On The Trails & Summits

On top of Machu Picchu Mountain, elevation 10,111 feet
On top of Machu Picchu Mountain, elevation 10,111 feet

Amy Patenaude is the Weirs Times Outdoor Columnist. She is a life-long resident of New Hampshire, born in Concord and now a Henniker resident.

Amy has been writing her bi-weekly column for the Weirs Times since 2000. Amy travels to the highest peaks as well as to the more obscure places of nature throughout the state of New Hampshire and beyond. Amy’s international treks have also taken her from the Virgin Islands to Ireland and places in between. Each visit brought to life in her own personal style.

When Amy isn’t researching a column for the Weirs Times you might find her competing in a cross-country or alpine race, just to relax.

So, whether it’s a cross-country ski-trip, a hike through the known and unknown trails of New Hampshire or an exotic adventure to places “away”, Amy is sure to surprise even the most seasoned outdoor enthusiast with her adventurous, educational and fun experiences in the great outdoors.

Wet Waterville Valley Walking

  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. 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 […]

Random Walks And Thoughts (Think Winter)

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. 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 […]

The Games Hikers Play

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. 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 […]

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

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. 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 […]

Single Day Bonds-Zealand Traverse

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 […]

Up To The Summits Of The Twin Mountains

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.   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 […]

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

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. 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 […]

A Hike On Pine Mountain Trail

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.

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

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. 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 […]

Lockes Hill ~ Kimball Wildlife Forest, Gilford

  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!   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 […]

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

  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. 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 […]

Franconia Notch Artist’s Bluff & Bald Mountain

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. 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 […]

Mount Moosilauke

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 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 […]

Concord’s Marjory Swope Park Trails

  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 […]

Mount Washington Skiing – Huntington Ravine & Tuckerman Ravine

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 […]