Osceola (4340')
Osceola East (4156')

2003 June 28

There a two ways up the Osceolas. From the north, the Greely Ponds route is said to be steep and rough, so we chose Mt. Osceola Trail for the first mutli-summit, group hike. Ash, Andy, Elleing and I parked on Tripoli Road and hiked up Osceola from the south. The weather was hot and the trail was extremely crowded. Apparently there was a group of 51 people hiking the summit together. It also seems we hit the height of Black Fly season. Hopefully, these micro-vampires will all be dead in a couple weeks and life on the trail will involve far fewer blood donations. But even with the crowds, flies, and heat the hike was good and among the better hikes so far.

We started hiking at 10:40 and made quick progress up Mt. Osceola Trail. The footing is rocky, but the grade is gradual with switchbacks all the way up the 3.2 mile trail to the first summit. We passed several whining children, then several whining adults. (We didn't start whining until much later.) We reached the crowded summit in 2 hours flat and sat down on the cliff overlooking Waterville Valley. The summit is wide open on one side where the remants of a fire tower are located. Waterville Valley Ski Area is to the right when looking off the southeastward facing cliff, and a number of summits including Mt. Washington were visible that day. There is also a small lookout through the trees that provides views in the other direction. We could clearly see Osceola East and the steep drop that marks the chimney along the way. We ate lunch and started for Osceola East.

osceola_view Group on Osceola.  Osceola East on right. summit_crowd washington_shadow ski_area

Apart from a brief stop for ibuprofen and duct tape, we hiked the mile long trail to the second summit fairly quickly. The trail between the summits includes a chimney which can be bypassed. The descent of the chimney was much more precarious, but the ascent was no simple matter either. Steep scrambles like this aren't too common, so it made for a highlight of the hike.

andy_chimney ash_chimney elleing_on_chimney shawn_chimney ash_andy_bypass down_chimney chimney_approach

There were some good views and lookouts along the way that added to the trip along the ridge, but the second summit was completely wooded. It's a very anticlimatic place to turn around and start heading back. For this reason more than any other, we'll hike from the Greely Ponds side next time even if it is the steeper way up.

osceola_east_summit ridge_view osceola

With a clear view from one of the outlooks I could see the Hancocks and the valley leading up from the hairpin turn trailhead that we hiked the week before. It was clear enough that most of the southern summits could be seen including peaks on the Kinsman and Franconia ridges, Owl's Head, Garfield, Carrigain, and Washington.

ash_on_outlook facing_owls_head hancocks on_osceola_east_outlook

When we got back to Osceola's summit, the crowds were gone. There were only 5 people with a couple dogs lying on the rocks. The 51 people here earlier was apparently a Christian group because they erected a 15 foot cross near the edge of the cliff. We took another break and started back down to the car before the Black Flies ate us alive.


Our feet were taking a pounding from the rocky trail but we still reached the car, 8.4 miles and 2950' later, at 5:05pm. (Book time is 5 hours and 40 minutes. We did it in 6:45 including breaks.) We made such good time that we decided to fire up the grill at our place. Sirloin tip shish-kebobs with fresh pineapple-mango salsa and Kimball's Ice Cream were acceptable alternatives to the routine prime rib stop.


[All Pics . . . ]