sideways when you broke through to the fluffy stuff. Fun fun fun!! We crawled at a snails pace up the last mile or so, but eventually after 2.8 miles and 2600 feet of elevation gain which took us 4 hours 16 minutes and 8 seconds (possible record for slowest known time?) we popped out of the ever tighter tunnel of trees onto the open summit ledges with a great 180 degree view out at the flat valley the Kanc passes through backed by the Sandwich Range under blue skies and barely a cloud in sight. Unique Birdseye views of the Sawyer Ponds and a good look at Carrigain and the Hancocks, as well as some of the Twin and Franconia range summits peaking over and around them. The Captain stood out in the middle of the broad valley juts to keep it interesting and with a little effort you could get a glimpse of Mt. Washington over some treetops. It had been chilly and breezy in the woods right to the end but on the summit ledges it was actually hot in the sun, so we took off layers and enjoyed an extended break to refuel and take in the scenery on a beautiful afternoon.
Blazes were hard to come by after the crossing for a while, and what ones we saw were a mix of older blue and newer yellow paint, sometimes both
Crunching our way up
Aren't these supposed to be more than a couple feet off the ground??
Always fun to have a face full of pine needles
Light at the end of the tunnel
Summit view ledge. Worth the effort!
Taking a long look around
Carrigain and Vose Spur
Sawyer Ponds and the Captain
Must have been a lot less trees when they used to call it the Half Dome of the Whites
George holding onto the last clouds around for dear life
Kanc Pass and the Osceolas
Eventually after snacks, photos and relaxing we pulled ourselves away from the summit ledge and headed down the way we came. It was so steep and sloping we decided the safest way we could get down would be to use spikes and intentionally posthole the first few hundred vertical feet of really steep stuff while swinging from every tree in sight like a monkey. I don't recall ever feeling like a slip in the woods on a trail with 4 feet of snow could end badly but you definitely could have gone for a ride crashing down the slope though the trees for the first few hundred feet here, because once you slipped it was just a smooth, crusty, really steep slope down through the trees with an occasional 20-30 foot drop over a ledge. Punching your leg in deep was important, so my apologies for postholing the trail but it had to be done!
Once we were down below that the sun had warmed up the snow so it was typical springtime mashed potatoes, and it was an easy cruise of a couple miles back to the car. Saw fresh animal tracks and some weird painted rock. Caught a nice sunset in Conway to finish off the day. All in all a good workout and a good hike. I'd like to head back and hike this one from the Kanc and hit Owls Cliff also, maybe in foliage season. The view is definitely worthy of being on the 52 and worth a return trip eventually also, so next fall maybe a return trip it shall be.
Peek-a-boo views of Washington cleared out
Maybe half a mile up the trail. No idea why
Sunset on the ride home