We had an excellent day for the trip. There was deep snow on the mountain, but it was somewhat settled, and the day was relatively warm with moderate wind. (This contrasts with many previous winter trips with colder temperatures and / or high winds from the north.) Most of us met at the commuter lot in Essex Center, and then on to the winter parking area at Underhill State Park. (This parking lot gets a lot of use these days, especially with snowboarding and skiing down the tear-drop trail to this trailhead.)
We went up the CCC road, and onto the Sunset Ridge Trail for a short distance before heading up the very steep Laura Cowles Trail. We all had to use snowshoes, since the trail was not yet compacted. Some made it to the top in under 3 hours, and all were there by 12:20PM, a little over three hours after we started.
The top was in full winter regalia, with trees and signs plastered with snow and hoar-frost, and the wind blowing pretty strong from the southwest. In the actual summit area, the gusts were very strong, so we all ducked back below treeline quickly. We made it down in a little more than 2 hours. For Aileen, this was her third attempt at doing Mansfield in winter, so we were all glad that the conditions were OK this time.
Participants – Chuck Bond, Judy Bond, Marc Faucher, Peggy Faucher, Aileen Genett, Lynda Hutchins, Phil Hazen, Sheri Larsen, Richard Larsen