My friend Ken and I set out to hike Giant Mountain two weekends ago. We decided to go with the Roaring Brook Trail, which we had hiked before under fairer conditions. The air was surprisingly warm at the trail head, around 32° Fahrenheit (0° Celsius), and there wasn't enough snow on the ground to justify bringing the snowshoes.
We geared up, including microspikes and staff/poles, and headed up. The snow cover was fairly thin most of the way up, and in places we saw mud and exposed rocks, sometimes with a sheen of ice on them. The spikes did well. We checked out the top of Roaring Brook Falls briefly, without getting too close to the edge, and then continued up. The crossing over Roaring Brook was the most treacherous part of the trip, with just enough snow and ice to make it "fun".
Ken was hurting after a mile or so, but he wanted to at least get to the junction with the Zander Smith Trail before turning around. Near the top of a small set of stairs, not far from the junction, I looked down to see what appeared to be pond, with people skating on it. I assumed it was Giant Washbowl, but looking at a map now, I'm not convinced it was. I didn't take a bearing to confirm. It was close, whatever it was.
We made our way to the junction, and Ken offered to wait while I topped out, but I didn't feel comfortable splitting up, and I didn't feel comfortable leaving him to sit in this weather, so I said no. We turned around and started down.
My fear of falling (or heights) kicked in on the way down, but I was able to overcome it somewhat by switching into my trail running mode, which was interesting in boots. I did end up glissading for a small stretch, but mostly I just aimed for quick and light steps. It has worked for me in the past, too, and I'm grateful to have a method of descent that doesn't involve me constantly freaking out.
Speaking of boots, I've done a few hikes in my Merrell Capras, and they did very well in the snow when paired with microspikes. My only two complaints are that the laces are hard to tie, and the sole itself is quite stiff. The stiff sole actually seemed to work well in the snow, but it's a bit tough on the feet on other terrain.
Well, that's it for now. Be excellent to each other.