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Mount Garfield 4500’

10 Miles 3000’ Elevation gain

Kevin, Judy and Emma

With tropical storm Noel bearing down on New England and all sorts of nastiness forecast for the mountains, we decided to take our chances and go up anyway. Most predictions indicated that the further north and west you were the less chance of being affected by Noel. With that in mind, Garfield seemed like a good bet. Although skies were overcast throughout the hike, we did not encounter any precipitation. Arriving at the trailhead around 10AM, we set off through a dead-calm forest. Early on, while passing through an area devastated by January winds a few years back, we spooked a large porcupine up a tree. He wasn't the biggest I've ever seen, but he was bigger than Emma. Luckily I spotted him before Emma, and was able to keep her from going up to make friends. The noise I made spooked him off the trail and up a nearby tree. They move pretty slow on the ground, but once he hit that tree he was up and out of reach in a few seconds. Now I know it's not common to spot one in the daylight, but I think he must have been moving due to the coming storm. Nothing about his actions seemed suspicious except that he was out in daylight. Brook crossings were normal, not high, not low. If the mountains got the rain that was forecast that would change overnight. There was a thick carpet of brown leaves along the trail at the lower elevations where the trees were mostly deciduous, and all the trees were bare except for the relentless beeches which cling to their leaves all winter. Higher up the forest turns over to conifers and the footing is easier where there are no leaves to hide rocks and roots. In isolated spots there were the remnants of a recent dusting of snow and here and there a paper thin crust of ice covered some of the puddles. Considering the forecast we were surprised to walk through a motionless forest until well up along the trail where the switchbacks expose you to the north wind for short stretches before you duck back into the protection of the trees. Above the junction with the Garfield Ridge Trail there was a little bit of ice on the trail, but nothing that we couldn't get around. On the summit we experienced the first stiff breezes of the day, which were coming from the southeast. This seemed odd to me as the forecast had predicted the storm to be a northeaster, wrapping around New England and coming at us from, you guessed it, the northeast. Standing in the old fire tower's foundation for protection, the wind came at us across the Pemigewasset Wilderness, seemingly generating from somewhere behind Owl's Head. The temps were probably mid to upper thirties, but combined with a 20-25 MPH wind the wind chills became uncomfortable, and after a quick lunch we got back down in the trees as fast as we could. The trip back out was uneventful and we were soon back down to the car, having ticked off another to make 26 on the year. I may not make it to all I had hoped for this year, but I'm sure having fun trying!

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Next Mountain
Garfield 3/15/08
Garfield 5/18/03
Garfield 7/23/00