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Old 05-18-2018, 10:00 PM   #1
Join Date: Jul 2015
Posts: 60
East Trail to Rocky Peak Ridge 5/17 EXCELLENT TRAIL CONDITIONS

I hiked the East Trail to Rocky Peak Ridge (return) on Thursday (5/17). Conditions are very good right to the 4400 foot peak! There is no snow/ice anywhere on the trail, the trail is basically dry up to 3000 feet, and with only very moderate amounts of mud/ wet trail in the higher elevations. There were also no black flies at all on the trail!
It is very hard to reconcile the reality of the trail with what DEC posted as general High Peaks trail conditions on the very day I made the hike:
"Deep snow (1-3 feet) and ice are present above 3,000 feet with even deeper snow above 4,000 feet. Snow is deepest on north facing slopes and other areas with little exposure to the sun".
But more on this in another post.
My first time on RPR. What an amazing trail. I will post a detailed report soon, but I wanted to let people know the conditions for making immediate plans.
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Old 05-18-2018, 10:17 PM   #2
Join Date: Jan 2005
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Nice! I'm glad you enjoyed that trail - it's a beauty.

The DEC guidance is very general, and largely mindless. Trail conditions are very specific from one trail to the next, depending on snowfall, traffic, drainage, aspect, and probably other variables. The "deep snow above 3000 feet" is representative of an average, at best.

This is the tail end of what I call "secret season." The snow and mud are gone, but the leaves and the bugs are not out yet. Some years, secret season can be 6 weeks long. Other years it's very short. This year, Winter did not want to give up until about the end of April, so we had a short secret season. I'm glad you got a piece of it!
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Old 05-19-2018, 10:14 AM   #3
Trail Boss
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Join Date: Nov 2010
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Glad to hear you had a great time.

The conditions you experienced along the East Trail aren't surprising ... and should not be extrapolated to be an example of the state of other trails in the High Peaks.

Here's why:

The East Trail begins at the New Russia trailhead which is the lowest of all High Peaks trailheads. It starts at ~600 feet elevation compared to the Garden at ~1500 and ADK Loj at ~2200' (the start of this trail will be snow-free earlier than other trails). Basically, the woods are deciduous at lower elevations allowing for more sunlight to filter through (and melt snow). Dense conifers typically begin at ~3000 feet, provide more shade and retain the snowpack longer.

West of Bald Peak, the trail runs a west-east line with very few, deeply-shaded areas. Even Dickerson Notch (2800') is filled with mature birches (pioneer trees; forest fire burnt over this mountain 100+ years ago) and allow lots of sunlight to warm the forest floor.

West of Rock Peak, you're travelling along a ridge, along open rock and in and out of stunted conifers (stunted by their exposure to the harsh weather along the ridge). Bare-rock serves as a "heat island" that rapidly melts its snow-cover.

IMG_3590_stitch by Taras D, on Flickr

More pics.

Compare that to the trails in the central High Peaks where most of the popular ones run along the north side of the peaks. There are more areas that sit in shade and retain remnants of snowpack. Plus, these trails get far more winter-traffic than the East Trail so they develop a thick, hardened "spine" or "monorail" that takes longer to melt.

Here's a report of a trip to Saddleback from the Garden on May 14th (via the popular Orebed Brook Trail. There's still enough snow and ice in spots to require traction devices.
Looking for views!
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