Last Friday was my 580th Summit of North Uncanoonuc since I started keeping track in 2007. It was also my first time hiking with my 4 month old daughter Acadia. I had to go fast to keep the mosquitoes from landing on her because there was very little wind and it was warm and muggy. At least I was able to keep an eye on things with her in the front pack, and keep them off her. This method will have to do until she gets a little bigger and I can put her in the Kelty pack which has bug netting. We headed up the red dot trail and returned on the blue trail. It was so muggy that the rocks were sweating and wet so i had to watch my footing on the way down so as not to slip with my precious cargo.
On The Trail
I’m slowly chipping away at my NE 100 highest list and Matt is my only friend ambitious enough to try to complete the list as well. This past Friday and Saturday we knocked 3 off the list, The Bulge, The Horn, and Sandwich Mountain (aka Sandwich Dome).
We left my place Friday AM and got to the Unknown Pond trail at 10AM
It had been raining pretty good on the ride up, but for the 2.2 mile hike from Mill Brook Road to Unknown Pond it stopped. Unknown pond was beautiful, but higher elevations looked like they had a little weather.
For the next 2 miles on the Kilkenny Ridge Trail it poured and then started to turn to sleet as we roze in elevation.
The summit of The Horn is up a spur trail. It was pretty cloudy when we got to the first peak of the day. The AMC guide book says The Horn has one of the best views in the whites, but we couldn’t see it
After returning to the Kilkenny Ridge Trail we next bagged our 2nd Peak of the day, The Bulge. The Bulge was a viewless peak marked by nothing more than a very small cairn
From The Bulge it is less than a mile to the summit of Mt Cabot. So we figured we might as well see what this summit looks like when its not winter. After 10 times on this summit, (Matt and I havve woke up in the Cabin on Mt Cabot on January 1st 10 times between 2001-2010) this is my first time here with out snow… well almost it was sleeting and snowing a little.
Matt had his traditional sardines dinner at the summit
From the summit of Cabot we back tracked to my Truck. We got back at 3:45 and hung out on the bridge near the trail head, watched Mill Brook flow and drank cheap beer.
We were going to camp off of Sandwich Notch Road that night but ended up stopping at a bar and hanging out for too long in Berlin, at this point it was really pouring, so we tossed around a few ideas of free places we could sleep that were under cover. Matt got the idea of sleeping in the covered bridge at a golf course on 16 in jackson (thats right you know the one), but when we got there we realized it was lighted inside, next I got the idea of sleeping in the tunnel under the road between Attitash and the Village across the street, but when we got there we found that it too was lighted. As we drove away we found a building nearbye that was half under construction. Framed, roofed and sheathed, but no windows or doors yet. It made a perfect “lean-to” for the night. Saturday we woke up early, early enough before perhaps any construction workers might return. We headed south to Lincoln and stopped and got some grub before driving to the trailhead off of Sandwich Notch Road. We got to the Algonquin trail at 8:15am
The Algonquin Trail just might be my new favorite trail. This trail was way more strenuous than the map made it look. It had a little section of pretty much every kind of terrain that the whites have to offer, also it didnt hurt my feelings that it was snowing for the whole hike. This trail was fun and I highly recomend it!
The Summit of Sandwich Mountain
The summit had no view Saturday. The guide book says it normally has real nice views. However the trail was beautiful
There were a few semi technical scrambles on the trail
On the trail you go over a lesser peak calledBlack Mountain. Apparently this peak has much more severe weather than the higher summit of Sandwich. The landscape was more like an alpine zone, and it was much more windy. This is where the trail junctions with the Black Mountain Pond Trail.
On the way down it actually cleared for a second and we caught a little bit of a view from Black Mountain
There were a bunch of fun scrambles below black mountain
When we got back to the truck around 1pm we had a dirtbag dinner. I even invented a new drink by mixxing pineapple juice and bourbon. Matt suggested I name it. I called it “Gag Reflex” cause it is the most disgusting cocktail ever. I thinks its best if served with Sardines.
The Algonquin Trail was amazing and think it would be even more fun in the winter if your willing to travel Sandwich Notch Road with out a wheeled vehicle.
This was a great weekend and it was cool to get some new peaks, 3 in in all, and Cabot is always fun to revisit. As I’ve mentioned before I have a map of the whites that I highlight every trail ( a practice called redlining )as I hike it and I love to color in new trails when I get home. Almost every step I took this weekend was on new trail.
Clif texted me tuesday, and asked if I wanted to do Whiteface and Passaconaway on Friday? After checking the weather I texted back: “Q: How do you know its time to go Hikiing? A: Its raining.” Because every hike this year we’ve done has been in pouring rain and friday was no different.
This is the 3rd time I’ve done these two peaks, and we picked a good day to get out. While every body else was trampling people at walmart, I was with good friends dodging raindrops and making foot prints in snow.
The rest of the crew: Paul who has his list 10 times over and was on his 11th trip up here, Clif who only has 2 peaks left for his list, and his 2nd trip to these peaks, and Tim who needed these peaks for his 3/4 complete list. and Ian who has only a few peaks, but has begun working on the 48 4k list. It was a great cross section of experience to be with in bad weather.
The crew minus me:
We took the Dicey’s Mill Trail to Passaconaway, the Rollins Trail to Whiteface, then took the Blueberry ledge trail, to the Wiggins trail, which I had’nt hiked before so I was at least able to color in one more trail on my map.
me in the Rain
Cliff and Ian on Viewless Summit of Passaconaway
Tim and Paul near the Summit of Whiteface
Me self portrait on Whiteface
Both the Blueberry ledge and Wiggins Trails were pretty steep descents, and not recomended in slick conditions.
On the way back, about 1 1/2 miles from the trail head, Clifs boot started to fall apart. The soul seperated from the leather upper. We were glad this didnt happen when we were descending the cliffs up higher.
about 1mile from the road, and inspite of efforts to keep it attached, Clifton lost his soul, his boot soul that is.
The make shift grocery bag “liner/soul only helped so much and he had a pretty cold foot by the time we got back to the car.
the remains of the boot:
We were originally going to camp, but were all kind of sick of being wet, and when Paul suggested we go back to his place, where he had recently built an AMC style lean-to in his back woods of his house, it sounded alot more fun than setting up tents in the rain.
Ian filling out the Log in Pauls Homemade shelter ( pretty cool huh?):
Tim went home, and the shelter slept the remaining 4 of us very comfortably.
Sick of sitting around getting fatter while waiting for the snow to fall, I was happy to have been invited hiking by some old friends today. I went with My brother in law Jeremy, my friend Clif and Clif’s father, as well as my friend, Paul.
The original plan was to hike mt cabot today. Jeremy and Clif still needed it for there 48 4000′ list and it had been a long time for me since I had been up there with out snow. Paul was my best friends dad growing up, and the person that instilled in me outdoor ideals that so much make me who I am today. He was out on a 4k for the first time this season since an injury last winter and following operations over the spring and summer. He said this is the longest hes ever went between 4k hikes. Paul now has 10 complete circuits of the 48 4k list and is working on his 11th!!!
When we got to Heaths Gate at the head of the Mount Cabot Trail there was a whole bunch of new signs posting the trail as closed, no tresspassing, keep out, violators will be prosecuted. As you know I’ve been using this closed trail for years, but it seems that the land owner had now stepped up his efforts to keep people out. If it were me alone I would have said screw it and gone, but there were just to many of us in broad daylight to take the chance of legal action. With waumbek being only a few miles away we decided to climb that instead. Jeremy still needed it for his list, and we didnt want to push Paul to much with him being only 5 weeks away from his last surgery.
It was crazy to be that far north this late in the season and not have any snow above 4000 feet yet.We all had rain gear, but hardly had to use it. The heavy rains did not reach that far north until just about the time we were done our hike.
Hiking up Waumbek:
Wildlife on the way:
When we were near the top of Starr King Paul showed us a secret bench he and his other son built a few years back when they were staying up here. Its has a really nice view from it.
We continued on to the summit of Waumbek. It was now starting to rain a little and we noticed it was actually getting warmer the higher we went..
This is only the second time I’ve been up here, but theres a few little novelty things I’m doing for my second circuit, one is I’m taking a self portrait, and the other is I’m picking up a small flat rock and writing the summit name on it with a Sharpie and taking it home. I Think it will be neat to maybe make a coffee table or something when I have all 48 rocks.
Summit Self portrait:
We had left home around for this trip at 4:30 am so, we got back to the car pretty early and made it back home to southern NH before dark. It really was nice to get out with such good friends and have nice laid back hike. This falls been pretty crappy for me and the mental health day was much needed and appreciated.
Its amazing how something so simple as just puting one foot in front of the other until you reach a tangible goal can make you feel so much better.
“You’ve got a headlamp right?” After a certain misadventure a few years ago I learned to always bring a headlamp into the woods. And to check that every ones got a light. However since Josh’s headlamp was sitting on the dashboard on the drive up, I never asked this question, because I thought the answer was obvious until we were on Mt Jefferson.
Josh had drove up from RI so we got a little later start than is needed for this time of year, but we can usually make pretty good time together so we thought we could still bang out the Northern Presis’ before dark. After all Josh has run Boston in under 3 hours and my fastest times in the Whites ever were with him.
We left Pinkham on the TRT around 9:45am and made great time on the ascent. We hit Hermit lake in 64 minutes, and the top at almost exactly 2 ½ hours. Josh started to feel some pain in his knee on the way up but thought it would be ok. The Summit had a crystal clear view when we got there and low winds, and the 18 degree temp felt fine.
We sat and had some pizza at MWO, snapped a few summit shots, and then headed off down the Gulfside Trail. The rocks on the ridge were super hard to walk on with a combination of snow, rime and water ice that wasn’t always visible. By the time we got to sphinx col Josh’s knee was really starting to get sore and tight, it was 2:30 and we were not making very good time at all. I pointed at the Sphinx Trail and said “theres are escape route” and, “ we won’t need to hitchhike back if we take the Madison gulf trail”. We continued on until we hit the Jefferson summit area, where it was already 2:45.
GG and Jefferson
That’s when I asked “you have a headlamp right?” The answer came back: “No, I left it in my car”. I said “Ok then well it looks this is our last summit of the day.” We thought about six husbands, and quickly dismissed it as too dangerous a descent without any traction, or protection. We choose to go back to the Sphinx trail, I did the math in my head and figured out we could take that to the GG trail hit the Madison Gulf trail cross the Auto Road on to Jackson Rd Trail and hit Pinkham right about 6:30, the time when we would be losing the luxury of daylight.
The descent in to great gulf was stinking beautiful stuff. Not a person around, the trail was hard to follow, and the trail which also happens to be the West Branch Brook was super sketchy in lots of places. It took us almost an hour to go the 1.1 miles to the jct of Great Gulf, it was super fun.
It was about 4:15 at this point and we were finally back on trails that we could normally fly on, but Josh’s knee was getting really bad now. And everything else on him was hurting now to from him limping and compensating in other ways. The goal then became the auto rd and Madison Gulf trail jct before dark. I did not want to flirt with staying too late in the woods with the threat of a snow storm moving in. We hit all our following trail junctions on time and ended up at the Auto Road exactly at 6:30 and exactly when, a headlamp would have been essential on the trails.
The Madison Gulf trail crosses the Auto road at the 2 mile mark, and the options from there is walk down the auto road and try to hitch a ride back to Pinkham, or Take the Old Jackson Rd trail 1.6 miles to Pinkham. Josh was hurting so much that I could not talk him into re entering the woods, so we ended up walking on pavement for the rest of our trip. On the Auto Rd I left my lamp off and it was kind of nice just walking down it in the dark, when we got to 16 we walked about another 2 miles before we were picked up by a nice couple. We got back to Pinkham around 9:45. It was a long slow day, and this hike was more mentally tiring for me than it was physically tiring. I knew we were probably the last people left in Great Gulf, and I really didn’t know if his condition was going to become debilitating at any point. Getting back to the Car was a huge relief.
Link to all my photos from the trip:
PS I don’t know why I didnt think of this before, but I have a picture of “My Favorite Trick” from almost every trip, so I’m gonna start signing off my TRs with my favorite trick pic:
My Favorite Trick Great Gulf:
I went up Mt Monadnock with Emily and Eric and Corrina. The foliage was incredible, and so were the crowds. We went to the State Park entrance. There were so many people that it litterally seemed like there was a continuous line top to bottom on the white dot and white cross trail. We took the white cross trail up and it was pretty annoying dealing with all the people. The summit was pretty socked in. Temps in the 30’s and winds in the 40’s. We didnt hang out long up top, and came back down the pumpelly to cascade brook. there were a few others, but for the most part we were alone. That trail is probably at least a mile longer but I still think it was faster than waiting in line. The Pumpelly ridge was beautiful.