HIKED ON JULY 16, 2022
Man my legs hurt...
This hike over the Twins was quite an undertaking. It was a twelve-miles total out-and-back over North Twin (4,760 feet) to South Twin (4,902 feet) then back over North and on down the way we came. We got off fairly early--a little before 5am--and were at the trailhead by 8. The parking lot was already full and we were among the many who found a parking spot by the side of the road. It wasn't the most crowded trail we've encountered--that would be our fall hike up Zealand--but it was still much more than we have seen at other times. It is a summer weekend in the Whites! This is what it looks like.
Fortunately the crowd was one of the friendliest we have encountered. Occasionally you get grumpy people who are unhappy to see you. I believe I mentioned that in my Moriah post. Not on this day, though. I will spare you most of the details but there was a lot of shared picture-taking, friendly chit chat, and general encouragement both given and received.
The hike up is different in a couple of ways worth mentioning. First, there are a number of somewhat challenging river crossings. This trail is not recommended during the spring runoff, in fact, when the crossings can be downright dangerous. There is also an unofficial "bushwhack" that helps folks get around them. However, we opted to ford them as the levels had gone down substantially and, well...it was fun. That said, instead of jumping from rock to rock, we bought our sandals and waded through. Taking the risks of an errant stick on the trail, we kept our sandals on until we crossed the last big stream. With boots back on--already a few miles in--we started our climb in earnest.
The next big problem we encountered was the condition of the trail. People have been hiking the Twins for a very very long time and the trail has been worn down over the years. Often when this happens (and on some parts of this hike) that means smooth and sometimes-slippery ledge. In this case, however, there were large stretches of small, loose rock that shifted underfoot. It wasn't a game changer by any means, but it was annoying. It would have been nice to gain some firmer footing. Our slow progress, however, gave us a chance to check out the foliage. This hike has incomparable ground cover with plentiful and diverse flowers and moss to examine during water breaks. I found it to be a nice consolation for the upward slog.
On the way up North Twin we encountered a number of people going our way. We leapfrogged each other from time-to-time, talking each other through the river crossings in one case and celebrating the "first 4,000 footer" of a confused puppy in another. There really is a bit of a community among the people who do this frequently. Peak baggers belong to the same Facebook groups and follow the same folks on Instagram. My eldest son is hiking the Appalachian Trail and it isn't as intense as that--we don't camp together every night for months at a time--but we do occasionally see the same faces and we know we have the same hobby. On this day everyone was in a talkative mood, which helped in the darker moments of the climb.
I have to admit there were moments when I was pretty close to despair on the way up, but once we reached the first overlook (and celebrated the puppy) things improved immensely. North Twin featured a couple of beautiful spots for a rest and a snack. Then we had the opportunity to hike across the ridge to the peak of South Twin. I have mentioned before that I love a good ridge trail. This one was special. Also, it was super-easy! I think I enjoyed it more than the peaks, themselves.
On this hike, if you do all the work to climb the first mountain it is worth taking the time to bag the second. After all, the work is done! The 1.3 mile walk to South Twin was a great recovery opportunity with semi-obscured views and more of that diverse alpine ecosystem to enjoy.
Once we made it to the summit, we were blessed with 360-degree views. I did not take a video because we were also surrounded by lots of fellow humans. Still, even with the crowd, it was quite a sight. Here on South we met a number of high schoolers, one of whom waxed lyrical about the mountain we were on and the mountains we could see. We had an excellent view of the "Presidents." Washington--with its towers and cog rail--was the most obvious, of course. However, the shear number of mountains within view rivaled the top of Liberty and seemed to stretch on forever.
Turning around and crossing the ridge we once again approached the north peak. It was a bit of a struggle to climb back up the scrambles we had already climbed down but, really, it wasn't so bad. We stopped at both the outlooks on North once more and then proceeded to our cars. We crossed the river again, and again, and again. we leapt from rock to rock for the first one then I switched to sandals. Al jumped one too many rocks and got her feet wet so switched to sandals for the last crossing and hiked out that way. I will do this hike again sometime. It probably won't be too soon, though. South Twin was #24 for me on the NH 48 list which is exactly halfway. Also, I am at # 11 of the 52WAV. I would like to get back to those. Still, what a day...
I am a full-time pastor in a small, progressive church in Massachusetts. This blog is about the non-church things I do to find spiritual sustenance.