View Full Version : Recommended areas for a week trek in late Jan or early Feb

07-13-2011, 21:56
I am planning on taking a 8 or 9 day trip in either the last two weeks of January or the first week or two of Feb 2012. I have never done any of the long trail, but do have plenty of experience winter backpacking. So I am here for any suggested areas that you may have. Or areas to avoid(if any). I enjoy solitude, but that is usually very easy to achieve in the winter.

Is an ice axe neccesary?

What is the typical snow depth that time of year?

A few details:
I will have my Siberian Husky Juno with me
I will not be resupplying
Preferably I would be using a hammock, but others with me would either tent or use a shelter.

Thanks in advance for your suggestions!

07-14-2011, 09:17
Good Luck! You wouldn't need an ice axe, but you will need snow shoes and lots of stammina! Snow depth can range from nothing to well over your head. Late Jan and early Feb is typcially when the biggest snow storms arrive. It is also when it is the coldest, expect temps down to -20F to -30F at night. Hope you have a very, very well insulated hammock. Of course, since you live in CT and have lots of winter backpacking experiance, you know all that already.

So, where to go? Loaded down with 8-9 days of food, along with all the winter gear and breaking trail in possably 3-4 feet of snow, don't expect to do more than 5-6 miles a day. You'll be lucky to pound out 1 mph at best, even with a group to switch off breaking trail. Thankfully, shelters are pretty close together on the LT.

So, your looking for a 40-45 mile streach of trail. I would suggest Rt 73 to RT 17, which is central Vermont, a little north of RT 4. That section has about the flatest ridge walk on the LT and a distance of 38 miles. There are also two fully enclosed shelters (lodges) on that streach, which might be handy.

If you want to do more miles with less effort, consider the Catamont trail instead. This is a cross country ski trail which parallels the LT at a lower altitude. Since it is mainatined as a winter ski trail, it is much, much easier to traverse then the LT.

07-14-2011, 09:42
I would check into the Northville Placid trail.
I haven't done it but know some people who have and they did some snowshoeing.
If you insist on the AT, I would pick a fairly easy section. Maybe northern VA.
Long Trail will be bitter, Whites too dangerous with ice (ice ax necessary IMO if you go there)
PA too tough with the rocks, especially if ice covered.
I'd say go west but, you have a dog to transport which makes things tougher.

Good luck. Sounds like fun.

07-14-2011, 14:40
Wife and I do a week on the LT somewhere between the Lamoille river and Jay Peak every January. Usually don't need an ice axe or crampons, but depending on the snow conditions it's entirely possible at elevation. If you're going to attempt Camels Hump, Mansfield, Monroe Skyline or any open peak, I'd recommend them. Snowshoes/skis are a must along with a quality cold weather gear.

Just a reminder....you eat twice as much, hike half as far and daylight disappears quickly. You burn a ton of fuel (we use a wood stove exclusively in winter). We've had bitter cold nights 9 out of the last 11 years we've done it. Minus 20-40 and when you get a cold snap with short daylight, it doesn't warm up much during the day. Worst night we had was -46 near devils gulch and it only crept up to -10 the next day on Belvidere Mt.

Southern and Central VT usually don't see temps quite as low, but the snow can be deeper especially from Rt 4 to Jonesville. Also be careful around the ski areas. I've heard (but never confirmed) that the Long Trail is closed across the ski slopes during the ski season due to liability issues.

Winter is an awesome time to be out there....good luck.

Smooth & Wasabi
07-14-2011, 15:44
Kinda depends on what you are looking for. If you want more of an above treeline experience the Monroe skyline, Camels hump, and Mount Mansfield options are good. Hiking up Lincoln gap over Mt Abraham, heading north on the skyline, over Camel's Hump and down the Bamforth ridge would be beautiful though off the top of my head I don't know mileage. You would hit two peaks above tree line with many more miles of great views and I believe you can camp in Mad River Glen's fully enclosed Stark's Nest building for free. If you just want to snowshoe the advice on 73 going north is good. While you probably won't need an axe, with our variable wheather the potenial to need one(on more alpine terrain) and even more important traction aides (potentially more than snowshoe crampons) is always there. Rain or thaws followed by freezes are not all that uncommon. Keep in mind that route finding and trail breaking can be very difficult, aside from popular summits and some road crossings the LT may see no traffic in the winter. Sounds like quite the adventure.

07-15-2011, 14:16
Thanks alot for all of the information thus far, it is much appreciated. I know I still have a ways to go before the trip, so just wanted to get my feelers our there to start planning. The group I am planning on going with hasn't made a decision yet on where to go, but it will be some where in the NE.

I am well aware of the need for a well insulated hammock, a ground dweller would also need the same amount. So whether i hammock or tent I will bring the appropiate quilts/pads or combo of both.

Thanks again!

07-30-2011, 20:01
The trail can be *extremely* hard to follow in the areas where it travels through open high-elevation birch and spruce forests and gets broken out very infrequently. There are lots of winter hikers in VT but use tends to concentrate in a handful of popular areas. In the 18 miles from Middlebury Gap to Lincoln Gap, for instance, you'd probably find broken trail to Silent Cliff on the south end, right around Bread Loaf in the middle, and probably to Sunset Ledge or maybe even to Mt. Grant at the north end, but for the rest of it you'll really be on your own. Loaded down with a week's food and all your winter gear, finding your own way and breaking trail in potentially three feet of unconsolidated snow, two or three miles might be an all-day epic. I think it could be a wonderful adventure, but scale your ambitions conservatively and be willing to adjust.

Tom Murphy
08-08-2011, 12:45
Do a Fall hike to familarize yourslf with the section you pick.

I typically use my fall hiking trips to get gps tracks of the routes I am planning to do in the winter.

I am always pleasanty surprised at how much of the unusual twists and turns I remember. It is the seemingly innocent, open, sections that cause me to back out the gps.