Tuesday, July 31, 2018

mt crawford

Today's hike: 4.4 mi | 3 h | 1.5 mph

The plan was to hike Mt Carrigain via the Signal Ridge Trail. When we arrived at Sawyer River Rd, the forest road that you're supposed to take to get to the trailhead, it was barred. So - oops. It would take an extra 4 miles of hiking if we walked in to the trailhead, so instead, we opted to hike the Davis Path to Mt Crawford, an easier hike in the area.

The Davis Path is pretty much an uphill slog most of the way to the peak of Mt Crawford. It probably would be more fun in the fall, but today it was humid and tiring. However, the open slab at the top was worth the slog, rewarding us with numerous beautiful views.

view on the way to the summit of Mt Crawford

Gorgeous view of the railway in the valley, from the top of Mt Crawford

View looking north (I think) towards Mt Washington.

You can take the Davis Path all the way to the summit of Mt Washington, but we certainly weren't prepared to do that today. We turned back after checking out the views from Mt Crawford.

Monday, May 07, 2018

mt mexico

Today's hike: 5.6 mi | 3 h | 1.9 mph

Maggie's boy and I took the Big Rock Cave trail over Mt Mexico, to the Whitin Brook trail, and then returned on the Cabin trail, to make a big, triangular loop. The elevation gain is about 1500 ft.

Last year, we walked up to Mt Mexico with the intent of checking out Big Rock Cave. We got swarmed with mosquitoes along the trail. It was so bad that we turned around. In contrast, there were almost no bugs out today, although the trail was quite wet in many spots.

The hike up to Mt Mexico is a perfectly ordinary one with no interesting views. We did hear a very large racket from a bunch of peepers off in the distance, but didn't see them.

This hike is rewarding once you get beyond the "peak" of Mt Mexico, and reach the Big Rock Cave. This is a fun jumble of huge rocks that form a little cave. Looks like you could do some rock climbing here.
Big Rock Cave

Side of Big Rock Cave

A big rock
At Big Rock Cave, the trail turns sharply left and downhill. At this point, we could hear the roar of rushing water. We soon came to a wide, rushing stream crossing. Maggie's boy bounded across over some large rocks. I walked far uphill and took the less dignified way, skootching my way across on a huge downed tree.
Whitin Brook is difficult to cross right now
Good signage after crossing Whitin Brook

The joke was on me; we soon came to another stream crossing. In all, there were four crossings of the Whitin Brook, back and forth over it. The trail makers really wanted you to get a good look at this feature. On the third crossing, I gave up, removed my boots, and walked across barefoot. The water is cold, but refreshing.

Even after the last crossing of the brook, we encountered a lot of water along the trail. We passed a large vernal pool, but didn't see any frogs there.

Mt Paugus in the distance
The Whitin Brook trail becomes pretty steep as you approach the Cabin trail. This steep part of the trail takes you through an area where many trees have been downed, as if a giant overturned a box of toothpicks (the remnants of Hurricane Sandy, apparently). You get a few obscured views of Mt Paugus as you head up the hill. Interesting slab, but looks like lots of sandy, rotten rock too. That could be a fun hike, too.

Finally, we reached the Cabin trail. From there on, it was mostly a downhill hike over dry leaves.

It was a beautiful day for a hike! We had cool temperatures, and blue skies interspersed with soft milky clouds.

Tuesday, April 03, 2018

spring snow on the boulder loop trail

Today's hike: 2.8 mi | 1.3 h | 2.1 mph

I took the loop clockwise today. It was surprisingly busy. I passed a couple of people and got passed by someone doing a very good pace with a dog.

Trail conditions are still a bit rough. Down low, I could easily avoid any snow or ice. This is a view as I headed up the trail, approaching the first significant snow.

trail on the way to the overlook

As I neared the first outlook, I saw someone ahead of me who appeared to be having trouble on the icy trail. At this point, I stopped to put on my microspikes.

Soon after passing the view, trail conditions improved so much that I had to remove the microspikes. Then they got worse again heading under the trees, and I put them back on. That happened a few times. I didn't want to damage the points on my spikes, so I removed them when the trail cleared up much.

view at the top with the overhanging cliff at right

Hard to say how soon the snow will be gone. There's some mud, too, but it's minor. It's not looking like we'll have much of a mud season, currently.

a fall leaf embedded in the spring snow

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Mt Chocorua

Today's hike: 7.6 mi | 4.2 h | 1.8 mph

I hiked up the Champney Falls Trail off the Kanc to the top of Mt. Chocorua today, accompanied by a friend. This was my first hike in the Whites over a completely snow-covered trail, and it was probably as mild as it could be. The temperature at the parking lot was about 35 °F.

approach to summit of Mt Chocorua
The trail was completely covered in packed snow, so the going was very easy. I wore microspikes, which provided plenty of traction. I think it could probably be done bare-booted, but it would also probably be annoying and slow going.

Trail conditions are very good right now. There are just a few tricky bits. As you get into the switchbacks near the top, there are some short sections that are covered in thick ice. Also, once in a while I'd see a footstep where the snow had been completely scraped away to reveal a thick layer of glassy ice. None of this is a problem when using microspikes. With the forecast calling for rain this week, though, it wouldn't surprise me if the trail becomes much more slippery and difficult very soon.

The only slightly scary part occurs when you get to the top. Chocorua is very exposed, and I find it nerve-racking when the trail at the top goes clambering up and over some blocky rocks. It is definitely worth the effort, though!

view from top of Mt Chocorua to Carter Ledge
We got lucky today. It can be extremely windy at the top of Chocorua, which would make for a brutal windchill in the winter. However, there were just a few mild gusts at the top.

I just bought a brand new winter jacket at EMS, yesterday (yay, sale days!). I wore it on this trip. I only wore a long-sleeved shirt underneath, but even so, it turned out that I was overdressed. I hiked with my jacket unzipped for most of the trip, and even then I really felt too warm.

USGS survey marker at the top of Mt Chocorua
I ran into a bit of a problem about halfway up the trail. I started to feel some rubbing at the back of my left ankle, and I could tell that I was developing a blister. This happens to me a lot, far too often! Usually, I bring blister packs on my hikes, but I had forgotten to do so this time. I didn't want to turn around... I searched through my pack. I didn't have much extra stuff - a whistle, compass, emergency poncho in a mini-bag, etc. This was all packed into a plastic shopping bag from the grocery store. I thought about using the mini-bag that held the poncho as a makeshift bandage across my ankle, but was worried that it would shift around too much once I started moving again. My friend said "why not try the plastic bag?" Hm! I pulled off my boot and sock, and wrapped the bag around my foot and ankle, so the bag covered my foot starting from the arch and going all the way up my ankle. My friend helped me put the sock back on over the bag, which squeezed the bag in place. Then the boot went back on. It seems crazy, but this worked! I noticed that the bag stuck to my skin due to a bit of moisture, and it stopped the skin on my ankle from being rubbed directly. This might get too sweaty in the summer, but it was perfect for winter conditions.

This was my second hike to the top of Mt. Chocorua. I took the Liberty Trail last time. That approach to Chocorua seems steeper and more difficult than today's. The Champney Falls Trail has a mere 2,250 feet in elevation gain, as compared with the Liberty Trail's 2,700 foot gain.

Sunday, September 24, 2017

Mt Monroe

Today's hike: 6 mi | 5 h |  1.2 mph

Today, I hiked up to Mt. Monroe, my 22nd 4000-footer.

someone left a pair of boots at the side of the trail!
The mountains in the Presidential Range are some of the taller 4000-footers, and I've been expecting the hikes to these peaks to be more difficult than my previous 4000-footers. However, this did not turn out to be the case. It's not an easy hike, but nothing to be intimidated by.

I took the Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail. Mt. Monroe is 5,372 ft high. The elevation gain for this hike is about 2,800 ft. The only real difficulty that I encountered was that the trail has some steep, slabby sections, and they were often wet. This was true despite the fact that it hasn't rained in several days. The wet areas were made extra slippery by a thin layer of dirt and sand, and I did slip a couple of times. I used my hands to help secure my position, here and there, along the way. I would not want to be on this trail soon after a rain, or while it was raining. The White Mountain Guide book recommends this as the best trail for getting to the AMC hut up near Mt Washington in bad weather, because it is in the woods most of the way. No thanks!
cascades at about 2.3 miles into the Ammonoosuc Trail
It was a warm fall day. It's early yet, and the trail only had a light sprinkling of autumn leaves. It being Sunday, the trail was fairly busy. I lost count of the number of hikers that I passed or who passed me; perhaps there were about 20 groups in total. This was far too much traffic for my liking, but other than that, it was a nearly ideal day for the hike.

After about 3 miles of hiking, you break through the trees, and the ascent becomes much less steep, hence easier. However, I still had to be careful ascending some wet slabby areas.
Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail on the approach to Lake of the Clouds AMC hut
It was not long before I got a glimpse of the "Lake of the Clouds" AMC hut. I'd read reports that it was not open after September 16. It was, indeed, boarded up.

At this point, my goal was clearly in sight - Mt. Monroe was a short, easy hike from the hut. Up until now, the day had been quiet and cool. As I ascended Mt. Monroe, the wind picked up, and I had to hang onto my hat for fear of losing it. Next time, I should remember to bring a keeper of some sort for the hat!
closing in on Mt. Monroe
Mt. Washington is in plain view once you get to the "Lake of the Clouds." Looking at it from Mt. Monroe, I was sorely tempted to head up there, and bag another 4000-footer. However, I decided against it. It will probably be more fun (i.e. less crowded) to hike there on a weekday, and I'm not in a rush.
Mt. Washington and the Lake of the Clouds as seen from Mt. Monroe

Thursday, August 17, 2017

Mt Whiteface

Today's hike: 8.4 mi | 5.5 h | 1.5 mph

Today I hiked Mt Whiteface, my 21st 4000-footer! I went up via the Blueberry Ledge Trail, and returned the same way. According to the AMC White Mountain Guide, the Ferncroft parking lot where the hike starts is at 1,140 ft above sea level. Mt Whiteface is 4,019 ft tall, so the elevation change was 2979 ft. It didn't seem so steep, though.

It's a straightforward hike, but it is misleading to start. The trail is pretty flat for about the first mile, then trends up and eventually takes you over numerous stairs constructed from stone. Just when you are wondering whether you are really in the White Mountains, because this seems far too easy, you come to a sloping ledge with a steep drop-off. After circumventing that, the trail goes up several slabs and ledges that call for some rock-climbing moves (I needed my hands to get up the trail several times). It's fun, but I wouldn't want to do it in the rain.

This is a view of one of the steeper slabs, higher up on Whiteface. If you zoom in, you'll see pairs of holes running up diagonally to the right. Perhaps there was once a wooden ladder here. I went up this area at the far left. It's a slippery slope down at the bottom; I used the dead tree stump to pull myself up.
steep slab on Mt Whiteface

Tuesday, February 07, 2017

peaked mountain

Today's hike: 4.0 mi | 2 h | 2 mph

It snowed on and off during this hike. The trail had a light coating of 1-2 inches of snow. I climbed up the Middle Mountain Trail to about 1/2 mile below Middle Mountain, then took the Peaked Mountain Connector Trail to the top of Peaked Mountain. I descended via the Peaked Mountain Trail, which makes a nice loop.

The footing was not bad. Microspikes were sufficient. Snowshoes would have been overkill.

There was no sign that anyone had been out this morning. On the way back, I saw cross country ski tracks heading towards the Pudding Pond Trail. I also saw fresh turkey tracks crossing the Middle Mountain Trail and the Peaked Mountain Trail. I think it must have been the same flock of about 6 or 7 turkeys.

View from the top of Peaked Mountain this morning