Thursday, May 13, 2010

Mounts Potash and Hedgehog, May 13, 2010

This was once again a Wednesday Group hike. Since most of the group are retired, and the forecast was for much better weather on Thursday, the hike was postponed to that date. Once again temperatures dipped below freezing overnight, and I left home with the legs on my convertible pants, a fleece jacket and hat.

The plan was to combine two short, but very scenic, hikes that start at the same trailhead for a full day of hiking. Since we had heard that the stream crossing on the Mount Potash Trail was difficult we opted to drive 0.6 miles to the logging road that meets the trail, avoiding the crossing.


This is a fully interactive Google Map. You can zoom in or out, pan, and by clicking on the parking icon you can get directions to the trailhead.

View Mount Potash and Hedgehog Mountain in a larger map

Mount Potash

We followed the logging road for about 0.8 miles, then entered the woods.  At that time the weather had warmed enough for me to take off the fleece, but I still kept the pant legs on.  The hike up was mostly in the woods, with a few steep sections and long stretches of eroded trail, with roots running over bare rock.  Shortly before the final summit ascent there is an open ledge with excellent views to the south, with Mount Passaconaway dominating the view, with the Downes Brook slide clearly visible.

The final ascent was over steep ledges, we were too busy trying to get up to have time for pictures!  The summit has excellent views to the north and west.  To the north the view is dominated by Mount Carrigain, with the Hancocks to the west and Green's Cliff to the south

To the west the Tripyramids and their neighbors, I think this photo shows West Sleeper, the Tripyramids and Scaur Peak, with the Fool Killer in the foreground

Mount Washington was visible in the distance, my photos were bad, here is one taken by another member of our group

The day had warmed up nicely, and we spent about 20 minutes on the summit, snacking, talking, enjoying the scenery and just relaxing.

Descending the steep ledge was tricky, but we all got down, and soon were on the outlook.  We paused briefly there, and I finally converted my pants to shorts.  It was warm enough that, with us standing still, a few black flies appeared, not really enough for bug spray.  The rest of the descent was uneventful.  Two members of the group were red lining, so they decided to follow the trail to the parking lot; they reported that the stream crossing was quite easy.

Hedgehog Mountain

After regrouping at the trailhead we started our second hike, on the UNH Trail on Hedgehog Mountain.  As usual we did a clockwise loop.  Fairly low down we saw a very interesting tree (photo by a fellow hiker):

The hike was pretty standard until we reached the east ledges, where we stopped for 40 minutes, enjoying once again the views, the company and the wonderful weather.  Wide open views to the south, but different from those on the south ledge of Mount Potash as we were further east.  We saw the whole range from Mount Passaconaway to Mount Chocurua and the Three Sisters, but my camera was mainly drawn to the latter.  A photo of Mount Chocuua and the Three Sisters

and a close up of Mount Chocurua's rugged summit

The ledge had a wonderful stone bench which I quickly claimed

After our long and delightful stop on the ledges we resumed the hike, with some nice ledge walking, a moderate descent, and a final steep climb to the summit.  We took brief stops at most of the viewpoints, but by then were pretty much photographed out.  From the summit we descended straight to the parking lot, omitting a visit to Allen's Ledge.

All in all an extremely enjoyable hike on a wonderful day.  We got a decent workout, 8.6 miles and 2,850 feet of elevation gain, without ever being above 2,600 feet!

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Mounts Stanton and Pickering, plus four Crippies, May 5, 2010

I often hike with the Wednesday Group, a group of mainly retired active hikers.  For about ten months of the year we do 4,000 footers, but during the transition period between solid snow and bare trails we go into "snow avoidance mode".  This leads us to explore the lower peaks, some well known (two weeks ago we did South and Middle Moat), some less so.  Yesterday's hike on the Mount Stanton Trail, over Mounts Stanton and Pickering and the four Crippies, falls into the latter category.


This is a fully interactive Google Map. You can zoom in or out, pan, and by clicking on the trailhead icon you can get directions to the trailhead.

View Mt Stanton Trail in a larger map

We had planned to meet at 9 AM at the trailhead, and most of the group were there, ready to hike, when I arrived a few minutes before 9.  We soon received cell phone calls from two car-fulls of lost hikers, and dispatched a car to where the road to the trailhead leaves Rt 302.  While waiting several hikers leaned their poles against the trail sign

After the lost hikers were rescued we started off.  The trail follows the edge of a driveway for a short distance

then enters the woods.  It starts off fairly gently, but then there are a couple of very steep sections, with gravelly footing that was "interesting" on the way down.  We reached the first of many viewpoints, with views of Mout Kearsarge to the east and the slopes of Attitash (with a few remaining patches of snow) to the south.  From the first viewpoint I took an interesting photo of our cars barely visible through the trees on the side of the road, down below

A view of Mount Kearsarge, with the tower barely visible

After a second steep pitch we reached the first summit, Mount Stanton.  We stopped for a sit down snack, with an excellent view of Mount Washington, with the summit structures just visible

On group hikes I am always amused by the self assured way in which some participants mis-identify the surrounding mountains; as we were a fairly large group some remarkable identifications were suggested!  We then saddled up for the continuation of our hike.  Until now we had been going up; we were now about to start a series of ups and downs over Mount Pickering and the four Crippies.  At the bottom of the first descent, in the col between Mounts Stanton and Pickering, there is a boundary marker, in a red cairn, marking the White Mountain National Forest boundary.  Lots of red paint on trees, witness trees, and all the paraphernalia of a boundary marker; I just photographed the red cairn

We made a second, briefer, stop on Mount Pickering, the continued over the Crippies only stopping on the fourth (and final) one for lunch

The group as a whole returned the way we had come, but a few continued to do the loop over Mount Langdon, returning to a spotted car at the Mount Langdon trailhead.  We were at our cars around 2:40, after a very pleasant hike.  The distance was 6.8 miles with 2,450 feet of elevation gain, 1,000 of them straight up, and the rest in bits and pieces as the trail undulated over the many summits.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Exploring Mount Prospect, Holderness, NH

I enjoy exploring trails that are off the beaten track, and had read a description of the trail up Mount Prospect, and downloaded a GPS track from Wikiloc. The forecast for today was for a sunny morning, with rain and maybe thunderstorms in the early afternoon. The ideal day for a short morning exploration!!

My GPSr guided me to the trailhead high up on Mount Prospect Road, where a car was parked by the roadside. There is room for perhaps three cars there. This is as good a place as any to put a map of my trip.  The embedded map is a fully interactive one, you can zoom in or out, pan, and clicking on the parking icon will allow you to ask for directions to the trailhead.

View Mt Prospect in a larger map

The trail enters the woods and descends to a small stream, crosses it and then rises. The first part of the trail is nice and wide (two or three feet) with wonderful footing, I felt that it would almost be possible to hike barefoot!

After some time the trail became somewhat narrower and rougher; more trail-like:

After about 1.3 miles the trail forked, with the fork marked by a small cairn and an arrow on a tree:

The arrow points to the right fork, which goes to two viewpoints, both looking south to the Squam Range, Squam Lake and the mountains further south.

The second outlook is the destination for most hikers; beyond it the trail narrows and shows much less use.  It continues to a round rock with a cairn and a survey benchmark

I though that was the summit, but a spur path did lead to a slightly higher point.

The path had forked before the viewpoints, the other branch also reached the rock with the benchmark.  I returned by that branch, it had no viewpoints so was obviously much less used, but still was reasonably easy to follow.

About half way down I noticed a spur trail, which I hoped would go to a westerly viewpoint looking towards Plymouth.  I followed it for some time, and it kept going on, downward.  I suspect that it leads to the road, but as time was running out decided to leave its exploration for another day.  While on it I saw my first Painted Trilliums of the year, including one just starting to open up

All in all a very worthwhile short hike, about 1½ miles each way with around 1,000 feet of elevation gain.