Ascent of Mount Tecumseh on 2009-12-05

Climber: Diane Koed

Others in Party:Beth Liakos
Linda Danko
Date:Saturday, December 5, 2009
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
    Motorized Transport to Trailhead:Car
Peak:Mount Tecumseh
    Location:USA-New Hampshire
    Elevation:4003 ft / 1220 m

Ascent Trip Report

Mt. Tecumseh via Mt. Tecumseh Trail from Waterville Valley Ski Area
December 5, 2009
We set out around 10:15(?) AM planning to ascend and descend via the same route. Seven
hikers: Will, Beth, Linda, Diane, Rick, Ken, and Paul. This is a relatively easy hike: 5.0 miles
round-trip; book time is 2:20 going up.
The first 1.1 mile went slowly; at that point Will and Ken volunteered to escort Rick – who was
feeling ill – back to the trailhead. Their return was uneventful! For the rest of us, the delay was
not a problem; Tecumseh is a relatively easy hike.
Unfortunately, the snow guns at the ski area were going, making quite a racket.
We used micro-spikes on the upper half of the trail due to intermittent ice and packed snow. A
light snow was falling before we reached the summit around 12:45 PM. About 2.3 mile (0.2
mile before the summit), you reach a fork in the trail, with both branches labeled with “summit”
signs. We took the trail to the left. At the forested summit, facing north, you see two trails at
about 11 o’clock and 1 o’clock, both descending steeply. One member of the party checked out
the trail on the right, at 1 o’clock, and declared it “not well used.” Intending to take the summit
loop trail back to the split at 2.3 mile, we took the trail on the left (at 11 o’clock). Paul, who had
hiked Tecumseh several times before (and once famously descending part way by barrel), said he
had a “good feeling” about the trail. In the absence of a map (which had returned to the ski
lodge with Will), this was as good as gospel.
After descending the trail for 20-30 minutes, and by that time feeling not-as-good about the
choice of the route, we encountered a dog coming up the trail. This was encouraging, since it
meant that we would soon encounter the dog’s companion, who could confirm that we were on
the summit loop. We still considered it a possibility that we were on the summit loop, since a
pair of hikers we had encountered on the way up had remarked that it “took forever” to get to the
summit, and we theorized that they had taken this branch of the summit loop. However, after
another half hour, and still not reaching the 2.3-mile split, another theory began to emerge: the 1
o’clock trail was the summit loop, and we were on another trail, possibly the Tecumseh Trail
heading toward Tripoli Road (about 3.1 miles from the summit to the road). We were able to
consult with Will by phone, and he confirmed that we were heading toward Tripoli Road, which
he advised is closed and gated in the winter. How far would the walk along Tripoli Road be?
About 5-6 miles, he estimated.
The time was 1:55 PM and wet snow was steadily falling, promising an early end to daylight.
We decided to retrace our steps to the summit and the ski area trailhead. Despair? Not a
problem; Tecumseh is a relatively easy hike, we had our headlamps, and could descend the last
mile on the ski trail if needed.
Just then, the dog returned from up the trail, clearly tired and distressed. Apparently, she didn’t
have a map either. Linda, being a kind, warm-hearted animal lover, tried to give the dog water
and food, neither of which the dog had accepted. At this point, everyone’s main concern was for
the dog’s well-being, not our own. Linda called a phone number marked on the dog’s collar. It
turned out the dog’s companion, Kirsten, had been hiking the Tecumseh trail earlier in the day
and had lost track of the dog, Tessa, when they encountered a moose. Kirsten asked whether we
could return Tessa to the Tripoli Road trailhead. How did Kirsten get to that spot? Earlier, she
had biked in for her hike, but she had come back with her SUV, with the help of a Forest Service
ranger who unlocked the gates, so Kirsten could find Tessa. Eager to return Tessa to Kirsten but
concerned about the waning daylight if we were to hike back over Tecumseh from there, we
asked whether Kirsten could give us a ride back to Waterville Valley. She agreed, and we
prepared to bring Tessa down to Tripoli Road. “This dog is our ticket out of here!” blurted one
fatigued hiker. At Diane’s suggestion, we fashioned a leash from a
carabiner and a drawstring cut from Paul’s pack, to help Tessa stay
with us for the hike down. We were then united more than ever in
our resolve to rescue Tessa.
The rest of the hike was uneventful, except that we had to keep
coaxing Tessa to come down the trail and not go off in search of
the moose. The reunion of Tessa and Kirsten was touching,
moving several members of the party to tears. Our Tecumseh hike
had indeed been worthwhile and unforgettable. But we’ll all be
sure to carry maps, compasses, and cord next time.
Submitted by Paul
Summary Total Data
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Snow on Ground
    Gear Used:
Ski Poles
    Weather:Snowing, Cold, Calm, Overcast

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