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Snowy White Mountains (Mt Lafayette)

Yesterday, I experienced winter hiking for the first time on Mt Lafayette. Even though it was one of the most amazing and rewarding experience of all my life, it was also one of the hardest.

Before going on a winter hike, there is many things you should know:

To begin, you’ll need to plan your start time way earlier than you would in the summer. That was our first mistake! Since I never hiked during winter months before, I didn’t realize that the sun would set so early in the day. We started our hike around noon since Mt lafayette is a 3-4 hours ride from my house. The cold first stroked when we arrived at the first summit (Little Haystack). We took a break behind a rock, safe from the wind and had the most amazing views.

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At 3:30 we started back our hike towards Mt Lafayette. We were spending two or three times more energy for the same hike because of the cold and the wind. We arrived at the final summit (Lafayette) at 4:30. We were really tired and the sun was setting really fast. At that moment, we realize that we would do our entire descent in the dark. Before taking on the last part of our journey, we watch a both amazing but scary sunset at 5000 feet. This moment was indescribable but we soon understood the gravity of what was happening when we started walking down the mountain. The snow that had transform into water with the sun warming up all day had frozen into dark ice. We had no light except the ones from our cellphones and the trail marks were almost impossible to see. The walk down took us around 4 hours. We were progressing really slowly making sure not to take the wrong path and not to fall on the ice. We finally made it to the parking lot 8 hours of walking later. This hike was incredible and it could have been even more if I had knew a couple of things about winter hikes.

  1. Plan your hike according to the sunlight hours.

  2. Use a multi-layered system to never be too cold or too hot knowing that sweating will later make you cold.

  3. Bring enough water and snack for 2 days in case of an emergency

  4. If it is possible, bring a tent or a tarp in case that the conditions (winds, snow and ice) get too violent. In case of emergency, consider the possibility of sleeping on the mountain since it is better to extend your trip than to lose yourself in the forest (snow can cover the trail marks).

  5. Always bring flashlights even if you plan to be only hiking during the day.

  6. Use the buddy system and never hike alone

Hiking in the White Mountains during winter is an incredible experience that should be well prepared and taking seriously to avoid any inconvenient.

Stay safe and enjoy our beautiful snowy mountains!

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