Monday, August 24, 2015

Osceola - hiking weekend #8

Not willing to give up on the streak of doing a big hike every weekend, on a whim I headed to the Whites on Sunday. I wasn't fully sure what I was going to do. Had an hour on the highway to think about it before the first potential exit.

While it was misty and wet at home, there was lots of blue sky showing up north. Not quite clear enough for a Franconia Ridge hike, so I decided to give Mt Osceola a whirl. Didn't know anything about it, other than I vaguely remember a friend recently taunting me to try the east side. I like loops, so I thought an up and over, coming back on Tripoli Rd would make a great ~13 mile loop.

Heading out from the Livermore trail head, I found Greeley Ponds path to have been fully reconstructed since storms destroyed it several years ago. Would be awesome if Waterville groomed that for skate skiing. In no time I reached the ponds. That meant the real climbing would begin.

The east approach was wicked steep. I like it when you go up almost as much as you go laterally. Puts a lot of vertical under you in a hurry. Was fair amount of hands and feet, and being cool but quite humid out, I sweat profusely. So profusely in fact, that sweat plugged the barometric sensor port on my wrist-worn GPS and I stopped getting credit for my vertical.

Elevation can actually be an important navigational aid. Say a storm is moving in. If you are near the peak, you may have time to bag it and get back down. But if you have 1000ft of vertical to go, best bet is to cut your losses and head back. With tree or cloud cover, you can't always tell visually how much further to the summit. The GPS fills in that gap. Since I had never done Osceola before, I had no idea what lie ahead, just that the summit was around 4200ft. But I didn't know right away my GPS was stuck on 3100ft and I though dang, I still have 1000+ feet to go? Then I started going down. I had already crested the east peak. Silly to rely on electronics that much...

Then I came up to this crevice that a young couple was coming down. You gotta be shitting me! They're doing that without ropes? I later learned that feature is call "The Chimney." Almost felt like climbing up a chimney. Just don't look down! It actually wasn't that scary once on it. The hand and foot holds where quite good.

There was some very nice hiking along the ridgeline to the main peak. Views were limited through the scrubby fir trees. Before I knew it, I heard voices and the trail opened up to a bare ledge with a grand view.  The cloud deck was getting lower, many peaks in all directions were now socked in. I made it up just in time. A few photos and I was on my way down the west side.

The gradient on the west side was much less severe. Rocks all the way down though. I brought poles which help prevent ankle rolls, so I did not put on my ankle braces. Total elapsed hike time was about 4.8hrs. I finished the hike with an ice soak in Osceola Brook. Doesn't matter what time of year or how warm it's been, mountain streams are always frigid. Wonder if I should hit Hyndman Peak in Idaho in a couple weeks...

New and improved Greeley Ponds Trail. Have to hit this with a bike!

Lower Greeley Pond.

A rock slide scramble on Mt Osceola Trail.

Looking north(ish) from near the east peak. Probably some of the Pemi Wilderness in there.

Top of The Chimney. Pretty near vertical.

From Mt Osceola summit, looking at Waterville Valley village.

Mt Osceola summit ledge, looking at ridgeline I just traversed. The Chimney is
the steep rocky bump-up in middle of ridge.

Asked a woman to take photo. She was scared for me and didn't want to get any closer
to edge to capture some of it. Just barely below cloud deck.

Ice bath. I reluctantly include this one as I know it will give Rich at work
Photoshop fodder.


x0etrem said...

I've never understood why the cycling specific garmins use only the barometric sensor for elevation and the running garmins use only GPS. GPS gives a good xy and ok z, and the barometric sensor gives good z assuming it's functioning. It would seem like a simple solution to use the barometric sensor but occasionally cross-check with GPS, and switch to GPS when the sensor is jammed.

Hill Junkie said...

Agree there is a lot of room for improvement here. On my last group ride, Garmin GPS's with baro altimeters ranged from 7400 to over 9000ft of climbing. What kind of junk sensing is that?

Strava does something different, using XY to reference digital elevation map look-up when baro altimetry is not available. This refers to iPhones and such. This has a major pitfall too. iPhone tracks can be horrendously inaccurate. In steep terrain, this makes for very noisy elevation profile and grossly over estimated vertical. On a popular hiking climb in Utah I looked up recently, the monotonic climb is 1500ft net, but some iPhone tracks gave it over 8000ft total climbing! That is like doing the thing five times.

Data fusion has been a popular research topic for many years. We have so many source of questionable data, but if you filter them and fuse them together in the right way, you can get something much more accurate than any one of the multiple sources by itself.

x0etrem said...

I use a running GPS for the exact reason we're discussing, so strava builds my elevation map. With an accurate GPS, I works well except at bridges. Strava thinks I climb down the bank, swim across the river, climb the other bank and continue riding.

Look at the start/finish of this ride:

Hill Junkie said...

I guess that is what they call riding the nap of the earth!

Paul said...

So wait... you asked some random woman to take that last photograph???

As far as Z axis measurement goes.... it's just a hard problem. GPS isn't "OK", it's a crap shoot; barometric is OK *assuming* a storm front isn't anywhere near by. On some local trails here, you're riding right beside a 500 foot cliff; so even ground correction won't be accurate unless your XY position is incredibly precise (and the dataset is as well).