• Category Archives On The Trails & Summits
  • Wet Waterville Valley Walking

    Yours truly in the wet foggy forest on the Snows Mountain Trail in Waterville Valley.

     

    by Amy Patenaude
    Outdoor/Ski Writer

    We met at the Dunkin’ Donuts in Campton just off of Interstate 93’s exit 49 because we had not decided where we were going to hike. Danielle and Amanda were already inside when I arrived. After grabbing a coffee and looking at the maps we made our decision. We’d drive to Snows Mountain in Waterville Valley and wing it from there.
    New Hampshire was hit hard by the Halloween tropical storm that dumped heavy rain and whipped the trees. Thousands lost power, flood damaged and closed roads and hiking trails were hit hard too. We didn’t know what we would find but we hoped by staying at lower elevations and away from raging brooks we’d increase the odds that the trails would be passable.

    Nothing to see here folks! Amanda and Danielle on the Snows Mountain lookout, misty rain, fog and clouds made it a day to look at the things that were near and not far away.

    From the base of Snows Mountain we headed up the Cascade Path and turned on the Elephant Rock Trail. The trail was covered with leaves and we tossed a lot of sticks and branches off the trail as we headed to the top of the Snow Mountain chairlift. Oh yeah, the rock, it doesn’t look like an elephant. The tree that made up its trunk is long gone.
    The clouds were thick and we didn’t see any mountain views only threatening skies all around us.
    We continued on the Greeley Ledge Trail and it was no great loss that it was cloudy since the ledge has no open vista. A three inch diameter tree at chest high was across the trial. I whipped out my folding saw and we made quick work of its removal.
    At the intersection of the Snows Mountain Trail we went left but when we looked right there was a mess of tangled trees blocking the trail. We’d deal with that later maybe.
    As we hiked higher into the fog the forest looked spooky. We made our way up to the spur path to its no-view-today view point. On our way down we did enjoy a blurry sight of the Waterville Town Square below through swirling clouds from a cut opening along the trail. The fog traded places off and on with light rain.
    We tossed sticks and limbs and cleaned out a water bar to help the water off the trail but we were happy to find the trail in decent condition.

    Danielle demonstrates she is willing to lend a hand with her folding saw! The Waterville Valley Athletic and Improvement Association (WVAIA), the outdoors club of Waterville Valley, maintains nearly 23 miles of trails in the White Mountain National Forest. The Association does a great work maintaining the trails and organizing activities. Please visit their website at WVAIA to learn more about their trails and the Association.

     

    Amanda and Danielle on the Yellow Jacket Trail. Pines Flats, Yellow Jacket and Tri-Town Trails make a nice loop for hiking. The trails are multi-use trails; hikers, mountain bikers and in the winter cross country skiers enjoy them too. Smarts Brook is lovely and short walk up the Pine Flats Trail will lead you to a lovely gorge.

    At this point the southern terminus of the Snows Mountain Trail dumps you out in the driveway of a private home. We walked up the road and went up the ski trail until we reached the large Forest Service sign for Snows Mountain Trail. Please note that no cars are to be parked in the private neighborhood, parking is at the base of Snows Mountain only.
    We headed up the trail through the forest and tossed more sticks and limbs until we reached the tangle mess we saw earlier near the trail intersection. We went to work with our folding saws, our tiny folding saws! These were big trees. We were able to cut and remove a couple trees and the branches until all that was left was a couple of easy step-overs. We retraced our way back to the ski trail.
    Since it was just misty rain we headed back up the Cascade Path and did a quick out and back on the Boulder Path. The giant boulder sitting in the middle of Slide Brook was surrounded by high fast flowing water. Danielle and Amanda would have to come back another day to get the short section of the trail on the other side from Livermore Road.
    There were a few big trees across the cross country ski trail where the trails overlap. But I am sure the Nordic Center is aware because we could see that they had been out clearing water bars on the trail.
    Back at the car we pulled out the map, the new map that accompanies the 30th edition of the AMC White Mountain Guide. We noticed the short trails near the beginning of the Smarts Brook Trail. I read the trail descriptions and the guide reported that there was a bridge crossing the brook so we could make a 3-mile loop and not drown.
    There were no other cars in the Smarts Brook Trail parking area but that was no surprise because of the wet weather forecast. It was mid-day, it was still misty rainy and we were still happy to be out walking.
    We headed up the Pine Flats Trail that leaves right from the parking area. This is a pine-rooty trail along Smarts Brook and it passes along a lovely deep ledgy gorge.
    We turned right on the Yellow Jacket Trail and it started to rain lightly and get darker. The trail was wetter and there were a handful of small bridges over small streams. The trail rejoined the bank of the roaring Smarts Brook. We were extremely happy to see that the storm had done no damage to the bridge that would take us over the brook and to the Smarts Brook Trail. We turned right and in a short distance we turned left on to the Tri-Town Trail.
    The light rain turned into a downpour. Danielle and I uselessly rushed to put on our rain jackets. Amanda didn’t. She left her wet coat back at the car and we decided the rain was her fault. That last mile felt like the longest mile of the day. Drenched we marched on and climbed over several rather large trees that will need a big chainsaw to be removed.

    A good view upstream at Smarts Brook between the trailheads of Pine Flats and Smarts Brook Trail, right on Route 49 in Thornton. Danielle takes her Tibetan prayer flags with her on every hike and she places them on a summit or a lovely place in remembrance of a hiking friend that left us too early. She returns the flags into the pocket of her backpack and shares the photo of the flags with family and friends.

    Tri-Town Trail -what three towns did this trail cross? We guessed Sandwich, Campton and Thornton. I knew the trailhead was in Thornton and maybe on the Pine Flats and or Yellow Jacket Trails we crossed into Waterville Valley. So were the three towns included Waterville Valley using the other trails? (I checked a map at home and it looks like the Tri-Town Trail is in Sandwich and Thornton only).
    The trail finished back on the Smarts Brooks Trail and at the end of the trail, on the edge of the highway bridge there is a nice view up the brook and up the highway across to Welch Mountain. We stood there a few minutes soaking in the view.
    Soon it will be snowing! Have fun.

    Amy Patenaude is an avid skier/outdoor enthusiast from Henniker, N.H. Readers are welcome to send comments or suggestions to her at: amy@weirs.com.


  • Random Walks And Thoughts (Think Winter)

    Oktoberfest is fun! Charlie and Yours Truly with new friends at the Acadia’s Oktoberfest. October is behind us but you have one more chance to wear your Lederhosen or Dirndl at Pats Peak this Sunday for their annual Oktoberfest/Ski &Snowboard Sale.

    by Amy Patenaude
    Outdoor/Ski Writer

    By the end of October a year ago there was snow above 3000 feet. Winter hasn’t teased us yet and it has been easy enjoying this extended warm weather but I am looking forward to winter and to skiing.
    Last weekend Becca and I went out hiking to visit the officially abandoned Sugarloaf Mountain Trail (Benton Range). The old trail still sees some use by people that haven’t forgotten it. Long ago the trail was maintained by Camp Walt Whitman, according to my 1976 AMC White Mountain Guide.
    We easily followed the trail from the forest road but once we hit the ledges we quit the trail. Ladders or rock climbing gear would be necessary to be safe and that is most likely the reason this trail was abandoned. We bushwhacked along the base of the cliff to the south and we were able to wind our way up to the ridge between Sugarloaf and Hogsback. Our compass came in handy for making a beeline through the woods to the summit.

    Becca making her way along the base of Sugarloaf Mountain, Benton Range, upper ledges. Since we couldn’t climb straight up them we went around them to the south and wound our way to the summit.

    From the open ledges we enjoyed the big open views over to nearby mountains and afar–Black Mountain and the Kinsman and Franconia Ranges. Becca and I have been to the top of Sugarloaf before via more difficult bushwhacks.
    While enjoying the summit we took the time to look at an old map and we noticed a nearby peak marked with a ski lift. We decided once we got back down we would go check that out.
    The drive was short to the former Swiftwater Valley Ski Area on Whites Pinnacle in Haverhill. The ski lodge is still operational and a wedding reception was in full swing when we arrived. The lucky couple could not have asked for a nicer summer-like day. We walked way around the lodge and hiked up the mowed hillside and we checked out the defunct rope-tow that is decaying on side of the slope.

    We hiked up old ski trails to the summit of Whites Pinnacle in Haverhill, NH. Looking down the former Swiftwater Valley Ski Area’s old rope tow slope down to the Lodge. According to NewEnglandSkiHistory.com the ski area had a rope tow and a chairlift servicing 650 vertical feet. In 1978 the ski area was renamed to Monteau. The ski area opened December 1973 and it final season was the winter of ‘89-’90.

    Becca and I continued up a path straight up the mountain that was once the line of the small ski area’s double chairlift. Well it wasn’t that small it had 650 vertical feet of skiing.
    On the summit of Whites Pinnacle, elevation 1,470 feet there are a few relics of the former lift and one of the trails is still used for hiking. The old trail wound its way more gently down and we both think we should come back to ski and snowboard it sometime this winter.
    We decided our day shouldn’t be over yet so we drove over to Kinsman Notch and then towards Franconia to check out a little pond. From the road we whacked down to the pond and found a fisherman’s path along its edge. The water was low and there were a few salamanders swimming around near the shore. There also was a unique view of South Kinsman high above and across the water that made this unplanned outing well worth our small effort.
    We enjoyed our mostly unplanned and random day.

    From Sugarloaf Mountain, Benton Range, the views of the Kinsman and Franconia Ranges are an eye-filler. The tip-top of Mount Lafayette peeks up between North and South Kinsman Mountains. Foliage is past peak and soon these peaks will be frosty white.

    ***Ski areas have been putting out reminders that they’ll be open in a month. There is still time to buy your season pass for the ski/snowboard season at the best rates but time is running out. The SkiNH.com website has all the links to your favorite resorts and an events calendar.

    ***Saturday, November 4th – 6th Annual Simmer n ’Brewfest at Cannon Mountain. Gourmet soups galore from local chefs & eateries, brews from over 15 New England breweries and live music. For online tickets— www.cannonmt.com.

    ***Also on Saturday, November 4th is the Gunstock Ski Club Sale in Gunstock’s Main Lodge. New shop and used consignment equipment will be for sale. The sale helps support the Gunstock Ski Club youth ski racing program; more information at www.gunstockskiclub.com.

    ***Sunday, November 5th –Pats Peak Ski Team 47th Annual Ski & Snowboard Sale and the Pats Peak Oktoberfest in November. Two great events in one—King Ludwig’s Bavarian Band, German Food and Beer Garden, kids’ activities, woodsman show and sale of new & used ski and snowboard equipment and apparel. You can register your items for sale on-line; for more information visit www.patspeak.com.

    ***The 35th Boston.com Ski & Snowboard Expo is November 10-13th at Boston’s Seaport World Trade Center. This is the place to go to get excited about the upcoming winter snowsport season. Nearly every ski resort in New England is represented at the Expo along with many resorts from the Western United States and Canada. Ski and Snowboard manufactures will be showing off and selling their newest equipment. Super deals and giveaways are all part of the fun; for more information www.skisnowexpo.com.
    Think Snow and have fun.


  • The Games Hikers Play

    Charlie on the summit of Mount Abraham in Maine last weekend. Mount Abraham is ranked #10 of the 14 peaks in Maine that are over 4,000 feet. Vermont has 5 peaks and New Hampshire 48 and together they add up to 67 Mountains that are on the AMC New England 4,000 Footer list.

    by Amy Patenaude
    Outdoor/Ski Writer

    I know you don’t want to admit it but the days are getting shorter, the end is in sight and winter is fast approaching. Before it gets too cold and snowy hikers are out there trying to finish up their lists. Finishing all kinds of lists are the games hikers play.
    We are all still excited that the Golfing Gals finished the AMC’s 4,000 Footers Club list— summiting and returning from all New Hampshire’s 48 peaks with elevations greater than 4,000 feet. Sarah and Sharon already sent in their application for membership. They really do study every application. They received a question back from the reviewer asking exactly which Kinsman Peak did they finish on the list. Along with the inquiry was the comment that finishing on the North Kinsman was unusual.
    North Kinsman. Well, I confess I rarely led them up the easiest way but instead I attempted to choose the most wonderful and perhaps it may have been an unusual route.

    Big FINISH on West Plymouth Mountain! On October 1st Nancy and Charlie Foote of Glencliff finished the New Hampshire Highest 500 list. As part of the celebration all the finishers of the list present posed together for a photo–Yours Truly, Nancy & Charlie Foote, Bryan Cuddihee and Zachary Porter. Visit on-line at 48×12.com to learn about this list and more games hikers play.

    The following week I was present for another big finish of a less known peak bagging list. Nancy and Charlie Foote of Glencliff completed the New Hampshire Highest 500 list on West Plymouth Mountain. This is a trail-less tree covered bump just over 2,000 feet in elevation. To complete this list one must travel to peaks located in southern NH and peaks reaching all the way to the Canadian border and most don’t have trails. There is plenty of map and compass work to do and just figuring out where the peak is hiding is part of the challenge.

    Charlie Gunn, Henniker and Fran Leyman, Mt Desert, Maine near the summit of Gorham Mountain overlooking the Beehive. A couple years ago Fran made her own hiking game. Fran redlined, hiked every trail, in Acadia National Park. It might take Charlie and Yours Truly another twenty years to redline Acadia’s trails but with Fran’s help we just might do it.

    Nancy and Charlie invited friends to join them for the bushwhack to their finish peak. Friends included others that have completed the NHH500–Bryan Cuddihee, Zachary Porter and yours truly. We enjoyed the not so long walk in the woods together. Afterwards we celebrated and enjoyed a hotdog barbeque while we shared stories of our adventures.
    Oh there are many games hikers play. Some are well known and I know hikers that make up their own games.
    Around here the most popular is the AMC’s 4,000 Footer list. The reward is a simple embroidered path. Other 4k AMC patches can be earned for completing this feat in calendar winter. There is also a new patch for completing the list in each of the four seasons along with a requirement of doing trail maintenance.

    My first guide, the 1976, 21st edition and the brand new 30th edition AMC White Mountain Guide! For 110 years the Appalachian Mountain Club has been publishing the White Mountain Guide. The 30th edition is a boxed set with six pull-out topographic maps. This is a must-have guide! Compiled and edited by Steven D. Smith of Lincoln, NH, the guide and maps are thoroughly updated and revised. Red-liners will find trail descriptions for over 1,450 miles of trails and paths!

    The AMC also recognizes and awards a patch for the New England 4,000 Footer List—67 mountains in New Hampshire, Vermont and Maine and another patch for the New England Hundred Highest.
    For more information visit on-line at amc4000footer.org or better yet get your hands on the new 30th edition of the AMC White Mountain Guide and all your questions will be answered in Appendix B.
    More games that New Hampshire hikers play are explained and a list of finishers for each challenge can be found at the website 48×12.com. The website is supported by Ed Hawkins and friends. Finishers of the lists found here may apply for recognition and received a special award patch.
    The website started by Gridders—people that have hiked every 4,000 footer in each and every month of the year—48×12 equals 576 summits. There are a handful that have completed the Grid more than once. Ed Hawkins and Tim Muskat are multiple finishers and have completed this feat an amazing 6 times.
    The 48×12.com website also provides information and tracks finishers for White Mountain Red-lining—hiking every trail and path in the White Mountain Guide, visiting proposed, past and present New Hampshire Fire Tower sites, hiking a 4k mountain on every calendar day, including leap day and more challenges.
    Another website tracks finishers of the 4,000 Footer list in a single winter, 48in1winter.com. Over 100 people that have completed this feat.
    I know two other hikers that share my passion of collecting town highpoints and sometimes town highpoints are found on the side of a hill on a town line and not on a summit. There are others out there collecting state highpoints. I have another friend that hikes to the highest summit of every country he visits and his most recent prize was collected in the Czech Republic.
    One thing that is true hikers love to hike and the only thing that limits the games hikers play are our imaginations.
    Congratulations to all those that finished their game this fall.
    Have Fun.

     

    Amy Patenaude is an avid skier/outdoor enthusiast from Henniker, N.H. Readers are welcome to send comments or suggestions to her at: amy@weirs.com.


  • Hiking Companions Tackle NH’s 4,000-Footers Together

    Where they started their journey 7 years ago. Columnist Amy Patenaude (left) and her ‘golfing gal friends’ Sharon (center) and Sarah on their first hike together in the Belknap Mountains Whiteface, Piper and Swett.

    The Last Two Peaks: Kinsman Mountain South & North

    by Amy Patenaude
    Outdoor/Ski Writer

    Seven years ago I can easily recall how this all started. My golfing gal friends, Sharon and Sarah thought it would be fun to hike with me. We did a hike together in the Belknap Mountains over Piper, Whiteface and Swett. They seemed to like climbing up and over rocks and they kept on hiking with me.
    We dropped Sharon’s car off at the Mount Kinsman Trailhead in Easton and then we drove a few minutes further south on Route 116 before taking a left up the Reel Brook Road to reach the Trailhead.
    This wasn’t the easiest way to hike South and North Kinsman but I assured them it was the most beautiful route and the extra miles of hiking would be well worth it.

    Sharon hauls herself up yet another steep pitch as she nears the summit of North Kinsman. South Kinsman looms in the distance a mile away.

    We shouldered our packs and headed up the trail. The trail follows old logging roads through the forest as it gradually climbs up to the Kinsman Ridge Trail. The trail adopter has taken good care of this trail and I felt badly that a big tree had fallen on the trail just above the powerline swath. The Reel Brook crossings were easily rock hop-able since the water was low. Even the usually wet flat section near the top of the trail was dry. We made good time.
    The Kinsman Ridge Trail is the Appalachian Trail and we followed the white blazed trail north. When we crossed the open powerline swath the morning fog and low clouds had not dried up. We could just barely see down to Bog Pond and no further.
    We descended to Eliza Brook and took the path to the campsite. The shelter is relatively new, built in 2010 to replace an old one. If we had come this way the first year they started hiking in the Whites we may have seen them piecing it together. We sat on the big log on the edge of the front of the open shelter and enjoyed a rest and a snack.
    The Nobos (north bound) AT hikers have already passed by this way and in fact if they hope to make it to Katahdin this season they better be well into Maine. We took the path back to the trail and sitting at the intersection was a round man with a large backpack. We chatted a few minutes and we learned he was headed south on a flip-flop AT hike. He started in Georgia and hiked to Harper’s Ferry, West Virginia and then traveled to Kathadin, Maine and is now hiking back to Harper’s Ferry.
    I looked it up: Eliza Brook Shelter to Katahdin is 382 miles and Eliza Brook to the Harpers Ferry is about 780 miles.
    For most of the next mile the trail follows along the bank of Eliza Brook. The sound and sight of its cascading water is a delight to experience and helps make the rugged trail feel less rough. Here we ran into a speedy young man with a much smaller pack than the fellow we had just met. He was headed south from Kathadin too and he didn’t have spare time to talk.
    We crossed the brook and climbed. Soon we were near Harrington Pond, the trail was muddy and the bog bridges are either missing or underwater. I used my hiking pole to poke around to find them in a few places. The area of the pond was already in full fall scenery—the trees were colorful and the grasses had turned gold.

    The AMC White Mountain Guide (the new 30th edition is now available) notes that the section of trail between Harrington Pond and South Kinsman may require extra time. Yes it does! Here the trail is steep and ledgy and requires tricky scrambling. Sharon and Sarah discussed what trails had climbs as difficult as this one. As we were nearing the top two young gals flew by us and we exchanged cheery hellos as they left us behind.
    Once over the steep pitch the trail gradually climbed through scrubby trees to the open south knob of the South Peak. Here there is a big rock cairn. The map has a spot elevation on the north end of the summit but the cairn is on the south end. I guess it doesn’t really matter since we’d be going over to the north end on our way to the North Peak.
    The sun was hotter and the skies were mostly clear except the Franconia Range Mountains were hidden by white clouds.
    The mile between the two peaks went by quickly. Several times the phrase I can’t believe this is our last mountain on the list was spoken by Sarah and Sharon. I agreed with them. The scrambles up to the North Peak were much easier and shorter. We dropped our packs at the intersection of the path to the outlook and walked another minute up the trail where I showed them the actual North Kinsman highpoint—it’s the top of a pointy boulder on the east side of the trail. They reached up and touched it and whacked it with their hiking poles.
    Triumphantly we went back and down to the outlook. They stayed on the upper ledge while I climbed down to the lower ledge to get the view down to Kinsman Pond.
    We stayed here a good long time wishing the clouds would free up the vista of the nearby Franconia Ridge. Thankfully the view to Cannon Mountain was clear.
    To get back it was 4 miles of downhill and of course more scrambling over big rocks and ledges. But now we were on our way home and we would celebrate when we were really done back at the car. In less than a half of a mile we turned left off the Kinsman Ridge and onto the Mt Kinsman Trail.
    I don’t think we stopped once on the way down. We were slow and steady higher up and our pace quickened as the trail became more gradual down low. Below the Kendall Brook crossing there are new water bars and stone steps. We appreciate the hard work performed by the volunteer trail adopters.
    Hooray! We had hiked 11.5 miles through lovely forests, along cascading brooks and over open ledges and mountaintops and now they’ve stood on top of all 48 peaks on the NH 4,000 footer list.
    Sharon and Sarah posed beside the Mt Kinsman Trail sign holding a sign I had made for them and I snapped their photo. I am no artist but I did my best with colored pencils to draw an AMC 4000 footer patch for them.
    I asked them why they did it.
    “Because it was FUN.”

    Amy Patenaude is an avid skier/outdoor enthusiast from Henniker, N.H. Readers are welcome to send comments or suggestions to her at: amy@weirs.com.


  • Single Day Bonds-Zealand Traverse

    The Golfing Gals–Sharon LaVigne and Sarah McCann, New London and Bria O’Neil, Ashland and yours truly at 6:30 am, on the suspension bridge at Lincoln Woods and on our way to hike the Bonds-Zealand Traverse. The adventure took us over 4 peaks on the New Hampshire 4,000 footer list and we hiked nearly 20 miles and 4,600 vertical feet to complete the feat.

    by Amy Patenaude
    Outdoor/Ski Writer

    There are 48 peaks on the New Hampshire 4,000 Footer list and the most remote are the Bonds. The three Bond peaks are far in the federally designated Pemigewasset Wilderness and a long hike is required to reach them.
    The traverse from Lincoln Woods on the Kancamagus Highway to the end of Zealand Road (near the backside of the Bretton Woods Ski Resort) is just shy of 20 miles and up 4,600 vertical feet.
    There are a few ways to hike the Bonds and Zealand Mountains and none of them are easy. Many people will do the trip over two or three days by camping along the way. My friends Sarah and Sharon, the golfing gals, had no interest in camping and they nervously opted to do it in a single day.
    I knew they could do it but it would be a long day. This summer they’ve hiked Owls Head, the Twins and a good number of rounds of golf on hilly courses. I estimated they would do it in 12 or 13 hours if all went well and we’d do it on a day with a good weather forecast.
    I’ve led other family and friends on this route and this past winter I did it—I knew these mountains stunning vistas would keep them energized for their longest hike ever.
    I also invited another hiking friend to join us. This would be Bria’s first visit to these peaks too.
    At 6:30 am, we posed for a photo on the suspension bridge and we quick-stepped up the Lincoln Woods Trail that follows upstream the East Branch of the Pemigewasset River. For 4. 7 miles we hiked on the old logging railroad bed before I walked us off the trail and right up to someone’s tent. We had not quite reached the turn for the Bondcliff Trail and I had mistaken a camping herd path for the trail. Thankfully it was an easy backtrack to find the trail; I must have been sleep walking.

    Bria, Sarah and Sharon on Mt Bond’s summit with the Franconia Range seen in the distance.

     

    Bria and yours truly dancing on Bondcliff!

    Then the Bondcliff Trail follows old logging roads and crosses Black Brook four times. The lower water crossings were easily rock hop-able and the upper two were dry. The rock staircase was in good condition and it is nice that erosion is being kept under control here. But it is sad that the trail just below is muddy and getting washed out.
    Up the trail the four of us went and as we were scrambling up a short but steep ledge a backpacker caught up to us. We offered to let him go by but he declined. He respectfully held back and didn’t push us; he passed us later on the summit.
    After hauling ourselves up the ledge we were close to the summit and we were standing above the scrubby trees and looking out at the big view. I pointed to the clouds and noted that they were covering the Franconia Range but everything else was in the clear.
    In a couple minutes we were above tree-line and the trail parallels the steep edge of Bondcliff’s cliff! Sarah is no fan of heights and bravely and calmly kept her eyes to the east far from the edge. Bria and I were excited to run ahead and out onto the piece of Bondcliff that abruptly sticks out and appears to be hanging off the side. Sarah and Sharon watched us and told us we were crazy as they snapped our photo.
    As we hiked off of Bondcliff and towards Mt Bond the clouds started to lift from south to north on the Franconia Ridge and the sun got brighter in the sky. We enjoyed the rugged mile of open trail before we headed back into scrubby trees. We climbed up and over big rocks and an extra slippery ledge before popping out on Bond’s bare summit.
    We had hiked 10.3 miles and reached the summit of the highest peak of our traverse by noon. We sat on Mt Bond and enjoyed a good long lunch along with the mountain panorama. We could see where we had been and we could see where we were headed. Mountains and forest filled our eyes. From Bondcliff, Mt Bond blocked our view but on Mt Bond we had a clear view north and Mt Washington and the Presidentials were visible and everything in between.

    On the trail leaving Bondcliff on our way to Mt Bond. The trail stretches 1.2 miles and almost 500 vertical feet between the two peaks and a good mile of it is above treeline. Bondcliff, Mt Bond and West Bond are ranked #30, #14 and #16 of the 48 peaks on the New Hampshire Four Thousand Footer list.

    The trip off of Bond to the intersection of the spur trail to the West Bond spur went quickly. We dropped our packs at the intersection and walked the half mile to West Bond’s summit. Walking without the weight of our packs on our backs felt like we were floating. On the summit the fellow that passed us on Bondcliff was enjoying a leisurely moment. He was in no hurry because he was spending the night at nearby Guyot Shelter. We took a short rest and soaked in the view and especially of where we just hiked.
    Again we shouldered our packs and it was a short distance to reach the Bond-Guyot col and the path to the shelter. Bria wanted to hike the path and go down to see the shelter and I went with her. Sharon and Sarah decided to continue and would meet us on bare summit of Guyot.
    Bria and I dropped our packs and hustled. The path is almost a quarter of mile and drops a couple hundred feet to the campsite. We did enjoy the fresh spring water at the shelter.
    We caught up with our friends and together we hiked over Guyot’s higher north peak before going down and then back up to Zealand Mt.
    On Zealand we followed the 1/10th of a mile path to the viewless heavily wooded summit. The summit sign was what we came to see.
    With 14 miles behind us we still had work to do to get down to the Zealand Falls Hut. We all made it down the steep section with the widely spaced rung ladder “built for a giant.” I promised that view from Zeacliff would be super and a good place to take a break before our tough descent.
    On the way Bria and I took a short detour down to visit the little Zeacliff Pond and looked back up at the steep mountain.
    The view from the top of the Zeacliff’s ledges was worth the effort to keep moving and we enjoyed our last big vista—yah another view with all the big mountains! The pointy peaks of Anderson and Lowell along side of Mount Carrigain’s bumps is my favorite. My friends appreciated seeing Mts Willey, Field and Tom and memories of our wintery traverse came flooding back to us.
    The next mile down to the hut was the longest mile—steep, slippery, rocky and wet. That mile took us almost an hour.

    Sarah enjoyed crossing Whitewall Brook just above the Zealand Falls Hut.

    We were very happy to cross the White Wall Brook because we knew we’d be at the hut soon. We took a short stop and checked out the hut, chatted with some hut guests and looked at the falls and back on the trail we went together.
    Just like in the morning we quick-stepped down the trail. The Zealand Trail’s extensive board walks and the tree’s leaves rapidly turning colors around the ponds made the trail lovely and interesting. These last miles felt like the shortest miles of our adventure. All the tough terrain and climbs were far behind us.
    At 6:30 pm we tossed our packs into the back of my car that my husband Charlie had helped me drop off the previous evening. Now all that was left to do was to drive back to Lincoln to retrieve the cars and to plan our next outing during a celebration supper at Gordi’s.
    Have fun.

    Amy Patenaude is an avid skier/outdoor enthusiast from Henniker, N.H. Readers are welcome to send comments or suggestions to her at: amy@weirs.com.


  • Up To The Summits Of The Twin Mountains

    “I have to jump to that rock?!” The third crossing of the Little River can’t be avoided. The North Twin Trail begins at the end of Haystack Road and follows the banks of the Little River before heading steeply up the mountain and reaching the summit in 4.3 miles and climbing 2,950 vertical feet. North Twin, elevation 4,761 feet is ranked #12/48 in height on the New Hampshire 4,000 footer list.

    by Amy Patenaude
    Outdoor/Ski Writer

    We met at the New Hampton Park and Ride lot at 6:30 am and in one car we continued north on I-93. The sky was grey but the clouds were high above the mountains. As we drove through Franconia Notch, I pointed out that Mount Liberty looked like George Washington lying in state, the summit of Liberty is certainly a good likeness of our first President’s nose.
    The weather forecast called for cool weather with the clouds clearing by mid-day. We all wanted a clear day on top of the Twin Mountains. The peaks are in the middle of the White Mountains and high above the designated Pemigewasset Wilderness.
    The North Twin Trailhead is west of the Village of Twin Mountain and from Route 3 turn south on Haystack Road and drive straight to its dead-end. There are about a dozen campsites on Haystack Road and they all appeared to be occupied. No surprise since these Federal camping sites are free for public use.

    A hiker from Vermont and her dog Maggie on the bare summit of South Twin, elevation 4,902 feet and ranked #8/48 on the New Hampshire 4,000 footer list. The Appalachian Trail passes over South Twin.

     

    The col between North and South Twin is covered with fern and there is a surprisingly fine view through the thin forest.

    Sharon, Sarah and I headed up the trail. I reminded them we had hiked the first mile of this trail a few years ago to reach Mount Hale’s abandoned Fire Warden’s Trail.
    The North Twin Trail starts out nicely on an old logging railroad grade and the official trail crosses the Little River three times before heading steeply up the mountain. The river is a pretty sight and its water is loud as it cascades over its rocky bed.
    A hike to the first river crossing, 8/10ths of a mile, would make a nice short walk for nature lovers visiting the area.
    The new 30th edition of the AMC’s White Mountain Guide explains that the first two water crossings can be avoided by staying on the east bank, bearing left at the first crossing and following a well-beaten path along the river. And that is just what we did!
    All the “well-beaten path” needs is a trail sign. It is easy to follow and even when the Little River is little it is not easy to cross without getting wet feet (during times of high water all the crossings can be impassable). The third crossing cannot be avoided and it is the narrowest and least difficult. We were able to rock hop across successfully but one step was tricky.
    The trail led away from the river and we headed up the mountain. We easily hopped across a low flowing brook and as we hiked we walked over a few dry stream beds. The trail got steeper and steeper and the footing of the trail got worse with lots of loose rock. We had a view through the trees of Mount Washington and we could see the black puffs of smoke from the old coal Cog Railway train that they run first in the morning.

    Sharon and Sarah enjoying North Twin’s east facing ledges and the grand vista. On the right side of the photo is nearby Zealand Mountain and its large open scree field.

     

    The trail passes under a huge silver birch “widow maker”, a handing limb that looks like a soft breeze might cause it to fall. The first miles of the North Twin Trail follow along an old logging railroad grade on the bank of the Little River.

    We met a group of about a dozen Dartmouth students out for their freshmen camping trip. They were loaded down with heavy backpacks and they zipped by us.
    The last half mile got steeper but when the trail leveled out we were rewarded with an open ledge with wide views ranging from Mount Washington and the Presidentials to Mount Carrigain and every peak in between and more farther away. This east view ledge is a nice place to hang out and we ate half a sandwich and enjoyed a good rest. The clouds were higher and the sun was fighting to come out and was winning.
    We continued on and reached the short side path that travels over the wooded actual highpoint and pops out at North Twin’s fine west facing outlook. We decided we’d linger here on our way back and we headed to South Twin.
    The distance between North and South Twin is just 1.3 miles but it sure looks a lot further. As we hiked, I joked just wait until we get to South Twin, it looks even further away from North Twin. It really does, maybe because South Twin is higher?
    The hike between the peaks went pleasantly quick. We made it to South Twin before noon and so did a couple dozen other hikers via the Twinway, aka The Appalachian Trail.
    South Twin’s summit is above tree line and the mountain filled panorama is among the grandest. The close by Franconia Ridge was dazzling.
    The Thru-Hikers were chatting and asking about the weather. The words “snow” kept coming up, would it or wouldn’t it in the next few days?
    A gal from Vermont told us she had gotten up at 4 am and only planned to hike Galehead but since the sun came out she decided to peak-bag South Twin too. She was trying to decide if she should visit North Twin but it looked so far away. Sharon and Sarah did their best to talk her into doing it.

    Yours truly, Sarah and Sharon on the North Twin’s east outlook.

    Sharon and Sarah recalled adding Mt. Jackson at the end of their Southern Presi Traverse and because a hiker on the Mt Pierce had told them you don’t want to hike all the way back up here just to get Jackson! We enjoyed the light moment and the mountain vista before heading back to North Twin. The Vermont gal didn’t join us. We really liked her dog and hoped she’d join us.
    The trip back to North Twin felt even quicker and we went back to settle in for more time on the east outlook. The sun was warm and we sat on the rocks. We pointed out the Galehead AMC hut down below and at all the peaks we had hiked together. We once again had North Twin all to ourselves.
    But not for long. Maggie, the Vermont gal’s dog appeared and then she did too. “I am so glad you talked me into this!” She now was more than half done completing the 4,000 footer list.
    We ambled down the mountain and the Little River water crossing seemed easier because the tricky rock step was down not up this time. We covered the 11.2 round trip in less than 8 hours and we felt great.
    I’ve been hiking with Sharon and Sarah for seven years helping them collect the mountains on the 4,000 footer list. They can check off two more peaks and now they have summited 42 of the 48 peaks on the list.
    We’re headed out for big hike soon.
    Have fun.


  • Two Day Presidential Campaign With A Night At The Lake Of The Clouds

    Sue on the summit of Mt Adams with Mt Madison in the background. Mt Adams is the second highest mountain in New Hampshire (behind Mt Washington) at elevation 5,774 feet and the highest without a restaurant in the Presidential Range.

    by Amy Patenaude
    Outdoor/Ski Writer

    The short flight from Baltimore, Maryland had arrived early and Sue was already waiting at the curb at the Manchester airport as I arrived to pick her up. She jumped into the car and we headed north for her “dream come true” hiking adventure.
    Sue wanted to hike Mt Washington and as many 4k peaks as possible during her visit. Last spring I led Sue and her husband up Mt Moosilauke. Sue caught the 4k bug and “needs” to hike all 48 peaks on the 4,000 footer list.
    I checked the Appalachian Mountain Club’s website, outdoors.org, every day for weeks only to find that the Lake of the Clouds Hut was booked full. But two days before she arrived, miraculously the site showed vacancy and I made a reservation. This good luck made it possible to try for a 2-day Presidential Traverse—that is hiking nearly 23 miles and climbing 9,000 vertical feet to visit the summits of 8 peaks.

    Sue looks back towards the mountains from the northern slope of Mt Eisenhower. We could see the first Cog Railway train making its way up Mt Washington.

    Not only did we have a reservation for a hut stay but our good luck continued with a greatly improving weather forecast that ended up proving true.
    Just before 7 am, we dropped a car at the top of Crawford Notch across from the Webster-Jackson Trailhead where we hoped to finish our hike the following day. We then drove to the Howker Ridge Trailhead on the Pinkham B Road in Randolph.
    The Howker Ridge Trail is a lightly used rugged route to Mt Madison. The trail traverses the ridge up and over the Howks—bald bumps that have grand vistas. We didn’t meet a single soul until we reached Mt Madison. We enjoyed the nice weather and clear skies but only stayed on the summit long enough to touch the highpoint before we continued on our way. The panorama was grand and we could see all the peaks we had to cross to reach Mount Washington.
    We ran into Hiker Ed (he’s hiked the Grid, every 4k peak in every month, 7 times) and he gave us some peanut M&Ms.
    At Madison Hut we filled our water bottles and we didn’t linger. We had been on the trail for 4 hours and we had a long ways to go. Up Mt Adams, the 2nd highest peak and the highest without a restaurant, our route was Gulfside and then up and down Lowe’s Path—the way with best footing. We thought we were alone until we were just a few yards from the summit where we saw a dozen hikers hidden between rocks. Mount Washington still looked far away.

    The view from Mt. Monroe of the Lake of the Clouds Hut, the tarns and Mt Washington. The Appalachian Mountain Club operates 8 high mountain huts in New Hampshire. During full-service season, supper, a bunk bed with three wool blankets and breakfast are included in your stay. To learn more about the AMC and their huts visit outdoors.org.

     

    Sue enjoys the view from a Howk! The Howker Ridge is a lightly used beautiful and rugged trail that begins by following Bumpus Brook and its lovely cascades and waterfalls. Higher on the ridge the trail goes up and over bare ledge knobs called Howks before intersecting with the Osgood Trail for the short scramble to the Mt Madison’s summit.

    Back on the Gulfside Trail we began to meet Appalachian Trail thru hikers on their way to Maine. These first AT hikers were early risers and fast hikers. They had come from Lake of the Clouds, Mizpah Hut and all the way from Crawford Notch.
    The sun was hot and Mt Jefferson loomed large in front of us. I had warned Sue that between Adams and Jefferson it would be tough mentally and physically. The trail over large blocky and often sharp rocks make for tough and awkward hiking. Descending into Edmands col makes the trial ahead appear to be a vertical wall and Mt Washington will seem impossibly far away. Well, I confess that is how I have felt each time I do a Presi-Traverse and weight of the trail was heavy here for her too. Sue from sea level Baltimore really bucked up, she was determined and pressed on taking one step after another.
    The Caps Ridge Trail is popular since it looks so short and easy on the map since it starts at the height of the land from Jefferson Notch Road, but it is an extremely rugged trail. So it was no surprise to me that the summit of Jefferson was crowded with people sitting on the summit cone. Hikers wanting to tag the highpoint, including us, had to step around these people. Seriously you’d think they figure it out that not sitting on the highpoint might make it more enjoyable.
    After Jefferson the footing greatly improves and the gentle traverse over the Monticello Lawn and down to Sphinx col put a spring back in our step. And since summiting Jefferson we could now see the mountains beyond Mt Washington and the open view to the west.
    On Gulfside we skirted the summit of Mt Clay, a peak not on the List since it does not have enough prominence between it and Mt Washington. Sue’s face lit up when I told her that we were now climbing Mt Washington.
    We constantly met people on the trail. By this time hikers were on their way off of Mt Washington and would descend via the Jewell Trail.
    The last Cog Railway trains of the day were headed up as we neared the tracks. We decided to stay put and let one pass. What could be more stupid than getting hit by a train on Mount Washington? We found the answer after turning off the Gulfside Trail and hiking up the Trinity Heights Connector that leads to the very summit of Mt Washington. That answer would be waiting in line to take your photo by the Mt Washington summit sign.
    There must have been a 20 minute wait for a turn to take your photo next to the summit sign. No hikers appeared to be waiting and we just passed by. A group of thru-hikers cut line and with safety in their numbers didn’t cause a riot when they quickly took their photo.

    Mt Monroe’s summit, elevation 5,372 feet, rises dramatically 350 vertical feet from the Lake of the Clouds Hut and it is the highest peak in the southern Presidential Range.

    Sue wanted a photo with all the peaks she had climbed to be the background of her summit photo and that was easy to do.
    Inside the Sherman Adams Summit Building we filled our water bottles and drank greedily. As we sat near the entrance a person asked Sue if she hiked all the way up the mountain. When Sue answered yes the person just gushed with admiration and near disbelief at her efforts for completing such a feat.
    We spent some time on the summit enjoying the view and the happy circus atmosphere. The nice weather had attracted visitors from far and wide. Most people wore sneakers or dress shoes and smelled like flowers. The few hikers stood out with worn boots or trail runners and smelled not like flowers—but not as strong as some of the thru-hikers ha ha. We peeked in the stone Tip-Top House before heading down the Crawford Path.
    We could see the Lake of the Clouds Hut below us and in about an hour we’d be sitting at the table about to be served supper. From now on the trails would be much smoother and the mountains smaller.

    The Crawford Path passes the shore of a tarn, a small mountain lake, near the Lake of the Clouds Hut. Mt Washington is far above Sue.

     

    The climb from Edmands Col to the summit of Mt Jefferson is rugged but from the summit towards Washington across the Monticello Lawn is a welcome relief from rock hopping.

    Everyone was just starting to sit down for supper when we checked-in. By the time we shouldered our packs at the trailhead to the time we threw our packs onto our bunk 11 hours had ticked by. A satisfying supper was followed by a heart-filling colorful sunset.
    Sleep is not easy since 90+ people filled the hut to capacity; it was a noisy night. Breakfast was yummy and would be the best part of staying at the hut but walking out the door and being right below Mount Monroe beats it.
    Actually the staff, The Croo at the Lake of the Clouds Hut are the best! The hard work that these young people do to keep the hut organized and to prepare meals for 90+ guests is remarkable. They even perform a skit after breakfast! You’ll just have to visit a hut and experience it yourself. I don’t want to spoil the surprise but there happened to be over 500 rubber ducks at the hut.
    Clouds covered Mt Washington’s summit and we were headed into the better weather. The harder hiking was well behind us. We hiked steadily and comfortably as we hiked over Mt Monroe, Mt Franklin and to Mt Eisenhower. A professional trail crew working on the Eisenhower loop and was hard at work moving rocks.
    We turned onto the Mizpah Cut-off and summited Mt Pierce and continued down to the hut. Sue topped off her water and we continued to Mt Jackson.
    A surge of AT hikers came by as we left the hut. A trail worker was trying to drain and improve the trail. She had a shovel and worked at the endless task.
    Our last summit didn’t fail to please. Jackson’s open ledges gave a nice view back at Mizpah Hut and beyond to the peaks we had hiked. The higher northern peaks were mostly still in the clouds but it was enough to soak in how far we had come in two days.
    Our second day of hiking was 7 hours and we were back at the car at Crawford Notch by mid-afternoon. We went swimming at Lower Falls on our way to picking up the other car.
    Yes we slept well in my quiet house and in the morning we went wild on the water slides for at Whale’s Tale! The waterpark is thrilling and chilling! We also stopped by the Mountain Wanderer Map and Book Store in Lincoln where Sue bought some maps and a 4k tee-shirt.
    I know my friend had a good time. On our way back to the airport she was already planning to come back to hike.
    Have Fun.

    What do you do the day after your hike? We went to Whale’s Tale Waterpark in Lincoln! We went on all the big water slides and had a thrilling good time

  • A Hike On Pine Mountain Trail

    Outdoor Columnist Amy Patenaude stands on Pine Mountains open ledge with a view of Mount Major and Lake Winnipesaukee. The 1.7 mile lollipop loop through the Morse Preserve is well worth the modest effort for the grand mountain and lake vista. Although no longer a working farm the blueberry barrens were full of ripe berries and it is a popular place for people to pick.

    Hiking the Evelyn H. & Albert D. Morse, Sr. Preserve

    by Amy Patenaude
    Outdoor/Ski Writer

    Early Saturday morning, while the Mount Major parking lot was overflowing out onto Route 11, we were headed to another nearby quieter and smaller Belknap peak. Charlie and I easily pulled into the Mike Burke, Alton Town Forest parking area on Avery Hill Road in Alton. There is room for about a dozen cars here.
    I had printed the Pine Mountain Trail map from the Society for the Protection of New Hampshire Forests (SPNHF) website, www.forestsociety.org . I had learned about Pine Mountain because its trails are included in the 60+ miles of trails that must be hiked to earn the Belknap Range Redline Patch offered by the Belknap Range Trail Tenders (BRATTS.org).
    The BRATTS are a volunteer group that perform great work maintaining and improving the hiking trails in the Belknap Range. The goal of the redline challenge is for people to have fun exploring the Belknap Range and to inspire new BRATT membership to help maintain these trails. Continue reading  Post ID 3062


  • Owl’s Head – In the Middle Of The Pemi Wilderness

    Yours truly, Sharon LaVigne and Sarah McCann on the summit of Owl’s Head. Owl’s Head is the only mountain on the AMC’s New Hampshire 4,000 footer list that doesn’t have a recognized trail to its summit.

    by Amy Patenaude
    Outdoor/Ski Writer

    The golfing gals, Sharon and Sarah, have put their hiking boots back on!
    They began collecting 4,000 footers 7 years ago and last summer they didn’t even go hiking once. There were too many reasons their boots stayed in the closet—moving, weddings, golf matches and other fun stuff and not so fun stuff.

    Sharon LaVigne of New London on the Owl’s Head slide with a big view of the Franconia Ridge and close-up view of the Lincoln Slide.

    I confess I was surprised they didn’t get one date to work last summer. After all, the previous summer they hit the trails hard. Mt. Isolation, Mt. Madison and Mt. Adams were among the peaks that they last checked off and leaving them only 9 peaks left to finish the 4,000 footer list.
    We decided to go to the top of Owl’s Head for their first hike this summer. My friends are healthy and strong and it is a long hike (usual route is over 18 miles) to get to that little peak and back. Owl’s Head ranks #43/48 at elevation 4,025’ and its wooded summit offers only obstructed views.
    Owl’s Head is the only peak on the Appalachian Mountain Club’s New Hampshire 4,000 footer list that doesn’t have an official trail to its summit. The well-worn path follows an old very steep slide up from the Lincoln Brook Trail.
    Owl’s Head is in the middle of the 1984 federally designated Pemigewasset Wilderness, east of Mount Liberty and west of the Bonds and far from any roads. The trails in federally designated wilderness areas are often referred to as primitive but mostly they are unmaintained and the trail blazes have been removed. The trails are only brushed, if at all, just three feet wide and trees that blow down across the trail are not removed if they can be stepped over.
    The Lincoln Woods parking area is right on the Kancamagus Highway, Rte 112 and east of the Loon Mountain Resort. The parking lot was half full, even on a Wednesday morning; a day parking pass is $5. We crossed over the East Branch of the Pemigewasset River on the suspension bridge to the Lincoln Woods Trail at 7:30 am.
    Our plan was to think of the hike as four different hikes. The Lincoln Woods Trail, the Black Pond Trail and bushwhack, the Lincoln Brook Trail and then the slide to the summit.
    For 2.6 miles we walked up the old logging railroad bed above the bank of the river that is the Lincoln Woods Trail. Many old railroad ties still remain and it isn’t easy walking over them so on both ends of the ties muddy paths have formed.

    Mid-day on a Wednesday afternoon even the slide on Owl’s Head is crowded! There were six of us going up at the same time and at least no falling rocks hit anyone. We met at least a dozen people out on the trails and passed by three occupied tent sites on our way in and out of the Pemigewasset Wilderness.

    At the junction of the Black Pond Trail, I stashed two bottles of PowerAde in a tree just off the trail. Losing those four pounds sure made my pack feel lighter and we’d be happy to have those bottles to drink on our way back.
    The well blazed one mile trail to Black Pond was in excellent condition through pretty woods. At the pond the view of the Bonds and a nice peek at Owl’s Head was lovely and exciting. I decided to lead the bushwhack route for two reasons: to avoid the Franconia and Lincoln Brook crossings and to make the hike two miles shorter turning a usual 18 miles hike into 16 miles. Plus, the less used Black Pond Trail and the woods are much nicer than the trails.
    Near the end of the pond we did our best to get around the mud. We followed my compass north and in a few minutes we hit a path and the path became more obvious.
    If you do not know how to use a compass and map do not attempt to take this route. Don’t count on being able to find or being able to stay on it. A simple fallen tree could hide the way for you. Jokingly, Sharon asked me if I was lost yet. (I cross country skied this route last February.)

    Welcome to the Lincoln Brook Trail! The trail has many mud pits to cross and trees to step over along the un-blazed (no trail markers) trail.

    A big mud pit greeted at the Lincoln Brook Trail and three men backpacking were there too. They said they had used the bushwhack and path but somehow got headed too far east and bumped into the brook and ended up crossing it and then crossing it again on the Lincoln Brook Trail. That didn’t sound like much fun.
    The Lincoln Brook Trail has no blazes and is a muddy mess that follows along the bank of the brook. The stream crossing were all rock hop-able and we kept our feet dry. The cold water of the fast flowing brook kept the air rather comfortable and cool. We were surprised that there were only a few vexing deer flies.
    The upper crossing of Lincoln Brook was rock hop-able too. Sharon and Sarah didn’t miss a beat and the crossing took little time and effort.

    To reach the summit of Owl’s Head you’ll have to cross brooks.

    At the bottom of the slide there are two small rock cairns and a birch tree lying alongside the trail that made for a perfect bench. The three took a seat and ate an early lunch before we tackled the hard last mile climb up the slide and along the ridge to Owl’s Head’s summit.
    By the time we finished eating and put our packs back on the three men that we had met earlier had caught up to us. They followed us right up the slide. They were too close but they wouldn’t go by even when we encouraged them. They were nice guys but it felt too crowded.
    The middle of the rocky slide is open and we could see the mountains of the Franconia Ridge and Lincoln Slide. Here we sat down to enjoy the view and to let the men go on their way. To our chagrin they went a few more minutes before they sat down too.
    We got tired of waiting for them to get a move on so we headed up the trail and passed them and they tailgated us to the summit.
    A small rock cairn and “the top” carved into a tree is what is at end of the herd path at the summit. We snapped a photo and turned around and headed back down.

    The clear afternoon reflection of the Bonds on the waters of Black Pond was a lovely sight.

    Going down the slide is harder than going up it. We took our time and many careful little steps until we reached the bottom.
    We followed back down the Lincoln Brook Trail the best we could. Only once did I lead us off the trail to a dead end at a camp site and it took a minute to find the trail again. I blamed trying to go around mud.
    From Lincoln Brook to the bushwhack “path” it was much easier to follow the trail but nearing Black Pond I lost it again. But I had a good idea where I was and we walked out nearly the same way we had come in.
    We had all drained our water bottles and we were happy to have the drink I had stashed away and we were thirsty the last 2.6 miles.
    We made it back to the car just before 5:30 pm. We’d been out nearly 10 hours and 16 miles of hiking. Now the golfing gals only have 8 peaks left on their 4k lists.

    —Have Fun.

    Sarah and Sharon are back from Owl’s Head, on the suspension bridge over the East Branch at the Pemigewasset River at the Lincoln Woods Trailhead. Happy Hikers, happy to be finished after nearly ten hours and 16 miles on the trails.

  • Lockes Hill ~ Kimball Wildlife Forest, Gilford

    On the Lakeview Trail, Yours truly enjoying the grand vista–I feel like a Queen sitting on my stone throne.

     

    by Amy Patenaude
    Outdoor/Ski Writer

    The Belknap Mountains offer many opportunities for hiking. Mount Major is certainly one of the most popular peaks to hike in New Hampshire due to its wide ledgy summit and sweeping lake and mountain panorama.
    To reach Major’s summit it requires hiking 3 miles and climbing over a thousand feet of elevation. Lots of people of all ages and abilities do it and I hope someday you might get the chance.
    But there is another fine perch that is shorter and less challenging to reach. It’s not far from Mount Major and it offers a splendid vista of Lake Winnipesaukee, the Ossipees and the White Mountains too. That’s Lockes Hill—a miniature Mount Major!

    The view from “The Glade” on the Lakeview Trail on Lockes Hill over Lake Winnipesaukee to the Ossipee and White Mountains is grand. Lockes Hill is a miniature Mount Major!

     

    Pick up a map and trail guide from the mailbox near the Lakeview Trailhead.

    Lockes Hill was the 280 acre estate of Boston and Montreal Railroad President Benjamin Kimball. In 1897 he built a castle overlooking Lake Winnipesaukee on the property. His heirs established a trust for the study and enjoyment of wildlife habitat and the Town of Gilford was appointed the trustee. The public does not have access to the castle, it is privately owned.
    The Lockes Hill trailhead right off of Route 11 in Gilford about 3 miles east of the Laconia Airport. The parking lot entrance is marked with a brown hiker icon highway sign.
    Charlie and I knew we would be driving by the Lockes Hill so we planned to do the short hike. We decided to make a 1.8 mile counter-clockwise loop by going up the Lakeview Trail and coming down the Quarry Trail.
    The Lakeview Trail begins on the right just as you enter the parking lot. There is a sign and be sure to take a trail guide from the mailbox here. The Lakeview Trail switchbacks as the trail climbs up the slope, there are many rock steps. Along the trails are interpretive stations that are fun to read to learn about the Kimball Wildlife Forest and its inhabitants.
    Nearing the top of the hill we reached “The Glade” –a cleared area for wildlife habitat and to open the vista. We had only hiked half a mile with less than 500 vertical feet of climbing and we were wowed by the view. Plus the area just off the trail is rocky and people have stacked the rocks to make chairs or maybe I should call them stone thrones.
    We looked down at the Big Lake and over its broad water and islands to the mountains. There is a distance viewer mounted here and Charlie and I used it to peek at boats on the water. Hiking to just here and back would be a worthy outing.
    We continued to the top and there was a spur path to a distance viewer and another fine vista. This perch allowed us to see further to the west.

     

    Charlie looking at mountains, houses and boats using the distance viewer on Lockes Hill.

     

    The Lakeview and Quarry Trails are well marked with blue blazes and are easy to follow.

    The Lakeview Trail meets the Quarry trail at the Lockes Hill beacon, a light on top of a utility pole for the benefit of warning airplanes headed to the Laconia Airport. We poked around the top and found yet a third distance viewer at an opening with a good view of Gunstock and Belknap Mountains.
    We headed down the Quarry Trail and it was less rocky and had a softer footbed. The hemlock forest turned into a hardwoods as we got off the ridge. We passed by an area that had been recently logged and we decided to leave the trail and check out the view from newly opened area. We looked west and could see a hazy view of Mount Cardigan.
    We descended some rock steps and went across stepping stones past a pool that was part of the old quarry site where the stones were cut for the Kimball’s castle.
    From here we followed an old logging road back to the parking area.
    The trails are well marked with blue blazes and are easy to follow.
    This was a super hike and Lockes Hill is treasure.
    Have Fun.

    Amy Patenaude is an avid skier/outdoor enthusiast from Henniker, N.H. Readers are welcome to send comments or suggestions to her at: amy@weirs.com.


  • BIKES AND BEARS – Franconia Notch Recreation Path, Clark’s Trading Post

    Yours truly and Becca visiting the Basin while riding our bicycles on the Franconia Notch Recreational Path. The path travels nearly ten miles through Franconia Notch between The Flume and the Skookumchuck Trailhead.

     

    by Amy Patenaude
    Outdoor/Ski Writer

    Becca and I met mid-morning in the Flume Visitor Center. The Flume was a happening place and we were not able to park in the north lot nearest the beginning of the Franconia Notch Recreation Path but there was still plenty of room in the lower lots.
    The clouds were still low and the ground was wet from the previous evening’s rain storm but the air was warm and comfortable. A few years have passed by since the last time either one of us had taken our bicycles for a spin on this path. We both joked that the nearly 10 mile long path was uphill in both directions but actually the elevation gain from the southern terminus at the Flume to the northern terminus at the Skookumchuck Trailhead climbs 800 feet in elevation.

    At the edge of Profile Lake in Franconia Notch, Becca is standing in the middle of the Old Man of the Mountain Profile Plaza. The Profilers behind her can be lined up and viewed to re-recreate his face on the mountain.

    The Franconia Notch Recreation Path isn’t what many expect to find in a bicycle path. There are steep uphills and downhills and though I am not sure the exact width of the pavement but when meeting approaching cyclists it sometimes feels quite narrow. Plus there are walkers and hikers using the path to reach attractions and trailheads too.
    But what it lacks as a bicycle super highway it more than makes up with grand scenery that should be enjoyed at a slower pace. I do recommend parents lead their children and set a safe slower pace during descents.
    We pedaled steadily for a couple miles up the path before stopping to view the Basin. Here there were lots of visitors walking from the parking area to the Basin. It was a lovely sight to see the high water swirling around the natural granite bowl.
    For our next stop we took a slight detour off the path to the Lafayette Place Campground headquarters and camp store. The camp store is well stocked with all the provisions to keep campers happy—from foam sleeping pads to bug-dope.
    From the campground the path continues to climb and passes near the scree field below the mighty mile long Cannon Cliff. The clouds were rising and we could see rock climbers making their way up the cliff’s steep bare face. We also enjoyed views of Eagle Cliff on the east wall of the Notch.
    The path crosses under the Parkway when it reaches Profile Lake because the Parkway tightly hugs its shore. Now on the other side we pedaled past the small wayside that was once a popular viewing site to see the Old Man of the Mountain. In a short distance the path goes back under the Parkway and intersects with the path to the Old Man of the Mountain Profile Plaza.
    The plaza has granite benches, engraved pavers sponsored by supporters of the Old Man Legacy Fund and steel “profilers” that recreate the visage of the Old Man high above Profile Lake on the north edge of the Cannon Cliff. It is a pretty place and it’s worth it to take the time to visit the historic site.
    Becca and I wished we could put the old Man back up on Mountain. Fiberglass, plastic or even a big balloon might do the trick. Looking at where he used to be doesn’t bring him back.
    We rode past the Cannon Mountain Tramway and the New England Ski Museum, not enough time to do everything in one day! The path continues past Echo Lake and people were out enjoying the paddleboats that they rent at the State Park breach.
    The downhill after passing under Route 18 requires caution because it is long and steep. Right above there are good glimpses of Artist’s Bluff Cliff. Then there is a sharp turn and a big uphill that goes right under Interstate 93 and tops out at the Old Route 3 and the Governor Gallen Memorial and the Sunset Bridge.
    From here it is less than two miles of near flat pedaling to the Skookumchuck Trail parking area. This would be a swell place to have a short easy out and back bicycle ride between the Galllen Memorial and the Skookumchuck Trailhead. Very good riding for people that want to avoid hills.

    Becca is trying to take off in the Wolfman’s doodlebug! There are many wonderful curious things to see at Clark’s Trading Post.

     

    You’ll bear-ly believe your eyes! Echo the bear is in a barrel. Clark’s Trading Post’s world famous bear show will delight one and all! Siblings Murray and Maureen Clark continue the family tradition of training black bears with kindness and the occasional reward of a lick of vanilla ice cream.

    We turned around and rode straight back to the Flume, yes it was more downhill and a lot of fun. But the day was only half over. We threw our bicycles in the car and drove a few miles down the Notch and pulled into the Clark’s Trading Post.
    We bought out tickets and the ticket taker stamped a black bear paw print on the back of our hands. It was nearly 2 o’clock and we rushed to the show ring to watch the acrobats. The agility and strength of these people were a sight to behold. You won’t think of hula hoops, handstands or how to squeeze into a tight place the same way ever again!
    The Conductor called “ All aboard” for the train ride and reassured us we’d be back in time for the Bear Show at 3pm. We made our way to the train with the crowd and took our seats. Yes, both of us have made the journey into Wolfman’s claim and yelled “Scram you old goat”! We were delighted by the small children’s reactions to the Wolfman.
    We did get back in time for standing room only on the upper part of the Show Ring for the main attraction, the bear show. Echo and Tula performed a wonderful show and the Clark’s continue the family tradition of peppering the show with sweet corny bear puns. The show starts with the raising of the Flag, a bit of recycling, getting the mail and a good game of Bearsketball.
    Echo and Tula are stars and the Clark’s gentle loving care just glows as they encourage their bears during their performance. A good serving of education about New Hampshire’s black bear population is squeezed in between all the fun too.
    After the bear show Becca and I decided to visit the Museums—old typewriters and a stuffed two headed calf caught our attention. Next inside Merlin’s Mystical Mansion and we enjoyed the benefits of not aging and some loud music.
    We skipped the water boats and the Old Man Climbing Tower (maybe Clark’s could put the Old Man back?) but we did ride Wolfie’s White Mountain Wheelin’ Segways. This is your chance to ride the self-balancing Segway scooters and at no additional charge.
    New for this season is the renovation of the Tuttle’s homestead into the Tuttle’s Shootin’ Gallery, this is a pay to play ($3 for 20 shots or all you can shoot in 1 minute). We decided to try the laser-guns and we blasted away more than 20 shots in a minute at the Tuttle’s possessions! It is a nice addition but of course I wish it was included in the admission price as is nearly everything else at Clark’s.
    We saved taking the plunge on the Anaconda Escape Water Raft Ride for last. We climbed the stairs to the top and got into the raft and we were launched down the rapids inside the big snake. It was exciting and yes we got wet but we didn’t care since the day had turned sunny and hot.
    The fun days of summer go by too fast. Round up your family and together.
    Have Fun.

    The Wolfman is willing to do anything to keep the passengers of the White Mountain Central Railroad from stealing his claim of Unobtainium!

  • Franconia Notch Artist’s Bluff & Bald Mountain

    From the top of Artist’s Bluff cliff the grand vista over the parkway of Mount Lafayette looming large above the ridge of Eagle Cliff is a fine sight to behold. Here people like to picnic and don’t be surprised if you see people wearing helmets and carrying ropes because the south facing cliff is a favorite place for spring rock climbing.

    by Amy Patenaude
    Outdoor/Ski Writer

    At the top of Franconia Notch and high above the west side of the Parkway are Bald Mountain and Artist’s Bluff. A hike up one or both make for a wonderful outing with the reward of big mountain views for a modest effort.
    Interstate 93 turns into the Franconia Notch Parkway as the road enters the narrow notch. Franconia Notch is just packed with interesting places to see and fun things to do: the Flume Gorge, Cannon Cliff, Lafayette Place Campground, the Old Man of the Mountain historic site, Profile Lake, Cannon Mountain’s Tramway & the New England Ski Museum, Echo Lake and more. These are places every New Hampshirite should visit and take their out of town friends with them too.

    Almost to the top Artist’s Bluff when you reach this big rock! Turn right for the spur trail to Artist’s Bluff Ledges and go left to make the loop to the spur trail for Bald Mountain. The Trailwrights, volunteer trail maintainers, did spring clean up, painted blazes and built many nice rock steps.

    Exit 34C is the last Parkway exit at the north end of Franconia Notch and the exit you must take to reach the hiking trails to Artist’s Bluff and Bald Mountain. Turn west on Route 18 to Echo Lake for the east trailhead – 6/10ths of a mile roundtrip to Artist’s Bluff or to Cannon’s Peabody Lodge for the west trailhead – 8/10ths of a mile roundtrip to Bald Mountain. Or make a loop over the two peaks and back to your car is about 2 miles.
    I like visiting both peaks and I don’t think it makes much difference whether you choose to hike the loop clockwise or counter clockwise. But one thing I like to do is to park my car where I am planning to end my hike. I prefer to warm up hiking the lower portion of the loop trail first.
    This day I parked my car at the Peabody Lodge because I wanted to hike Artist’s Bluff first and then Bald Mountain.
    The west trailhead is across from the Cannon Peabody Lodge entrance on the far side of the north parking lot, this is the parking lot that is blocked off to cars during the summer months. There is room for a few cars to park alongside the road at its blocked entrance or and there is plenty of parking at the ski area.
    This past mid-May the Trailwrights, a volunteer group of trail maintainers, cleared the trails and did basic spring clean-up. You will find the trails in good condition and well blazed.
    I started up the trail and turned right on the Loop Trail, marked with red blazes. The trail goes gently downhill and intersects with the trail that leads up to Artist’s Bluff. This is nicer than walking the road between the two trailheads.

    From the top of Artist’s Bluff’s ledges there is an excellent view over Echo Lake to Cannon Mountain’s front ski trails and down the narrow Franconia Notch.

    I turned left and headed up the short and steep trail. The steepest sections have nice rock stairways. This is the most popular hike; it may be steep but it is short. The bare cliffs of the bluff are a favorite for early spring rock climbing because they dry out quickly. A couple of groups were rock climbing and taking advantage of this rare sunny dry spring day!
    I wasn’t surprised to find dozens of people sitting on top of Artist’s Bluff. A few were eating picnic lunches and others were just relaxing in the sunshine on the bare ledges.
    A man asked me to confirm that the big peak to the west was Lafayette. I spent a few minutes with him and his family pointing out and naming the nearby peaks. Another man close by chimed in that he had hiked Lafayette when he was young man.
    I hiked back down to the trail and turned right and continued up hill. There are some good wildflowers to see along the way between the peaks. Trilliums were on their way out and the Pink Lady Slippers were just starting to bloom. There are a few rock outcroppings just off the trail that offer grand vistas too.

    Wildflowers on the trail.

    Up and over and then down until I reached the Bald Mountain spur and I headed up. This trail up to the top is more difficult. This peak is a true mini-mountain. Near the bare ledgy summit you might have to scramble on all fours. Even though the distance is short it truly feels like you reached a big bald mountaintop.

    I gather that most people skip visiting this fine peak. While there were dozens and dozens on Artist’s Bluff there were only a few people up here. I find that this is usually the case.
    There are still a few iron pieces here and there bolted into the ledge. A reminder from a time long ago when there no cars flying up the parkway, no ski trails on Cannon Mountain and there was a large hotel, the Profile House standing near where the Tramway is today. These iron pieces might have held in place a handrail or a viewing platform to delight the guests of the hotel.

    Mount Lafayette and Echo Lake, from the summit of Bald Mountain.

    When the Profile House burned, the owners decided not to rebuild but to sell Franconia Notch to the State of New Hampshire. Franconia Notch State Park was born in 1928.
    From the top of Bald Mountain this is the best place to study Cannon’s ski trails and to look for bears foraging on its grassy slopes.
    When I finished the loop I only had a short walk across the parking lot to get back to my car.
    Have Fun!


  • Mount Moosilauke

    Teasing Mount Moosilauke! Celebrating the summit by doing a favorite Pilates exercise on the summit. Mount Moosilauke is ranked number 10 on the NH 4,000 footer list at elevation 4,802 feet. The Appalachian Trail traverses the mountain from Glencliff to Kinsman Notch. The Dartmouth Outing Club maintains over 70 miles of trails and shelters.

    Amy Patenaude

    by Amy Patenaude
    Outdoor/Ski Writer

    This winter my friend from Maryland told me she wanted to climb Mount Washington with me this spring. I laughed.
    I quickly suggested perhaps a less challenging peak would be a good idea before heading up the highest peak in the Northeast United States. The best thing you can say about spring weather on Mount Washington is that it is erratic and a trip up Mount Washington is to be taken seriously any time of year.
    I really enjoy taking my friends hiking. I want the hike to be fun and I want my friends to come back to hike again.
    Sue and her husband Tom arrived in New Hampshire a few days early before they had to pick up their son at Proctor Academy. Our window for a hike was small and thankfully we had one wonderful warm clear day between all these rainy days.

    I snapped the classic Moosilauke summit sign photo of Tom with Sue in the background. We reached the summit via the Gorge Brook Trail–a one mile road walk up Ravine Lodge Road to the trailhead and then 3.7 miles up the trail.

     

    The last of the snow! There were just a few patches of snow left on the Gorge Brook Trail and on the Carriage Road.

    I decided to hike Mount Moosilauke. We could make a nice loop over the mountain. The trails are moderate and since the peak is a bit further south it would have little to no snow and ice. Another plus is that Moosilauke has a super big broad summit all above tree-line and has one of the finest mountain vistas in the Whites.
    I picked up Sharon in New London and began our fun drive to the mountain–we grabbed yummy breakfast sandwiches at the Danbury Country Store, enjoyed the view of Cardigan over Newfound Lake, scratched our heads at the sight of Warren’s Redstone Missile and all the while we watched for moose.
    We arrived at the new “angle parking only” on Ravine Lodge Road promptly at 9:30 and Sue and Tom were already waiting for us. We booted up and packed up and started the road walk to the trailhead.
    The new Dartmouth College Ravine Lodge is well under way and they hope to have the new Lodge completed this fall. In the meantime hikers have to park a mile away to make room for all the necessities of construction. We followed the trail signs around the hardhat only area to just below the Lodge near the Baker River.
    I just love the bright orange and black Dartmouth Outing Club (DOC) signs! They are so easy to find and to read. I told my friends to read the signs Continue reading  Post ID 3062


  • Concord’s Marjory Swope Park Trails

     

    Big Vista over Penacook Lake, aka Long Pond from the northern most point of the Blue Trail.

    Amy Patenaude

    by Amy Patenaude
    Outdoor/Ski Writer

    This time of year Mother Nature gives us many cold rainy days but she can deliver a nice warm sunny day to tease us while we wait for summer to arrive. Spring weather is fickle but at least the days are longer and we have time to go for a hike after work.
    Right now south of the White Mountains is a good place to hike since there is still plenty of mud and snow on higher mountaintop trails.
    The City of Concord has over 50 miles of trails (http://www.concordnh.gov/trails) and the 77 acre Marjory Park Swope Park has about two miles of trails over and around Jerry Hill with big outlooks and connections to more trails. The trailhead is easily reached from Route 202, just west of St. Paul’s School, 8/10th of a mile up Long Pond Road, parking area is on the left.
    On this splendid afternoon, Danielle and I decided to meet up after work for a quick hike. Danielle is nearing completing the New Hampshire Fire Tower List and is waiting patiently for a road up north to reopen so she can finish. Visiting Jerry Hill came to mind as something nearby and fun–it has concrete footing remains from a long gone observation tower on top. It may not be on the list but we like collecting peaks.

    Danielle inspecting Gilfillan Rock near the summit of Jerry Hill. The Marjory Swope Park’s Orange Trail passes by the Rock and leads to a fine mountain vista.
    Yours truly on top of one of the four old footings that are the remains of an observation tower on Jerry Hill. The Marjory Swope ParkTrailhead parking on Long Pond Road is less than ten minutes from downtown Concord.

    At the trailhead there is a kiosk with a trail map. There is also something else interesting here, it is home to one of Concord’s six “Little Libraries”—an Eagle Scout Project. A weatherproof box on a pole that is a small library that people can use to exchange books for free.
    From the kiosk go left to find the Blue Trail loop, we decided to go clockwise and then take the right onto the Yellow Trail to go straight up to the top of Jerry Hill.
    The trails are easy to follow and there are lots of colored painted blazes on the trees.
    The trail climbs about 300 vertical feet in just over half a mile to reach the wooded summit of Jerry Hill. We jumped on top of the concrete footings. Just like we always do when we find tower remains we wished that the tower was still standing.
    Next we backtracked a short distance to the Orange Trail that we had just passed by. The Orange Trail leads to Gilfillan Rock, an outcropping of granite where most likely St. Paul students chiseled the name in memory of a classmate. Be sure to climb up on the rock to see the other carvings in the ledge—graffiti before spray cans perhaps?

    Hiking the Blue Trail. The City of Concord has over 50 miles of trails. The 77 acres near Long Pond were donated by John Swope in memory of his wife and her conservation work.

    Just past the Rock is a fabulous open outlook to the southwest. We could clearly see Pats Peak and Crotched Mountain and just to the right of Crotched further in the distance was Mount Monadnock.
    We returned to the footings and continued to follow the Yellow Trail down where we were treated to a nice view of Mount Kearsarge before intersecting with the Blue Trail.
    We turned right on the Blue Trail and in no time we reached the big vista of Penacook Lake aka Long Pond. Here there is a nice bench to sit on while enjoying the vista to the north. Over the water there are splendid mountain views, Bean Hill aka Highlands in Northfield and further beyond the Belknaps can be seen.
    We continued down the Blue Trail and passed by a section of trail where trail work was recently done to make the path’s foot bed well graded. These are nice trails.
    Next time you’re in Concord make it a point to take a hike.
    Have fun.


  • Mount Washington Skiing – Huntington Ravine & Tuckerman Ravine

    Crystal Cascade, just 4/10th of a mile up the Tuckerman Ravine Trail is well worth the extra effort of the short steep spur trail to the viewing point to see and hear up close the roaring water of the Cutler River. The hike to the Cascades from the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center is worthy on its own! Yours truly and Becca are still smiling even though our backpacks weighed between 30 and 40 pounds (my skis were lighter than her snowboard).

    by Amy Patenaude
    Outdoor/Ski Writer

    This is harder than I thought it would be, are we more than half way yet?” asked a tuckered out man sitting on a rock on the side of the Tuckerman Ravine Trail. Becca and I just looked at each other because we knew we weren’t close yet. “We get there when we get there,” we cheerfully chirped.
    Sure our packs were heavy, between 30 and 40 pounds, loaded with our ski/snowboard gear, clothing and food and beverages. The tuckered out man’s pack was much heavier because on top of his ski gear he was carrying camping supplies for spending the night at the Hermit Lake Shelters. A few moments later we passed a few of his friends. One of the men had a bloody face; he fell on it when he tripped on the trail. Yikes!
    Hiking up the Tuckerman Ravine Trail isn’t easy, but thousands of people do it every spring to reach the snow that has piled up in Mount Washington’s most famous ravine, Tuckerman Ravine. The Dartmouth Outing Club, young Brooks Dodge and the Inferno Ski Race over the Ravine’s Headwall are legendary.
    Young adventurers still come to ski in the dangerous mountains where avalanches roll alongside partying college students and older diehards that choose the less steep slopes—I don’t think things have changed much since the 1940s.
    As we hiked up the rocky Tuckerman Ravine Trail the snow started to appear and in less than a mile we were walking on hard packed snow suitable for skinning.

    The Tuckerman Ravine Trail is a busy place and we ran into friends from Franconia, Jim, Dave and Charlie were headed up to Hillman’s Highway.

    Continue reading  Post ID 3062