New Hampshire Blitz, 11 Peaks in a Week
July 5 - 10, 2005

by Papa Bear

(Photo of Passaconaway)
Mount Passaconaway from the Rollins Trail
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New Hampshire Blitz

Tuesday July 5th - The Hancocks
Wednesday July 6th - The Tripyramids

Thursday July 7th - Passaconaway, Whiteface and East Sleeper
Friday July 8th - Sandwich and Tecumseh
Sunday July 10th - Vose Spur and Nancy


New Hampshire Blitz: 11 peaks in a week

T

his summer there was a good possibility that I would go to Labrador for an extended trip. However, for various reasons, that trip did not happen. So I had a whole summer to fill with hiking (among other things). I thought, perhaps I could finish up on the peakbagging lists I was working on. Those were the New England Hundred Highest (including the NH 4000 footers) and the New England Fifty Finest. I had already decided that Mount Carrigain would be my last peak on these lists since it was on both lists (as well as the NH 48 and the NE 67 which are included in the HH). I would shoot for Carrigain for October. My birthday is near the Columbus weekend so that was a nice medium term goal. Before this trip, this is where I stood:

Maine: Hundred Highest - all done, Fifty Finest - 4 to go
Vermont: Hundred Highest - 8 to go, Fifty Finest - 1 to go
New Hampshire (not including Carrigain): Hundred Highest - 14 to go, Fifty Finest - all done

So I decided to spend a week in New Hampshire in late June to try and knock off what I could from that state and another week in early July to get what I could in Maine. The problem with my 4 FF peaks in Maine is that they are all hundreds of miles distant from each other. The New Hampshire peaks were much more concentrated. As for Vermont, I'd have to get up there in August. Family constraints caused me to combine the New Hampshire and Maine trips into a single two week period following the 4th of July. Thus occurred my "blitz". Of the 13 days available, I managed to hike all but 1. I did all 14 NH peaks, two of the Maine FF peaks and threw in an AT section I had earlier missed as well as the impressive Tumbledown Mountain, both in Maine. I've been recovering ever since!

Thanks to all my VFTT friends who hiked with me over this blitz. It's always more fun when you do things with friends.

This report is the first of four which cover my hikes and climbs during two weeks in July. The second report covers the peakbagging I did in Maine from July 11 - 14, The third covers the AT Section hike I did on July 12th and the last report is of the 3 last peaks on my New Hampshire to-do list which I did on the weekend of July 15-17. To go to the other reports, click on the entry below:

Blitz part 1: New Hampshire - 11 peaks in a week (this report)
Blitz part 2: Peakbagging in Maine
Blitz part 3: An AT Section Hike in Maine
Blitz part 4: A Long Weekend in the White Mountains


Mount Hancock and South Hancock: July 5, 2005


(photo of Arrow Slide)

The Arrow Slide on North Hancock
T

uesday was a travel day. I had stayed with my son in the Boston area for the long weekend. On Tuesday morning I picked up a rental car, dropped my wife off at the bus station for her return for New York, and headed up I-93. I had chosen the Hancocks for the first day since it looked like an easy pair to fit into half a day's hiking. "Doc McPeak" was interested in doing some hikes during the week also, so he and I agreed to meet at the outlook parking lot by the hairpin turn on the Kancamagus Highway (the "Kanc") by noon on Tuesday. I got off at the Lincoln exit from I-93, stopped at the Forest Service office and bought my Golden Age pass. It's $10 for life and lets my park free (among many other things) in the Whites. So at least there is something you can look forward to as you reach retirement age!

I got to the appointed place a bit after 11:30 and there was Doc McPeak with his beaten up pickup truck waiting. It was warm and humid with some clouds. Rain was forecast for the late afternoon, so we did not delay.

We got moving at about 11:45. The Hancock Notch Trail follows the valley of the North Fork up on the south side. The trail was fairly easy going in this first section and we could occasionally hear the stream below us on our left. After a couple of miles we got to the Cedar Brook Trail which goes off to the left and immediately crosses the North Fork. This trail then crosses Cedar Brook over and over. The book says 5 times but I though I counted 6. Maybe I was counting that first crossing at the start of the trail which technically is not Cedar Brook. Along this stretch we saw a group of young campers with a couple of leaders in a clearing with a no camping sign. They were scouting for a camping spot where they would set up and then do the loop over the two peaks. Doc McPeak said "Are you going to camp under that no camping sign?" with a little sarcasm. The leader said no we're just looking around.

Soon we got to the Loop Trail which heads up to the right. Doc McPeak stashed some water and we headed up the North Link Trail since we would be going up clockwise. We soon passed a group of about 6 workers on an AMC trail crew. They were putting in rock steps and we managed not to get clobbered by any boulders they were tossing down the slope. They were all pretty young and it was very hard, rough work. I thanked them for the service they were doing us, but they were just happy to get us past them so they could get back to work. The trail then got rather steep. Or maybe very steep. Or as my notes said "very very steep". Or as the book said "unrelievedy" steep. It was hot and humid and this first climb of my "blitz" really exhausted me. But all things eventually come to an end and at 2:45 I reached the North Hancock summit where Doc McPeak was waiting. We went off and enjoyed the lookout a few
(photo of break)
Taking a break on North Hancock
yards off to the side and enjoyed a lunch break. I was a little short on water but I had also brought a liter of Gatorade, and with the climb behind me, I would be OK.

We got moving along the ridge at about 3:00 PM and it was an easy and beautiful trail. Along the way we began to pass small groups of the campers we had met below coming the other way. They were all pretty exhausted from the similarly steep climb of South Hancock they had just done. One poor kid had a bad blister and the leader had to borrow a band-aid from me! He blamed the camp nurse for not putting band-aids in the first aid kit (duh!). But I said, shouldn't you have checked the kit before leaving (double duh!). Anyway, moving right along, we soon reached the South Peak. It was just an hour from the North Peak. The South Peak was more "Pointy" than the North, and although I've heard some say that this peak really lacks enough prominence to qualify as a legitimate 4000 footer, it stands out clearly from the ridge and looked to me very much like a "legitimate" mountain.

The descent was very steep like our previous ascent on the north side, but the trail seemed less rough. Perhaps it was the trail work being done there, but this side seemed to have a better trail. We got down and Doc McPeak retrieved his water (which I shared - thanks!) and we were off back to the car. We passed a camp that was set up by the trail crew. They had big heavy tents and it was clear they were living, as well as working on the trail for an extended period.They were lucky the stream was close by so they could get a cooling dip after a hard, dirty day's work. We recrossed the stream 5, or was it 6 times, and got back to the Hancock Notch Trail. I stayed a few minutes to rinse my shirt and hat in the stream and Doc McPeak went on ahead. It was threatening rain.

By the time I got back to the parking lot, it was raining in earnest, but it was a pleasure to get cooled off and washed off. I reached the car at 6:10 PM. It was a good, if exhausting, first day. I managed to get my stuff back into the car and changed without getting everything soaked. Tonight I would have a brew and dinner at the Woodstock Station and then check into the beautiful Mooselauke Ravine Lodge, where I would stay until Sunday. The blitz had begun.

Mount Hancock and South Hancock: #40 and #41 (of the White Mountains 48 4000 footers)
Distance hiked: 9.8 miles
Elevation gained: 2650'
Time: 6:25
Photos: Hancocks Album


Mount Tripyramid, North and Middle Peaks: July 6, 2005


(photo of Tripyramid)

Mount Tripyramid from Passaconaway
I

  had a nice small room at the Lodge on the lower floor (away from the noise) and as it turned out, it was a private room for the entire stay. My stuff was mostly dry from the previous day's rain. I was up at 10 minutes to 6 and off before 6:15. I was much too early for the Lodge's breakfast, so I headed down to Peg's in North Woodstock, one of my favorite breakfast spots. After a scrumptious breakfast of blueberry pancakes with bacon, I got moving again. I was going to meet Doc McPeak at 7:30 at the start of Tripoli Road. It turned out he could not make it - he had met an old friend and for various reasons the Tripyramids was not possible for them today. So I was on my own.

It was a cloudy day, with showers forecast off and on all day. I was concerned about the slides, but I would decide what to do when I got there. I had decided to go up the Cascade Path which was said to be more interesting than Livermore Road/Trail, so I found my way to Snow's Mountain parking lot (it's no small accomplishment to find your way anywhere in Waterville Valley's endless loops of roads!) I was off by 8:45, and had a little trouble finding the trail. I crossed a few roads and passed an area of newly built homes and finally got into the woods. The trail was muddy and the gnats were numerous. Those are the little buggers that swarm around your head and although you know they don't really bite, they are extremely annoying.

The Cascade Path supposedly goes along a series of cascades but I seemed to get side tracked and the trail and ended up back on the Livermore Trail sans cascades. The trail system is more complicated than either the book or map would seem to indicate, but it was a hot, humid buggy day, so I was just glad to be moving along.

The Livermore Trail is basically a straight flat road that rises gently along the side of the river. There was one impressive cascade a little past where I got onto this trail, so I did not entirely miss this impressive sight. I took a break at the turnoff to the South Slide (which I would not be taking) but the mosquitoes were there in force so I did not tarry. I moved along up to the North Slide turnoff and considered whether I should climb it. It was starting to sprinkle and more showers looked immanent,so I decided to move on and climb the mountains via the Scaur
(photo of Tripyramid)
A cascade seen from the Livermore Trail
Ridge Trail instead of tackling the North Slide. This turned out to be a good decision since it rained fairly hard throughout the rest of the day. I was getting a "hot spot" on my right heel, so I took some time out to put some Vaseline on it so it wouldn't develop into a full fledged blister. I realized at this point I should have worn my gaiters since things were getting wet, but that was that, and onward I trudged.

The Scaur Ridge Trail roughly parallels the North Slide but it is fairly easy since it follows first the side and then the top of a ridge. Although a bit longer, it is much less steep. It reaches the top of the ridge where it meets the Pine Bend Brook Trail which takes you across to the summit along a beautiful ridge walk. It was now raining fairly steadily, but I felt fine.The rain actually was cooling and kept the bugs down. Just before the summit of North Tripyramid, the trail climbs over a series of rock ledges and then suddenly you are at the tippy top of a very pointy rocky summit.

The North Slide trail enters just before the top and there are several views. Views of rainy clouds! Actually the rain was less right at the top. I think perhaps I was in the clouds at this elevation and the rain was mostly below me. I reached the summit at 11:30, took my last picture of the day and after a short break, headed off across the ridge to Middle Tripyramid. The descent from the peak was easier in this direction and I soon passed the Sabaday Trail coming up on the left. The Middle peak is lower and definitely easier in the last few hundred feet of elevation. I got there at 12:06 but it was too rainy for a picture. I started moving along towards South Tripyramid, but since I was apprehensive about descending the South Slide in the rain - I figured it might be a river of mud - I decided to turn around and return via the Scaur Ridge Trail. Friends told me later that the South Slide would probably have been fine in the rain, but I'll just have to save both slides for another, nicer day.

Getting back was mostly a repeat of the trip up, even including a pause in the rain on the top of the North Peak. The wet boulders were not too bad going down off North Tripyramid, and the ridge walk and the Scaur Ridge Trails were as easy as before. I was however getting tired, since I had added a few miles to an already long day. The rain continued unabated and as I got to the Livermore Trail it became a long slog. I had to go back via the Cascade Path to get to my car,so I took the turn across the stream and got to that trail. But soon after the link trail crosses the stream to where the trail heads over into the rolling hills above Waterville Valley, a bike trail goes straight ahead. This was shown on the map and seemed to be a way to avoid some PUDs, so I followed the bike trail which stayed closer to the stream. This was very muddy and offered little or no advantage, but at least I saw some new (and wet) scenery.

I finally arrived back at the car at 3:20 and mercifully the rain finally let up. I packed my wet stuff into the car, changed to dry clothes, and started back to Lincoln. I was early today so I would enjoy dinner at the Lodge, which was great, I stuffed newspapers into my wet boots and by morning they were largely dry. It was a long, wet day but a successful one. The blitz continues!

Mount Tripyramid, North and Middle Peaks: #42 and #43
Distance hiked: 13.6 miles
Elevation gained: 3200'
Time: 6:35
Photos: Tripyramids Album


Mount Passaconaway, Mount Whiteface and East Sleeper: July 7th 2005


(photo of The Bowl)

The Bowl: an impressive ravine between Passaconaway and Whiteface
T

his would be my earliest rising of the week, since I had the longest to go to get to the trailhead. I got up at 5:10 AM and trudged to the car through the drizzle. This was not the way to start a day. As I drove down the long hill to get to North Woodstock it was rain all the way. I had another breakfast of pancakes and bacon at Pegs and was back on the road a little after 6:30. Hey! The rain had stopped - well glory be! The clouds were breaking and bits of blue sky showed through. It looked like it would be a good day after all. Thank goodness.

I took I-93 down to Exit 24 (Ashland) and got onto Route 3/25 and went east to Squam Lake where I picked up Route 113. This was a windy hilly road but when I turned onto Route 113A in North Sandwich it became windier and hillier. Then I saw a first for me: a New Hampshire Moose. I've seen many a Maine Moose but nary a New Hampshire one. He was ambling across the windy road, and If I had tried, I could have hit him (or her). It was a medium sized, dark colored yearling and I can see why so many of them get hit. They don't really seem to know what to do when crossing a road.

I got to Ferncroft at 7:50 AM, and found the parking lot with no problem. There was another couple who had just arrived, and I asked if they were the ones I was supposed to meet. I had arranged to meet another VFTT hiker at 8:00 but this couple was not the one. I got myself ready but eventually left without my partner. I found out later there was an alarm clock problem. No harm done!

I was off to Passaconaway. I chose Passaconaway first instead of Whiteface so I would get both 4000 footers in before the turnoff to East Sleeper, so I could skip that Hundred Highest peak if things went badly. I was very happy to choose this direction, since the trails and the views seem to unfold naturally this way. And for once I had good weather and good views.

I passed the other couple where the trails to Passaconaway (the Dicey Mills Trail) and Whiteface (the Blueberry Ledges Trail) split. They were also going to Passaconaway so I would see them again later. I passed by a bucolic farm house and then got into the woods. The area around Ferncroft where the trails begin is all privately owned, but the local hiking club (the WOC or Wonaloncet Outdoors Club) has very good relations with the neighbors. It's good to remember that these relationships take years to foster and we hikers should be very careful to respect the property and privacy of these people. It's a lovely area and a beautiful way to start a hike into the Sandwich Wilderness.

The day was still cloudy with a few patches of blue sky with temperatures in the 60°s. Perfect hiking weather. The Dicey Mills trail was easy and "well tramped". The WOC maintains the trails in this area, and without exception they were well built and well maintained. My right heel was still sore, especially on the up hills. I knew there was some sort of a blister there and tonight I needed to pop it. But for now it wasn't too bad. The trail got steep yet was still well built. At 10:00 o'clock the sun came out! Halleluia! Around 10:30 I saw a group of 8 - 10 kids with a leader coming down. They had camped near the top of Passoconaway at Camp Rich. I soon reached the side trail to the camp and to the summit, and as usual the going got steep and rocky. But there was actually a series of switchbacks near the top and a great viewpoint near the summit with views of the Franconia Ridge to the north and the Tripyramids to the west. I reached the summit at 11:13 AM. This was #44 of the White Mountain 4000 footers for me. I decided to take care of the blister: I popped it and put on a dab of antiseptic and some moleskin and immediately it was more comfortable walking.

I returned to the Dicey Mills trail and met the couple from the parking lot who were coming up. It had turned into a beautiful day, and we exchanged pleasantries. I said that I was going on to Whiteface with a side trip to East Sleeper (which they had not heard of). They would return on the Dicey Mill Trail. Soon I reached the Rollins Trail which followed the ridge around to Whiteface. The Rollins Trail was rougher and probably received less usage, but the ridge walk was nevertheless quite beautiful. The ridge circles a valley know as The Bowl, which I understand is a largely untracked wild area. It would be nice to explore it some day. There were views across to the multiple bumps of Whiteface, and then as I made my way around, there were views back to Passaconaway. After several false summits, I
(photo of East Sleeper)
The East Sleeper summit
reached the unassuming and unmarked true summit of Whiteface and took the requisite photos. The striking (but lower) South Peak, with it's fantastic views would come later. I soon reached the intersection with the Kate Sleeper Trail and it was time for a break. Unfortunately the mosquitoes had come out with the sun and my respite had to be brief.

The Kate Sleeper Trail and the Sleepers themselves are one of the softest mellowest ridges in the Whites that I have seen. After dropping down off of the Whiteface summit cone, the trail traverses an open, verdant area with moss, ferns and Wood Sorrel underneath, and Spruce and Firs above. The whole ridge from Whiteface to the Tripyramids lies above 3400 feet and it is a strikingly lovely high ridge. The hike is a very easy 1.8 miles to East Sleeper, which lies on a short side trail from the main trail. In keeping with the easy going nature of this area, the side trail doesn't just shoot over to the high point, it ambles over, taking it's time to get there! It took about 50 minutes of easy walking to reach East Sleeper and about the same time to return to Whiteface.

Once again the mosquitoes kept me from taking much of a break, so I hurried on to Whiteface's South Peak. This is a spectacular open summit with views in all directions. Especially impressive was the view of Mout Chocorua towards the east. I would not blame anyone coming up to this point from thinking this is it, this is the summit. The true summit which I had passed earlier is totally anticlimactic in comparison. I met a young couple coming out as I started down the Blueberry Ledges Trail. He was surprised to see someone up here so late (it was about 3:45) and so I told him I had come by way of Passaconaway and East Sleeper. He said some of the ledges coming up were quite "interesting". And yes they were!

The ridge back down dropped over a series of truly awesome ledges of probably Class 3 difficulty. It would probably be easier going up, but with care and deliberate moves it wasn't all that bad going down. I thought these must be the "Blueberry Ledges", but where were the blueberries? Well, after about 45 minutes of pleasant ridge walking below the steep ledges, I found them. Near the bottom of the ridge there were what seemed like a mile of sloping ledges with yes! blueberries. The sun was now bright and the ledges were steep enough to be tiring, and they did go on! I'm glad they were not wet. This must be interesting when they are wet or icy.

But today's beautiful hiking in good weather finally came to an end when I reached the car just before 6. With the long drive back I would not make dinner at the Lodge, so the Woodstock Station beckoned! This was the longest day yet, but it was best day so far, and the blitz had turned quite pleasurable.

Mount Passaconaway: #44; Mount Whiteface: #45; East Sleeper #85 (of the New England Hundred Highest)
Distance hiked: 15.5 miles
Elevation gained: 4310'
Time: 9:30
Photos: Passaconaway, Whiteface and East Sleeper Album


Sandwich Dome and Mount Tecumseh: July 8th, 2005

Sandwich Dome

F

riday dawned with sun on Mooselauke across the valley. Temperatures were moderate and the humidity was not bad. I got going by 6:00 AM, and headed down the long hill to North Woodstock for my morning tryst with Peg. That's Peg's breakfast restaurant. After the usual pancakes and bacon, I was off to the Waterville Valley to meet "vegematic" at the Sandwich Mountain trailhead.

On the way I had the pleasure of passing a Wild Turkey hen with a 8 - 10 chicks at the side of the road. I hope they stayed out of harm's way. I wondered whether to take Tripoli Road or to go down 2 more exits on I-93 and take Route 49 up to the trail head. I opted for Tripoli Road. I just hoped I wouldn't get lost in Waterville Valley looking for the trailhead, but I had no problem at all.

I met vegematic at the parking lot and we were off at 7:55 AM. It had become a bit hazy with low lying clouds which would hurt the views, but it was cool and not too humid. Perfect hiking weather.

The trail starts easy and then gets steeper and rockier. But soon we reached a ridge and a lovely ridge walk. We took the short side trail to Jennings Peak but things were socked in so there were no views. The lay of the land indicated
(photo of The Sandwich)
Sandwich Dome seen from the trail
there would be great views here of the entire Waterville Valley so this is on my lists of places to revisit. Perhaps this Fall.

We resumed out ridge walk to Sandwich Dome and except for a steep section near the top, it was a pleasant hike. The partly open summit consisted of a small clearing with some rocks which constituted the high point. There was no sign of a large cairn I had heard about (to raise the peaks elevation above 4000') so I guess the wilderness police had done away with it. A couple of trails from the east joined the main trail just before the summit. It's a nice peak, which would have nice views on a better day and also deserves a spot on my revisit list. Interestingly, Sandwich Dome is the highest sub 4000' peak in New England, and the afternoon's target, Tecumseh, is the lowest 4000 footer. We took the requisite photos and had some lunch before starting back.

To get some variety on this viewless day, we decided to take the Drake's Brook trail back to the cars. This follows a ravine down off the peak rather than the ridge and is marginally longer but it looked interesting on the map. We turned right onto this trail just below the side trail to Jennings Peak and we were well rewarded by our choice. We passed numerous cascades and rills and in the later part of the trail we followed an old woods road which afforded easy walking. It was a nice choice and provided a pleasant loop. We returned to the cars at 12:41. A great and easy morning hike.

Sandwich Dome: (#85 of HH) and Jennings Peak
Distance hiked: 8.7 miles
Elevation gained: 2750'
Time: 4:45
Photos: Sandwich Album


Mount Tecumseh

O

ur next goal for the day was Mount Tecumseh. We would take the "short route" which goes up along the Waterville Valley ski slopes. We drove up to the end of Route 49, took a left onto Tripoli Road and then in about another mile took the left fork at the Waterville Valley Ski Area sign. Tripoli Road continues north on the right fork, but the left fork is by far the more prominent road. We drove around in the near-empty parking lot, and finally spotted the trailhead sign. If you go there, you should park at the near end (right end facing up hill) of the highest parking lot (not counting the top most road which goes left to the ski buildings). The trail starts just across the road to the right.

The trail crosses a small stream over easy stepping stones at the very start. I was fiddling with my hiking poles and managed to step into the drink and soak one foot. Duh! Great start!

The trail consists of three sections. The first is a moderate climb through open woods with a descent and crossing of Tecumseh Brook followed by reascent of the valley heading towards the ski slopes. The trail turns right here with a short side trail heads straight a few yards to the ski slope, affording views to the north. Apparently the trail used to climb on the actual ski trail and this side trail is a remnant of that older trail route.

The next section is a relentless climb on a steep, rough, straight, boring woods road which parallels the ski slope straight up to the top of the ridge. This was my least favorite trail section of the day if not of the week. We finally reached the top of the ridge where the Sosman Trail came in from the left. That trail apparently crosses to the top of the ski slope where access to Tecumseh can be gained either by climbing the ski slope or taking the tram up when it is operating.

The last section was the most fun and interesting. A lovely ridge walk soon took us to an intersection where a sign pointed to the summit both to the left and to the right. It was obviously a loop so we decided to take the left fork.
(photo of Tecumseh)
The Tecumseh summit
This became a rough rocky trail which circled the summit to the south and finally arrived at the top. Tecumseh has an interesting summit: it is a fairly regular dome shaped peak with a large rocky crag sticking up at the top. It was this crag which we circled to gain the summit.

We arrive at the top at 2:46 PM. Not a bad climb. There were three trails leaving the wooded summit area: the one we had come up (from the south), one heading towards the west (which continues the Tecumseh Mountain Trail down to Tripoli Road), and one to the east which completed our loop. Be careful you don't take the wrong trail or you'll have some steep backtracking to do. After a short break we proceeded down the east trail and completed our loop in about 20 minutes. When we got to the intersection I joshed "Want to go around again?" vegematic said "No, I'm fine, I'll wait for you here."

We headed back along the ridge and then down the steep woods road. Going down was equally relentless and my knees started to get sore. We took a rest near the bottom of this section and then turned left to cross to the other side of the Tecumseh Brook valley and then headed out towards the cars. Light rain started around 4:00 and we arrived at the parking lot at 4:30.

We said goodbye as vegematic headed home to Bethel and I started up Tripoli Road for another visit to the Woodstock Station and thence to Mooselauke Ravine Lodge, my home-away-from-home for the week. In spite of the cloudy day and late afternoon showers, It had been a nice day of hiking with two good climbs of interesting peaks under our belt.

Mount Tecumseh (#46 of 48, # 86 of HH)
Distance hiked: 5.0 miles
Elevation gained: 2200'
Time: 3:31
Photos: Tecumseh Album

Totals for day:

Total distance hiked: 13.7 miles
Total elevation gained: 4950'
Total time: 8:16


Rain day: July 9th, 2005

I

  had agreed to meet some of the VFTT folks at 8:00 AM on Saturday morning at the Discovery Trail parking lot on the Kanc, just past the Big Rock Campground. Today we were to do the tough bushwhack to Scar Ridge. Well, the rain that started Friday afternoon continued off and on throughout the night and I knew this long bushwhack would be a very wet experience.

On Saturday morning the rain continued, although lightly, and the forecast was for more of the same all day. I got to the rendezvous, and Onestep and Adiamata were waiting. We had a short conference and decided to forget about it for today. It would turn out that Onestep and I would stage a successful assault on Scar Ridge about a week later.

I spent the day at Mooselauke Ravine Lodge, my home-away-from-home for the week, watching the "War of the Worlds", reading, doing laundry and taking a nap. This turned out to be my one zero day of the whole New Hampshire / Maine blitz and it was a well deserved rest.

Photos: Rain Day at Mooselauke Ravine Lodge


A Hundred Highest Double - Vose Spur and Mount Nancy: July 10th 2005

Vose Spur

W

hen I was planning my week of hiking in New Hampshire I tried to pair up mountains on my list to allow me to do 2, or in one case 3, in a day. The two Hancocks and the two Tripyramids were obvious as were Passaconaway & Whiteface (with East Sleeper thrown in) and Sandwich & Tecumseh.

After studying the map, I thought "Why not combine Vose Spur and Nancy?" Although I have never seen a report of anyone doing this particular combination, it looked doable if I could arrange a car spot. And since these two peaks are both on many hikers' (who are chasing the HH) to-do list, I thought I could get some other folks to join me and that would solve the car spot problem. When all was said and done, there were five of us (and of course that means five cars): me, "MEB", "ctsparrow", "Onestep" and "Adiamata". It was a good group of hikers who were all enthusiastic, congenial and held mostly to a similar pace. A perfect group of companions for this long day of hiking and climbing.

We met at a few minutes before 8:00 AM on Sunday morning at the Nancy Pond Trailhead on Route 302 and in a few minutes we had grabbed our gear and we all piled into Onestep's car to drive down to the Signal Ridge Trailhead on Sawyer River Road, about 3 miles down 302 and over the dirt road. We were off at 8:15 AM, heading up the Signal Ridge Trail towards Vose Spur. It was quite a change to hike with a group this size. I had spent the week hiking solo or at most with one companion.

The trails were easy up to the bushwhack, first the 1.7 miles to the Carrigain Notch Trail and approximately 2 miles up into the notch. The vegetation was lush, the day was not too hot and not too humid and the occasional glimpses of the sheer cliffs of Vose Spur an Mount Lowell facing it across the Notch were quite impressive. I though to myself "How can we ever climb that steep face?". It turns out I had not studied the map closely enough. I had assumed the bushwhack route started at the wilderness boundary, which is at the height-of-land and which would entail climbing the steepest slope up to the the peak. Instead, the bushwhack starts nearly about .7 miles before that point and climbs a ridge (call it the southeast ridge), which although very steep, is not anything like the near cliff face further on.

There is a large boulder, about 4 feet high which is the traditional start of the whack, and we arrive there at 9:45 AM, after just an hour and a half of easy hiking. We scouted around and found what looked like a herd path 10 or 20
(photo of Vose Spur)
The group at the Vose Spur canister
yards up the trail from the boulder, pilled all our hiking pole against a nearby tree and we were off. I had taken a visual bearing from an open spot near the trail just before the boulder, and Onestep took a bearing from his map which agreed, so we were off, with Onestep in the vanguard.

The herd path led us to a drainage (shown on the map) which we followed for a short while and then climbed onto the ridge up to our right. The herd paths petered out in the middle section of the slope. It's as if everyone starts at the same spot, and finishes at the same spot (the summit) and in between everyone goes every which way.

There was a rock ledge about 4 - 6 feet high about half way up the slope which we traversed to the right. Above this, the terrain got fairly steep, but luckily the herd paths reappeared and it was easy going. There were no serious blowdowns or thick areas that we couldn't get around, and after a rest stop or two we found the canister at 11:15, just an hour and 30 minutes from the trail. It was a great day, the weather was cool and mostly clear and we had reached the top before noon. We were all happy and proud. We read the register, wrote our own entries and ate and rested. One of the most interesting register entries was Frodo's dated 12-26-04 "Merry Christmas Headed over from Carrigain Fun No Bugs! Frodo". What a surprise: December 26th and no bugs! Our's was a good group and Onestep was an excellent route finder.

After a lengthey rest, we started down on a herd path, but going down it's always harder to follow herd paths than climbing up, and we soon found ourselves at the top of an open patch of rocks. Bob and Gerri had called this a "Talus Slope" in their report but it couldn't be that since there was no steep slope above it. It didn't look like Felsenmeer, and anyway it was not high enough for it to be that. Maybe it was the remnant of some old slide.

We traversed to the left and temporarily split up. Onestep and I moved to the left to try to regain the center of the ridge, the others kept closer to the rocky area to our right. Soon Onestep and I came to a rock ledge which dropped off, which we circumnavigated to the right. I realized later that this was the same ridge we had run into going up and which we had traversed at its other end.

Once past the ledge, we suddenly saw a Yellow Labrador Retriever in the undergrowth and it's owner called to us from slightly further to the right (near the edge of the rocky area). We chatted briefly and he said he was Yellow Dog from VFTT, so I introduced myself as Papa Bear. It's a small world to have such encounters in the middle of nowhere.

We followed Yellow Dog's herd path down and soon caught up with the others. Adiamata took over the lead and led us down the rest of the way. He found the drainage we had followed on the way up and we hit the trail exactly where we had left it! Amazing work guys! Our pile of hiking sticks were there waiting for us. It was 1:05 PM. It had taken us 1:10 coming down, and counting the long break we took on the summit, the round trip from the trail to the top and back was 3:20. Not bad at all.

But we were only half done for our day's work so there was no dallying.

Photos: Vose Spur Album


Mount Nancy

T

he trail up to the height of land in Carrigain Notch was easy, but I was tuckered out from the bushwhack, so what would ordinarily be a moderate slope was tiring. The views across the Notch to Mount Lowell were stunning. That would be a nice peak to visit (but not up those cliffs). We reached the height of land in 25 minutes. Once past the top of the Notch the trail became rather flat and very easy. The area back there is a wide, lush upland bog. It was another 1.8 miles to the Nancy Pond Trail which took us about 45 minutes.

The Nancy Pond Trail takes a sharp right turn from the Carrigain Notch Trail and follows what seemed to be an old railroad grade - straight and flat. We took a break at a stream crossing and then started up the long but moderate climb to the ledges which form the saddle between Mount Anderson and Mount Nancy. This was a long tiring hike but fortunately it was never steep, and furthermore we would never lose the elevation we were gaining. The trail led straight to the bottom of Mount Nancy without an intervening drop.

But before we reached Nancy, or the Ledges, we found a piped spring right off the trail which was flowing nicely,
(photo of Norcross Pond)
Norcross Pond
and we all had a break and some cool mountain water. We figured this spring had probably been here for years, perhaps back to the logging years.

We continued on and reached the ledges at 3:50. This is a remarkable spot. Below the ledges the Norcross Stream runs down a deep valley into the upland area we had just crossed. Above the ledges are Norcross Pond, a beautiful wild body of water, and a short distance to the east across a height of land lies the similarly beautiful Nancy Pond which drains into the steep ravine and cascades of Nancy Brook. This area is very special and would deserve a visit, quite aside from the Hundred Highest peak that site next to it. At this point MEB and ctsparrow decided to go out directly to the cars and skip the climb since it was already late and they had schedule issues. Onestep, Adamiata and myself took a short break and then started up the mountain. Officially this is a trailless peak, but the herd path is so well built (with switchbacks no less) and so well trodden that in reality it's a trail.

At the clearing just north of the ledges where the trail heads east, there is a no camping sign. Two paths head north. We took the left one. Soon we reached the Nancy Slide. The path parallels the Slide on the right for a distance and then turns to the right up the slope. As Onestep said this was "Seriously steep". Serious indeed! I took the lead and paced myself with a short break every couple of minutes. It was seriously exhausting! But luckily it was also short. Soon we reached a more moderate grade and the path shortly reached the orange summit canister. The high point seemed to be a few yards further along at a lookout with great views of the Presidential Range. We got to the top at 4:30 and after a short break we were on our way down.

We were all tired but we knew we not only had the descent to do, but over 4 miles of trails to get back to the cars, so we got going. We reached the trail at the bottom about 5:05 PM. It was about 1:10 round trip including a short break
(photo of Nancy Brook Cascade)
Cascade on Nancy Brook
at the top, but it was very steep (did I mention that?) so allow time for plenty of rest.

The hike down was beautiful, there is no other word for it. At the top we passed Nancy Pond, a twin of Norcross Pond but draining to the opposite side of the saddle. Below the Pond the trail drops steeply over rocks and ledges. This would be considered commonplace on many trails in the White Mountains but what was extraordinary was the cascades that Nancy Brook fell over close by the trail. This closest similar trail I have hiked would be the Beaver Brook Trail on Mooselauke, but that has a number of smaller cascades, this has one humongous one!

I took some photos and we kept going with several stream crossings. The lower trail followed an old eroded road which evidently led to the firewarden's cabin for the tower on Mount Bemis, which lies to the northeast of Nancy.

As always in a hike the last mile was the longest. We were tantalized at several spots where we came very close to the road, but alas, there was a strip of private property along Route 302 with private houses, so we trekked along behind them and finally reached the cars at 7:05 PM. It was the longest day of my "blitz" by far, close to 13 hours, but it was one of the best days I can remember. Thanks to everyone who had a part of this Hundred Highest double. It was great!

Vose Spur (#87) and Mount Nancy (#88)
Distance hiked: 16.1 (approximate)
Elevation gained: 4850' (approximate)
Time: 12:50
Photos: Nancy Album


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