Hikes in Northern Vermont and New Hampshire
October 17 - 22, 2007

by Papa Bear

(Photo of Columbia Bridge)
Columbria Bridge near Colebrook NH
State boundary monument in foreground
(Click on the picture for a larger image)


Introduction:

A Week in Vermont and New Hampshire

I

 just got back from a wonderful week in Vermont and New Hampshire. Part vacation, part hiking, part benchmark hunting and all enjoyable.

Two days were spent in Woodstock VT visiting friends and doing some site-seeing and some benchmark hunting.

Then my wife took a bus home and I drove up to Pittsburg NH where I met Nate. Along the way I found several VT-NH boundary markers including the one at the very northeast point of Vermont on the shore of the Connecticut River.

On Saturday Nate and I climbed Vermont's Monadnock and then headed over to Kelsey. Nate bagged that peak, but I ran out of steam after Monadnock's 2300 feet of elevation gain and waited out a brief rain shower in the car.

Sunday we did Rump from East Inlet Road and then drove up to Rhubarb Pond where we whacked up to the boundary and bagged the Crown Monument. Nate then went on to d'Urban, but I skipped that repeat.

Monday we went our separate ways. I traveled down to Dixville Notch (again) and did the Dixville Peak / Table Rock loop. Then it was home with a stop over in Natick MA.

The weather was perfect (like September rather than late October) except for a downpour Friday night and the brief shower on Saturday afternoon.

Details follow.

Consolidated album for the entire trip: (link)


Siteseeing and Benchmarking in the Woodstock area

On our free day, my wife and I drove along the Ottauquechee to Quechee and then up to West Hartford and down through the Pomfrets back to Woodstock. Foliage was at it's peak and luckily most (other) tourists had left after the weekend. Here's a sampler of our pictures (click on the picture for full size).

Windsor Couty Courthouse on the Woodstock town green
(Photo of Windsor County Courthouse)
(Click on the picture for a larger image)

Taftsville Covered Bridge
(Photo of Taftsville Covered Bridge)
(Click on the picture for a larger image)

Along the Ottauquechee River
(Photo of Ottauquechee River)
(Click on the picture for a larger image)

Quechee Dam with the old mill (now the Simon Pearce glass works)
(Photo of Queechy Dam)
(Click on the picture for a larger image)

The next day we first visited the new AT relocation at Thundering Falls (which our friend had helped survey) and then drove up the service road to the top of Killington to recover the old 1874 survey marker.

New boardwalk over the wetlands
(Photo of New boardwalk over the wetlands)
(Click on the picture for a larger image)

The original 1874 Killington survey marker (iron bolt)
inside a triangle chiseled in the rock

(Photo of Killington Survey Marker)
(Click on the picture for a larger image)

Wednesday's photos: (link)
Thursday's photos: (link)


Friday - to Pittsburg NH

Friday I drove up to Pittsburg NH. On the way I found several of the VT-NH boundary markers. These are all on the Vermont side of the Connecticut River and technically they are "Reference Marks" since they are not on the actual line (which is along the west bank of the river) but serve to point to the line.

Here are a few of the more interesting ones:

Marker in the grass near the Columbia Covered Bridge (Photo of State boundary disk near the Columbia Covered Bridge)
(Click on the picture for a larger image)

Granite monument in Beecher Falls on the NH line
(Photo of Granite monument )
(Click on the picture for a larger image)

And here's the one that the above granite monument refers to: it's on a rock at the Connecticut River shore and is exactly 1 foot from the NE point of Vermont.

Marker at the Northeast Point of Vermont
(Photo of Monument #91 at river's edge)
(Click on the picture for a larger image)

Friday's photos: (link)


Saturday: Monadnock and attempt on Kelsey

I met Nate at 6:00 AM at Dube's Pits Stop (open at 5:30 AM, Gulf pump in front). It had poured the night before and was still lightly raining, so we agreed to save the bushwhacks off of East Inlet Road for Sunday and go down to Colebrook and then cross to Vermont to bag Monadnock. Then we would drive east on Route 26 through Dixville Notch and go for Kelsey.

Monadnock

The trailhead for Vermont's Monadnock is a few hundred yards north of the Colebrook bridge at a gravel pit. Drive in to the pit and park up to the left. Then just follow the signs.

The rain has stopped but the top of the mountain was still in clouds. But it was clearing rapidly and it would be a gorgeous day.

After crossing in a grassy area we got on the trail proper.
(Photo of disk under the tower)
The disk is uncovered
(Click on the picture for a larger image)
The vegetation was still wet but the climbing was all easy. But the 2300+ feet of elevation gain in 2.5 miles is not to be scoffed at and my (out of shape) body was feeling some pain.

The trail is in 3 sections: a trail trough the woods with the usual New England rocks, a portion on a woods road, and a fine section up to the summit. The woods road actually goes down to the highway but access is blocked by some houses.

We reached the top in about 1.5 hours and were greeted by a tall lookout tower that had been recently renovated. The stairs and cabin were in great shape. But before climbing the tower I had to find the survey marker. After about 10 minutes we found it under about 3 inches of dirt and ashes under the tower. There is supposed to be a second disk there set by the USGS, but we could not find it.

Then, having bagged the marker, I climbed the tower (where Nate was lounging). The views were magnificent and climbing the tower was quite an accomplishment for me (as a few folks here will know).

When we were done, we returned to the car. On the way we met an ATV going up the woods road. It was a hunter (it was the first day of moose season)
(Photo of Monadnock)
Monadnock
(Click on the picture for a larger image)
but the hunter seemed clueless that this was a public trail or even where the road went. It turns out the land owner allows access to the lower section of this road for hunting.

I highly recommend this "other" Monadnock. You won't be disappointed and you certainly won't see a hundred other people when you get to the top. We were back at the car by noon and it was off to the west on Route 26 for Kelsey.

Kelsey

(Photo of Kelsey bridge )
The Kelsey bridge is back
(Click on the picture for a larger image)
To get to Kelsey we drove through Dixville Notch. I had never been there and it's amazing. The road is very narrow and winding with sheer cliffs on either side. Go see it!

I'll let Nate give a report on Kelsey if he wants to. I was about half way up when I ran out of steam. I let him go on and went back to the car (Ahh ... the pleasures of an afternoon nap). A couple of notes on the access. The last report here mentioned problems with the road and a bridge out just after the left fork. But the logging road seemed more drivable than we were led to believe (you will of course need a high clearance vehicle) and the bridge over the Clear River has been replaced. It looks like the just plunked an old bridge deck over the gap. Or maybe they had set it off to the side for repairs.

Saturday's photos: (link)


Sunday: Rump and the Crown Monument

On Sunday we did what we had originally planned for Saturday. The woods were dryer and we were ready for a whack. We each were doing a repeat: Nate had done Monadnock before and was happy to do it again with me, and I had done Rump last year and was happy to do it again with Nate.

Rump is actually in Maine but it is usually done from East Inlet Road on the New Hampshire side. The east face is very steep and the logging roads on the NH side get you pretty close. The state line actually pases over the side of Rump and I had found NH-ME boundary marker No. 118 last year on the way to Rump.

I had no desire to go to the state line monument again since it brings you close to the west peak which was cliffier and scrappier then slabbing in along the north side. But Nate was interested in seeing it, so he would do it as a side trip from the whack route.

A word on access: the roads can take you up close to 3000' but Onestep said in his recent report he "wouldn't recommend it". We could see why he would say that. Last year Gamehiker and I only went in about a mile before finding the pits left from the culverts that had been pulled became too much. This year it seemed worse, but this year we had Nate and his Subaru. Nate carefully and methodically navigated the whole route to 3000'. The only thought (not quite unspoken) was "how do we get out of here if we get stuck". But we passed 5 or 6 parked SUVs & trucks on the road (sleeping hunters waiting for moose to wake them?) so we hoped we could ask someone for a tow if things got bad. But we made it. And you can too (but of course I "wouldn't recommend it" ).

The plan was to slab in directly to the east peak from the end of the road (where a trail continues south). When we reached the state line, Nate would scoot over to find the monument and then scoot back and I would continue on, staying off the west peak.

(Photo of Into the woods)
Into the woods
(Click on the picture for a larger image)

(When I first step into the woods like this I often wonder "do I really want to go in there"? How about you?)

Easier said than done! Staying on a contour is much harder than going up or down. I found myself being pulled up towards the west peak, but I stayed down with all my will and finally hit the col. the col is very pleasant. Open with numerous moose beds and ferns etc. The were some steep and scrappy areas however so I won't pretend it was all a walk in the park. But by and large this is an easy whack. It's about .9 miles as the crow flies and I got to the canister in about 1:15. Nate showed up about 10 - 15 minutes later so his jaunt over to the state line monument and back went well.

There are now 4 canisters hanging on the peak. There are 3 bumps and the canisters are on the most northerly one. Of course we argued whether this bump was really the highest, but that's what we always do, no?

I spent some time looking for the survey marker which I couldn't find last year and guess what? I couldn't find it again this year.

(Photo of Nate at the outlook)
Nate at the outlook
(Click on the picture for a larger image)
There is a nice exposed ledge just east of the middle bump and we enjoyed the views. There were some lakes down to the south and we wondered if we could see Azizcohos from here. Maybe someone knows?

Getting back we managed to find a cliff but we didn't fall off and we were back to the car in a bit over 3 hours round trip. On the way out we noticed there were only 2 hunter's vehicles left. Either moose hunting was good (which I doubt) or the guys just gave up.

On to the Crown Monument

So what is the "Crown Monument" anyway? Its a granite stone placed in 1858 at the north end of the NH-ME boundary line. It is located underground at US-Canada boundary monument 475, which is located about 1/2 mile north of Rhubarb Pond and the north end of East Inlet Road.

I found it last year and with Oncoman's help, uncovered it (see: report from last year). It was sitting about 3 inches beneath the ground level in front of Monument 475. Unfortunately I didn't think about the implications of leaving it uncovered. There is some ATV traffic along the boundary vista and there is hunting from the Canadian side almost directly across from the monument. The boundary commission, which maintains the vista and monuments, had carefully preserved this state line monument when they renewed monument 475 in 1993 and had purposely covered it to prevent possible vandalism or theft of the stone. I realized this last year too late, and have been meaning to go back and bury the thing. Now at last I could fulfill this responsibility.

It probably sounds crazy to go to all this trouble to find this artifact and then bury it again, but unfortunately not every one appreciates this bit of history and some might think it would be "fun" to break it or steal it. I have seen a few of the international boundary monuments broken off in what looked like deliberate acts of vandalism. But first Nate wanted to see it, so we were in this together. If you go to find it and uncover it, please cover it over again when you leave.
(Photo of Beaver Dam)
Last year a beaver dam
(Click on the picture for a larger image)
(Photo of road)
This year a bridge
(Click on the picture for a larger image)

We got to Rhubarb Pond and lo and behold, what was a beaver dam last year was now a bridge (actually a road over a pair of large culverts)! Either the logging company or the state which oversees the area had placed this bridge, but there was nothing beyond, no logging, no nothing. Just an old road flooded here and there by beaver activity. (I guess they were ticked off by the bridge)

It was an easy 1/2 mile whack up to the border. Nate managed to find a herd path, probably used by surveyors who had marked the state line, which led almost directly to the monument. I was worried by what we might find, but all was well. The stone monument was sitting there good as new at the base of the international monument.

The Crown Monument
(Photo of crown monument)
Crown Monument in front of the US-Canada Boundary Monument
(Click on the picture for a larger image)

Interestingly, there was a Canadian hunter in a blind right across from the monument and he said he was hunting moose (I guess everyone hunts moose at the same time) but he had seen none. He said his boy was up around the corner, I guess in another blind.

I went to work burying this treasure while Nate went off the mile or so to bag d'Urban (which he did). After finishing the job, I bid adieu to the hunter and whacked down the hill to the old flooded road. I spent some time enjoying the sights of this very wild pond and then got back to the car for my usual nap until Nate returned. Another great day in the North Country.

Chuckle of the day: When I left the boundary vista and said goodbye to the Canadian hunter up in the blind, he said "Your boy went on ahead". Too complicated to explain, I said "Yes he's climbing the next mountain, but I'm going back to the car." He smiled at that. I guess Nate and I look so much alike!

We hit the Back Rub Pizza place again and enjoyed the local culture before hitting the sack at Tall Timber Lodge where I was staying for the 3 nights.
Sunday's photos: (link)


Monday: Dixville Peak - Table Rock Loop

Nate and I were up again at 6:00 AM on Monday. He had arranged with his work to take this day off and of course my boss lets me do what I like (my boss=me!). He was going back to East Inlet Road to bag Trumbull, Salmon and Kent and I would head down to Dixville Notch again, this time to climb Dixville Peak. Nate had suggested I visit Artists' Bluff, near Cannon Mountain on the way home. Instead I found something equally interesting (maybe more so).

The drive down route 145 in the morning mist was idyllic. From Colebrook I drove east to the Notch and picked up a map at the hotel. The guy who explained how to get to the trail head assumed I was going to Table Rock, 'cause everybody goes there. I said no, I'm goin to Dixville Peak. Oh that's different, he said,. SO he directed me to the ski area parking lot and I was off.

So what is Table Rock? You can see it from the road and it looks awesome. It's even more awesome when you're standing on it. Sort of like that photo-op rock at Bondcliff, except this one has a hotel at it's foot. As they say, you gotta see this to believe it. But I digress.

After getting oriented and chatting with a maintenance guy (the only one there) I found the trail up. It's an active cross country ski and snowmobile trail, so it was pretty easy going.

(Photo of Dixville Peak )
Dixville Peak summit area
(Click on the picture for a larger image)
(Photo of the so-called trail
)
Wet going on the so-called trail
(Click on the picture for a larger image)
Hey 3K baggers: tired of branches scratching your cornea? Tired of scratched arms and legs? Tired of always trusting your compass? Well, try Dixville Peak. It's the 3 K for those who hate to bushwhack. You can ever drive your snow machine to the top (in season. It's cheating of course).

It was easy going. I suggest going in late fall after the ground is frozen but before there's much snow cover.

The top is cleared but unfortunately the trees have grown up to block the view, but there are plenty of views from the trail on the way up or back. One unexpected siting from along the trail, was a friendly Snow Bunting who made an appearance both on my way up and again on my return. These are a rarity in New York City!
I of course found the obligatory summit survey marker and was down again before noon. To go to Table Rock you take a right turn about halfway down. This is also a snowmobile trail, but be prepared for plenty of water and mud.

About half way to Table Rock you hit the top of the ski lift. Be careful here. I went straight ahead in the direction the trail was taking but that ended up in a totally flooded area. I back tracked and finally found my way across the top of the groomed ski area. Go straight across to the furthest ski trail and down a little and you'll see the trail sign off to the right. More mud and water and eventually I got to Table Rock.

(Photo of Balsam Hotel from Table Rock)
Balsam Hotel from Table Rock
(Click on the picture for a larger image)
There is a brief rocky down hill scramble of about 20 yards then a little up hill and then you are there! No guard rails, about 4 feet wide and awesome exposure. I wish I had more photos. This one shows the hotel way below and another outcrop to the right which forms a twin with Table Rock. There's also a shot from below, the perspective is not too good but you can get a sense of the area from that.

After getting back to the car and having a bite to eat it was off to the Boston area in about 4:30 hours. And after a night at my son's it was back to NYC by Tuesday noon. Great week! On time and under budget!

Monday's photos: (link)


Consolidated album for these treks

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