Sunday, July 17, 2011

#46 Mt. Zealand, August 28, 2010

#46 Mt. Zealand (4,265’) via Zealand and Twinway trails, August 28, 2010.

Mileage:  11.4 miles (RT)

Elevation gain:  2,400'ish

Trailhead: The Zealand parking area is at the end of the Zealand Road (gated in winter). The road starts at the Zealand Campground, on NH Rt 302, approx 5 miles east of the junction with Rt 3 in Twin Mountain. A WMNF parking pass is required ($3 day).

Hiked with Rich, Norm, Charlotte, Marie and David on a Mountain Mommas Annual Peak Bag trip (in its fifth year). We stayed at the Jefferson Inn and the Zealand trailhead was about 30 minutes away. 

The first two miles of the hike were flat with a small incline to Zealand Hut.  The morning was cool but we started in shorts. 

The day was sunny with great views on Zeacliff.

Rich was celebrating peak #40; Charlotte #30.

Odd looking pump by the hut.

#47 & 48 Wildcats A and D September 11, 2010

#47 & 48 Wildcats A and D via Nineteen Mile Brook and Wildcat Trails and Polecat Ski Slope, September 11, 2010.  

Mileage: 9 mile traverse

Elevation gain: 2900'ish

Trailhead: Nineteen Mile Brook trail is located on Route 16 several miles north of the Mount Washington Auto Road (on the right heading north).  Polecat ski trail ends at Wildcat Ski Area which is several miles south of the Auto Road.

On September 11, 2010, I completed my 47th and 48th NH 4000 footers:  Wildcats A and D.

There is no significance in the date (I shared the summits with American flags) or in the choice of summits for my final peaks.

Hiked with Rich and my friend Sue. It was a warm, dry, sunny day.  19 Mile Brook Trail to Wildcat Cut-off, to Wildcat Ridge to A and D and then down Polecat ski trail.   Beautiful views. Flags on the 48 helped us know how close we were to Wildcat D (we could see the flag in the distance and kept heading for it).
In the fall of 2008, having seven or so NH 4,000 footers done, I decided to try to hike all 48 peaks. I set my goal for completion to be end of summer 2011.  The first two years I hiked in all sorts of weather.  Any day I could steal away to hike one on the list was a good day, no matter what the weather.  And, I never had to turn back before the summit.

Except  for one time.

Mid-May of this year, Rich and I decided to hike Wildcat A.  About .5 miles before the summit, after battling ice and snow, we simply lost the trail.  Standing in the middle of the forest with blowdowns on all sides (even the footprints we were following ended), a whipping cold wind, dark skies and few blazes, we had to turn back.  After so many successes, this trip left us feeling beaten: Wildcat 1; Us 0.

The summer, as we know, turned sweet with many beautiful hiking days and low river crossings.  As opportunity presented itself, I hiked.  All my presidential were done in beautiful weather with clear views (well, I did witness two thunderstorms).  Each peak bagged brought me closer to the day I would have to do battle with Wildcat A again. 

 It became larger than life.

So, on my last NH 4K peak day, I hiked that trail again.  

In summer the trail to the peak is dry, easy to follow and blowdown free (the trail crews work very hard on Wildcat to make this so).  

View from Wildcat A's overlook (summit is in the woods).
Wildcat Ridge trail has a lot of character (headed to Wildcat D).
I shared the summit with the volunteers who participate in the “Flags on the 48,” and enjoyed the ridge hike to Wildcat D where I celebrated meeting my goal on a beautiful day.

View of Mt. Washington from Wildcat Ridge trail.
Can you guess which hiker is celebrating #48?
Heading down Polecat ski trail.

I look forward to working on the Northeast 115 and New England 100 Highest lists in the future. 

#7 Mt. Whiteface July 2008.

#7 Mt. Whiteface via Blueberry Ledge Trail,  July 2008.  

Mileage:  8.4 miles RT

Elevation gain:  

Trailhead: The parking area is called Ferncroft, 
 down a short dirt road off of NH Rt 113A, where the main road takes a 90 degree turn by a white church. The parking area is .5 miles down the dirt road, on the right. A WMNF parking pass is required.

Hiked with Norm, Charlotte, Marie, David, Eileen and Art.   Blueberry Ledge trail is listed on the Terrifying 25 (a list I am not working on but you may be!). Rock face was dry but steep. We took the Blueberry Ledge Trail up and back (this hike was revisited when I bagged East Sleeper - trip report here).  

Rich wanted to see if he could descend the rock face.  Charlotte and Marie took another trail back down.  This is the first time I have seen him want to challenge his abilities hiking.  

Blue skies and dry day and the views were spectacular!

#32 Mt. Waumbek September 13, 2009

#32 Mt. Waumbek (4,006') and Mt. Starr King (3,907') via Starr King Trail, September 13, 2009

Mileage:  7.2 miles (RT)

Elevation gain:  2,950'

Trailhead:  Trail starts in Jefferson, .2 miles up the small road off Rt 2, 1/4 mile east of the junction with NH Rt 115A. Look for the hiker sign on the main road. (A WMNF parking sticker is required.)

Lessons learned:  Landmarks are fun!

Hiked with Rich, Eileen, Sandy and Joe.  Marie and Dave started with us and then had to turn back as Marie was not feeling well.  

Mts. Waumbek and Starr King are part of the Pliny Range, a group of northerly peaks in a most spectacular setting tucked behind the northern Presidentials.  We hiked Mt. Cabot the day before. Trailheads for Mts. Waumbek and Cabot are 45 minute drive apart; both are as far north as NH 4ks go; almost a three hour drive from our home on the seacoast so spending the weekend in the area made sense.  

The weather started out sunny with few clouds, only to turn a bit rainy, cloudy and misty.   We parked in the lot and headed up the Starr King trail, ascending immediately. We trudged up stiffly; legs tired from hiking the day before.  Overall, the trail (which is maintained by the Randolph Mountain Club) was very smooth and steady with few rocks. 

This hike has two landmarks located before the Mt. Waumbek summit: the summit of Mt. Starr King, which has a USGS stamp in the rocks, and a fine looking fireplace and chimney, remains of a shelter. (Mt. Starr King is on the 52 with a view list, a list I'm not working on but you may be!) Not sure of what to expect on this moderate hike, I was looking forward to both - sort of my way of breaking up the hike.

We got to the summit of Starr King, not bothering to take photos of the USGS marker; it was still drizzling and we didn't have much of a view.  

The old shelter. All that remains is the chimney.

About a mile farther was the summit of Mt. Waumbek, just a cairn and no view.  

Cairn on summit of Mt. Waumbek

The Kilkenny Ridge Trail is just past the summit, and heads toward Mt. Cabot.
After a few photos we headed back down the trail.  Conditions of the trail allowed for fast descent. We were down having a draft beer by mid-afternoon.

#4 Mt. Washington August 22, 2007.

#4 Mt. Washington via Ammonoosuc Ravine, Gulfside and Jewel trails  August 22, 2007. (State High Point #2)

Mileage: 9.6 miles (loop)

Elevation gain:  3,800'

Trailhead: Rt 302 in Bretton Woods take the Base Road 6 miles to the trailhead parking area on the right, just before the Cog Railroad. A WMNF Parking Pass is required.

Lesson learned: 
 That's not the Cog, it's THUNDER!

Hiked with Rich, Charlotte, Norm, Marie, Dave, Eileen and Art.  As was an annual tradition with the Mountain Mommas (a name Norm gave the group), we stayed at a B&B in Jackson for a few days with our sights set on peak bagging.
We parked our car at the Ammonoosuc Ravine trailhead and another at the Cog Railway base station parking lot.  The weather was warm with threat of thunderstorms in the afternoon.  

We stopped by the Gem Pool

 The Ammonoosuc Ravine Trail leads to the Lake of the Clouds Hut where we stopped for a quick lunch.  From there we hiked the last mile to the top. 

Bringing hut supplies down from the summit.

Radio and TV towers on the summit

View out over the ridge.

At the top Norm was able to arrange a private tour of the weather station (he'd worked for the Observatory several years before).

On the top of the Observatory.
During our tour, Norm discreetly kept a close eye on the weather and soon urged us to get a move on back down the mountain.   Dave and Marie tried to go back down via the Cog Railway but it was too crowded and they could not get on.  

So we all started down via the Gulfside Trail to the Jewell Trail

Taking a rest on the way down.

The mountain and its ravines were huge and dramatic on this clear day.  Thunderheads were looming in the distance. Rich’s ankle started throbbing about a third of the way down.  It had been bothering him all day but he suffered in silence until it really started flaring up.  

By then he could barely walk and we had miles to go under threatening skies.

The rest of the group were nervous about the thunderheads so they headed down to tree line, leaving me, Art, and Rich to limp down.  Norm joined us and tried to convince Rich to wrap the ankle, unsuccessfully.  I could hear thunder in the distance but Art insisted that was just the Cog getting ready to head up the slopes.  I believed him.  

The noise got louder and more frequent and eventually we figured out that it was not the Cog but yes, thunder.  Rich was limping and stopping - slow going.  
We decided to take the shortcut to the Cog station since it was shorter than the trail to the car and we could seek shelter if the storm came.  Which it did.  

The woods became black as night and the thunder and lightning crashed around us as we ran into the Cog station.  Rich forgot about his sore ankle as he dashed through heavy rain toward the station.  We were wet but we made it and glad to be out of the storm.  

A few minutes later the Cog appeared at the base of the mountain.  The train and its passengers weathered the intense weather above tree line with only the car between them and the lightning.  

The passengers bolted out of that car once the doors opened!

Rainbow after the fierce weather.
A beautiful sky signaled at the end of the storm.  Rich bought a round of drinks at Fabyans, thrilled that he and his sore ankle made it down okay.

#40 South Twin Mountain from Galehead Hut July 24, 2010

#40 South Twin Mountain (4,902') via Twinway (from Galehead Hut) July 24, 2010. 

Mileage: 1.6 miles (RT from Galehead Hut) -  11.8  mile RT from Gale River Trailhead

Elevation gain: 1,102' (from Galehead Hut) - 3,600' from Gale River Trailhead

Trailhead: Hike started at Galehead Hut. Getting to the hut requires hiking up the Gale River and Garfield Ridge trails 4.7 miles. Trailhead for the Gale River trail is on the Gale River Loop Road off of Route 3 in Bethlehem (across from Trudeau Road) several miles before the Route 3/Route 302 intersection in Twin Mountain.  

Lesson learned:  What a difference a few hours makes!

I hiked to this peak with Rich, Sandy, Joe, and Louise, part of our Bonds hike (the South Twin summit lies on the Twinway trail to the Bonds).  

We started our hike around 7:30 in cool and foggy weather.  We were happy no thunderstorms were predicted as our goal was to get to Mt. Bond, Bondcliff and West Bond.  More than one friend had lamented over hiking trips that failed to get Bondcliff due to the threat of lightning (Bondcliff is very exposed with virtually nowhere safe to go if the weather gets tough).

The trail from Galehead Hut is very steep but short and not difficult.  We were at the peak well within an hour. The summit was socked in with fog.  Heavy clouds drifted around us.  There were no views; it was hard to see each other! We took a few photos and headed down the AT to the Bonds.

The dog is not ours but since I love dogs, I asked if he could be in the photo.
As the day progressed, the mist cleared showing us the beautiful views which make the Bonds one of the most popular hikes in the Whites (if not the most popular).  We reached all of our intended summits and headed back up to the summit of South Twin to find the top looking very different from that of the morning's visit.

The beautiful summit of South Twin.
Total hike this day was 11.5 miles, which included all three Bonds. To read about my Bonds hike, visit my trip report of July 24th. 

#33 North Twin Mountain October 11, 2009

#33 North Twin Mountain (4,761') via North Twin trail October 11, 2009

Mileage: 8.6 miles RT

Elevation gain: 2,950'

Trailhead: Haystack Road off of Route 3 in Bethlehem, NH (heading toward Twin Mountain). Trailhead parking is at the end of the road. 

Lesson learned:  All sorts of weather can occur in the Whites over a single eight hour period.  

Hiked with Rich, Sandy, Joe, Jen, Dave and son, Harry.   Jen convinced Dave that hiking in the White Mountains would be a great birthday celebration and got her son Harry to join us as well.  Jen is one smart woman!  

We got to the trailhead around 8 a.m. on a clear, cold morning.  The rainy summer and unsettled fall weather left rivers and streams swollen. The water was high and fast at the first water crossing.  It took a while as we struggled with our most challenging water crossing to date but we made it across. 

The second water crossing was also tough and took some time to complete but boots managed to stay dry.

As we crossed the river a third time (this crossing is much easier), blue skies turned to clouds and  it started to rain.  

After several miles of uneventful terrain (alternating moderate and steeps) we reached a ridge where the rain turned to sleet and bitter wind.  

Walking a frozen but nicely cut path on the ridge.

A wonderful overlook appears just before the summit.  This is where we hunkered down for lunch while the wind, sleet and snow whipped around us. We were wearing our winter coats, hats and mittens. At this point, Dave must've figured out that there were better ways to spend his birthday.

I've had lunch in better conditions (and in worse)!
A cairn sits at the summit and the junction of the North Twin Spur trail and another overlook.  The summit is otherwise unremarkable. (The North Twin Spur trail goes to South Twin.)

We took the very short path to another overlook and shivered as Rich took our photo. The weather appeared to be clearing (as shown in photo below).
Beautiful views of Galehead Hut, Garfield and the Franconia Ridge are behind us.
After lunch and photos we headed back down North Twin trail with cold hands and faces. As we walked across the ridge the mist rolled in, still peppering us with sleet (see lunch photo). The water crossings had no sympathy for seven cold, tired trekkers in bulky clothing.  Rich and I had to shimmy across a fallen log on the second crossing, not a pretty sight. 

Getting across this fast water took some time and a little pole shimmy.

After what seemed like a much longer hike back, we made it to the car and headed for hot tea and cold beer.   

At a time when I am buttoning up my seasonal hiking plans and getting ready to spend the winter snowshoeing and dreaming about spring, this peak clearly was a check off my list, rounding my NH 48k "to do" list to 15 more. All 15 will be planned for next year.  

#15 #16 Tripyramids North and Middle Peaks May 31, 2009

#15 North Tripyramid (4,180') and #16 Middle Tripyramid (4,140') via Scaur Ridge, Pine Bend Brook and Mt. Tripyramid Trails, May 31, 2009.

Mileage:  12.1 miles (RT)
Elevation gain: 3,000'
Trailhead: Hikers must walk the gated Livermore Road to get to the Scaur Ridge trailhead (several miles). 
Directions to the Livermore Road parking area (taken from
I-93, Exit 28, NH49, Waterville Valley/Campton exit.
NH49 East to Waterville Valley. Mark odometer.
At approximately 9 mi., on right will see sign for "ski area" and then for Waterville Valley.
At approximately 10 mi., turn left onto Tripoli Rd.
Mark odometer (under 2 miles from here).
On left, will pass Waterville Campground, WMNF.
On right, will pass Mobil gas station.
At 1.2mi., veer right at fork staying on Tripoli Rd.
(veering left would take you up to Waterville Valley ski area).
Junction Waterville Valley Road and Tripoli Rd.
Turn right to stay on Tripoli Rd.
"Depot Camp and Livermore Trailhead, WMNF, turn right ahead" sign.
Turn right, go over bridge.
Turn immediately left onto dirt road, will see gated road (this is Livermore Road). Park in lot. (Note: Tripoli Road is closed in the winter.)

Hiked with Rich, Kevin, Debbie, and Norm and his group which included Marie, David, Abby and Jeff. It was an overcast, gray day with chance of rain. 

Heading down the road to the trailhead.

We hiked several miles down Livermore Road to the Scaur Ridge trailhead.

Reached the Scaur Ridge trailhead - finally!

From there things got steeper until the trail met with Pine Bend Brook trail.  Our first peak was North Tripyramid and after a break, we went over to Middle Tripyramid.

Nice views of Waterville Valley Ski Area

Summit shot. 

The group was talking about heading to South Tripyramid and down the south slide back to the cars. It cut at least a mile off of our trip back.  I was all for it.....until I realized I'd left my hiking poles back on the summit of North Tripyramid. So the group split and we returned the way we came.

Several friends who accompanied me back to North Tripyramid were quite annoyed with me leaving my poles.  Until it started to rain. We got down to the cars in time for dinner at Foster's Boiler room.  The others had to cautiously pick their way down a wet slide and didn't get back until well after dark.  Although it was a missed adventure, going back via Scaur Ridge trail may have been the better way after all.


#12 Mt. Tom May 22, 2009

#12 Mt. Tom (4,052') via Avalon, A-Z and Mt. Tom Spur trails - May 22, 2009. 

Mileage:  5.6 miles (RT)

Elevation gain:  2,150'

Trailhead:  Trail starts across behind Crawford Depot on Route 302, about 8.5 miles east of the junction of Rt. 3 and Rt. 302 (Twin Mountain), 0.1 mile after the Highland Center. 

Lessons learned:  Clothing and gear should be securely fastened to your pack.  

Hiked with Ann and Patty.  The trail was muddy with a little snow on the spur trail.  Neither Ann nor Patty had hiked in a while but it was a fine day and we took our time (though a few expletives were uttered).  

Mt. Tom Spur is just off the A-Z trail.
We arrived at the overlook around noon and thought it was the summit. We had lunch there and took some photos.  

Hanging on the summit with Patty and Ann.
I remembered the real summit was in the woods so before we headed back to the car, we took the 500’ trail off to the right to find the wooded summit and cairn.  

We flew down the trail back to the car and in the process, Patty lost her fleece jacket.  We backtracked a bit but the jacket was nowhere to be found.  

#8 Mt. Tecumseh September 6, 2008

#8 Mt. Tecumseh (4,003') via Mt. Tecumseh trail September 6, 2008

Mileage:  5 miles (RT)

Elevation gain:  2,200'

Trailhead:  Trail starts at Waterville Valley Ski Area.  I-93, exit 28 and follow signs for the ski area.  The trailhead is located near the top of parking lot #1.

Lesson learned:  With good planning we were able to bag this peak just before tropical storm Hannah hit the region.

Hiked with Rich.  We kept an eye on the skies as remnants of Hurricane Hannah (now a tropical storm) headed toward New England.  I still wanted to check this peak off my list and wasn't going to let the weather interfere. Since this peak was closer to us than the others and a shorter hike in comparison, we got there early, got down early and were at a restaurant in Waterville Valley having a beer before the rain and wind came.

The trailhead is located at the ski area near the upper parking lot.

There is an viewing area just off the trail (it's actually a ski run).
The trail was damp but otherwise unremarkable. The summit was wooded with no view to speak of though we caught glimpses of view here and there through the trees. 

Summit cairn ("Still Life with Packs")
This peak makes for a good half day hike, particularly if trying to avoid "iffy" weather as it's quite sheltered.