Volunteer Outing Cardigan Mountain February 20-21, 2015
A winter ICO Volunteer outing was held at Cardigan Mountain on February 20 & 21. Two trip leaders and six volunteers made the drive up on Friday night for an overnight stay at the AMC Cardigan Mountain lodge. Three cars made their way up with one car spotting a large doe on the dirt road leading to the lodge. After settling bags into bunk rooms, the group headed down stairs to the lodge library, had some snacks, and played a few fun rounds of impromptu trivial pursuit where we learned that Solomon’s temple was built with cedars of Lebanon and other very important facts before calling it a night.
A full breakfast was served in the morning, with the dining room outside thermometer ringing in at a generous -3°F. The group dined together and with other lodge guests at large picnic tables. The lodge hosts were friendly and helped the group prepare for the hike. Everyone got snowshoes, suited up, and hit the trail at approximately 10am. It was a sunny, yet cold morning, as the thermometer topped out at only 8°F for the day. Three people decided to start off in snowshoes, while five others decided that microspikes would be a better option. There were other hikers with backcountry ski set ups, spikes, and snowshoes (a family even tried to use those old wooden snowshoes…bad idea). The first segment of trail was ~2.5 miles to the top of Firescrew Mt. and took the group roughly 2 hours to reach. Much conversation was had with the group, including guessing what a firescrew was anyway…(a useless conversation). The snow was waist deep if one accidentally ventured off the hard packed trail! No wildlife was seen as it was wicked cold.
As the summit approached, the trail became increasingly open with views of the White Mountains to the Northwest and ski areas of NH and VT to the south and west. One trip leader and two volunteers with the snowshoes turned around to follow the same trail back down to get out of the cold cold wind. Those with microspikes pushed on to Cardigan’s summit that was covered with large patches of sheer ice! Ironically there is a firetower on the summit of Cardigan where historical fires have cleared the summit of trees making the place like an alpine moonscape. The summit was bitter cold with strong gusty winds, and the ridge from Firescrew to Cardigan was filled with snowdrifts, stunted trees, and slower travel, which definitely gave it a feeling of an elevation much higher than the approximate 3,000 feet. A few quick minutes were spent snapping photos before locating the trail that descended back to the lodge.
The hike down the mountain was an easy one, with much shelter from the strong winds encountered at the summit. Both groups arrived at the lodge within minutes of each other. Individual experiences were shared as were oranges and other snacks in the gear room as everyone warmed up. Future opportunities within the ICO were discussed along with upcoming ICO trips already on the books. As the snow started to fall outside, the group decided it was time to depart, and each car went on its merry way back to Boston. One car was lucky enough to see two husky coyotes dashing across the road into the snow on the same road where the deer was spotted just the day before!
-Rachael & Ben