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Shoulder Season

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  • Shoulder Season

    So far, all of my high peaks hiking has been between June and October, and in a few weeks I'd like to change that. The tentative plan is to hike Marshall from the Upper Works with one or two friends on the 18th. Marshall would be new territory for all of us, but I've hiked the Calamity Brook trail to Lake Colden. The plan is to leave home early enough (4AM) to be on the trail by 8:30. Ascend via Herbert Brook, and possibly return via Cold Brook so we can see the plane wreckage and of course a loop is always preferable. I'm watching the weather, as a major snow event between now and then would probably cancel this one. I haven't found any trip reports over the last few years where snowshoes were used until later in November. I'm not sure that all members of our group are "snowshoe ready," but I have micros and I've used them several times, just on flatter terrain than what we'll be encountering on the way to Marshall.
    I hate to ask such a general question as "is this a sound plan?" but it guess that's what I'm asking. Marshall seemed like a reasonable place to start shoulder season hiking, as the Calamity Brook trail is a relatively easy trip in and out (just sort of long) plus I've read several trip reports for Marshall where the Herbert Brook trail is described in terms like "not too steep," and "an easy climb." The timing of the trip seems like we'll encounter snow and ice, but nothing like breaking trail through 3' of fresh snow. Thanks!

  • #2
    Like you said, barring a major snowfall, you should be fine with microspikes.

    Both Herbert Brook Trail and the Marshall Trail are unmarked but Herbert is easier to follow because it gets more traffic. Be advised that even a light snowfall will make portions of the Marshall Trail a bit more challenging to navigate. The junction is subtle but I think I did an adequate job of identifying its location in OpenStreetMap. It's before both the summit and the first viewpoint (which offers a better view than the 2nd viewpoint beyond the summit)

    Within yards of leaving the junction you come to a large boulder and a sharp drop-off. Things get less rough after that. The trail descends to the col where, with some snow, all roads may appear to lead to Rome so pay attention to your compass bearing. You climb out of the col over an intermediate bump but not before you pass yet another large boulder and a dogleg in the trail that tries to throw you off-course. The final descent into Cold Brook Pass gets rougher but the trail also becomes more obvious.

    Good luck!
    Looking for Views!


    • #3
      Getting on the trail by 8:30 a.m. gives you about 8 hours of daylight. If there's ice it will slow you down a little. Not sure how fast you guys are but plan for walking out in the dark and make sure you have headlamps.


      • #4
        Thanks guys, I appreciate all the help.
        I'm not actually sure how fast we are either. For myself, I'd figure this to be about a 10 hour round trip based on distance, elevation, and a linger at the summit and the plane wreck, but my formula doesn't account for weather or other people, so we'll see. Headlamps/batteries are definitely on the gear list. It's going to be a new moon that night to boot!


        • #5
          A family birthday party has pushed this outing to Sunday. The weather still looks good...seasonally appropriate I suppose. Low 20's, no significant snow or rain. I am however, writing this on Wednesday. One member of the group has canceled, and the remaining hiker and I have very similar paces. I looked at some notes from previous hikes, and I'm going to amend my estimated time to 9 hours...I hiked Allen in 10 hours in June.

          While discussing the plan with a coworker/46er he asked if we were looping through Indian Pass, and recommended that we do so. I checked reports and maps and it seemed very doable. It would be a hair longer than the original plan, but still reasonable, plus I'd like to see the view from Summit Rock with my own eyes. We talked about it and decided to go for it, weather permitting of course. That would be Upper Works -> Indian Pass -> CBP -> Marshall, then either CBP or Herbert Brook -> Calamity Brook Trail out.

          Today I wasn't feeling great about it, read some more reports and all I can find is older stuff, 2010-2012 talking about CBP from IP to the Marshall herd path being thick and tough to follow. Has this improved at all in the last 5 years? If not I think we may go back to plan version 1.0.

          I want to go because I haven't ever been there, but I'm hesitant because I haven't ever been there. Thanks.


          • #6
            It's a low-traffic route compared to Calamity and Herbert Brook trails. If snowy, the trail-bed will be obscured and you'll discover the markers, especially through the pass, aren't all that plentiful. There are a few brook crossings along the way (on both sides of the pass). The section of Indian Pass Trail running north from the pass to the junction with Cold Brook Pass Trail is quite rugged. The sloped portion reminded me of Avalanche Pass with its many boulders. If you want more challenge, this would be the route to take.
            Looking for Views!