Between Switchfoot driving to my house from Montreal and then us driving to New Hampshire, and Laura driving up to New Hampshire from where she’d been working in Connecticut, we got a late start for our hike of Mount Tecumseh. In fact, we didn’t get to Waterville Valley until 2:00, and book time would have us just reaching the summit at dark. It was only a 2.5 mile hike to the summit though, and we knew from trail reports that the trail was packed down, plus we were on a ski resort, so we were comfortable with coming down in the dark.
There were plenty of people exiting the Mount Tecumseh Trail as we entered it and they were all either wearing spikes or barebooting it. It was starting to snow though, so we carried our snowshoes in case they were needed later.
The trail started out with a gradual climb (as far as trails in the Whites go) but we warmed up very quickly and needed to take a few layer breaks. We had started without spikes on and paused to add them as well to avoid the slight slippage in the snow.
We made it to the viewpoint in good time, just after the clouds lifted a bit for the view out over the ski trail.
From there the trail grew steeper, and it got colder as we got higher up, as well as windy and snowy again. I stopped to add layers back on at the summit loop, which we took clockwise since the trail was better packed in that direction. It was really cold up top, just a slight view through the clouds, and starting to get dark. We quickly looked around, took a photo, and ran back off around the loop. The snow was drifted more deeply on the second side but we soon made it back to the main trail.
We moved quickly down the trail, stopping to get our headlamps out before it was dark. I turned mine on right away because I have a hard time with depth perception at dusk. I can’t really tell the topography of the trail without bright light shining on it.
It was starting to snow more heavily again, and we were pushing into the wind, of course, so the headlamp wasn’t great for seeing too far away, much like driving with headlights on in the snow. The trail was easy to move down quickly though and we made it out in good time.
At 4003′ high, Tecumseh is the lowest of the New Hampshire 4,000 footers, but still a very nice mountain. My only complaint is that the snow guns at the resort are so loud at the bottom of the trail, but that happens on a fair number of mountains in New England.