Elephant Mountain - 97 of Winter NE 100 Highest
For most/all of the 11 of us in the group today, Elephant has become a joy to hike, especially in Winter. The mountain has a reputation for its sections of very thick growth, heading up pretty much straight from the traditional summer "trailhead." But based on some past experience and referrals, we headed right of that general route, which provides much more open woods, and some clearings that provide stunning views as far as Baldpate and even the Northern Whites (Madison + Adams) beyond. Bluebird sky day made these views stunning.
A solo hiker broke out the road ahead of us, and the lower half of the traditional herd path. We diverged more to the right of his track halfway up, though, to take the easier, more open route to the col between the higher Elephant peak and its slightly shorter sibling. The going was much easier than many of us have experienced, and we have a newfound love for this great mountain!
We all wore snowshoes the whole way. The road was a mix of powder and 1-2" ice crust (some breakable, some not). Depths up high ranged from 12-18" up to the 2-3' range up high.
Thanks to Amal, Chris, Douglas, Ken, Lynn, Mark, Michael, Mike, Mike, and Tabitha for sharing the trailbreaking duties, and making the overall experience an awesome, memorable one! Winter hiking of these lesser-known peaks is really the da bomb.