But having said all that, here I go reporting on a typical winter hike to Mt. Monroe (5,372 ft elevation)!! Although I'm uncertain, I think my rationale for including this report in my blog is because of the minimal effort required to write a report for which there is so little to be said!
My motivation for doing this rather unremarkable trek was quite simplistic. I had ventured out the day prior to this hike, and due to above freezing temperatures, the snow conditions were lousy for XC-skiing and snowshoeing at the lower elevations. Since the temperature was predicted to be even warmer on the day of this hike, I decided to do a trek to higher elevations where conditions would make it less likely that snow would cling to footwear. As to why I chose Mt. Monroe as my destination, the trailhead is less than a half-hour drive from home. Plus, it had been over 3 years since I'd done a winter ascent of this mountain.
From the outset of this adventure, I had no great expectations of experiencing any stunning views. Some forecasters had predicted that the higher summits would be in and out of the clouds; whereas others had forecasted that a cloud cover would linger for the entire day. However, there seemed to be general agreement among all the weather gurus that the wind would be minimal, and there would be no precipitation. The lack of wind and precipitation was all I needed to hear. It was of no concern that there might not be any views since I've seen the views in-person, and seen numerous photos posted by others.
I used the Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail to launch my trek to Mt. Monroe. The photo presented below shows the Presidential Range as viewed from the trailhead parking lot at Marshfield Station.
|Presidential mountain range as viewed from the trailhead parking lot at Marshfield Station|
As is often commonplace at this time of year, the trail's footway was a well-consolidated "sidewalk" created by the many hikers and backcountry skiers who use this corridor. The snow depth was respectable. However in prior winters, I've seen a much deeper snowpack where oftentimes the trail-blazes (such as seen in the next photo) are about even with the top of the snowpack, or are completely covered.
|Typical scene along the Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail|
The next snapshot shows what would be my last truly clear view of the day. The photo was taken high up on the ravine at about 2.0 miles from the trailhead where the trail crosses a brook that eventually becomes the Ammonoosuc River.
|Last clear view of the day (looking westward from high up on Ammonoosuc Ravine)|
Shortly after leaving the viewpoint shown above, I was in a thick cloud cover for the remainder of the journey. Perhaps this can best be illustrated by the next photo which shows the "view" as I was approaching the summit of Mt. Monroe.
|The "view" when approaching the summit of Mt. Monroe|
And shown below, is one more photo that demonstrates the dense cloud cover. Seen here is the Lakes of the Clouds Hut. It presented a rather ghostly image on this particular day.
It might be mildly interesting to contrast the view shown
above to a similar photo of the hut which was taken a few years
ago when the day was clearer, and the snow was deeper. (The people in the photo are backcountry skiers who stopped by the hut on their way down the mountain.)
|Lakes of the Clouds Hut surrounded by dense cloud cover|
|Lakes of the Clouds Hut as seen on a winter trek taken several years ago|
And finally, the following snapshot is solely for the benefit of anyone who might be unfamiliar with locations mentioned in this report. This photo (taken in late Spring) shows the Lakes of the Clouds Hut resting at the base of Mt. Monroe. If you look closely, you can see the trail winding its way to the top of this mountain.
|Photo showing spatial relation between Mt. Monroe and Lakes of the Clouds Hut|
To sum it up, this was a rather ordinary winter hike to Mt. Monroe. Nonetheless, it was still a fun adventure. From my perspective, the cloud cover caused no particular angst. It just added an interesting element to the overall experience.