With the the arrival of spring in Boston, it seemed prudent to drive north and find the last remaining slivers of snow. Drove up to Intervale on Friday and slept out under the stars, testing out my new winter sleeping bag. It wasn’t quite cold enough to really stress it, but it was nice and cozy. With an early start, we got to the Cog Railway base around 8:15; the second car in the lot. There was no snow to be found in the woods, so I chose to hike in sneakers and carry skis and boots on my back. It made for a heavy load, but the extra comfort and ankle flexibility was well worth it.
Goodman’s guide book describes the Great Gulf as the “wildest reaches of the White Mountains,” and I agree. The sheer size of the cirque and the consistent pitch seem more reminiscent of the Rockies than the Presidentials. We went up the Jewell trail and then across Clay Col, ending up to the skiers left of Pipeline. We skied a nice narrow 45 degree pitch, eventually getting to Spaulding Lake after a nice bushwhack. Had lunch there, and then climbed up Airplane for another run. The drop from the col to the lake is about 1300 feet, so I was pretty tired after the climb up. Did a half run of Airplane on perfect corn snow, and then dragged myself back to the ridgeline. We were the last people out of the Gulf at this point; the solitude provided by the relatively remote location is a far cry from the party scene at Tuckerman. Hiked across to Lakes of the Clouds and then skied out Monroe Brook. Got back to the car at 6:30, the last car to leave. Second on the mountain, last off; a sign of another epic day in the Whites.