AMC Outdoors, January/February 2003
Anne Gwynne, 62, is a hike leader for the New Hampshire chapter and a veterinary technician in Concord, N.H. She was the 12th person to climb New England’s 100-highest peaks in winter.
Q. What was your first winter hiking experience?
A. I started with a series of New Hampshire Chapter winter hikes in 1985. The leaders then are no longer active leaders now, but they did a great job with the basics: trail finding, clothing, etc.
Q. Was this what got you hooked?
A. I was hooked the very first time. I can’t imagine going all winter without being outside. Winter is long. I then went to the New Hampshire Chapter’s Winter Workshop at Cardigan Lodge and it reinforced everything I’d learned with the series on day hiking.
Q. What has been your best experience?
A. Oh, those beautiful winter days on an open summit. One of the most beautiful days we had was in the Kinsmans. We crossed over Lonesome Lake and I turned around at 7 a.m. and the peaks were golden. Later on that afternoon in the same spot, I looked and they were pink. One time at the Bulge and the Horn we broke trail in two feet of snow — it was so clean and glistening.
Q. What piece of gear do you never leave home without?
A. In winter, you can’t go without a lot of things. The biggest thing to bring is your common sense and judgment. Then, an insulating pad and map and compass because it’s so easy to lose the trail. And extra gloves and mittens because your hands get wet and cold. Emergency gear, just in case.
I never go without snowshoes. A lot of people choose to just “boot it,” but it destroys the trail and becomes exhausting to post-hole.
Q. What is your favorite backcountry winter destination in the Northeast?
A. Mount Garfield. It has a unique spot geographically, on top of the Pemi [Pemigewasset Wilderness]. On a clear day you look down and see the Franconias to the right and the Bonds to the left — magnificent! And it’s not crowded. The hike is five miles, so it’s a long day, but unbelievable.
Q. What are your goals for this winter?
A. Having finished the Winter 111 [winter ascents of all of the 4,000-footers in the Northeast] this year my goal is to do beautiful hikes with fun people on good days. I’ve gotten smarter with age.
Q. Advice for the first-time winter hiker?
A. Three-season hikers should give it a try and not be afraid of the cold. And definitely try it before you make any investment — rent or borrow snowshoes. Take a workshop. Be fit before you go. And start small — work your way up to something big.