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Old 11-11-2020, 11:19 PM   #7
DSettahr
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Join Date: May 2007
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OnAClearDay hinted at it but didn't outright state it- the bridge over the Opalescent is currently out. This is definitely an important consideration; the river does often freeze over but it never stays frozen over for the entire winter. The occasional thaw can and does result in flooding.

Accordingly, you'll want to pay close attention to the weather forecast. Be especially wary about any days with temps approaching above-freezing levels. What has happened multiple times in the past is that hikers have gone in early in the AM, crossed the river while it was still frozen, and summitted, and returned that very same PM to find that the river was an uncrossable torrent due to warm temps during the day.

Regarding the general logistics of such a trip, it's a relatively straightforward ski approach from Tahawus (even for those with limited backcountry skiing experience) at least as far as the gravel pit- most of the trail to this point is on old logging roads and/or flat terrain. Moderately experienced skiers can probably get as far as the Skylight Brook crossing before switching to snowshoes- the trail does have some moderate ups and downs to this point. Skis probably will expedite the flat parts (plus also break up the monotony of the day).

I believe that the slide is rarely technical but definitely go prepared for icy spots just in case. It faces west so it doesn't really get much in the way of direct sunlight so ice usually isn't an issue- but definitely bring at least microspikes just in case. IMO, I'd bring crampons just in case- you don't really need them that often in the High Peaks (especially since microspikes became a thing), but they are occasionally necessary for any High Peak. Better to have them and not need them.

With regards to camping, the usual spot is somewhere between the Opalescent River crossing and the Skylight Brook crossing. Do note that there's no designated tent sites along this stretch, so the 150 foot rule applies (there is a designated site further north along the Opalescent River, but it's a fair distance out of the way to get there). Much of the forest closer to the Opalescent River is pretty thick with young growth; I'd probably look for a campsite closer to skylight brook. If you backtrack (west) down the herd path from the skylight brook crossing a few hundred feet, you can find somewhat open forest to the north of the herd path that complies with the 150 foot rule (note that the well-established site at Skylight Brook itself is an illegal site, marked with "no camping" discs).
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