Sunday, March 6, 2016

Mt.Cabot (WINTER 4K 13/48), March 5, 2016

Mt. Cabot (4170') via York Pond, Bunnell Notch and Kilkenny Ridge Trails, 3/6/2016.

Miles: 9.6  miles (RT)

Elevation gain: 2792'

Trailhead:  The trail begins at the Berlin Fish Hatchery, Berlin, N.H. Arrive in Berlin on Route 16 then head west on Rt. 110 for approximately seven miles towards Milan. Turn left at the Berlin Fish Hatchery sign onto York Pond Road. Follow paved road through a residential area and into the White Mountain National Forest. Continue straight and pass through a gate marking the entrance to the Berlin Fish Hatchery (this gate may close after 4 p.m. though lately they have been keeping it open). You will then pass a small pond on your left and several hatchery tents. Continue going straight onto an unpaved road and the trailhead is on the left across from the fish run.

Hiked with Rich, Felice and Andrea today.  I'd hiked Mt. Cabot before but never in winter (see previous trip report). 

The temp was 9° at the trailhead with the forecast promising up in the 20s.  It snowed a few inches during the week and we brought our snowshoes as recent trail reports recommended using them at the higher elevations.  We wound up wearing Microspikes from start to finish.

Trail begins at this gate.

This hike's elevation gain is moderate and the first mile is on an old logging road, giving us plenty of time to warm up (unlike our recent Cannon Mountain hike which started steep, stayed steep - see trip report).  Smith/Dickerman's The 4000-Footers of the White Mountains describes this mountain as, "a wonderful climb in winter with reliably deep snow and moderate grades ideal for snowshoeing."  The group was looking forward to this "wonderful climb."

Trail starts out on old logging roads.

Bunnell Notch trail junction is just a few hundred yards from parking.

Several small water crossings, bog bridges.
The Bunnell Notch trail follows a logging road with a few dips (small water crossings - easy), then ducks into the woods where the trails starts a moderate climb.

Love the shadows in this photo.
We follow a brook the first mile of the BNT.

Kilkenny Ridge trail (and Mt. Cabot summit) straight ahead.
The day is bright and the sunny sections warm and intense (we slowed down at these sections to grab the warmth).  

Until the Kilkenny Ridge trail reaches the Mt. Cabot trail at 3.4 miles, it (and the Bunnell Notch trail) meanders through the woods, taking you through a handful of small ascents and descents.  
That was about to change at the Mt. Cabot, Kilkenny Ridge trail junction.

Mt. Cabot and Kilkenny Ridge trails are combined at this point.

The "Mt. Cabot Trail" sign was confusing to me.  Left would take us on the unmaintained Mt. Cabot trail. Right is also the Mt. Cabot trail and the Kilkenny Ridge trail, a maintained trail. This sign must've confused others as someone wrote on it "Mt. Cabot" and drew in an arrow.  So, we headed right.  The path begins narrow and somewhat grown in.  
Here is where we started climbing, maneuvering around several icy spots. We knew the bulk of the elevation gain would come soon as we weren't doing any substantial gain on Bunnell Notch or Kilkenny Ridge trails - and here it was!    We were skirting the rise on a narrow path, negotiating up a series of switchbacks, a moderate but steady climb.

Andrea heading up toward the cabin.

Viewage to our right!

There's a wonderful view on a short path to our right (at 3.8 miles). Highly recommended!

Viewpoint (from Bunnell Rock).

Heavy with snow, the path steepens, heading toward the cabin.

What seemed like a long distance from the Mt. Cabot/Kilkenny Ridge trail junction is in fact one mile of steady up.  The reward is great. We topped out on a level spot with an outhouse, and around the corner, the cabin.
Cabin area (outhouse on the right).

We continued beyond the cabin to a wonderful viewpoint (where a firetower once stood), then to the summit, a small marker on the back side of a tree located several yards behind the summit sign.
Wonderful viewpoint.
At the summit sign (which is not the actual summit)

The "Scrabble Couple," hikers from Westford, MA, took our photo at the summit before continuing their tradition of spelling the name of the peak in Scrabble tiles on top of the summit marker and photographing it.

Summit marker several yards behind the sign  (on the back side of the tree).

We all returned to the cabin and hung out in the sunshine, trying to entice two gray jays the size of small chickens down from the trees.

The cabin.

Coaxing those big-ass gray jays down from the trees.

We were getting chilled  - even in the sun's warmth.  So, reluctantly, we headed down (gingerly negotiating those few icy spots).

Heading down.

We were back at the car at 2:40, headed for a beer in Gorham.