The trail had packed snow and frozen mud for most of the miles. There were some patches of slick ice, especially once we reached the Frost Trail, but those were easily enough to manage without necessitating traction gear. The water crossings were rock-hoppable. The snow warmed up through the day so it was a bit more slippery and muddy for the descent.
I found my poles were super useful for the water crossings since the rocks had slippery ice on them. We had microspikes with us but never felt we needed to put them on. We did see some folks wearing theirs and they expressed surprise to see us hiking without them so to each their own. Better to have the spikes and not need them than to be without in a time of need!
There were a few blowdowns but those were easily navigated.
Parking & Road Access:
Gale River Rd is still open and there was no competition for trailhead parking at 7:30 AM!
We stayed at the Notch Hostel the night before our hike and that made it easy to get an early start on the trail. This also meant I wasn’t already tired from a long drive before starting the hike. And, it made me feel confident we would have enough sunlight to hike and still make it to back to the car and home again before dark. I can’t wait for the upcoming fireside chats!!