Thursday, October 30, 2014

Mts. Morgan and Percival, October 25, 2014

Mt. Morgan (2,220') and Mt. Percival (2,212') via Mt. Morgan, Crawford-Ridgepole, Mt. Percival and Morse trails, October 25, 2014.

Mileage:  5.3 (loop)

Elevation gain:  1,648'
Trailhead: I-93N Exit 24 onto US Rte 3 S about 4.6 miles to Holderness. Turn left on to NH Route 113 and continue 5.6 miles to Morgan trailhead on left.  (The Mt. Percival trailhead about 1/8 mile farther, also on left.)
Hiked with Rich today. These mountains are on the "Terrifying 25" list (a list I am not working on but you may be!). 
Mid- to late- fall is not my favorite time to hike.  Leaves are slippery and a generous layer resting on the forest floor makes it tough to follow the trail.  We experienced both today but the warm sun and calm winds made this the perfect fall hike!
The Squam Lake Association (SLA) maintains these and the other trails in the area and it shows.  You'll find them well groomed and blazed.
Plenty of parking.
Well blazed.

Although well blazed and signed, where to go can be confusing at times and we had to pay attention, particularly given the trail and the woods are covered with a thick layer of fallen leaves. And, this area has a lot of old roads intersecting the trail, inviting you to go astray. Logs are placed across to signal that this is not the trail but several times we found ourselves not noticing them and stepping over them, certain that was the way to go.

Mt. Morgan trail is mellow (a bit too low key at first).

This sign marks the beginning (or end, depending on direction) of the Morse trail.

We quickly reached and passed the junction of the Morse trail (we would take the Morse trail from the Mt. Percival trail to get back to our car once we make the loop).

Trails goes through a stone wall.

The path was dry and quite comfy on this cool, bright day.  Temps warmed to well above 50°.  I love hiking in short sleeves!

About one mile in we hit a muddy stretch, marked with rocks for hopping. 

Cute little stepping stones!
Things got, well, boring.  I'd done this hike before in 2006, remembered some ladders along the way and was anxious to get to it!
Continuing on to Mt. Morgan.

And there they were!  

The ladders of Mt. Morgan. 

There's a bypass here if you don't want to do the ladders.

Rich and I took turns getting photos of each other high up the ladders.  As you can see, there are three, the second requiring a side transition from the first.  If you are squeamish about these ladders, know that we aren't big risk takers and we rate these ladders as A-Okay!  My big transition was from the ladder to the rock. 

Great footing for the transition.

This ladder has blocks instead of rungs at the top.

At the top of these ladders is a little pass-through; a squeeze.  Rich took his pack off to get through. That was fun!

The pass-through.
But wait...
There's more....
With the memory faded from my 2006 hike, I thought we would be at the summit after the pass-through. Instead we were treated to a small but exposed scrambly section.  It took me and my short legs a few seconds to figure out how to get a hold but it's there (feel around for a good grip on the first scramble). 

It's well blazed so there's no mistaking where to go. 
We popped out at a wonderful viewpoint where we stopped and had lunch. The day had warmed nicely and the views were rusty but still beautiful.
Yellow jackets buzzed around us, shortening our stay.
We continued on to a "T" intersection where went we left to the Mt. Morgan summit, which by comparison is just ordinary.

View-ish from the summit.
After a photo we turned around and headed back, going straight at that intersection until we got to the sign to Mt. Percival.  We went left on the Crawford-Ridgepole trail .
Left to Mt. Percival (straight goes to the ladder bypass, down Mt. Morgan trail.
At the junction (the sign), we met a couple coming off the trail saying they'd lost the trail further in and didn't know which way to go to get to the summit of Mt. Percival. 
These trails have unexpected twists and turns -  and blazes help greatly to identify them.  In this case there was a wide path (road, maybe) that went straight when the trail went left and up a blazed rock outcropping.  Several trees lie across the wide path in an attempt to block it so hikers won't go straight.  If you're moseying along you could miss that twist, which they did. 
We hopped up the rock and headed toward the summit.  The path to the summit is pretty mellow.
Nice views at the summit!

Hopped onto the highest point.
It was getting late and we got confused as to which way to go down the Mt. Percival trail from the summit as a set yellow blazes heads left and down, and another set heads right and down.  We chose left, which takes you down the cliffs. (Both ways are the trail.  Right and down takes you through the caves.)
Good footing down the cliffs.
At the bottom a sign points both ways, offering a hike up the cliffs, or through the caves. 
Take your pick!
Going got slippery here.  Still steep, the many leaves hide rocks and holes and ...well, there are many leaves!  We skidded, slid and slipped a good part of the way down, where there is a nice mellow trail waiting.
Many leaves.

This is the connector trail to the Mt. Morgan parking lot.

Mt. Morse trail is flat.
This hike was so much fun, with flats, steeps, slabs, scrambles, ladders and caves. Next time we will head up in the opposite direction and check out those caves!

Monday, October 13, 2014

Imp Face Loop October 12, 2014

Imp Face (3,165') via North Imp and South Imp trails October 12, 2014.

Mileage:  6.3 (loop)

Elevation gain:  2,209'
Trailhead: South Imp trailhead is approximately 2.3 miles from the Mt. Washington Auto Road  in Gorham (on the right driving north). North Imp trailhead is .3 miles further. 
Hiked with Marie, David, Rich and Sandy.  The Imp Face is on the 52 with a View list (a list I'm not working on but you may be!). 
I've always wanted to hike this loop and scheduled it last winter but reports indicated high water at the first water crossing (about a 20 minute walk in).  It's best to check recent trip reports and the AMC Visitor Center at Pinkham Notch during rainy and thaw conditions before heading out on this trail.
View from the Imp Face.
Dropped our car off at South Imp trailhead.
Hopped on to North Imp trail, 1/3 mile north of South Imp trailhead.

Grades are easy as the trail makes its way through the woods skirting the Imp Brook which it will eventually cross.  As previously stated, this water crossing can be tough to impossible in high water but today it was not an issue.

First and only serious water crossing. Today it was fine.

What a nice walk in the woods; it felt great to be on an established trail after last weekend's bushwhack (read previous report). Yellow blazes on this stretch are quite faded but the path is wide and easy to see.

The trail steepens, with a ravine to the left.

Stairs make the steeper parts a bit easier.

About two miles later we arrived at the Imp Face; only two others were on the rock outcropping.

Looking down the cliff.

Nice view

Gliders overhead. You could hear the whining of their rudders as they sailed.

Marie and David turned around at this point. Sandy, Rich and I continued up the North Imp trail, which has some descending rock slabs and a few water crossings - and many roots!

After the rock slabs, the trail turns quite sweet.

Snarky slippery little water crossing.

Lots of exposed roots.

We quickly arrived at the trail junction and I suppressed the urge to run up to North Carter (not today). 

South Imp trail lacks the bubbly personality of North Imp trail. We made our way down to the car without incident. This trail is often used to get up to Middle and South Carter (as well as North), and is moderately pitched.  The blazing has been redone on this end of the loop.

Trail flattens out toward the road.

Don't take this left on this old road unless you're headed to Camp Dodge.

For a short six mile hike, this loop offers steeps, flats and amazing views.  The perfect hike to fit in just before the long ride home!

This Columbus Day weekend traffic was waiting to drive up the Auto Road as we headed home.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

#95 Elephant Mountain, MAINE, October 4, 2014

Elephant Mountain, ME  (3,772') via Logging Road and Bushwhack, October 4, 2014.

Mileage:  3ish miles (up and back)

Elevation gain:  1,140'
Trailhead: Hike begins at  the parking area (clearing) three miles down Elephant Mountain Road, North Andover.  MapQuest and car gps both recognize Elephant Mountain Road, Andover, ME”.
Route 5 out of Bethel toward Andover, turn right onto ME 120 and in .6 miles turn left onto South Arm Road.  The right turn onto Elephant Mountain Road is about 10 miles down South Arm Road, just after crossing the signed Clearwater Brook (you will drive past the AT crossing). It takes one hour to reach the parking area from the center of Bethel.
DeLorme does not show the shape of this road correctly, it isn't straight.  After turning onto Elephant Mountain Road bear left at .4 miles, and at 1.1 miles bear right (your route will resemble an inverted ”V”).  We met several cars on this road, hunters probably.  

Bear left at .4 miles.

Bear right (where the car is) at 1.1 miles.

Parking area (hike starts past that red truck).

Hiked with Bill, Jill, Ken and Rich on this very foggy day. 
As reports indicate, the way to Elephant's summit involves a logging road, skidder roads, herdpaths, and some bushwhacking.  Ken and I had friends' GPS tracks for reference.
We parked in the clearing (road too rough to go any further). A pickup truck was already thereSince it was hunting season we wore orange but this vehicle belonged to a hiker (whom we’d meet an hour later).
We headed up about 9:30, hoping the rain would hold off (it did).  At the first cairn we took a left.

Headed up this way, the continuation of Elephant Mountain Road.

The first cairn.
We'd received advice to follow the road to the cairns and stay left at the forks so we wouldn't accidently summit the northeasterly peak. (We wouldn’t even come close!)

Old logging road is overgrown but easy to get through.

Bill found the second cairn. We went left.
Because we kept left at all intersections we lost the herdpath often.  We never reached the col, never took the "paths around the blowdowns," never saw the marshy area or boundary markers described in other reports, skirted one spruce wave and navigated easily through the other.
Our left at the second cairn took us on a herd path that cut left and into the woods (well trodden, it appeared to be the route of many who started their bushwhacked at the second cairn).  

Left into loose spruce (wet, but easily walked through). 
It didn't take long to lose that path. And so the bushwhack began.
Paths would come and go.  We found it, then lost it, then found another.  Lose, find, lose, find - no, just thought we found it…..hey, check over there.  
Ken and I gave up on following our GPS tracks and settled for just heading in the same direction as the tracks. 

On the bright side the woods are open and easy to walk through.
We popped out onto the upper skidder road, on the edge of a significant spruce wave, which we avoided by going right and crossing the roadIt was clear we were starting up the bump to the summit.

Is this the Tim Lucia split rock?

The terrain steepened and we followed herdpaths til they petered out, then looked for others.  Going wasn't bad, though the woods were soaked and our gloves as well (cold hands).  We met 1SlowHiker heading down and chatted for a bit.


Jill on a herd path.
We reached several rock ledges and went left around them on the way up, right and down on our return trip.

These ledges are easily skirted. Note the old mossy trees

The pace quickened as the herdpath became more defined. The woods are so mossy I expected to see a hobbit. We reached the second spruce wave.

It took a few minutes to find the herd path, which is on the right side - through the spruce.

Rich standing in front of the spruce wave.

Walking through the spruce.

On the other side of that spruce wave is herdpath nirvana! 

Pretty hard to miss this! Takes you right to the canister.

No mistaking where this path goes and in no time we were at the canister, which opened easily.

We struggled to get a group photo but the camera, already quite wet, wouldn’t sit steady on slippery branches.  After a quick bite to eat, we headed down the path and easily found it on the other side of the spruce.  We placed our steps carefully as we descended the ledges and proceeded to go down the mountain.

As it got less steep it wasn’t as clear where to go so we picked our way down the gentle slope.

We went left at the spruce.

When we hit a wall of spruce I went left through a small group of trees, popping out on a skidder path. I yelled to the group to come check it out.

The path was so well established it had to be the herdpath we could have taken on the way up to avoid some of the bushwhacking.  No matter, the walk in the woods was fun, not too treacherous. We headed down this path to the cairns.
Once at the car we took off our wet clothing and boots and headed to Sunday River Brew Pub for a beer and garlic fries. 
1 hour 40 to get up, 1 hour 10 to get back down.