Osceola Fireworks Trip Report
The climb up Osceola (assehola) turned out to be the most dangerous hike I’ve taken. [2008 note: This trip turned out to be the most dangerous of all my 48s. It was a turning point for me. I was cocky, over confident and anxious. I ignored the obvious signs that the weather could get bad. We all need a kick in the teeth once in a while, this was mine. I haven’t hiked since without remembering that the mountains can be a dangerous place and that the biggest risk to my safety is most likely me.]
The trail was easy and never difficult except for chimney between Osceola and East Peak. The lower half was roots and rocks, which, in the humid air, were slippery. As I made it halfway up, I heard thunderstorms boom in the distance. They seemed far away so I continued up. When I was just below the summit, the storm sounded closer and the clouds darkened the sky. A storm was coming, but the cleared summit with its open ledge was clear so I decided to walk to East Peak figuring I could get there and back before the storm hit. Yeah, right. The drop off the summit was fairly steep and as I walked the skies darkened more. Thunder blasted nearby but no rain yet. I scrambled down the chimney by way of the easier bypass, which was still very rough but not 90 deg. vertical. I walked through the col and started ascending East Peak. The thunder got closer so I decided to bail. Realizing that I wouldn’t make it back up and over Osceola, I bunkered in the col, which I figured was the safest spot. I donned my raingear, called Deb to tell her my location and plans and sat on my pack. (Deb was a few miles northwest in Lincoln. The storm that would eventually hit Osceola was over Lincoln when I called. She was scared for me and told me what to expect from the storm. I was not encouraged.) Thunder clapped all around me, I had trouble figuring where it was hitting. The rain fell hard. I sat for a while in it. I didn’t bring any insulation and the rain cooled me down. When it let up a bit, I figured I had a chance to break to the summit and get down before another big wave hit. I made it to the chimney and it started to fall heavily again. The thunder rumbled more intensely. I scrambled up the chimney in the rain. As I ascended, the rain got worse and the trail became a small stream. I pulled over, sat in the moss and waited I don’t know how long for it to stop. Water ran all around me and into my boots. The fog was so thick I couldn’t see more than a few feed aside of me. My body temp started to fall again and I was feeling it. When the rain and thunder let up, I ran to the summit. I met some guys who got buzzed. One of them had a bug-eyed look and jumped (he really jumped) into the trees when thunder cracked nearby. On the summit I kept low trying not to be the biggest thing there. Who did I meat but a hiker stripped to the waist, who had sat watching the lightning show over Waterville Valley. I boogied down as fast as I could. The rest of the afternoon was partly cloudy.
- For all that crazy business, had I sat and waited in the col I could have hiked East Peak