Black Pond is a picturesque pond located within the White Mountains Pemigewasset Wilderness. It is almost a 7 mile round trip from the Lincoln Woods trail head with almost no elevation gain. In the summer this would be a very enjoyable and leisurely hike. In the winter it is the perfect place to try cold weather camping in a lower risk environment.
A few friends and I had not done any cold weather camping in almost a year so we picked this hike to refresh our skills and test out new gear. We met up at the Lincoln Woods Trail head just after 2 pm with temperatures hovering around 30 degrees. Everything takes longer in the winter and getting going is no exception. After splitting up tents, putting on gaiters and securing snowshoes we headed down the Lincoln Woods trail. We got a late start for the winter but it gave us plenty of time to travel the easy terrain of the Lincoln Woods Trail.
This trail is an old rail bed which means it is straight and flat for almost as far as your eyes can see; I found myself picking trees as landmarks to verify that we were actually getting somewhere. This terrain is very popular with cross country skiers. Almost everyone we encountered saw the size of our packs and was surprised that we were willingly going to spend the night outside.
The Lincoln Woods trail is traveled well enough where snowshoes are helpful but not needed. We came to the Black Pond Trail after about 2.6 miles to find that it was also well traveled and didn’t require snowshoes. The Black Pond Trail has plenty of turns which were a nice change of scenery from the Lincoln Woods Trail. We found ourselves at Black Pond in just under a mile. This is a nice clearing where you can see some of the area’s taller peaks in the distance; the perfect place to spend the night.
We quickly put on our snowshoes and headed off trail to find a suitable camp. One step off trail reminded me of how insanely deep the snow is. We had to spend several minutes packing the snow down at our campsite to prevent from sinking up to our waists.
At this point the temperature started dropping and a light snow began to fall so we quickly got our tents set up for the night. I quickly found that simple things in the summer become a little more complicated in the winter. For example, fumbling with tent poles is a little harder with mittens on. After a hot meal, we turned in for the night at about 7 pm. I haven’t been to bed that early since I was 10 but what else are you supposed to when its 9 degrees and dark outside? We woke the next morning to find single digit temperatures and some fresh snow. After packing up camp we headed back for the trail head using the same route as the previous day.
The terrain on this hike is about as forgiving as you will find in the whites. Black Pond proved to be the perfect spot to refresh our cold weather campaign skills which will help us be prepared for trips with bigger ascents.