Westminster Road, Princeton, MA
There is snow coming this weekend so providing it's not TOO bad, it sounds like a perfect time for a fun hike up Wachusett! Who's with me? :-)
The forecasts I'm hearing is for 6-8 inches of dry snow. If we get too much more, if the roads are looking bad, or if we get a wintry mix, I'll cancel so please keep tuned to this posting.
My plan is to meet at the trailhead of the Echo Lake trail, go up Echo Lake, High Meadow, Bicentennial, and finally the Mountain House Trail to the summit and back again. Typically in dry conditions and I'm soloing this I would expect it to take 2 hours, but with a group and with fresh power I figure it will take at least 3 hours and maybe more.
I encourage experienced winter hikers to come along, but I will encourage newbie winter hikers EVEN MORE - PROVIDED you have the right gear (and can keep a moderate pace). Here is the gear you'll need ->
- NO cotton [of any sort, except maybe your inner-most layer if you have no choice] This means no jeans. No cotton shirts. Nada. When cotton gets wet it has NO insulating ability making it completely useless.
- You NEED decent snowshoes [meaning they have a bit of a bite in the "crampon" portion of the snowshoe. The trail will likely be icy under the snow and without a good enough bite, you will not be enjoying yourself]
- You NEED decent traction devices such as Micro-spikes. [NO stablicers. No Yax-Trax as these are not good enough at gripping real ice, which is when you will need traction the most] Again, the trail will likely be icey under the new snow so if we hit the right spots you're going to need them.
- HEAVILY Recommended - Trekking poles or even decent, sturdy skiing poles as this helps a LOT with your balance, especially if/when we put on the snowshoes.
- You will NEED some layers, one thin and one heavier pair of gloves, and one thin and one heavier hat (I heavily recommend a good wool hat for the heavy one), and you'll need to bring the usual food and water, etc. Be sure you have heavy enough clothes to be able to stop at the summit and/or on the trail if we encounter a problem.
I'm a former AMC leader who's favorite season to hike (HANDS DOWN) is winter! I've peak-bagged a lot of 4,000 fters in winter (sometimes, solo) and simply can't describe how beautiful it is. Challenging? - Yes. Fun? - Absolutely! Safe - YES, as long as you have the right gear and learn how to handle the conditions.
If anyone has any questions and ESPECIALLY if there are any winter hiking "newbies" out there who could use some guidance, have questions, or just aren't quite sure if this is for them, please don't be shy and ask ... I'll be happy to help you as best I can. I would LOVE to introduce this wonderful hiking season to anyone who hasn't tried it before and to let you experience it SAFELY!
So, who's with me? If we get 6 - 8 inches this should be GORGEOUS! ... and you'll be guaranteed a lot of laughter! [... those of you who have hiked with me can attest to that :-) ]