Ethan Pond tr. & Campsite to Thoreau Falls

Date: Saturday 4/20/02 - Sunday 4/21/02

Attending: Gary, Gabe, Simone and John

Miles: 11 Time: 24hours

AMC huts, / shelters / camping site: Ethan Pond Campsite

Weather: partley sunny, low 30's during the day, high teens at night.

Another great spring overnighter in the Whites. This time we would not bag any high peaks. New England had just been through one week of unseasonably hot (90's) for the last week and according to the rangers at Pinkham Notch, all the river crossings were at dangerously high water conditions. Not that this in itself would prevent an attempt at a high peak overnighter, but we had the limitation of not arriving at the trailhead until after 4:00p.m. We had to be able to make it to a shelter before dark.

The first mile to the Willey Range trail cutoff was mostly dry. Shortly after the cutoff the trail was a thin (less than 1 ft. wide) snow ridge from the old snow packed trail, that took much care of foot placement to stay on top of, otherwise you would posthole into several inches of mud or water.

The entire trip out to Thoreau Falls was like this, other than a 50ft. bushwhack required because a section of trail has been flooded over by beavers. The campsite was packed snow, (The shelter was completely taken up by a large family group). We cleared the snow off of one of the tent platforms; all the others only had a few inches of icy snow left on them. A few more nice days and they should all be clear. The outhouse was almost full to the base, of the toilet; I don't suspect it could take more than a few more visits. I notified the AMC about this when we got home.

We bare booted the entire hike, but waterproof boots, gaiters and a spare set of dry socks in case of the inevitable slip into water or mud were the order of the day. Gabe did slip off an icy rock and soak his leg, and a boot, but we had the dry socks and his polar fleece pj's under his hiking pants kept him warm and dry. Poles were helpful to stay on top of the packed snow ridge trail and helped when the path gave way (as it did often).

What a wonderful little trip this is. The first mile of trail is a steady uphill slog but then it levels out for the rest of the 1.6 miles to the campsite. We hit the trailhead at 4:30p.m. on 4/20, and made camp in just 2 hours. The night was cold, (in the high 20's with a steady wind and the more time we spent outside the tents the colder we got. We turned in shortly after 8:00; after a quick cup of hot chocolate. My Primus stove wasn't working too efficiently at this temp and it took at least ten minutes to heat a few cups of water. (Our plan was to have some hot oatmeal for breakfast, but the water was frozen and my stove was totally unusable at 20 degrees. Bummer! ) The next morning (7:30 AM), we quickly prepared ourselves for the hike and we day packed it out to Thoreau Falls; another 2.7 miles. This hike is well worth it at this time of the year. (What a rush. Literally!) We bushwhacked to the base of the falls and enjoyed the view and some sun for 30 minutes or so. (On a cold spring morning after a cold spring night we loved the warmth of the sun.) The experience was almost perfect except for one mutually shared disapoint though. We all wished Shawn was sharing the experience with us; He would have loved it!

We were back at the campsite by noon and the stove performed well enough to heat a few cups of oatmeal for lunch. The day never reached above freezing and after noon the temps began to drop again. We met a couple of hikers that hadn't known the "eating out of your hands" habit of the Gray Jays. One of them immediately jumped up to try it, while the other looked on a bit skeptical. Within a few seconds a jay had landed in the first guy's hand and the skeptic jumped up in amazement holding his hand full of GORP proclaiming "let me try that!". Happens every time. We had to warn them not to feed the jays their entire supply of GORP.

(We've done that! It's amazing how a couple of Gray Jays can eat a full portion of GORP.)

We packed up and made it back to the parking lot by 3:00. Note, It's well worth the side trip .3 miles to Ripley Falls, but don't even think of attempting to bag the loop to Arethusa Falls; the Ripley Falls crossing is impassable at high water. You may be able to find a bushwhack around this crossing, but it will either be way above the falls, or way below them.

All in all, we all agreed that this hike was just right for full packs of cold weather gear.

Simone got to try the new Jack Wolfskin pack. It's a dream.

HAPPY Birthday Simone!!!

Love ya