Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Mt. Kearsarge North May 12, 2013

Mt. Kearsarge North  (3,268') via Kearsarge North trail, May 12, 2013.

Mileage: 6.2 miles RT

Elevation gain:  2,500'

Trailhead:  Route 16 to N. Conway / Intervale take the Hurricane Mt Road (across from the rest stop / tourist center). Follow this road for a mile or two.  The parking area is on the left. 

Hiked with Rich, Barb and Norm.  This would be our first northern hike this spring and we were itching to get out there.  It poured during our drive up Route 16 but once we hit Chocorua (Tamworth) the rain stopped and the sky started to clear. 

The trailhead and parking area are off Hurricane Mountain Road - easy to find.
We started the hike around 9:00 on a well blazed, well defined trail with good footing.  Climbing started relatively soon, with one blow-down we had to climb over. 

Blowdown.  Climbover.
Kearsarge North is a relatively short hike at six miles round trip but it offers terrain characteristic of its big brothers the Whites. The rock slabs started at the clearing and as we negotiated around the sometimes slippery rock, we could see partial views of the valley. 

Slabs at the clearing.

I'd hiked Kearsarge North once before in late winter.  We used Microspikes (or Stabilicers, can't remember which) on the way up and I recall one very steep spot that was difficult to negotiate. Today I was going to find that spot and check out how it looks without ice.

After the slabs we reached a water small crossing (runoff, really) and started into a deeper ascent.

Oh look! A teeny patch of snow.

All the steeper rock slabs looked alike!
I remembered the steep spot being covered with a thick, bumpy slab of dirty ice and pitched too steep for what I had on my feet so I bushwhacked around it, which wasn't easy.  The trail turned slight right above the rock.  Would I recognize it without the ice? 

No.  I wouldn't, not easily. I kept seeing big rocks, right turning trails and evidence of bushwhack.  I'd take a photo, borrowing Rich's camera, thinking I'd found it only to have a bigger rock further up the trail. I gave up.
Then I saw it, no mistaking it!  It was huge with the trail above sloping to the right, evidence of struggles in the woods to the left.  I can see why this is a tough up in winter.  But today, it was no problem, we just walked up that bad boy like it was our biz!

This steep area ices up making for tricky negotiating.

The summit came up quickly and we stopped for lunch in the firetower.  Who doesn't love a summit with an option to get out of the cold and windy?  We took a photo in the tower.

Camera was perched on a mini tripod.

Nice view through the glass window.

Toilet? Now we're talkin'.
Down was quick and easy though the slab area required paying attention to not step on the wet lichen.  We were down in no time, pleased with our pace (and our knees), and happy to declare warm weather hiking season officially here.

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