Memorial Day is the traditional start of the summer hiking season across northern New England, but people who climb the region’s mountains this weekend could find something they might not have been expecting: winter.

From Vermont’s Mount Mansfield to New Hampshire’s Mount Washington or Maine’s Katahdin, there’s snow, and officials say it’s deep in places.

In Vermont, the trails are going to be opened on Saturday as usual, but in Maine, it could be several weeks before all the trails on Mount Katahdin are open.

In Maine, a Connecticut woman was rescued Wednesday night after getting lost in Andover. Betsy Walker, 21, was not injured.

On Mount Washington, The Appalachian Mountain Club is expecting the usual influx of hikers this weekend, but rather than sunscreen and bug spray they’re being urged to bring crampons and ice axes.

“People in the next several days will encounter some winter conditions,” said Ben Rose, the executive director of the Green Mountain Club. The club oversees Vermont’s Long Trail, which runs along the spine of the state from Massachusetts to Quebec.

Rose said that while this winter had more snow than normal, it wasn’t unknown to find snow in the mountains on Memorial Day, although it’s been more than a decade since it has happened.

“I would say this is on the snowier end of the late-snow normal curve,” Rose said. “It was a good snow year, but it’s not historic.”

Rose urged hikers to be prepared and use common sense.

He said people who walk through deep snow without snowshoes, a process he called post-holing, without proper footwear could be setting themselves up for trouble.

“If you start to chill, escaping in sneakers in the snow can be a hypothermia situation. When people take it lightly, and there’s still snow they can get in trouble,” Rose said.

People are already having trouble.

Last week, two hikers from Pennsylvania called for help after getting into trouble in the upper reaches of the Dry River Wilderness in Hart’s Location, N.H. One had lost a sneaker while trudging through five feet of snow.

In that case, New Hampshire Fish and Game officials said the lack of snowshoes and appropriate footwear were significant factors in leading the two to need to call for help. Neither man suffered permanent injuries.

At the base of Mount Washington, Ben Schott of Appalachian Mountain Club volunteer services said it still is easy to hike back into winter.

“For the most part, you are going to run into muddy, rocky trails, but as you get further into the huts and toward the summits, yeah, you are going to run into snow and ice,” he said.

The AMC is recommending people planning to hike to the summit of Mount Washington come prepared with crampons for traction and ice axes to get across snowfields.

Schott said those conditions are attracting some visitors.

“A lot of people are coming for this, particularly, like the spring skiing in Tuckerman Ravine (on Mount Washington) that’s going longer than it normally does,” he said. “They are well prepared.”

Not so with some others.

“Some are coming because they come on this weekend every year and they are running into conditions that they are not expecting,” he said.

In Maine, the heavy snowpack appears likely to delay the opening of some popular hiking trails on mile-high Katahdin, the state’s tallest mountain.

The campground at Chimney Pond is normally open on June 1, but Baxter State Park Superintendent Jensen Bissell said that won’t be the case this year. The park staff was calling campers who have reservations for the first week in June to arrange a change to a different campground or a refund, he said.

“We know we won’t get up there the first week in June and we may not get up there the second week in June either,” he said.

Associated Press writers David Tirrell-Wysocki in Concord, N.H., and Jerry Harkavy in Portland, Maine, contributed to this report.

On the Web

Green Mountain Club:

http://www.greenmountainclub.org/

Appalachian Mountain Club:

www.outdoors.org.

Baxter State Park

http://www.baxterstateparkauthority.com


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