Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Mt. Watatic 2/24

While some areas of Massachusetts got mostly rain today, the hill towns of North Worcester County (and Western Mass.) received a good dump. I measured 14" of heavy wet snow on my deck early this morning and I would suspect another 3 to 4" fell before the snow changed to rain mid-afternoon. After shoveling out, late morning, I headed to Ashburnham to snowshoe up Mt. Watatic. I was very surprised the trail head parking lot, off Rte 119, was plowed out! I had expected to shovel out a space to get off the road.

One set of tracks had been laid on the trail and the two others, just getting under way, were going to snowshoe up and snowboard the old ski trails on the north side of the hill.
The cart path and trail leading to Nutting Hill and New Hampshire.

Once passing the junction where the Wapack Trail leads to the summit, I decided to head to Nutting Hill first before going to Watatic. After breaking trail for about 1/2 mile, I crossed paths with two guys who were completing the loop I was doing, but in the opposite direction. The tree branches were under a heavy load of newly falling snow, but even with a stiff wind the heavy snow was not falling. Heavy, "sticky" snow was certainly better to look at, than shovel.
This old tree, perhaps a relic from days when the hill-side was pasture, was picturesque.

Once I reached Nutting Hill I got pelted by a "good" stiff wind and "stung" heavy snow flakes.

Looking down from Nutting Hill, usually Watatic can been seen in the background.
Between Nutting and Watatic I stopped for a drink, then realized I had left my water (also a thermos of hot tea) on the kitchen counter top. Some times "ole Tom" ain't the sharpest bulb in the shed, fortunately this was a fairly short hike.

The Wapack Trail between Nutting Hill and Mount Watatic.

The wind and stinging snow was worst on the summit of Watatic, one of my ears went numb quickly, so it was time to replace the ball cap with a fleece hoodie. I didn't linger too long before heading to the east summit.
The view toward the North West, very near the main summit.
In the saddle between the summits I saw a snow drift with nice aqua-blue color, a "play" on colors having to do with which colors are absorbed (more red) and reflected (more blue) by the snow, inside the fissure between the top of the drift and the base layer.
Aqua blue coloring inside the wind blown "snow cave".

The same looking in the other direction.
I poked around the east summit for about 15 minutes taking pictures and enjoying the solitude, now that my ear was thawed out.
I estimate 16-18" of snow had fallen but there were some deep drifts, the trekking poles above were fully extended.
Looking west from the east summit.
Rime ice forming on some stunted woody vegetation and rock.
One last photo, on the main summit, before heading down.
Needless to say there was not much bird activity under the adverse conditions, those birds consisted of 1 Golden-crowned Kinglet and 2 Black-capped Chickadees.

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