Mont Gosford in the early morning
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After taking a bus to the Boston area and spending the night with my son and his family, I made the long drive up to Maine and then into Quebec on Wednesday. I spent part of Wednesday afternoon climbing a boundary peak near Mont Gosford. Thursday I spend more time climbing Mont Gosford and one of its sub peaks. Friday I spent a long day on the woods roads, boundary swath and bushwhacks going from Le Petite Lac at the foot of Marble Mountain, to Twin Peaks (bushwhack), Barker (bushwhack) and all the way along the border to the Galloway Road. That afternoon I drove over to Chartierville Quebec, then down and into the US at the point-of-entry in Pittsburg NH.
On Saturday morning Oncoman met me at lake Francis State Park where I had spent the night and spent the day off of East Inlet Road. Together we bagged the Crown Monument, Mount d'Urban and on to Boundary Pond. Oncoman then went on to bag Trumbull and Salmon while I took the 5 mile short cut back to the car via East Inlet Road. Sunday morning, with rain threatening, we hiked along the border from Route 3 to Prospect Hill, and then went our separate ways home.
The weather could not have been better. As the lower parts of New England got rain most of the weekend, there were cool temperatures, low humidity and a mixture of sun and clouds in the north country. Only on Sunday did we fail to see the sun. And of course there were no bugs whatsoever.
See the two maps below which shows the areas hiked. They are displayed geographically (i.e. the more western map is on the left) but I actually moved from east to west. The middle day, Friday, around Marble Mountain, is on both maps so you can see how the areas overlap. You can click on the maps for larger versions.
Maps of boundary areas hiked August 23-27
Wednesday, Thursday and Friday Friday, Saturday and Sunday
(Click on either map for a larger image)
The border between the US and Canada (and I suppose Mexico as well) is a line defined by treaty with an area to each side which is called the "boundary swath" which is (supposedly) kept clear. In this section, the border was defined by the Webster-Ashburton Treaty (aka the Treaty of Washington) of 1842 and was first laid out by the newly established International Boundary Commission (the "IBC") in 1845. It was later surveyed in more detail in 1915 -1916, at which time a triangulation survey was done which established exact coordinates of every boundary monument. The triangulation stations were established on mountain tops (on or off the border) and occasionally nearby church steeples or other structures were used in the survey. The IBC is still in operation and they are tasked with maintaining the boundary monuments and the boundary swath.
If you have never hiked along the border, you should. The NEHH Boundary Peak is on the border and many hikers have only seen that section. Let me just say the terrain is highly variable - from easy flat walking, to unclimbable cliffs. And from class 1 trail-like conditions to very wet bogs (with mud up to your knees), to piles of slash, and to sections that are so overgrown that you wouldn't even know you were on the boundary. In many sections, a one mile per hour pace would not be unreasonable. It is slow and tiring from the steepness of the terrain (the boundary is not graded like a trail), from the labor of stepping over old dead wood and more recent slash, and from trying (usually without success) to stay dry when crossing a boggy section. And of course I was often slow because I was just plain tired!
But I love it (even as I occasionally hate it). It is so remote that (except for Oncoman) I met not one other human in the 5 days I was out. I did however see several moose and a porcupine. You will climb peaks you never knew were there and see views no one except another crazy like you and me has seen.
Then there are the ATVs. It seems like everyone in Quebec rides an ATV in summer (and probably a snowmobile in winter). Although I didn't see any on the boundary swath (thank goodness), there were plenty of trails onto and off of the boundary. I suspect it's the primary mode of transport for hunters.
When was planning this trip I think I was still in my obsessive peakbagging, list completion mode and had laid out lots of peaks (and benchmarks) to bag and had lined up a full schedule for each day. Well I managed to accomplish about half of my plan due to reasons of time, overly ambitious plans, dense bushwhacks, natural obstacles (rocky roads), man made obstacles (washed out culverts), stupidity and just plain exhaustion. I guess I get tired faster than in some other years because I'm a bit out of shape (in part due to scheduling issues - I've done much less hiking and climbing this year) and dare I say it - I'm older than I used to be!
But I also came to the realization that I'm out there to enjoy myself and to enjoy the great outdoors, and not because something or some place is on some list or other. The list is (like a compass) just a tool that helps to motivate you to see new places, or to see old places that are worth revisiting. The list is not the goal.
"Leave no stragglers" Sure I left stragglers, I left more stragglers than climbed peaks. And guess what - that's a good thing because now I have some motivation to go back to these areas and climb more peaks - and of course to leave more stragglers while I'm at it. I expect to be doing this for many years so there's no point in hurrying.
Enjoy these reports. There's a few photos in-line, a number of links to other photos and plenty more in Albums.
Wednesday was a travel day, but I wanted to get at least a few hours of hiking in before calling it a day. I packed the night before at my son's house and picked up the rental car at about 8:00 AM. I just had to pick up some ice for the cooler and some gas and then I was off. Naturally, things being what they are, that was not till 8:40.
I was heading up to Maine via the Mass Pike, I-495, and then I-95 (which becomes the Maine Turnpike) to Auburn. Then it was Route 4 and Route 27 all the way to the Canadian border. I made it to Auburn by 11:20 - not bad - and finally to Stratton by 1:20. I had a few pit stops along the way, but basically traffic wasn't bad and it was smooth sailing.
My target peaks for today were Kibby and Rain, opposite each other off of Beaudry Road, which leaves Route 27 just south of the border station at Coburn Gore. A had previously hiked Kibby, but I wanted to search some more for the IBC survey marker, and Rain looked like a short whack from the road and this peak also had an IBC survey marker.
I had been on Beaudry Road a little over a month ago, and I swear this road is deteriorating rapidly. It has a lot of logging traffic (two full trucks passed me coming out as I went in), and I guess that heavy usage is what destroys these roads. Just after the 8 1/2 mile sign I hit an "insurmountable object". A large piece of road equipment had dug a huge ditch across the road and probably they were putting in a new culvert. A logging truck with a full load was waiting on the other side to come out, but it looked like this would be a long wait. So much for Kibby and Rain!
It was on to plan B. Wait, I didn't have a plan B. So I made one up. Tomorrow's target peaks included several peaks in the Mont Gosford Range plus one border peak near monument 460 which was relatively close by. So I decided to go for the border peak, which would alow more time for the other peaks tomorrow.
So it was back to Route 27 and up through customs into Canada. I drove to Woburn (where I was staying the next two nights at the Motel Arnold) but drove on to Zec Gosford. I wanted to get to the gate by 4:00 which is when they go off duty. Well I made it by 3:20, so things looked pretty good.
If you've driven into this preserve on the Canadian side to bag the NEHH Boundary peak, you may remember that there are several gated logging roads that lead off towards the border from the park road. The first one is about a half mile past the building at the Mont Gosford trail head (labeled "Pavillion Rose Delima"). This road angles back to the right down the hill and there is a gate about 200 yards from the main road. The area beyond belongs to "Club Arnold" and I think it's a private hunting preserve. The Topo map shows this road and it shows the little connector road leading up to Zec Gosford. Here's the map showing the road: Topozone map,
There are more roads that are not shown on the map, but this gives you the idea. Incidentally, my target peak is shown on the border, just to the left of the road on the map with the spot elevation of x2775 on its nowthwest slope.
The weather was perfect. Cool, low humidity, and a mixture of sun and clouds. I left the car, walked down the hill, around the gate and turned to the left. The road soon crossed Riviere Arnold and then forked. The left fork (not shown on the map) seemed to go on towards Lac Arnold, and the right fork, somewhat disused, led to the border. I was there shortly and was amused to find an old rusty sign saying "Customs Report for Coburn Gore Inspection". This was evidently an old border crossing station, long abandoned. I'm not sure what it meant, perhaps to turn around and go back and cross at Coburn Gore. Anyone know?
The boundary swath with Monument 460 in the distance
(Click for a larger image)
I was now on the familiar boundary swath heading approximately northwest to my target peak, about 3/4 of a mile distant. The target is an unnamed 2780'+ peak on the border, but since the survey mark is named SMITH (probably for one of the crew in the 1915 survey), I'll call it Smith Peak. I soon passed Monument 460, but it was a very boggy area and if you weren't careful you'd be knee deep in the mud. I wondered that the monument, with it's massive concrete base, didn't just sink out of site! It was slow going along the swath. If it wasn't the mud, it was the slash from a recent cutting done to keep the swath clear. But I would come to learn over the next several days that this portion was actually one of the better ones I would encounter.
The hill became rather steep but the views to the east (behind me) opened up and I had a nice vista of Lac Arnold and the surrounding boundary range. I think that for all the times I've been in this area, I never before got a good view of this lake. I reached the top of the peak around 5:00 PM, just over an hour from the car, and I got out my GPS to try to find the IBC survey marker. I had previously loaded the coordinates into the unit, but since the accuracy on the ground of these things is usually not better than 20 - 30 feet, the GPS tends to be less help than you would like. The directions from the original survey from the NGS database state: "THE STATION IS ON THE HIGHEST POINT OF THE HILL ABOUT 70 FEET NORTHWEST OF THE BOUNDARY ... CEMENTED IN A DRILL HOLE IN A ROCK" Luckily the area was open woods with several very old looking birch trees. But it was also rather flat so the highest point of the hill was not at all obvious.
IBC station SMITH mounted on a large boulder
(Click for a larger image)
I headed off to the left (the marker was on the US side) and I hadn't walked more than 2 minutes when there it was! A large rock with the survey marker right on top, staring me in the face. This had to be about the easiest find I have done along the border. I had bagged SMITH like a charm.
After the requisite pictures, I was off back to the car, and then off to the Woburn, I reached Motel Arnold and checked in at 6:20. It had been a
short but productive trek on a beautiful day. Although hiking along the boundary swath was boggier and slower going than expected, it was a good
start to my trip. Tomorrow I would be back to climb several more peaks in Zec Gosford, but for now it was spaghetti and meatballs and an early bed.
Benchmark Recovery Log: MON 460 IBC
Benchmark Recovery Log: SMITH IBC
Photos: Wednesday Photos
On Thursday I was up early, and hoped to get to the Zec Gosford gate by 6:00 AM. I thought if I could get through my target peaks today and it was still early afternoon, I could drive over to Marble Mountain and do one of my goals in that area and thus get a jump on Friday's schedule.
I ate some stuff I had brought along and got moving around 5:30. It was rather cool and foggy in the early morning. There was no traffic on the road whatsoever. In July it was already light by 5:30, but not anymore! I managed to get to the gate just before 6:00 (no one was there yet), filled out the form and stuffed it with my $5 in the self-register box. I pushed open the gate (they say it's never locked), and was off to the Gosford trailhead,
Driving through the park at this early hour afforded a stunning view of the mountain over the boggy pond area on the west side of the park.
Mont Gosford in the early morning sun
(Click for a larger image)
My first goal was to climb the pointy peak at the end of the southwest ridge of Mont Gosford (see Topozone map) and there to search for IBC station MCLEOD. As I had done with yesterday's border peak, I christened this unnamed peak McLeod Peak. It looked easy from the map. Just a straight shot up the ridge from the trail (not shown on the map), which follows the stream up to the main summit. I got going about 6:15 and climbed the trail along the side of the stream as it circled under the ridge line. When it looked like I was at the right spot, I started into the woods and headed straight up the ridge.
At first it was pretty easy going. Mostly open hardwoods with occasional thick spruce area which were easy to skirt. However when I got near the top it became extremely thick and there was no way around. It was a combination of old slash and young spruce and I found myself climbing over and crawling under stuff with a visibility of near zero. It was very very slow going, to put it mildly. I finally arrived at the highest point, which was pretty well defined, and found that there was a steep drop off to the east with nice views across the ravine. Interestingly, I could hear what seemed like helicopters flying to the south and thought about the border patrol chasing down peak baggers who inadvertently stepped on the boundary line
Finding the survey marker proved daunting. I had to crawl under the vegetation and probe every bump and lump trying to find anything that might be a rock or boulder. Alas, I found nothing - just tons of vegetation and bio-detritus that had collected for almost a century since this marker had been set. After a while I gave up, and figured, what the hell, at least I bagged the peak (elevation 964m = 3162', but alas with a prominence of only 29m = 95').
View of the summit of McLeod Peak
from the east edge
(Click for a larger image)
But I suddenly realized things were worse than just missing the survey marker. I had been carrying my metal detector in my pack (now who in their right mind would bring a metal detector up here?) and the bushwhack gods had snatched one of the tubes which holds the thing together out of my pack. It was longer than the pack and so the end was sticking out. I had hoped to use it to help find the survey markers on Mont Gosford today and on Marble Mountain tomorrow. I had searched both peaks unsuccessfully last month and due to the nature of the terrain in both cases, a metal detector would be a real help. Without this missing part (which turns out costs only $9.95 to replace) the unit was not functional. Looks like I suddenly needed a plan C!
I dejectedly started back down the ridge and thought about what to do. With such an poor experience with this peak, I decided to give up going for the peak on the opposite ridge (see Topozone map) where IBC marker BOOTS is located (Boots Peak? Mount Boots?). By the way, those trails shown on the map along that ridge are long gone. That bushwhack was about twice as long and the peak was about 180m higher. If the vegetation was anything like this peak, that would be a long ways to go through very thick stuff. So I decided to just take the trail up to the main peak and do a manual search (sans metal detector) of the summit area. On the way up I spotted a fat porcupine ahead of me as it waddled off the trail. It was fun to see.
I got to the summit of Gosford at 9:25, and the beautiful views chased away my demons, and I enjoyed the thrill of being on a beautiful summit with no one else around. It was especially nice to see some of the border peaks like the NEHH "Boundary" and the peak (Smith) I had climbed just yesterday. We won't talk about McLeod . And further in the distance was the distinctive profile of Rump Mountain, some 12 miles away to the southwest. I would get another glimpse of this magnificent peak from Twin Peaks on tomorrow's trek.
I played a little with the metal detector trying to make it work by holding the coil in my hand but that was a bust. So I searched as much as I could but found nothing. I think in this case the survey marker may have been destroyed when they built the observation tower. The entire area under and around the tower seemed to have been cleared, and there were no large rocks corresponding to the description for this marker.
I realized that there would be little point returning to Marble Mountain with the non functional metal detector so I had to rethink tomorrow's schedule as well. I took the easy approach - I would just take the afternoon off and tomorrow do the long boundary hike and bushwhacks to Twin Peaks, Barker and possibly Bowman. The slowness and toughness of today's bushwhack had tired me considerably, and I realized that I should not underestimate the slowness of moving along the boundary swath, as I had learned only yesterday.
So it was down the trail, back to the car and then a little driving around, some lunch and some reading at Motel Arnold. So after less than a day of hiking, I was already slacking off!
For dinner I had lasagna and a nice cold one, and planned an early start in the morning. Tomorrow I resolved I would do some real hiking.
Benchmark Recovery Log: MCLEOD IBC
Benchmark Recovery Log: GOSFORD IBC
Photos: Thursday Photos
Friday morning I was up at 5:00. I had to clear out all my stuff since I wouldn't be coming back here after my day's hiking. I ate some stuff, turned in my key to the waitress (the Cafe had just opened at 5:30) and made my way down to Route 212 and headed west. I went through the little village of Notre Dame del Bois (still asleep) and turned left onto Route du 10e Rang at the church. This headed straight south towards to border, about 4 miles. At the end of this dirt road I took another left onto Chemin du 10e Rang Oest. I passed a few roads and finally in about a mile I arrived at the 4-way dirt road intersection, with the International Paper Company No Trespassing signs and parked at the side of the road. Be careful you don't block anything here since logging truck come through from time to time.
I got started a little after 6 and continued on foot on the same road, which soon deteriorated into a path. The Sentiers Frontaliers map shows this entire area, but don't count on all the trails being there. But today I would mostly be hiking on the boundary swath or bushwhacking, so I didn't care too much about the trails. About a month ago Oncoman and I had come this way to climb Marble Mountain and the two Saddles. Today I would head in the other direction to bag Twin Peaks, Barker, and look at the feasibility of climbing Bowman (which is on the US side past Barker in the middle of a very active logging area).
Le Petitte lac
Le petitte Lac in the early morning sun
(Click for a larger image)
The path eventually deteriorated into a trail and crossed and recrossed a stream several times until at about 7:15 I finally arrived at Le petitte Lac. This little gem was as lovely as could be, and furthermore there were no bugs as there were in July. What a pleasure to be hiking in cool low humidity weather with blue sky and your occasional good-weather cumulus! What a great place this would be to camp (but not in July).
I had a bite to eat and a swig of water and headed south on the trail which shortly joined the boundary swath. Wow! What a difference from July. The swath had just been cut and there were piles of slash everywhere. You could practically smell fresh sawdust. In July there were parts of this section where you could hardly tell where the boundary was. Now you could tell - you just couldn't walk without tripping and killing yourself with all the logs and slash .
On to Twin Peaks
But I'd been this way before and soon reached the last hunters blind before the knoll opposite Twin Peaks (see Topozone map) and found the moose path that Oncoman had found in July. This gets you about a third of the way of the bushwhack and is a great help. The area between the boundary and Twin Peaks had been clear cut maybe 5 or 10 years ago and about 2/3 of the way to the peak you are in waist high Hobblebush, Ferns and the occasional Blackberry. Just thick enough and high enough to obscure the many logs underfoot resulting in many near falls (and a few actual falls). It was slow going, but not really hard. At the end of the Moose path, there is a skid road that curves around to the Twin Peaks/ boundary col, so I swung around to that point and then headed straight up towards the peaks. There were occasionally some moose paths, but nothing continuous like the part before you get to the skid road. Oncoman figured that path was so well worn because it led right to the salt lick under the hunter's blind on the swath.
The Twin Peak register
(Click for a larger image)
Eventually I got into the trees and the terrain got steeper. I was aimed to intersect the west peak which I figured I would climb and then just keep going over to the east peak which was the higher. I got to the west peak but it wasn't that obvious how to get up. It was cliffy on the side I was coming from so I swung around a short distance to the right and found a route up and soon arrived at a very small pointy peak with a high point no more than 6 - 10 feet wide. Well, that was done, now over to the east peak. WRONG! I went about 20 feet east off the peak and found myself looking down a sheer cliff, 30 or 40 feet straight down. No, this was definitely not the way to go. I studied the map a little and it showed the steepest parts were on the south and east. So I backtracked off of the peak the way I had come up and then circled around the west and north side of this pinnacle.
Eventually I got below the cliffy parts and had little difficulty contouring around and soon got to the col between the two Twins. Looking back at
West Twin from the col, I saw the
really impressive cliffs that I has stood atop. In short order I was on the East Twin, which was not only higher,
but rather broad and flat on the top. There were two obvious bumps. The east bump had the register, and the west bump had a rock with the
IBC survey marker.
Onestep, who had been here about 3 weeks ago, had discovered it and tipped me off as per its whereabouts. Having found what I came
for, I relaxed, ate some food and enjoyed the views to the
southwest (with a view of Rump)
from an outlook just off the south side. I
had made it here about 9:40 after a fairly easy bushwhack. What a contrast to the aborted attempt I did in July. The weather was great, the company
was good and I was fat and happy!
Peak 3060 (Barker)
Now it was back to the swath and on to Barker. A note on Barker: technically this 3060'+ peak (about 1/4 south of the border) is unnamed. But it's not unnamed in reality. First let's look at a map of the boundary from Twin Peaks to Barker: Topozone map.
It is usually called "Barker Pond" by peakbaggers since it lies a mile west of that feature. But right on the top is the IBC triangulation station BARKER. And furthermore, in what looks like hand lettering, the mispelled name "BAKER" is scrawled on the topo map next to the triangulation symbol. See the data log for this station BARKER IBC. Since I like to find these markers, I decided I'll just call this peak "Barker", not "Barker Pond" – and certainly not "BAKER".
I took the same route back to the boundary since I figured I'd rather back track a bit and use the known route with the moose path, than bushwhack northwest to the border (heading say for Monument 472) which was more direct. So backtrack I did and what should I see on the moose path, but a moose! I was back on the boundary swat at 10:05 and headed up the swath over the little knoll. There is a SF trail which bypasses this knoll, but I couldn't find it. The recent cutting had made quite a difference here. In July we couldn't even see where the border climbed this knoll. Not it was quite clear, but rather steep and the piles of slash didn't help. As I made my way down the far side I could hear ahead of me what seemed like a couple of chain saws. Finally I could actually hear some conversation and I realized there were two guys a short distance in front of me actually cutting and clearing the swath. I was close to them as I came down towards Monument 472. I reached as point where I could see the monument when WHOAOOOOH! I was perched on the top of a 30 foot cliff. Boy, they sure didn't compromise when they laid out the border. If the survey says to go down, it goes down, and damn the terrain. I siddled over to the right (where there were still trees) and let myself down the steep face by hanging onto trees and sliding down, until reached the bottom
There was a woods road that crossed the border here and the area around the monument, where the road crossed, was rather boggy. I could hear (but not see) the chain saw guys on the slope ahead of me, but I noticed there were some ATV trails on the Canadian side which bypassed that slope. I decided to go that way and avoid getting in the way of these loggers and in about 10 minutes I was back on the border, above them. Guess what? It was quite overgrown (although not the worst I have seen). Duh! But as I made my way along - it was actually quicker without all the slash - I noticed a white thread which was strung along the swath through the nidst of the overgrowth. It seems the IBC surveyors had been through here and run a thread along the border in these overgrown sections so when they hired the guys to cut the trees there would be a way for them to determine where they should cut. Neat!
Well, the going was pretty good and by about 1:20 I reached the place on the swath nearest to Barker, which stood just a 1/4 mile off on the US side. I left my hiking poles and went in and although it was no walk in the park, it was a straightforward and short whack. The summit area was flat and open and the register was hanging in the middle from a birch tree. But I had no such luck like finding the survey marker. The directions from the 1916 IBC survey said: "ON THE HIGHEST POINT OF THE HILL ... CEMENTED IN A DRILL HOLE IN OUTCROPPING ROCK". Alas I couldn't find any outcropping rock, and the summit was so flat, the highest point could be anywhere. So I scraped and probed for a while and finally after about 20 minutes, I gave up. I took a bit of a break, ate and drank some more and then whacked back to the swath, arriving there just about 3:00 PM.
Looking back from the Barker col at Marble Mountain,
with the Saddles behind
(Click for a larger image)
The Magalloway Road
Given the time, I didn't want to add on 2 - 3 hours to pursue Bowman Hill, so I decided I would just keep on the border down to the west to the Magalloway Road, which, if open, would head right up to where the car was. Mean while there were nice views here, including another view of marble Mountain from an angle where you could see the two peaks of Saddle Hill behind it and you could even see the border swath climbing East Saddle.
I made my way down off Barker and passed a road which used to be a border crossing (there was another one of those old customs signs) which I figured went up to the SF trail on their map. Then the border passed through a fairly wide, flat, boggy area. I passed a few International Paper No Trespassing signs, and finally got to the Magalloway Road and Monument 474. The Magolloway Road was at one time a major logging thouroughfare between the US and Canada, back nearly a century ago. The area was now a vast bog. The Magalloway Road was there, but there was little to differentiate it from the bog, and it had been cut on both side of the border by a deep ditch which was filled with water. They really went to a good deal of trouble to keep folks off this road - ATVs I suspect. So I took the hint, turned and walked back the 1/4 mile or so along the swath to the first road I had spotted and headed off the border on it, towards the north. I hoped to join the SF trail shortly, and I fortunately that's just what I did. In about an hour I was back at the car. It was just a little about 4:40. It had been nearly 11 hours on foot today, but I had met all my major goals, had great weather and seen extraordinary views in a totally remote area and had seen not one other human being.
across First Connecticut Lake
(Click for a larger image)
Back to the U.S.A. This immediately changed when 2 ATVs went by me as I reached the car. I smiled and nodded and was soon on my way. I went straight west on the dirt road to Chartierville, turned left on Highway 275 and was sooon back in the good old US of A.
After I crossed the border I parked and walked over to the border monument. This is the well known "Double Monument", The west post is the official NGS horizontal control point, but they are both on the boundary (about 15 inches apart). I took a shot of it and then was off down Route 3. As I headed down Route 3 past the Third, then the Second and finally the First Connecticut lake, I suddenly saw a scene that made me stop and pull over. It was Mount Magalloway in the afternoon sun across First Connecticut Lake. It was Beauty incarnate.
I got some gas and ice and checked in at Lake Francis State park at 6:30. After setting up camp and cooking supper, I was in bed by 8:30. I would
meet Oncoman at 6:00 the next morning. This had been a very long day.
Benchmark Recovery Log: MON 472 IBC
Benchmark Recovery Log: NICOLLET
Benchmark Recovery Log: MON 473 IBC
Benchmark Recovery Log: BARKER IBC
Benchmark Recovery Log: MON 474 IBC
Benchmark Recovery Log: MON 484 WEST POST IBC
Photos: Friday Photos
Oncoman had planned to meet me for the weekend portion of this trip but it turns out a family obligation (going dancing with his wife) on Friday night threw a crimp in his plan. Undaunted as always, he simply enjoyed the evening, then got in his car and headed for Pittsburg NH from the Montreal area. Starting around 1:00 AM he drove down via I-91, then across and up Route 3 to Pittsburg where he arrived around 4:00 AM. He parked in the area near the lake and when I drove over there from my camp site after a 5:30 rising, I met him at 6:00 AM, fresh as a daisy! (Well, maybe a wilted daisy ).
We drove into Pittsburg for breakfast and a strategy session. Over a huge pancake (one was more than I could finish), we looked over the maps and decided to first bag the 3 border peaks accessible from East Inlet Road (d'Urban, 3277 and Salmon) from north to south, spotting a car at the height of land on the road between Salmon and Kent, and then, time-permitting, we would consider the Kent and Rump bushwhacks. Since Oncoman "had" to bag Salmon (it was on his Quebec 1K list) this route would force him to finish the boundary peaks, since Salmon was the last along this route. To this plan I added Monument 475, about a mile and a half of border walking north of d'Urban. Both of us had learned from experience not to underestimate the time required to hike along the boundary swath. It can be as easy as a walk in the park or as tough as a bushwhack, depending on the terrain and on how well it was cleared. 1 mile per hour is not unreasonable for a good part of the border.
So what's so special about Monument 475 and why would I want to go several miles out of the way to reach it? When I first looked at the maps, I noticed that it was near the point where the New Hampshire - Maine border reaches the Canadian line. I asked on VFTT if anyone had been there and no one had. I thought there might be some kind of special monument there. So I Googled it and found that yes, it was a historic point (called the "Crown Monument") that evidently anteceded the 1845 US - Canada border survey, and that in 1858 the two states surveyed their line and placed a stone monument there, right in front of Monument 475. An old picture showed the stone, but there was no indication that it was still there. I would find out.
So we now had 4 border destinations, the Crown Monument, d'Urban, Trumbull and Salmon. Wait a minute, what in the heck is "Trumbull"? Well, on the 3K list there are lots of unnamed peaks, among which is the 3277' border peak between d'Urban and Salmon. These are generally named after a nearby feature, and 3277 is usually referred to as "Snag Pond". Well you know I'm a hunter of survey markers (Benchmarker) as well as a bagger of peaks (Peakbagger), and 3277 has a survey marker set by the IBC in 1916 on its peak called TRUMBULL. QED! 3K list baggers forgive me, but one made up name is as good as another, no? Besides it'll confuse the Muggles, always a worthy goal .
So after breakfast we set off up Route 3, and onto East Inlet Road to spot a car near Salmon and then drive as close as we could to Rhubarb Pond to start our trek with a short bushwhack to the border near 465. Well, a number of necessities (a big breakfast), natural causes (rocky road conditions near Rhubarb Pond) and stupidities (leaving my GPS on the top of my car near Salmon and having to drive all the way back to get it) caused us to start our hike at 9:35. That's over 3 and a half hours after our 6:00 AM rendezvous! Talk about a slow start. We would pay for losing those hours later in the day.
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The Crown Monument
The road over the outlet of Rhubarb Pond - a lovely and remote pond - was blocked by a beaver dam which looked like it raised the water level by 3 feet or more. So we walked across the dam, always a scary operation. But it was solid and I only got one foot soaked when I stepped through one spot as I tip-toed across. We walked around the pond to its northwest end, where there was looked like an old logging yard at the end of the road. After a little debate we decided the quickest route was to whack up to the saddle on the border near Monument 476 (see Topozone map). There was no sign of the trail shown on the map, which would have gone the wrong way anyway.
After about a half hour of easy whacking, we were on the border, just east of 476, and we headed east the .4 miles or so towards the "Crown Monument". Along the way, just before arriving, we passed the point where the border makes a jog to the north. This is the northernmost point of New Hampshire. We had no Champaign for a celebration, so we just took a picture .
Note: the 1:24000 USGS map of the area (Moose Bog quadrangle, 1989) incorrectly depicts the location of Monument 475. It is at the tri-point boundary intersection, not several hundred yards to the east as shown on the USGS map.
Monument 475 is at a very special spot. The Webster-Ashburton treaty of 1842 (which defined the location of the international boundary line) refers its location in specifying the Quebec - New Hampshire boundary: "Commencing at the "Crown Monument" so called, at the intersection of the New Hampshire, Maine, and Providence of Quebec boundaries, . . . thence by an irregular line along the divide to the head of Halls Stream and down the middle of that stream to . . . the 45th parallel of latitude."
The border was surveyed and monumented in 1845 by a Us-Canadian team. The original Crown Monument, whatever it was, was probably destroyed when Monument 475 (a cast iron post) was erected at this point. But in 1858 the states of Maine and New Hampshire resurveyed their common boundary and placed a stone monument directly in front of Monument 475, to demarcate the state boundary.
with the 1858 state-line stone
at the NH-ME-Quebec tri-point
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When we arrived (at 11:10), there was no state boundary marker in evidence. There was grass on all sides of the concrete base of 475 (and the post was the 1993 granite replacement of the original cast iron post). But I got out my tools anyhow, and started digging and cutting through the thick roots on the US side. After going through about 3 inches of tough grass roots and dirt, I hit pay-dirt. Or I should say I hit pay-granite. Something hard and flat was down there. Oncoman and I spent about 20 minutes digging and pulling on the grass roots and finally uncovered the monument. The 1858 stone monument once again saw the light of day! Oncoman was amazed I had found such a large stone monument here in the middle of nowhere, 3 inches below ground, but the secret is to do the research before you go! It's all on the internet.
I have since learned that when the IBC rebuilt Monument 475 in 1993, they preserved the stone in it's original position. To quote from the IBC: "The rock was found in good condition at that time and left in the original position at the south side of Monument 475, but buried under two inches of soil".
We had spent quite a bit of time here so we got ourselves going and headed back west along the boundary. Next stop Mount d'Urban
The boundary swath between the Crown monument and Mount d'Urban was relatively easy going as these things go. We passed by Monument 476 which had a benchmark on it's base stamped with an elevation of 2522' so Oncoman set his altimeter.
As we approached the summit, I got looked back and I got a glimpse of Marble Mountain with the two peaks of Saddle Hill behind it. It was amazing - all the way from Mont Gosford to Mount d'Urban this magnificent peak was visible along the border. After a few more overgrown sections (on the up slopes) we got to the summit of d'Urban at 12:22 and immediately spotted the register on a tree on the Canadian side.
Oncoman at the d'Urban register
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After signing in and checking who had been there lately, I set about searching for IBC station BON DURBAN which according to the description was "A BRONZE DISK CEMENTED IN A LONG FLAT ROCK THAT WAS SET IN MOSSY LOAM". Well we saw several long flat rocks, and we spent a good deal of time and effort scraping the moss and dirt off of them but with no success. There was also a reference to a bearing from one of those intermediate boundary markers which you see along the border, but that didn't seem to make sense (it would have put the boundary marker into the woods).
We had spent a fair amount of extra time searching and digging for the survey marker and since it was 12:50 already, we decided to get moving. As we were part way down the hill I realized that the bearing I was confused by didn't put the boundary marker off into the woods, it put the triangulation station (i.e. BON DURBAN) off into the woods! When I got home I read the directions more carefully and found the line: "THE STATION IS ON THE SOUTHEAST SIDE OF THE TOP AND 30 FEET EAST OF THE BOUNDARY". What was I just saying about doing the research before you go? Duh! Double Duh! Looks like I have to go back to look for this one.
Down to Boundary Pond and beyond
The trek from Mount d'Urban down to the low saddle near Boundary Pond was the most overgrown section I had encountered on all my treks along the border. One section was so overgrown, with what seemed like full grown trees, that you wouldn't even know you were on the border. We had to use a compass to keep on track in this section. It was also the steepest (luckily down) section in the area. It seems like the guys who clear the trees don't like to work on steep slopes. I don't blame them.
We soon came to a low peak south of d'Urban which afforded an clean view of the town of Chartierville Quebec. You can really see the difference between the Canadian farm countryside and US timber country when you get these views. I had driven throgh Chartierville the previpous afternoon and it was indeed a picturesque place with a beautiful church. Incidently, this church was actually used as a triangulation point when the 1915-1916 survey of the boundary line was done. We weren't sure, but we think we could see the church from where we were.
Soon thereafter we got a glimpse of Boundary Pond and came to a level area with a hunting blind. This was where the trail that some peakbaggers have used that goes along the north side of Boundary Pond from the road came in, but it was so faint that we could hardly see it.
There was one last down slope (also overgrown, but not as bad) and we were at the low boggy saddle and passed by Monument 477 and got a view of Boundary Pond. This pond seemed to come up almost to the border, and the bog we had to cross was merely an extension of the pond. It was actually quite beautiful, if you didn't mind stepping in mud up over your boots.
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As we made our way to the top of the first hill leading up to Trumbull (3277, aka Snag pond) (here: Topozone map), about 3/4 of a mile along the boundary from the pond, I made a strategic decision. It was just about 2:00 PM and Trumbull (aka Snag pond) was still close to a mile away and Salmon was at least 2 miles further. Then there was an unknown bushwhack down from Salmon to the road. That could easily add up to 6 hours which would put us into darkness. I told Oncoman to go on, and I would turn back, find the road north of Boundary Pond and make my way out to East Inlet Road and back to the car, I fiigured I had about 6 miles of walking this way and Oncoman would have the same. But I would be able to move much faster on the roads than he would along the border swath and the whack.
We had lost a lot of time today for (among other reasons) 1) a late start after breakfast, 2) having to spot the cars and then having to go back again to the forward car to get the missing GPS, 3) spending extra time looking for and digging up survey markers, and 4) I was moving pretty slow by now. This plan wouild allow Oncoman to speed up and bag Salmon (on his Quebec 1K list). He would probably be back at the car by 7:00 and I should make it there by 5:00, worst case.
He agreed and so we were off in opposite directions. I had an uneventful hike back down to the pond and up the little rise to where the road crossed the border. It was about 2:40 when I got to this road. I took a bearing from the map (and from a visual), and set off along the old road. It was very faint, with a number of blowdowns blocking the path, and at one point I lost it entirely. But the the woods were open and I knew I just had to keep the pond on my right and the slope on my left and I would be OK. I found the faint road again in about 10 minutes and after about 30 minutes I joined a real path (here: Topozone map), which led down to the pond (and which I found on the map). I followed this a short distance back to a parking area where East Inlet Road ended. It was 3:20. I had made it from the parting point in an hour and 20 minutes - not too bad. Now I just had 4 or 5 miles of dusty road to follow. I passed Snag Pond about halfway along the road. It was a boggy spot that I'm sure your averaqe moose would find attractive.
It took an hour and 10 minutes on the road to reach the car, arriving just shy of 4:30. I cleaned myself up a little, changed my clothes and had lots to eat and drink (including, I'll admit, a wrell deserved cold one I'd been saving). Then I settled in for a rest, maybe a nap. But I was disturbed by not one, but two vans going in on the road. What's up with that? Some kind of party? I finally figured they were probably headed for the pond - they carried canoes - perhaps for some evening fishing. Then surprise, surprise! Oncoman showed up an hour early at 6:05. It seems he had found herd paths the whole way down off Salmon and a logging road that led directly out to East Inlet Road.
So we got his car, got going, barrelled out East Inlet Road and down Route 3 (after trailling behind several slow stupid moose lookers who were driving like15 MPM for several miles), cleaned ourselves up at the State park, and had a scrumcious meal at Happy Home Restaurant, just past the park. When we got back to the park, there was the annual Pittsburg Moose Day party going on at the lake (I'm not making this up, honest) with a very loud DJ. But the park guys made them turn it down at 10:00 PM and we slept like logs.
Benchmark Recovery Log: MON 475 IBC
Benchmark Recovery Log: BON DURBAN IBC
Benchmark Recovery Log: MON 476 IBC
Benchmark Recovery Log: MON 477 IBC
Photos: Saturday Photos
Pierre and I had agreed that Sunday would be a half day. We planned to go up to the border and climb Prospect Hill and then if the weather was nice, we would drive down and Climb Magalloway and then call it a day. We both had a long drive ahead of us (I think mine was twice as long as his).
Fourth Connecticut lake in the fog
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Well, when we got ourselves going at 6:30 AM, it was windy, foggy and threatening rain, so we decided we would make do with Prospect Hill and save Magalloway for another day. Prospect Hill is a border peak about a mile west of the Pittsburg NH Customs station (see Topozone map), where Route 3 crosses the border. Prospect Hill's west peak (2920'+) is on the NH 200 highest list, so this route gets a little peakbagging traffic. We got stuck behind a few slow moose seekers on the otherwise empty road and got to the border just after 7:00. I had spoken to the agent on Friday when I came down across the border and he pointed out where the parking was and said, no there is no requirement to check with them, just park, sign in at the register at the trail head, and go ahead.
We put on an extra layer since it was windy, damp and almost cold (50s). Once we got going we warmed up and the going wasn't bad. The 4th Connecticut Lake is very near the border about half way to Prospect Hill, so for the first half of our route there was actually a trail, complete with puncheons over the boggy areas. After the Nature Conservancy bought this land from the paper companies a few years back, they added a few amenities like this to allow access to the lake.
When we got there, we took the spur trail down to the lake and it was lovely. But it would be lovelier still with a little sunshine. I vowed to return here in nice weather.
A rock ledge on the swath just below the peak
Note the recently cut slash everywhere
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The second half of the route was more typical of the border swath. It had recently been cut, so there was slash everywhere and there were actually a couple of rock ledges to scramble over, one perhaps 15 feet high. The peak itself was a small area with ledges on both sides.
It looked like there might be some nice views here in better weather. There is an IBC survey station on the summit described as follows: "ON THE EASTERN HILL OF THE TWIN PEAKS KNOWN AS PROSPECT HILL, A ROCK HUMP AT THE EXTREME NORTH EDGE OF THE SUMMIT AND THE HIGHEST POINT ON THE HILL". Pierre and I went into the woods on the north (Canadian) side looking. We found 2 or 3 bumps that were not rocky, and finally Pierre found one a little further in and to the right that was rocky. When he got there he said "I see it". Like SMITH on my first day, PROS was just waiting to be found. It was roughly 50 - 60 feet in from the swath if you want to look for it.
We decided to quit while we were ahead and save the west peak for another day. It was only another half mile, but I knew I wanted to come back here anyway. It also has an IBC survey marker SPECT, and I hope that is as easily found as PROS was. It took me a little while to "get" the naming of these stations. Cute.
IBC station PROS on a rock outcrop
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We were back at the cars by 9:20, just over 2 hours. Not bad. We put our stuff away, said goodbye, and Pierre headed north to Canada while I headed south to the Boston area (via a shower and change of clothes at the Lake Francis Campground).
But I wasn't quite through. About 30 minutes south of Pittsburg, I took a side trip to Beecher Falls Vermont and recovered one more survey marker. It's a monument on the US side of Halls Stream and it's on the Vermont / New Hampshire border just at that funny spot where a little piece of Vermont sticks over into New Hampshire. It's an interesting spot. Check the log below.
Just when I was taking a picture of this last survey marker, the rain started. Lightly at first and then heavily, it rained all the way to the Boston area. Folks down there told me it rained all weekend. But boy, I sure had perfect weather where I was.
Benchmark Recovery Log: PROS
Benchmark Recovery Log: REF MON 517
Photos: Sunday Photos
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