Friday at 6 a.m. I went up Mt. Isolation. It was cold but a bluebird morning and the views were great at the top. I was a little nervous as there a bushwhack section that is often used in the winter - I ended up following a lesser used whack but it came out on the official trail all the same. I was moving pretty well on this morning hike. Isolation was #42 of the 4000 footers for me.
After a short rest at Pinkham Notch I drove a little further up Route 16 and hiked the Imp trail to Middle Carter (#43). It didn't take long before the morning climbing caught up with me. This was a tough ascent. It was beginning to snow on the way up and it picked up as I went but luckily the temp was fairly mild and I never got cold. I debated whether to continue on to South Carter or not - it added about a mile of trail and 1.5 miles of road to get back to the car. Ultimately I decided to go for it since I was already up on the ridge and the climbing was more or less out of the way. The trail was a little tough to follow at times as there were many blowdowns on the ridge. By the time I got back to the road it was really snowing and had to be careful of traffic. The drive back to Jackson was the diciest part of the day.
So it was a tough but great day of hiking. 24 miles / 7k elevation / 10.5 hours - that's a good day's effort and a fair gauge of my abilities right now. I definitely have some more work to do.
Originally I had grand plans for Saturday morning - I had wanted Owl's Head for #44 but my legs were in rough shape. Tight calves but it was discomfort behind the knees which was the worst part. I had considered hiking Moosilauke but even that seemed ambitious. As I was driving to the other side of the mountains in the morning I decided on Mt. Tecumseh. It's fairly easy as 4ks go and I had never been to Waterville Valley so far as I could remember. This ended up being a great choice. There was 5-6 fresh inches of snow and I finally had a reason to bust out my snowshoes. Plus there were lots of people hiking and it was nice to see other folks about spending the previous 10 hours of hiking by myself.