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Working on getting back into decent shape, and starting to get a little tired of the Belknaps ( I know, heresy, right?)

But not ready for the trip I want to do to complete the Ossipees, and no time for the Whites.

So , another Belknap trip. Decided the way to avoid boredom was to work in a trail I'd only done once but found interesting.


Gallery / slide show

 

And pretty untraveled, though well blazed....

I leave it to you, O Gentle Reader, to decode which trail that might be  :)

 

I'm finding it very hard to get to trailhead on time lately. Boots on trail today about 1.30 :O !!

Fortunately, though, the trails were almost completely clear of snow.

Lots of ice, spikes mandatory - well, apparently not quite mandatory, I saw at least 3 young adults with

sneakers , and half a dozen people with boots but no traction.

Brook trail was icier than a bobsled run and walking up it, I suddenly realized that with spikes and no ax a fall would

mean a rapid and uncontrolled descent for  a long way.

So I sidled off to the side where the ice was broken by the occasional snow patch and ascended without incident.

A good thing - from this point until I reached my car, I saw no other people at all :)

The next section of trail had been trodden by someone before the last melt-freeze, which worked out great for me -

walking in the frozen footsteps was like walking up stairs.

 

The only difficulty was one section I had been concerned about. It was a little intimidating when I was there last.

Didnt know whether the ice/snow would make it worse or better.

Better, it turned out. There was one spot that was narrow and a fall would have been very bad - several foot deep hole between boulders - but the ice was not sheer and the snow was firm. Just had to be careful not to catch my pack on the overhanging branches.

From here, it was a short popout to the ledges on North Straightback. Took a little casting around to find the trail to Straightback, didnt spot any blazes or cairns, and the ground was so open there were no tracks. Fortunately, though I knew the general direction and shortly was back on trail.

A few minutes admiring Major 

 ( Can you see the lone hiker?  

I've found that the secret to quiet time on Major is to be there a couple hours before sunset :) )

 

and the col between Major and Straightback ... and then on my way to Straightback.

 

At this point, I was running slightly late and wanted to get down to the JV/BeaverPond trail before having to switch to headlamp, so I moved fairly quickly to Straightback.

I didnt spend a lot of time on Straightback, having been there just 10 days ago. It was interesting to note the vast difference though.

Last time there, there was a foot or so of snow and an inch of crust; I needed my snowshoes.  Today - I worked at finding ice to walk on instead of bare ledge, trying to preserve my points. Too much ice to make taking the spikes off; too much ledge to ignore my points. But it was all good :)

From the "glaciers" down was without incident, pretty much just trying to beat the sundown at this point.

Didnt quite make it, had to break out the headlamp at the Boulder Loop junction.

Beaver Pond trail was flat and easy but the rest of the descent had too much slope and too much ice to try in the gathering dusk.

Very pleased to reach the car,

 

and very pleased to have done this loop - I've had this or a slight variation in mind a while :)

 

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