Bamforth did not disappoint (Pics HERE). Indeed, this trail in late winter is nothing less than arduous. 6.x miles in 6.x hours - what kind of pace is that? For those who have tried this ascent up Camel's Hump in the winter, it's a well known struggle. For those who have not yet had the pleasure, here are some of the features of today's trek:
- It's over six miles to the summit of Camel's Hump from the trailhead, and well over 3000ft of elevation gain. The trail leaps up and down so frequently that there aren't any 'flat' spots. Every 100 yards is a challenge - except for the first mile, which is frequently hiked in the winter.
- Nobody seems to try to hit the summit - or at least so few that there was no trace of anyone in the snow. There was no treadway under the snow and no evidence that anyone had ever passed that way. Ever.
- The trail is on the lee side of the mountain and the woods were full of snow, in deep and rolling drifts. We were high in the treetops - certainly as high as 10ft at times.
- The woods vary from open deciduous glades to dense alpine conifers. It's extraordinarily beautiful.
- Oh yeh, and it's steep.
[Update 3/1 after a good night's sleep]
Some of the difficulties of route finding on this trail are due to the tortured terrain. The photos I took don't show any of that. The route is filled with steep-walled, forested gullies and this time of year, massive drifts, slides and bulges of snow that deceive the eyes and the sense of direction.
We were fortunate in that we had bright sun, easily located most of the time. On some open knobs we were able to locate the summit relative to the sun and in the deep woods just kept on that bearing.
Also interesting was our 'Plan C' choice of descent route. MadDog was suffering from a wave of incoming chest-cold and by the time we came down from the summit to the little glade on the 'shoulder' of the Hump (about 3pm), knew we needed to reconsider the return plan. Heading back via the Long Trail would've meant coming out of the woods close to 9pm. I was already out of water and food, MadDog was getting sick, and the trail down is filled with so much elevation gain that we opted instead for descending the Monroe Trail - a mere 1:30 bang on a much trekked trail. Mrs. MadDog graciously picked us up and drove us back to our cars. Luckily the MadDogs live in the area and the entire rescue didn't take more than an hour.
I got home to find that Sue and Travis (home for winter break) had made pizza w/ fresh dough - still hot from the oven.