Mt. Cushman

Climbed Mt. Cushman on 12/23/2016 with Bill and Diane Schor and Bill Cronin. It was a nice bright sunny day with some wind but temps that started out in the 20s and warmed up a little bit. Mt. Cushman is located off Rt 118 west of Lincoln. We entered the woods at the height of land on Rt 118 and started up the ridge to the summit. We only had to gain about 770 feet to reach the summit over 1.5 miles.

Geared up and ready to go
Geared up and ready to go

After we entered the woods there was a short section of Hobble Bush which is difficult to get through with snow shoes on your feet. They tend to trip you and get wrapped around your feet. We made it through that section and we had anywhere from 1 to 2 feet of powdery snow. It was pretty easy going with nothing steep and only a few sections of spruce that were close together.

Bill and Diane making thier way through the woods
Bill and Diane making their way through the woods

We pretty quickly made our way to the summit. We kept thinking we were there but then it would go up a little bit more. The actual summit was in an area of thick spruce and there wasn’t much room so we took a few pictures and then went down to a more open area that was in the sun to eat our PBJs.

Summit of Mt. Cushman
Summit of Mt. Cushman

After eating we started down and somehow Diane fell and because the snow was soft and deep she couldn’t get up. We had a pretty good chuckle about her predicament.

Diane lounging in the snow
Diane lounging in the snow
Bill helping her out
Bill helping her out

We made our way back to the car and made it home before dark, which doesn’t happen to often in winter. Only 66 peaks left to finish the New Hampshire 200 Highest.

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Kearsarge

Hiked Mt. Kearsarge in western New Hampshire on 12/14/2016. This was a New Hampshire 200 Highest peak that was an easy short hike so I could get home in time to go to an evening meeting. It was a bright sunny day with temps in the high 20s but a pretty stiff wind blowing. The trail I chose was in Winslow State Park which is closed for the winter so I had to hike a mile up the access road to get to the start of the trail.

Park Entrance sign
Park entrance sign

Once I reached the trail I put snowshoes on as my feet were slipping and sliding in the light powder snow. There were a few steep rocky sections to the trail but all in all it was a pretty good trail. The summit is open and exposed and with the wind it was pretty chilly so I didn’t linger long. There were good views in all directions. There is a fire tower and cell tower on the summit which detract from what would otherwise be a great place to spend some time on a warmer day.

View looking toward Mt Sunapee on the right side
View looking toward Mt Sunapee on the right side
View in a different direction
View in a different direction
Summit buildings
Summit buildings

I didn’t go up the fire tower as I had my snowshoes on and didn’t feel like taking them off and it was even windier up there. Met up with another hiker on the summit and we hiked down together. We talked hiking at first and then he tried to convince me that the earth was flat. Made for an interesting conversation. Only 67 peaks left to finish the New Hampshire 200 Highest list. I ate my PBJ on the drive home.

Savage and East Spruce

Hiked Savage and East Spruce on 12/11/2016 with Bill Cronin and Bill Schor. It was 5 degrees below 0F when we started.

Dashboard thermometer
Dashboard thermometer

It was a rather chilly start to the day even though it was bright and sunny with no breeze. We started out on a nice open logging road with about 3 inches of snow and lots of animal tracks and some views.

Looking west from the logging road
Looking west from the logging road

We followed the road for a while and then onto an ATV track and then into  the woods with the occasional thick patches of hobble bush which were difficult to walk through.

Bill C and I with Savage in the background
Bill C and I with Savage in the background

Eventually we reached the low point between Savage and East Spruce and we headed up Savage. It was tough going with some thick patches and steep patches and everything covered in snow and blowdowns and we had on snowshoes which make navigating all of the above a little more difficult.

Bill C looking for a way through the spruce
Bill C looking for a way through the spruce
Bill S plowing through the spruce
Bill S plowing through the spruce
Me coming up one of the step spots
Me coming up one of the steep spots

As we approached the summit we hit an area of large blowdowns and deeply drifted snow.

Blowdowns and deep snow
Blowdowns and deep snow

We spent about 15 minutes looking for the summit canister. We finally found it and we all had walked right by it but because it was encrusted with snow we had all completely missed it. In our defense it was smaller than what we were looking for. We signed in and ate our PBJs and then headed down to get over to East Spruce. It was 12 degrees on the summit.

Savage summit canister
Savage summit canister

We were running behind schedule and were concerned about not having enough time to finish the hike before dark. We decided to go for it and despite a couple of small navigational errors we made it to East Spruce.

East Spruce summit canister
East Spruce summit canister

We followed our tracks back a ways and then took an old skidder path that was headed in the right direction that took us down quite a ways to a large logging road. After looking at the GPS we discovered it was only 300 feet through the woods to our track from the morning. We found the track and followed that down to the car. There was an almost full moon so we didn’t have to use our headlamps. It was a balmy 17 degrees when we got back to the car. Only 2 peaks left to finish the New Hampshire 100 Highest and only 68 left to finish the New Hampshire 200 Highest.

Mt. Mary, Middle Pilot and Hutchins

Hiked Mt. Mary, Middle Pilot and Hutchins on 12/4/2016. Bill Cronin joined me on this adventure. We also went over Northwest Pilot but it doesn’t seem to be on any list. Temperature was 25 when we started and was 17 on the summits and was 22 when we got back to the car. There is a trail that starts on private land which the landowner allows hikers to use but no hunting is allowed and no carrying of a gun on his property. The trail goes up 3.4 miles to a cabin which was built by carrying all the materials up the trail. It must have been an awful lot of work and taken a long time.

View from the cabin (it was cloudy)
View from the cabin (it was cloudy)
Cabin near Mt. Mary
Cabin near Mt. Mary

After reaching the cabin we did the short hike up to Mt. Mary. There was a pretty well defined path so you couldn’t call it a bushwhack.

Summit of Mt. Mary
Summit of Mt. Mary

We returned to the cabin and then backtracked along the trail to its highpoint and then bushwhacked up to the summit of Middle Pilot.

Middle Pilot
Middle Pilot

We signed the register and ate our PBJs and then headed off to Northwest Pilot. Not sure how we manged to go in a circle but we were soon back on Middle Pilot. We then started out again this time in the right direction and were soon on the summit of Northwest Pilot where there was a glass bottle which we couldn’t get open.

Northwest Pilot bottle
Northwest Pilot bottle

We then headed off to Hutchins which should have been pretty straight forward but because of a few navigational errors took longer than we thought it would. We got there and signed in and then headed back on the same track, following our footprints in the snow.

Hutchins canister
Hutchins canister

We got to the low point between Hutchins and Northwest Pilot and decided to take a shortcut back to our original trail up Mt. Mary. This turned out to be a bad decision as our route was blocked by cliffs and large blowdowns. We eventually worked our way around all the things in our way but we ended up bushwhacking by headlamp for about 2 hours, not a lot of fun. We got out much later than anticipated. It helped that we had a little bit of moonlight to help us. Only 3 peaks left to finish the New Hampshire 100 Highest.

Mt. Dartmouth and Millen Hill

Hiked Mt. Dartmouth and Millen Hill on 11/28/2016. Bill Schor accompanied me on the hike even though he had already hiked Dartmouth in September, but he didn’t find the canister only the sign. He decided to join me in hopes of finding the canister so he could sign the register. Weather forecast was for some clouds which turned out to be mostly cloudy until afternoon when the sun finally came out. It was 22 degrees when we started and 24 when we got back to the car. We were lucky that the Jefferson Notch road was still open so we were able to drive to the Caps Ridge trail parking lot at 3000 feet and start our hike from there.

 

Jefferson Notch road at the Caps Ridge parking lot
Jefferson Notch road at the Caps Ridge parking lot

Every time I have been to the Caps Ridge lot it has been full to overflowing, but not today.

Caps Ridge parking lot
Caps Ridge parking lot

We started the bushwhack directly across the street from the parking lot. The woods was some small spruce that was hard to get through but after about a 100 yards it opened and was really nice woods for the rest of the hike. We stayed at about 3000 feet until we were near Dartmouth and then we headed up the slope to the summit. There were a few blowdowns but nothing that made things difficult and no thick bands of spruce. We reached the summit area and quickly found the summit sign which appeared to be fairly new.

Me and the summit sign
Me and the Dartmouth summit sign

We then set off in search of the summit canister which we also found quickly, it was only about 100 feet away. I don’t know why the sign and canister aren’t in the same place. We ate our PBJs at the summit. It felt pretty cold but there wasn’t any wind so it was tolerable.

Dartmouth summit canister
Dartmouth summit canister
Summit trees
Summit trees

We followed our track back towards the car but stopped about .4 miles from the road and headed up the slope to Millen Hill. We did run into a short section of many blowdowns but we made our way through them and followed a moose track that took us directly to the summit.

Bill and the Millen Hill summit canister
Bill and the Millen Hill summit canister

We then followed our track back to the car. Below is a GPS track of our trip. The solid red line is the track that Bill took back in September the other line is the track that we took. You can see that we started higher so we had less elevation to gain. It was a pretty easy hike considering it was all bushwhack. Only 6 peaks left to finish the New Hampshire 100 Highest. Millen Hill is on the New Hampshire 200 Highest list, only 69 peaks left to finish that list.

GPS track of our hike
GPS track of our hike

South Hale

Hiked South Hale on 11/23/2016. It was a cloudy day and looked like it might snow but it never did, temperature was 25 when I started. The bushwhack portion of the hike is only about a half mile. I hiked in 2.5 miles on the Zealand trail to the Zealand Falls Hut run by the AMC which is open on a caretaker basis this time of year. That means you have to bring your own sleeping bag and food but can use the kitchen and all the utensils and dishes. There is a wood stove but it doesn’t get started until the sun goes down. The bunkrooms are not heated and can be pretty cold and the bathrooms are also not heated.

Zealand trail with a dusting of snow
Zealand trail with a dusting of snow

The Zealand trail follows the bed of an old logging railroad for most of its route and goes past a string of beaver ponds. The beavers on occasion have flooded the trail.

Beaver pond
Beaver pond

After reaching the hut I hiked about a mile on the Lend-a-Hand trail to reach the start of the bushwhack. The trail has a couple of wet sections and since it wasn’t completely frozen over it was difficult to find my way through without getting wet. The start of the bushwhack is in an open area that is also swampy but I made it through without going over the tops of my boots.

Start of the bushwhack
Start of the bushwhack

I made my way up to the summit ridge and found the first high point which isn’t the true summit. I walked along the summit ridge until I got near what I thought was the true summit. I wandered around and walked within 15 feet of the summit several times before I spotted the canister. I ate my PBJ there even though it was cold and windy, it was 12 noon and time to eat.

Summit of south Hale
Summit of South Hale

I then followed my tracks back to the trail and to the hut where I had some hot water to warm me up. There is a really good view from the front porch of the hut.

View from Zealand Hut
View from Zealand Hut

I stopped briefly on the way down to take a side trip to see Zealand Falls.

Zealand Falls
Zealand Falls

I walked the rest of the way back to the car, didn’t see any other hikers all day. Only 7 peaks left to finish the New Hampshire 100 Highest.

The Fool Killer

Climbed The Fool Killer on 11/19/2016 with Larry Babcock. The weather was bright and sunny with temps in the 30s and 40s, ideal weather for hiking in November and no snow. We started out hiking up the Pine Bend Brook trail until it takes a sharp right hand turn which is where we started the bushwhack. This isn’t the “usual” route but it avoids 7 stream crossings on the Sabbaday Brook trail. The route got steep pretty quickly and we encountered some blowdowns but they weren’t as bad as some I have come across. We followed a nice stream for a while that had several good falls in it.

One of several waterfalls
One of several waterfalls

The route continued to be steep and we encountered some small cliffs to workaround but we eventually reached the long flat summit. Unfortunately we had to walk almost a quarter mile to get to the recognized high point.

Summit canister
Summit canister
Summit sign
Summit sign

Not many pictures today as we were in the woods all day and no views opened up. We ate our PBJs at the summit and then started down. We took a slightly different route that avoided the cliffs and the blowdowns. We were pretty happy with that as it is more difficult to navigate around them going down hill than it is going uphill. Only 8 more peaks left to finish the New Hampshire 100 Highest. Lots of snow predicted in the mountains in the next week which may slow things down.