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Old 04-28-2018, 11:48 AM   #3
DSettahr's Avatar
Join Date: May 2007
Posts: 4,816
I've generally found the Weather Street snow depth model to be fairly accurate (unless there's been a major storm with significant snow accumulation within the last 48 hours, in which case it takes it a little while for the model to update). The model is reporting snow depths of up to a foot (possibly even a bit more) still in the West Canada Lakes and the Cold River area. I'd go prepared for some (potentially rough) slogs through wet snow, especially on any north-facing slopes. The snow on the Fishing Brook Ridge (the highest point of the NPT, just north of Tirrell Pond) may still be deep enough to warrant snowshoes.

You'll also want to be cautious around stream crossings- the biggest crossings are all bridged, but even some of the smaller, bridge-less crossings can be dangerous in the spring when the creeks are full of snow melt. If you're not already bringing trekking poles, I'd strongly suggest procuring a pair for this purpose alone- it will help you a lot with stability in flowing water. Any water that is swiftly moving and is higher than your knees is water that you want to be especially careful with. Fast moving thigh deep water can (and will) pick you up off of your feet and sweep you downstream.

There is also still the chance of cold rain. A rainy day with a high temperature in the 40s (or even the 50s) can be more dangerous than a snowy day with temperatures in the 20s, as liquid water can suck heat out of your body through conduction more quickly than snow. Hypothermia is still a very real possibility this time of year, and you'll want to be prepared accordingly. Any day with steady rain and cooler temperatures is one to treat with extra caution.

You don't mention if this is a solo trip or not. In any case, though, keep in mind also that the seasonal roads that provide access to some portions of the trail (West River Road, Perkins Clearing, Coreys Road) are still closed. Accordingly, you'll likely run into very few (if any) other hikers on some portions of the trail. While the solitude will certainly be awesome, this does warrant extra caution on your part with regards avoiding the potential for injury as it could be a while before anyone else comes across you if you end up incapacitated. Leaving a detailed itinerary with a trusted person is a good idea for any hike, but doing so becomes absolutely essential for a trek like this. I personally don't typically carry an emergency beacon (PLB) on most of my hikes, but I do own one and would probably carry it for something like this if I were doing it by myself.

I know that my post makes it sound like a trip on the NPT this time of year would be all doom and gloom, full of hazard and danger. To be clear- plenty of folks have hiked the trail in mid-May without issue, and such an endeavor is definitely doable with the right preparations. This time frame does, however, warrant a heightened level of both experience and caution to undertake a thru-hike safely in comparison to later in the season.

I hope this is helpful- have fun, and be safe!
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