Saturday, May 28, 2016

Long Trail Hike (Hazens Notch to Tillotson Camp) Haystack Mountain * Tillotson Peak: 5/28/2016

Mileage: 14 miles
Elevation gain: 3390 feet
Trails used: Long Trail, Frank Post Trail.
Highlight(s): Long Trail, register on the summit of Haystack Mountain, views from the summit area of Haystack Mountain, register on the summit of Tillotson Peak.

Brian had discussed a plan for Memorial Day's weekend with me. We would continue from where we left off on the northern part of the Long Trail, and do another 22-23 miles over two days (Saturday and Sunday). This particular section would take us from Hazens Notch, over the numerous summits of Tillotson Peak, down to Belvidere Mountain (where we would take the short spur path to the fire tower on its summit, head down to cross Route 118 and then camp around Ritterbush Pond and the Devils Perch overlook. Day two would take us from there, over the summits of Bowen Mountain, Butternut Mountain and then the long jaunt over to Laraway Mountain and finally, reaching Codding Hollow Road where we would park my car. We had the basic plan down, we had the gear to do this, now we needed to put the plan into play. I met Brian at the exit 17 Park n' Ride, we stopped for gas and snacks and made the long drive into Vermont. Three hours later, and we had my car set up at the southern end where we would end the hike Sunday. Sadly though, the weather and several other factors came into play.

Haystack Mountain and Tillotson Peak are located in Lowell, Vermont. The Long Trail runs near the summit of Haystack Mountain, where a short spur path leads to the actual summit area. The Long Trail runs near the summit of Tillotson Peak, where a very obvious herd path leads to its actual summit area. There are views from the summit of Haystack Mountain and various spots along the Long Trail but with today's humid weather, they were hazy and hard to make out. 

Haystack Mountain is on the Vermont 3K List, Vermont One Hundred Highest List, and Vermont Two Hundred Highest List.

We parked the car at the Long Trail hiker parking area in Hazens Notch and made the short walk to the start of the Long Trail heading south.

From Hazens Notch to Haystack Mountain, it seemed like it was pretty steep and with the heat and humidity kicking in, this was tiring for me already.

Brian going around this comical rock, pointing us in the right direction as we continue towards the summit area of Haystack Mountain.

A view from along the Long Trail looking back towards Sugarloaf Mountain, a section of trail we did last October.

There were quite a few blowdowns along this section of the Long Trail, and massive amounts of moose droppings.

We dropped out packs to make the short 0.2 mile trek over to the summit area of Haystack Mountain, via this spur trail.

The views from the northern summit ledges of Haystack Mountain looking towards Buchanan Mountain, Gilpin Mountain, and Jay Peak/Big Jay (in the clouds). 

Surprisingly there was a small jar on the summit of Haystack Mountain (elevation: 3196 feet), even though the spur path goes right over the summit.

The views from the southern summit ledges of Haystack Mountain looking towards the multiple summits of Tillotson Peak and Belvidere Mountain.

The views from the southern summit ledges of Haystack Mountain looking towards the Lowell Mountain Range with its wind turbines.

 We continued along the very PUD filled section of the Long Trail between Haystack Mountain and Tillotson Peak. We saw a rabbit around this section of trail.

The nalgene bottle summit register on Tillotson Peak (elevation: 2999 feet).

This very obvious herd path runs directly to the summit of Tillotson Peak and was a carpet of moose poop so it is a popular area for them.

As soon as we made it to Tillotson Camp, we headed into the shelter to get out of the heat and humidity, and to escape the bugs that only became worse as the day wore on. I, also, suffered as we made the climb to Tillotson Peak and it seemed like I ran into a literal wall. I had no energy, I felt sick, and with a heavy pack it was like I was carrying someone during the hike. We stayed inside the shelter for a good hour and a half, as I took a brief snooze. When I awoke, I had to make the difficult decision to end the hike here instead of carrying on, trying to gut it out and make it up and over Belvidere Mountain and see how day two would turn out. I chose option one and Brian did not complain about the decision, although I beat myself up about it all the way down and back to the car.

The view, through the trees, of Belvidere Mountain and its fire tower as we are leaving the Tillotson Camp to head back down.

We decided to bail off of the Long Trail and take the Frank Post Trail, and make the long road walk back to Brian's car.

The Frank Post Trail was easy to follow and moderately steep in its upper section but mild and very pleasant down low.

There are several water crossings (minor) and you walk next to a brook for a bit in the lower sections of the Frank Post Trail.

This weird looking creature followed us for a bit and reminded me of the depictions of cows on South Park. 

It was a tough, long six plus miles of road walking back to the car. It wasn't until we were almost a mile from the car that we decided to drop out backpacks on the side of the road, and come pick them up when we got to the car. The bugs only got worse, the heat was pretty steady and the humidity had us using all of our water reserves pretty much before we got back to the car.

Do I regret having made the choice I did to return to the car and end the hike after only one day? While I felt bad physically, it was a mental battle with myself as I feel I let Brian down by not continuing on but sometimes its better to cut your losses and not make the problems worse. Four and a half miles in and stopping is an easier thing to handle than being ten miles in with an even harder escape route. I know we were both relieved to be back at the car and heading home early.

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Mount Kineo: 5/22/2016

Mileage: 4.45 miles
Elevation gain: 1520 feet
Trails used: Mount Kineo Trail, bushwhack.
Highlight(s): summit canister on Mount Kineo, open woods bushwhack.
Type of Hike: Trailed, bushwhack.
Views: No

I was off Wednesday (and hiked), I worked yesterday so I couldn't hike, and Sunday I wasn't sure if I wanted to hike or just stay home. I figured if I hiked, I wanted something on the easy side to do and after talking with my friend Keith, I decided on doing Mount Kineo which is located in Ellsworth, New Hampshire and in the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest. Mount Kineo is also the highest point in Ellsworth. 

I had been to Mount Kineo once before five years ago, and it is an awesome area for moose and bushwhacking. Thus, I would have a few objectives for the day: hike the section of the Mount Kineo Trail to the height of land, go to the summit of Mount Kineo, and look for moose antlers along the way. The weather was going to be nice with a slight chance of rain (which would make the day comfortable) but the bugs were going to be out, as usual.

I tried driving up this side road off of Hubbard Brook Road that takes you to the Mount Kineo Trailhead but was stopped by two big tree's across the road. It was 0.2 miles from where I parked to the trailhead.

The start of the Mount Kineo Trail on the Hubbard Brook Experimental Forest side. I would take the Mount Kineo Trail to the height of land, and then bushwhack to the summit.

The Mount Kineo Trail was moderately steep and pretty easy to follow. I was surprised to see blazes occasionally, and there were quite a few wet areas with bog bridges that have seen better days sadly.

I passed this game camera that is right along the Mount Kineo Trail. They monitor wildlife using the trail and I am sure I am on one of the pictures now.

The wide open woods as I begin the bushwhack to the summit of Mount Kineo. There was moose poop everywhere up on the summit ridge.

The canister and sign on the wooded, view-less summit of Mount Kineo (elevation: 3313 feet). 

I decided to deviate from my tracks going to the summit of Mount Kineo, and headed northeast through open woods all the way back to the Mount Kineo Trail.

On the bushwhack down from the summit of Mount Kineo, I came across the last resting spot of a moose which consisted of hair and bones.

A feeder stream of Hubbard Brook that I crossed on the way back to the Mount Kineo Trail. That blurry object on the left is a black fly, which were swarming today.

I found a really old moose antler (well probably about 1/10th of it as it was chewed pretty extensively) and not much else. It is a pretty moose heavy area as evidenced by the moose poop scattered everywhere as well as plenty of herd paths. I saw no other animals, nor did I see anyone else until I was driving on Hubbard Brook Road to leave. The black fly swarm was out in force, and only got worse when I stopped or when I was back at the car. It was still just as nice of a hike as the first time I did Mount Kineo.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Round Mountain (Chatham) * Slope Mountain: 5/7/2016

Mileage: 8.10
Elevation gain: 1580 feet
Trails used: Slippery Brook Trail, road walk, bushwhack.
Highlight(s): none.

Brian was on an off day of hiking, and Desi was doing trail work in the Belknap's, so I would be hiking alone. This days hike would probably not be fun as the threat of rain would be around most of the day and the chance for views, if any, would be limited. Combine that with a road walk and bushwhack and it was going to be a long day in the woods for two peaks separated by about a mile. The drive to the trailhead for the Mountain Pond Trail was slow and when I got there, and started to gear up the black flies were already swarming. They, along with drizzle and overcast skies, would be around for the majority of this hike.

Round Mountain and Slope Mountain are located in Chatham, New Hampshire. There are no trails that go to the wooded, view-less summits of Round Mountain and Slope Mountain so it  so it requires a combination of trails and a bushwhack to reach their high points. There are ledges around the summit of Slope Mountain which could provide views.

I walked around the gate outside the parking area for the Mountain Pond Trail as I made my way to the end of Slippery Brook Road.

The actual start of the Slippery Brook Trail,  which starts off as an old woods road. I did not stay on it long before I headed into the woods to bushwhack to the summit of Round Mountain.

Walking along the Slippery Brook Trail with Round Mountain coming into view.

The woods were wide open as I approached the summit of Round Mountain.

One of a few possible summit high points for Round Mountain (elevation: 2181 feet).

I headed down into a marshy area in between Round Mountain and Slope Mountain in open woods. I had to cross Mcdonough Brook which wasn't too hard.

The woods on the summit of Slope Mountain (elevation: 2008 feet) were a bit scrappy and there were three bumps that could contend for highest point.

Someone thinks this small cairn denotes the high point of Slope Mountain.

I followed various old logging roads and snowmobile trails as I made my way back to the car.

One of several beaver ponds I had to move around or climb across the dam so I could make it back to my car. It was very swampy in between Round Mountain and Slope Mountain.

At first, on my way back, I wanted to angle more towards Mountain Pond and then use the hiking trail to get back to the car. The numerous old logging roads would make that task more difficult so I just opted to make a bee line back to where I parked instead of trying to find the trail. Once again, while changing my shoes, the black flies were even worse at this point so it was a hurry and get in the car and take off kind of thing, effectively ending today's hikes.

Plausawa Hill * unnamed peak (Chichcester high point) * Garvin Hill: 5/11/2016

Mileage: 2.45 miles
Elevation gain: 595 feet
Trails used: old logging roads, forests roads, bushwhack.
Highlight(s): views from the summit of Plausawa Hill, views from the summit of Garvin Hill.

Brian and I had taken Tuesday off of work to attend a Corrosion of Conformity, Clutch, and Lamb of God concert at the House of Blues in Boston, and had Wednesday off as well to recuperate from the long night. Brian was going to take it easy and probably hike the Uncanoonuc Mountains which are near to his house, while I was originally not going to do much to do besides some grocery shopping. As I was going to be in the area in Concord anyways, I decided to do a few town high points. The first high point is visible when I drive from Contoocook into Concord and I had always wondered what exactly the peak was. Now I know. When I arrived at my starting destination, the black fly swarm was on me immediately and worse by the time I returned to the car.

Plausawa Hill is located in Pembroke, New Hampshire. Plausawa Hill is also the highest point in Pembroke. The Chichester town high point and Garvin Hill are located in Chichester, New Hampshire. Obviously the no-named peak between Plausawa Hill and Garvin Hill is the highest point in Chichester. There are no trails that go from Plausawa Hill to the wooded, view-less summit of the unnamed Chichester town high point, and then over to Garvin Hill so it requires a bushwhack to reach its high point. There are ledges around the summit of Plausawa Hill that provide views, and views can be had from Garvin Hill (although you should ask for permission to hike around on the property).

I started by walking up the access road off of Plausawa Hill Road towards the high point of Plausawa Hill. It is a very short road walk.

The views from the summit area of Plausawa Hill looking towards Mount Kearsarge, Mount Sunapee and Mount Lovewell.

The views from the summit area of Plausawa Hill looking towards Crotched Mountain, North Pack Monadnock Mountain, Pack Monadnock Mountain and Wapack Range, Joe English Hill and the Uncanoonucs.

This vacant house is pretty much on the high point for Plausawa Hill (elevation: 1000 feet).

Just behind the house on the summit of Plausuwa Hill is this communications tower, which is visible from Concord and surrounding towns.

I made my way through a flagged ATV trail and across this swampy area in the saddle between Plausawa Hill and the un-named peak that denotes the Chichester town high point.

Along the way, I use several ATV/snowmobile trails as I made my way to the Chichester town high point.

The Chichester town high point (elevation: 1015 feet).

I made my way over to Garvin Hill, where the land owner was out doing some work so I didn't want to bother him and go to the high point which is roughly where the house is.

I followed the old roads back towards Plausawa Hill and came across this old stack of wood and bridge. Not sure why its out here in the middle of nowhere.

I also came across this hunting stand on the way back to the car, so it's a nice deer area.

A rather quick round trip hike with pleasant hiking weather and temperatures. There are views from Plausawa Hill and Garvin Hill, so besides doing the mediocre bushwhack to the Chichester town high point, it was a nice easy hike. I did manage to pull 5 ticks off of me during the hike and when I got back to the car, and the black fly swarm was out in full force. Not a bad bushwhack overall, even though I still had a headache from the night before.