Sunday, October 21 was forecast to be an absolutely perfect fall day : crystal clear, low humidity, and moderate temperatures. Not something to be passed up. So... seeing as I was feeling in the mood for making progress on my 111er list, I picked two New Hampshire peaks that weren't too far away from Ottawa : Mounts Garfield and Galehead.
Garfield and Galehead are at the northern edge of the Pemigewasset wilderness. Relatively easy to get to, and doable as a loop with a single car (and of course, as yet unclimbed by me), they were a relatively natural choice.
We stayed the night before at the Lafayette campground, and got started really early in the morning in order to (a) get finished early and back to Ottawa at a reasonable time, (b) possibly reach the summit of Garfield for sunrise, and (c) have the mountains mostly to ourselves for the first part of the day.
We left the Garfield trailhead at 4:40am, heading up under clear and relatively warm skies. The trail is almost flat at first, and it was no problem negotiating this section by headlamp. Higher up, we noticed that the trail was pretty wet. Not from any particular stream that had made its way onto the trail, but a more general kind of wetness. Like someone had just dumped a large amount of water everywhere on the trail.
We were making good progress on our rendezvous with the summit at dawn, when the trail suddenly started to switchback. And it did this a lot, winding back and forth (although still with very rough footing) up the northern flank of Garfield. It was going to be close!
We just barely lost out to the sun, getting to the summit minutes after sunrise. Still managed to get some good alpenglow off the clouds and several atmospheric sunrise-ish looking shots. Surrounding several of the highest peaks were caps of clouds. They added atmosphere but also obscured our views of the Lafayette range and, periodically, of the rising sun. A brisk gusty wind was blowing, too. Chilly!
The summit of Garfield is bare, and there are superb views everywhere. We settled on the southern side of the summit rocks, mostly out of the chill north wind, and had a snack, soaking in both the views and some sun. Jenn whipped out her 'timeline sheet', in which she scribbled her activites for 7:30am. She was filling out a form as part of one of her Master's programs activities, documenting everything she did in minute detail for every half hour of the day. Perhaps the entry for 7:30 should have read "exhausted from slog up; sitting on summit of Garfield; views nice; friggin' cold! hands going numb; can't write anymfwcac.....[end entry]".