Stretch came up to visit and we decided to do a shorter first hike, East Osceola at 4156′ and Osceola at 4340′. The trailhead was full and it took some maneuvering to get a parking space. We got a pretty late start at 10:30 up the Greeley Pond Trail. It was fairly packed down but I started in snowshoes any way. Once we hit the junction for the Mount Osceola Trail, a big group passed us while we were snacking and I figured the trail would get packed down even more, so I switched to spikes. Greeley Pond Trail had been very level, but Mount Osceola Trail started to get steep.
It was not too bad at first so I kept the spikes on. We got to a much steeper part so I traded one pole for my axe. We bypassed what I thought was the steepest section through some trees to the side, where many people had gone before, since it was also icy. I thought we were almost to the top of East Osceola at that point but we still had a ways to go. It got so steep that I was practically crawling while digging my ax in the ground, in between long breaks to scope out my route. I finally stopped and put crampons on and then I was able to move quickly right up the slopes. Stretch stayed in snowshoes and still made it up fine too.
At the actual longest steep section, two other people were coming down and they asked us to wait. The woman didn’t seem too sure of herself so Stretch and I both moved to the sides as much as we could. The woman lost her balance and started sliding down, to the side of me but heading straight for Stretch, crampons pointed right at her, so I reached out and grabbed her. I had one leg and the other knee dug into the snow really well so when I grabbed her pack and jacket sleeve, I was able to stop her without losing my balance, and then lower her slowly to a safer spot. Stretch’s eyes were bugging out because the crampons had only been about two feet above her at that point.
We made it to the top and had a brief break, but the winds were picking up and we had to get moving. Since we had gotten started so late, and it took us so long to get to the first peak, we decided to skip the second peak and just turn around there. Now we had to get down the super steep trail we’d gone up. Up is always easier than down because you have better balance and control facing the slope. I switched back to my spikes to glissade down because crampons could catch on things and flip a body over.
The higher sections felt very sketchy to slide down, but trying to walk down them would have been just as sketchy, and usually once I made myself let go, it was totally fine. I had a very strong grip on my axe and dug that into the ground to slow myself as much as possible. It was Stretch’s first time glissading and she kept her snowshoes on at first so she had a little more trouble. Once we got down to the slightly less steep sections, speed was easier to control, and it was a lot of fun. We reached the bypassed section from earlier very quickly, and bypassed it again since the trail turned sharply at the bottom and there was the potential to fly right off the slope. From there, it was more fun glissading down, and then a very level hike back to the car.