Saturday, November 28, 2015

Mts. Wonalancet and Hibbard, November 26, 2015

Mt. Wonalancet (2,760') and Mt. Hibbard (2,940') via Wonalancet Range trail, November 26, 2015.

Mileage: 5.4 miles (descending via the Short Cut) 

Elevation gain: 2,031' 

Trailhead: Route 16 to Tamworth, left on Route 113, and right onto Chocorua Road for 2.9 miles.  Turn right on Route 113A East (Chinook Trail) for 5.6 miles. Ferncroft Road is on the right where the road takes a 90° turn (past a church). Drive .5 miles down Ferncroft, large parking lot is on the right. 

Mt. Hibbard is on the 52 with a View list (a list I'm not working on but you may be!). Note that the peak is not shown on Map 3 of the AMC 29th Edition map set but is situated north of Mt. Wonalancet and south of the Walden trail junction. (We used GPS tracks and summit photos and reports as well as overall distance to locate the peak.)

This route is a pleasant combination of some steeps and a whole lot of flats. 

Hiked with Jill and Ken today. Warmish temps and clear skies were forecast.  We enjoyed the mild conditions but unfortunately the higher we got, the thicker the mist and we missed that fabulous summit view. 

Parking lot at Ferncroft.  Trailhead is at the far end.

Trail continues past this gate.

Go left here, not over the bridge unless you want to take the long way.

The woods are open, really open due to logging years ago, with Spring Brook below quite audible during the first ten minutes (while hiking up several long switchbacks that bring you up a steep bank). 

The mist above hushed things around us; leaves on the trees were still and those on the ground before us damp and silent.

Open and flat - really mellow.

Heading up.

I wasn't sure what we'd encounter for conditions given the warm weather. There were a few areas of ice flows, easily negotiated via rough side bushwhacks. A layer of wet dribbled down them as they struggled to keep from melting.

 A bit icy here.

The areas of ice on the way up led me to believe the cliff area just below the summit of Mt. Wonalancet would also be icy - or at least wet from melt. 

We decided to chance it anyway, choosing not to ascend Mt. Hibbard via the Short Cut (essentially bypassing the bypass).

Didn't do the shortcut on the way up.

This part of the trail gets steeper and rougher (briefly)

I figured when I read "ledges" in other trip reports that there would be some rock scrambling. Not so, in fact the path heads up your run-of-the-mill exposed rock slabs, which today were dry and without ice.  Wet and icy would certainly complicate things here but don't assume this part of the trail will be icy just because there's ice below. 

Rock slabs just below Wonalancet's summit.

As we left the slabs and re-entered the woods we looked for a summit cairn or sign and didn't see either. Where was the Mt. Wonalancet summit? The only indication that we'd summited was the sign we saw just as the trail met back up with the upper portion of the short cut.

Guess we walked right over the summit!

Heading for Mt. Hibbard we continued up the Wonalancet Ridge trail in the mist. On the ridge we enjoyed a flat, leafy trail.

Old trees in open woods "field" on the ridge.

We ascended for a bit and soon came to a fork in the path.  We went left as it looked like the way to go and topped out on the summit of Hibbard.

Jill and Ken on summit in front of what we hear is a  nice view (not today).

The area looked like the photos I'd seen and it was the height of land but we couldn't avoid our second guessing.  We backtracked to where the trail split and there was a nice overlook (no view for us, of course).

Trail to the overlook.

We'd achieved our goal  - to summit Hibbard - and after a little lunch we headed down.  This time we took the Short Cut.

Icicles on our right.

Heading back down. Note the open woods.

The path is so mellow that occasionally we wondered if we'd ventured onto an old road - until we found another blue blaze.  Nice, mellow day!

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Iron Mountain, November 1, 2015

Iron Mountain (2,726') via Iron Mountain trail, November 1, 2015.

Mileage: 1.8 miles (RT)

Elevation gain: 806' 

Trailhead:  Parking is on Iron Mountain Road (FR119) in Jackson.  Take Route 16 north to Jackson and take a left onto Green Hill Road (.2 miles north of the red covered bridge).  Pavement ends on Green Hill Road at 1.2 miles, continue another .2 miles and bear left at the fork - onto Iron Mountain Road. Travel about 1.2 miles and you will see parking for the trail.  NOTE: Iron Mountain Road is closed in winter. 

Iron Mountain is on the 52 with a View list (a list I'm not working on but you may be!).
A weekend up north hiking is just what most of us need to "reset" after a long work week - particularly if the weather is good.  After a wonderful hike up Cherry Mountain the day before (see previous report), I longed to squeeze in one more peak before the drive home. 

We did it in between the raindrops (forecast was "iffy"). Several like-minded buddies (Sandy, Becky and Rich) joined me on this short, steep hike.
We needed to head home early so we picked Iron Mountain because it is just a few miles from where we were staying.  And in the interest of time, we hiked just to the summit  - and not to the South Cliffs or the iron mines. (If interested in these points, visit the Hike New England site and read their trip report [here]).

Iron Mountain Road is a fun ride.  The road's windy but well graded and the views are breathtaking (particularly at the parking area).

Parking area - note sign on right and smaller "trail" sign on left.

It was sprinkling on the drive over but not when we hopped on the trail, a path through two fields and sweet greenery (before it gets steep and more trail-like).
Beginning of the trail.
First field.

View from the fields.
The trail gets steep and is eroded in spots.  But it's short - less than a mile - and in no time we were seeing great views through the trees. 
Evidence of some of the erosion.
 The terrain tops out and the trail descends a bit before heading up again, just below the summit.  We found ourselves maneuvering around large rocks. 

Rocky by the summit.
The summit is rocky with a few trees, and remnants of the fire tower. Sandy and Becky walked around looking for views, which are now mostly blocked by trees. 
Wreck of a firetower.
At the marker (by the fire tower foundation).
Becky had been complaining about her back so we had some fun with her, stretching her out on the firetower's fallen planks.
We took a moment to put Becky on "the rack."

Heading back we took a small detour on a path with some nice views. We returned to the trail and got back to the car quickly, despite gingerly descending the steeps (loaded with wet, slippery leaves).
I'd like to return to this peak at some point and explore the cliffs and mines but for today just summiting was a nice way to stretch our legs before the ride home.



Monday, November 2, 2015

Mt. Martha and Owl's Head, October 31, 2015

Mt. Martha (3,573') and Owl's Head (3,258')* via Cherry Mountain, Martha's Mile and Owl's Head trails, October 31, 2015.

Mileage: 5.2 miles (traverse)

Elevation gain: 2,099' (400' loss on the descent)

Trailhead: This is a traverse that begins at the Cherry Mountain trailhead on Route 115 in Twin Mountain, and ends at the Owl's Head trailhead also on Route 115 (about four miles north of the first trailhead).
  •  To Cherry Mountain trailhead (where the hike starts): At the junction of Routes 302 and 3 in Twin Mountain, head north on Route 3 to Route 115 (2.1 miles from the junction). Travel on Route 115 for 1.9 miles to a parking area on the right (Opposite Lennon Road).
  • To Owl's Head trailhead (where the hike ends): Follow directions above but travel north on Route 115 for about four miles past the Cherry Mountain trailhead parking area.  Parking is also on the right, at the "Cherry Mountain Slide" historic marker.

*Note: This is not the Owl's Head mountain on the Four Thousand Footer Club list.  For information on that peak, see previous report.

Hiked with Rich, Sandy, Becky, Joe and Mark today.  Mt. Martha is on the 52 with a View list (a list I'm not working on but you may be!).
Mt. Martha and Owl's Head are peaks on Cherry mountain. I've been wanting to explore this mountain for some time; it's close to the Highland Center and many previously explored small peaks.  And, I heard the views are spectacular so I was excited to check it out.

We spotted a car here.
After we spotted a car at the Owl's Head trailhead (where the hike would end), the six of us piled into the remaining car and headed to the Cherry Mountain trailhead.

The car was crowded with too many people and way too much gear, which would've been uncomfortable if we'd only stop laughing about it!  Several cars were in the lot when we arrived.
Easy trail with just this one blowdown.

As expected, the trail starts out wide and flat, with a gradual increase in steepness, though it never seems to lose that mellow characteristic.  It has a cross country ski trail quality.

Still a mellow trail.

Within an hour we were up the steeper stretch and at a trail junction. This is where the Old Cherry Mountain Road portion of Cherry Mountain trail comes in.  This part of the trail is also a snowmobile trail, evidenced by the rider-friendly signs and wide flat terrain.
We took a left and walked the .2 miles to the summit of Mt. Martha.

Cherry Mountain Trail from Old Cherry Mountain Road.

At the summit the views are spectacular!  We had lunch on the bench and then explored what's left of the foundation of an old fire tower. 

View from Mt. Martha.
Fire ring on the summit of Mt. Martha. Nice campsite!

After lunch (and chatting with another group of hikers) we jumped on Martha's Mile, a lovely trail through enchanted woods. Soon we got to the ledges.

From the summit of Mt. Martha.

I'd read about the ledges - that they can be slippery when icy.  It was an non-issue today.  And to me the ledges are no big deal. They look like a short section of stacked and slabby rock with fair footing and great hand-holds (trees and roots).

The ledges. There was just one small patch of ice.

Roots and trees make for great steps and handholds.

The ledges have mad views of the valley. Owl's Head's wooded summit does not so we took a few photos from the ledges, walked to the summit and headed down - this time via the Owl's Head trail.

Summit of Owl's Head (there's a "path" sign here - leads you to the trail).

At first, down is steep (relatively). We made our way around and down.  

Steep exit from Owl's Head summit.

The woods are littered with rotted birch trees and debris - looks a bit like a landfill.  As we descended, the forest thinned and new growth (pencil thin trees) surrounded us. There are a few bog bridges here and there.  We followed the frequent yellow blazes; many leaves covered the ground, masking the trail.

It gets a little confusing in this area.

The one and only water crossing.

Yellow blazes on the Owl's Head trail. Good thing.

The trail meanders (avoiding private land, perhaps) and as we made our way toward our car the direction of the path would've been confusing if not for the many yellow blazes. Several times we wondered if we were zigzagging around the forest for no reason. We heard the highway at one point, then nothing - we were heading away from the road.  
Mellow end to the trail.
Gate just before the parking lot. We crossed a small stream.

The sign at the end of our hike.  The hiking trail is also a ski/snowmobile trail.

Eventually we saw the parking area and car.  We piled in it and headed out to pick up the other car.  
This is a wonderful hike and I plan to do it again in winter.  

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Potash Mountain, October 18, 2015

Potash Mountain (2,680') via Downes Brook and Mt. Potash trails and logging road, October 18, 2015.
Mileage:  5.2 miles (RT)
Elevation gain: 1,480'
Trailhead: Trail is located off the Kangamagus Highway (Route 112) about 13.5 miles west of the Conway intersection (across from the Passaconaway Campground). There is a $3. parking fed.
NOTE: The Downes Brook crossing can be tricky in high water. Walking the nearby logging road avoids this crossing. The gated logging road is a left (heading west) off the Kancamagus highway approximately .6 miles from the trailhead parking area. The Mt. Potash trail intersects the log road at .85 miles and is clearly visible.

Hiked with Rich and Sandy today. Potash Mountain (or Mt. Potash as many call it) is on the 52 with a View list (a list I'm not working on but you may be!).  It is theorized that Potash Mountain got its name as it resembles an inverted potash kettle.  Years ago these kettles were used to extract potassium carbonate (potash) from wood ashes (drawing here).

Today we hiked the Downes Brook trail to the Mt. Potash trail to the summit, returning via the Mt. Potash trail and the logging road that intersects the trail before the junction to the Downes Brook trail.

Temps were in the 30s when we got to the parking lot, unseasonably cold for mid October.  But this was a good time to check out our cold weather gear, see what works and what's needed.

Trailhead parking is for Downes Brook and the UNH trail.
Starts off wide and mellow.
Take a right.
Downes Brook trail to Mt. Potash trail is relatively flat. The water crossing we'd heard so much about came quickly.  Today it was no problem to rock hop, fun actually.

Time to leave Downes Brook trail and head up the mountain.

I'd read where an old logging road intersects the trail.  Here it is below; the trail continues directly across, evidence by rock steps and a barely visible arrow. 

Old logging road.

Directly across.  "Steps" that lead up the Mt. Potash trail.

If you are hiking from the Kancamagus up the logging road looking for the trail, it's .85 miles in. Keep looking for the stairs to your right (there is no sign).

The trail is easy to follow, even with a thick bed of newly fallen leaves.

We briefly lost the path but soon found it. Blazes are frequent; just poke around and you'll find another.
There's a nice overlook with a deep slope (we hung on tightly to our poles). 
The start of patches of snow - nothing really slippery.
It gets slabby from this point, nothing too steep or tricky. Views are everywhere.

Not as steep as it looks.

Survey marker at the summit.
The summit was cold and windy so we took a few photos and backtracked about 50 feet (where there's a sheltered spot).  We sat and had lunch in the warm sun.  

On our way back we decided to hop on the log road and walk the Kancamagus Highway back to the trailhead parking.