Monday, March 18, 2013

3-17-13 Tuckerman Ravine

Mt. Adams (left) and Mt. Madison (right) under a lenticular altocumulus cloud Sunday morning photographed from the Glen House site at the base of the Mt. Washington Auto Road. If you enlarge the photo you can see snow dancing up the ridge between J.Q Adams, the bump on the ridge near the center of the photo, and Mt. Adams, itself, that indicates high wind speed associated with the lenticular clouds.
Mt. Adams, right, and Mt. Jefferson on the left. The darkened ridge jutting down from Jefferson is "Jefferson's Knee".  Jefferson Ravine is to the right of the Knee. Wonderful colors!
Mt. Washington with Boott Spur on the far left. This is the east side of Mt. Washington and the Presidential Range and the location where I took the photograph, back in the 1800s, was referred to as "The Glen" the name used in previous articles in this blog about trail building. A bridle path to the summit began here and was used for just a few years before the road to the summit was completed. By 1860 the bridle paths were no longer in business. The Crawford Path fell into disrepair but was still used by hikers, particularly with the brisk hotel trade growing in and around Crawford Notch and westward towards Twin Mountain
Close up of Mt. Washington. In an hour I would be up in that cloud.
Starting up the Fire Trail towards Tuckerman Ravine in early morning light.
AT (alpine touring) skier heading for the top of the Sherburne Ski Trail.

Couple heading down after a night in one of the shelters. Temperatures over night dipped to minus 7 degrees farhrenheit and the wind was whipping the loose new snow around.

The proud owner of this handsome mustache.

Three guys heading for the summit.

She said her Appalachian Trail name was "Belle of Baltimore".  She was on her way down after spending the weekend camping in the Ravine with her husband and their handsome pet.

The bridge at the 2/3-of-the-way mark is still under a lot of snow.

Ski tracks on the Cutler River (Alpine and Telemark skiers bushwhack a lot).

Getting close to Raymond Corner which is an indication you're almost up to the shelter.

This is John. He lives close to the mountains and is a frequent hiker on the trails. He completed his 4000 footers last fall and is looking for out-of-the-way places to hike. With temperatures around zero and a bit of wind he was out in an all-cotton outfit consisting of blue jeans and a hoodie!

Shelter #2.

 Behind the shelters is this outlook across Hermit Lake towards the Little Headwall and where, weather permitting there is a great shot of Tuckerman Ravine, but not today. This is the bottom edge of that lenticular altocumulus cloud I photographed at the Glen House earlier. The wind, here, was leaping out of the ravine, propelled by gravity and the cold temperature, racing across the ice and ripping through the firs and soundling like a freight train.

Lion Head.

Hermit Lake Shelter.

There were just a few folks about. Some that had hiked up had already skied down the Sherburne and this group was getting ready to do the same. The conditions above the shelter were pretty nasty with high wind gusts and blowing snow and low temps. A group did head up Hillman's Highway but were soon lost in the clouds. The snow depth at the official snow stake was 61 inches. Rain last week (3-13-13) got up the mountain this far and settled the snow and left a thick crust but probably all for the good. The Ravine picked up 4 inches of new snow on Saturday-Sunday and a foot, or more, is forecast for this coming Tuseday (3-19-13) and even more later in the week. The winter isn't over yet.

David Weston, one of the AMC's intrepid Tuck Shelter caretakers.

A glimpse of the hut interior. It always feels like home to me. I'd come up to do some research which consisted of sitting on the couch next to the heater and reading a Masters Thesis written in 1978 by a University of Massachusetts grad student by the name of Diane Eskenasy. The title of her thesis is The Origin of The King Ravine Rock Glacier in The Presidential Range of the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Her thesis, and several others on various topics, somehow, or other, ended up at Tuck Shelter some years ago and have been sitting in the book shelf there. Like a lot of other people I've been curious about the "rock glacier" in King Ravine for years and have wanted to camp on the floor of King Ravine for a few days to explore its nooks and crannies. The rock glacier is reported to be the only one of its kind in New England. They are commonly found in the Rocky Mountains in Colorado and Wyoming. Ms Eskenasy wrote: "King Ravine, one of the north facing cirques on the Presidential Range, contains an inactive rock glacier, a mass of rocks having the morphology of an alpine glacier." I may, this summer, get into King Ravine and integrate Ms Eskenasy's thesis into a blog article with photos that might help explain what a rock glacier is and how it evolved.

Shape of the King Ravine rock glacier from an aerial photo. The mass of rock debris is roughly 1800 feet long and 1000 feet wide. ( Diane Eskenasy, 1978).

Profile representing the rock glacier after the separation of the King Ravine ice lobe from the continental ice sheet after the disappearance of the ice sheet from New Hampshire. (From Eskenasy, 1978). (I took photos of the diagrams in the books holding my camera with one hand while I attempted to flatten the page with my other hand--which accounts for the distortion in parallax)

Modern profile of the rock glacier. The term rock glacier doesn't imply that the rock lobe is moving. It means that the glacier, at one time, when it was active transported blocks from higher on the cirque headwall. The predominant ice has since melted leaving the blocks in the form of a glacier. The time line between the first diagram and this one is roughly 11,000 years (from Eskenasy, 1978).

The view out the west-facing window in Tuck Shelter which has a spectacular view of Tuckerman Ravine--normally. It's possible to sit in the swivel chair and, with a good pair of binoculars, watch skiers and hikers in the Ravine.  
Around noon the temperature had struggled up into the positive single digits but the wind was still gusting above 40 mph so it wasn't your best hiking weather. As I was just about to head down there was this good-sized group trying to stay warm on the porch while gearing up to head out.
This is as clear as it got while I was in Tuckerman Ravine--even a small patch of blue sky! I told everyone that after I left it would clear up and be a beautiful afternoon. I'm not sure that actually happened.

A man and his dog. We got into a conversation about dogs trained to find climbers buried in avalanches which brought up the famous German Shepherd by the name of Tuckerman, now deceased, who was trained by his owner, Brad Ray a US Forest Service Snow Ranger based in Tuckerman Ravine, to search and locate people buried in avalanches. Tuckerman (the dog) would quickly sniff out "victims" that Brad had buried at different levels under the snow on steep slopes, like Hillman's Highway and the lower snowfields. It was pretty cool to watch how fast he could find the volunteer victims.

I didn't ask, but I'm pretty sure that's his girl friend.

Two more hearty souls coming up the mountain.

In some of the photos you can see shards of sun stabbing through the clouds and trees here and there but a few seconds of muted sunlight would quickly be replaced with blowing snow and the gray, flat light. This photo is just above Raymond Corner on the Tuckerman Ravine Trail (also called the Fire Trail).
Lucas and his dad. I repeat this a lot but it's gratifying to see fathers bringing their sons and daughters to the mountains. This was Lucas' first time and he wasn't 100 percent enthused but it would be interesting to "follow him" and see if he comes back in his later years.
Another first-timer and obviously enthused about the hike. 
The Cutler River just above Pinkham. Most of the very early hikers, from the mid-1600s to the late 1700s, it's believed, approached Mt. Washington from the east and began their climbs in Pinkham Notch following the Cutler to Tuckerman Ravine where they then ascended Boott Spur and from there traversed to the summit cone and the summit itself. It's interesting to try and imagine what the bushwhack up beside the Cutler and up through the krummholz to the above-treeline areas of Boott Spur would have been like in the early 1700s. The Cutler has some great swimming holes! When I was 17, in the early1960s, on hot summer afternoons and evenings groups of us, young men and women who worked at Pinkham or in the huts, used to follow the river upstream a ways, until we were out of sight of the lodge and our boss, and swim and drink deliciously clandestine beer.

Finally I passed some one close to my own age. This was another father and son duo with the father on the left. They were heading up to ski the Sherburne. We had a nice chat about the "good old days."

1 comment:

PREM SINGH said...

This post is really fantastic and very interesting. Thanks for sharing this.
Modular kitchen designs