Saturday, January 14, 2017

Mt Stanton

Today, I hiked up the Mount Stanton Trail, to the summit of Mt Stanton. The round trip distance was 3 miles, with an elevation gain of 1000 feet. It took a total of 2 hours, averaging 1.5 mph. This was very good, considering the trail conditions were pretty icy. I wore Kahtoola MICROspikes. I wouldn't have wanted to hike this trail without them, especially the steep bits.

It was below 20ºF, but it wasn't windy at all. Once I got started, I warmed up pretty quickly.

view of Attatash on the way to the summit of Mt Stanton
The trail conditions are packed ice and snow. I doubt you'll have fun if you don't bring some form of traction. Snowshoes are not a good choice here. A woman was coming down carrying snowshoes. She had removed them, and was using Yaktrax. She said she'd more or less slid down the steep parts of the trail above, but she hadn't wanted to use the snowshoes on the way down. Yaktrax are not really meant for steep terrain like this, though.

Despite the chill, and the clouds, it was a fun hike! The sun did peak through the clouds once in a while. I haven't done much winter hiking, but so far it seems straightforward.

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

snowshoeing up Middle Mountain Trail

Last night, it got unseasonably warm. Snow turned to rain. And then the skies cleared, and we got a beautiful, pleasant day for a change.

I went hiking up Middle Mountain Trail, where I've been snowshoeing before. The trail is pretty beaten down, and the rain has made the snow soft and a bit slushy. I started out without traction, then put on snowshoes as the trail steepened. This kind of snow might be best traversed with snowshoes rather than microspikes. With the latter, you may still be sliding on slippery snow.

view on the way up Middle Mountain Trail
The only difficulty I encountered was a significant ice bulge that covered the trail, about a mile in:
ice bulge covers the trail
Everyone seems to go right. You can grab the trees. I also grabbed an ice pocket down at the bottom. This is a steep section, so you don't want to lose your footing here. This was the only difficult part to the trail.

I hiked up to the intersection where you meet the Peaked Mountain Trail, then turned around. It's a half mile to Peaked Mountain from here, and 0.8 miles to Middle Mountain. Some other day...
Peaked Mountain - Middle Mountain Trail Connector
It doesn't get much better than this! Hiking back down was a lot easier than hiking up. 
View on the way down Middle Mountain Trail
The hike was a total of 2.4 miles. It took about an hour and 25 minutes, for a pace of about 1.7 mph.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Black Cap Mountain

Today, I hiked the Black Cap Mountain trail in the Green Hills Preserve. The last few days have been rainy. This fairly short hike seemed a safe bet.

The trailhead is located on the south side of Hurricane Mountain Rd, in Conway, NH. Hurricane Mountain Rd is reportedly not maintained in the winter. It's gated at some point in November, but I couldn't figure out when. It looks like you have to check with the forest service to find out if it's open, so do that if there's any doubt in your mind.

The hike is about 1.1 miles from the trailhead to the top of the mountain, with 650 ft of elevation change. There's a map of the trail, but you really don't need it. It's very well marked.

Conditions were good, although the trail was wetter than I expected. Mud and standing water could be found in places, but nothing that a good pair of hiking boots couldn't withstand.

Parts of the trail are slabby... and it probably would be less fun, and more slippery, in the rain.

slab along the trail
It took me about 30 minutes to reach the top. You can see Mt. Washington far off in the distance from here. There's snow up there right now.
View from the top of Black Cap Mountain. Mt Washington, in the distance, is covered in snow.
There's a memorial stone at the top. It reads "The Green Hills - Preserved by the Nature Conservancy  - through the generosity of - Anna B. Stearns - as a memorial to her mother and father - 1990". Thanks Anna!
The Green Hills with thanks to Anna B. Stearns
You can also see Whitehorse Ledge and Cathedral from the summit of Black Cap.
Whitehorse Ledge and Cathedral in the distance as viewed from Black Cap Mountain

I met a couple from Ontario at the top and chatted a short while. The hike down was nearly as easy as the hike up, with the whole trip taking about 1 hour. Nice day!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Mt Chocorua

Yesterday's hike: 5 h 30 min | 7.4 mi | 1.4 mph.

Mt Chocorua, at 3,490 feet, is not quite a 4000-footer. But in hiking up it, you experience an elevation change of about 2500 feet, similar to many of the 4000-footers. For example, the hike up Mt Osceola is only about 2000 feet.

Jim Liberty cabin is wrapped in chains to prevent the roof from flying off

Yesterday I did this hike via the Liberty Trail. I got nearly perfect weather for hiking: almost no wind, and crisp fall temperatures (35-40 F or so, I think).

The first 2 miles of the trail were not exciting. It was very muddy in spots, and completely covered in deep piles of leaves. But the top made up for it!

View from ledges just below the summit of Mt Chocrua
As you near the top, you get several breath-taking views, and pass over huge slabs of rock. Some of the trail is so slabby that it feels like you're rock-climbing. I'm glad I was only carrying a small pack. With a larger one, I probably would have been more nervous about some of the rock scrambling required to follow the trail.

Looks like an opportunity for some slabby rock climbing!
The trail doesn't actually go over the peak of Chocorua. It looks like you're supposed to just make your own trail up the last 50 feet. It's very exposed, so take each step carefully!
USGS marker at the summit

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

another look at the cross of questioning

Someone recently asked about the "cross of questioning" over at Crow Hill Ledges.

I passed by there recently. It is very faded in comparison to my last photo. I don't know what to make of that. I wonder why it was so clearly marked when I saw it. I don't think I'd notice it these days. Here's the way it looks now:
cross of questioning in 2015

Monday, July 07, 2014

taping stamps to an envelope

Several times a year, there's a charity that sends me a self-addressed stamped envelope - I guess they think that they can prompt me to send them money because of the free postage? I do sometimes give them money (not because of that!), but generally I do not. It may be silly, but I hate the idea of throwing away those unused stamps. So I cut the stamps off the envelope using a pair of scissors, and keep the stamps for reuse later on. I don't send out a lot of mail, so I don't see why I should bother with buying stamps when I can usually get away with reusing these free ones.

When I have a letter to send, I take a couple of strips of clear tape, and attach the stamps at the bottom and the top to my new envelope. I am careful to leave most of the stamp uncovered by tape, so that it's easy for the postal service to postmark the stamps (thereby invalidating them).

I've been doing this for many, many years without any problem. I've never had an envelope returned when doing this - until today!

Above you can see the envelope that was returned to me (FYI - before taking this photo, I had started peeling off the tape from the stamps, but then stopped because I thought this would make an interesting blog post. There was tape over the top of the stamps, and the stamps had not been abraded, when I originally mailed the letter). It is marked "RETURN FOR POSTAGE" and "Re-used Stamps". I figured someone at the post office was unfamiliar with the idea that it's okay to reuse a stamp as long as it has not been postmarked. So I went to the post office to clear things up. I thought that perhaps I had overdone it with the tape this time (a bit too much tape covering the stamps), and I was hoping someone would just cancel the postage for me at the counter.

Well, I was told that taping over stamps is "destroying government property," and it is absolutely not allowed. I explained that the stamps were not "reused" - they had not been used to send anything through the mail and were free of postmarks. Nope! Not allowed!

Yet for many, many years I've been getting away with this. I asked if it would be okay to glue the stamps on. They would neither confirm nor deny whether this was permitted; but at least they didn't say that this was "destroying government property."

I've been searching the internet to determine where the ruling is that you cannot tape stamps to an envelope. Rumors abound, but I have found no definitive answer. I still suspect that the real problem, in this case, was that the stamps were covered with too much tape. If I'd been more careful and exposed more of the stamp surface, this problem would never have occurred. The USPS apparently uses machines which scan the surface of the stamp to check whether it has been cancelled:
Most stamps are coated with a substance that may be detected by cancellation machines which verify that postage is affixed. These machines reject letters on which a stamp cannot be detected.
So yeah, I suspect that you can just get away with taping over stamps, provided you leave most of the stamp surface uncovered. But from now on, I'll use glue.

Tuesday, September 03, 2013


Yesterday's hike: 4 h 5 min | 7.2 mi | 1.7 mph.

I hiked my twentieth 4000-footer, Mt Waumbek!

There's not much exciting about this hike, except for the fact that it's got to be the easiest trail I've taken to a 4000-footer so far. No struggle to get yourself over giant boulders at the top, and as you near the peak it doesn't get significantly steeper. Probably a good thing, since I'm severely out of training.

It does have some fun features. Near the start, you pass what appears to be an old well:

On the way to the summit of Mt Waumbek, you cross Mt Starr King. Right near the summit cairn for the latter is a USGS survey marker:

There's a cool fireplace along the trail, also near the summit of Mt Starr King:

You also get the best views here:

The summit of Mt Waumbek is, well, a bit understated, shall we say?