Sun, Nov 17, 2019
by Tim Abbott
Hike Length: overnight
Trails: Liberty Springs trail to the tent platforms, the summit of Mt. Liberty
Date: November 23rd and 24th, 2004
My best friend Gavin had never done and overnight and he also is a journalism major. For a final project he had to write a magazine style article for an adventure writing class, sounds too perfect doesn't it? I had been planning a solo trip but the timing could not have been better to take him along. He has very little gear, but I have enough for two people and I gave him most of the good stuff, I want to turn him into a future climbing partner, not run him away!!
We met at my house the afternoon previous to the trip and sorted out gear, he getting my smaller bag with the bare essentials to give him a lighter pack. He got my -20F EMS Mountain Light and I took my Mountain Hardwear 15F. We also opted for my Mountain Hardwear Annapurna instead of my 3 season Approach.
We got a late start Tuesday and didn't start the hike till 1:45 which was ok because we were spending the night. I knew that if we busted hump we could easily be at the platforms and have dinner cooking before darkness.
This was my 3rd time up Mt. Liberty and I've gotten so I know how far to the top, I can recognize certain the landscape all too well. This is a blessing in disguise, the trail steepens about 1 mile in and it doesn't let up. It's definitely not a walk in the park. We pushed the pace right along as the tempature was dropping and the wet rocks were beginning to freeze up. Crampons were not needed, but if the ice was any thicker they would have been needed.
We finally arrived at the tent platforms at 4:00 PM, which by my calculations was great time. Most of the platforms had 2 inches of snow on them, but one of the larger ones had been used recently and it was relatively clear of ice and snow. We quickly pitched the tent, and got the stove fired up. The sun was starting to set behind Mt. Pemigewasset so we changed shirts and donned down jackets. Dinner was freeze dried beef stew ( my favorite) mac & cheese and ramen. The spring still had some water running so we used that to cook, that was a huge bonus b/c the snow cover wasn't great for melting snow, and I like my water gravel free!! After dinner resigned to the tent and played cards for a few hours. It being dark so early, we were fast asleep by 9:00 PM. Sometime during the night, I awoke to find the tent partially lit up like someone was outside with a headlamp, I scampered out of my very warm sleeping bag to find a full moon shining down on us. If it wasn't so cold, and I being too lazy, we could have strolled to the summit sans headlamps! It was a great sight!
We awoke shortly after 7 to find the mountain socked in. We couldn't see more then 150 feet in any direction. We hadn't made an attempt at the summit the prior day and I was eager to get up to the top. We dressed quickly, and started the .6 trek to the top. Part way up, the fast pace of the day prior and us not having eaten caught up with us. The trail was quite icy, the footing slick and the weather poor. That helped us to make the decision to return to camp. We descended quickly and started to break camp while I tried to force feed myself a Cliff bar and some water. At some point during the night I developed a bad sore throat and the simple act of drinking water was a burning like a hundred daggers.
The descent was uneventful, we were back at the car by 10am. Mission accomplished! Gavin completed is first overnight with flying colors, with expectations to return soon for another trip. We loaded the Jeep took one final picture and headed home to hot showers and hopefully a bed!
Special Equipment: If in late fall/early winter 4 season tent and winter bags.
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