Saturday, June 25, 2016

Sugarloaf Mountain (Stratford) * Devils Slide: 6/25/2016

Kris emailed me several weeks ago asking if I had a weekend available so that we could possibly get together for a hike, as he had not gotten out to hike for about four months. Last week, I could not hike do to an Appalachian Mountain Club Four Thousand Footer committee meeting, but I told him I could do a hike the week of June 25th-26th. Fast forward to early in the week.

Tentative plans were made (earlier in the week) for Saturday to be our day to hike, but at the time it would only be Kris and I. Since this was Kris' idea I pretty much let him decide what he wanted to do, as he is working on the New Hampshire Two Hundred Highest List and has quite a few peaks he still needed to do. We threw ideas back and forth and eventually I was messaging Brian (who had planned to do some views type hikes in Vermont at first), and pretty soon I was bouncing ideas back and forth between the two. The way Kris and I figured it, we could always change our minds as we drove north, as the day was set to provide us warm temperatures and nice views. Eventually, plans were set in stone and we were ready for the hike Saturday.

Sugarloaf Mountain

Mileage: 4.20 miles
Elevation gain: 2130 feet
Trails/Route used: Sugarloaf Mountain Trail.
Highlights(s): Former fire tower peak, almost 360 degree views from the summit of Sugarloaf Mountain.
Type of Hike: Trailed.
Views: Yes

Brian decided he would be joining us for today's hike so the decision was to meet at the exit 17 park n' ride at seven a.m. We would pile all of our gear in one car and make the trip north for a nice day hike (or two). I started the day off on the right note, as I left a container of fruit in my car from the prior weeks hike, and with the heat of the week, the fruit was a bit ripe (fuzzy and smelly as well). I had no clue what the smell was until i got to the park n' ride. Once I figured out what it was, I disposed of the fruit and we put all of our stuff in Kris' SUV and made our way north.

Originally Kris wanted to do South Percy and North Percy but we decided on a peak that was nearby: Sugarloaf Mountain, which is located in Stratford, New Hampshire. Sugarloaf Mountain is also the highest point in Stratford. Personally, this would be my third time on Sugarloaf Mountain (the first time with Mike, Brian and Joe as we bushwhacked over to Castle Mountain and West Castle, and then with Desi a year later), although each time I have gotten decent views from the summit. This time, it would be Sugarloaf Mountain by itself as Kris had not hiked in awhile thus saving Gore and West Castle for later journeys.

We made the drive to Nash Stream Road fairly quickly and when we passed by the Percy Peaks Trail head area, there were already a few people out hiking so it was possible to be a busy day in the area. Once at the trail head parking area, we geared up and made the steep climb towards the summit of Sugarloaf Mountain.

*Sugarloaf Mountain is on the New Hampshire One Hundred Highest List, New Hampshire Two Hundred Highest List, New Hampshire 3K List and New Hampshire 52WAV (With a View).*

We parked at this cabin just off of Nash Stream Road, taking care not to block the driveway. You need to walk past the cabin to get to the actual trail. Brian is telling us to hurry up before we start our hike towards the summit of Sugarloaf Mountain. 

The water was flowing in this little stream despite the lack of rain lately.

The Sugarloaf Mountain Trail is steady and steep as it makes its way towards the summit of Sugarloaf Mountain.

You pass the remains of the old fire wardens cabin as you make your last push up towards the summit of Sugarloaf Mountain.

As we climbed past the old fire wardens cabin site, we looked back to get a taste of the views to come from the summit of Sugarloaf Mountain.

Only a few more feet and we will make it to the summit of Sugarloaf Mountain.

The views from ledges below the summit of Sugarloaf Mountain looking towards Teapot Mountain, Goback and Savage Mountain-East Peak, with East Mountain, Burke Mountain and Umpire Mountain in the background.

The views south from the summit of Sugarloaf Mountain looking towards nearby Stratford Mountain, North Percy Peak, South Percy Peak, the Pilot Range, Mount Washington and the Presidential Range, Mount Cabot, the Bulge, then Horn, North Twin, South Twin, Mount Garfield and Franconia Ridge

The views looking southeast from the summit of Sugarloaf Mountain towards Whitcomb Mountain-West Peak and Long Mountain. The Mahoosuc Mountain Range is in the background: Mount Carlo, Goose Eye Mountain, Fulling Mill Mountain, Old Speck and the Baldpates. The Carter Range is to the right of Long Mountain.

The views looking south from the summit of Sugarloaf Mountain towards North Percy Peak, South Percy Peak, the Horn, the Bulge, and Mount Cabot. In the background, the views of Mount Washington, Mount Adams, Mount Madison, Mount Monroe, Carter Notch and Carter Dome rule the picture.

This old stove was on some lower ledges on the summit of Sugarloaf Mountain. I can't remember if it was there the two times I was there before, or if someone hauled it up here.

Its nice to sit on a summit on a day like this, and with super nice views.

It would have been a perfect day if not for the bugs, which made sitting up on the summit of Sugarloaf Mountain not so much fun. It was nice that we had a slight breeze, though.

The high point for Sugarloaf Mountain (elevation 3701 feet).

We sat on the summit for awhile to unwind after the steep climb, and to relax before we headed back down. The views from the summit have yet to disappoint, like the two other times I have been here, and today did not disappoint. The only negative was the black flies that buzzed us constantly, causing Brian and I to don our bug net hats and Kris his soft shell jacket. Eventually we decided to make the steep descent back down and made it in good time back to Kris' car, only passing two other hikers heading up to the summit area.

Devils Slide

Mileage: 1.85 miles
Elevation gain: 1085 feet
Trails used: bushwhack, unknown trail.
Highlight(s): views from ledges below summit of Devils Slide.
Type of Hike: Trailed, bushwhack.
Views: Yes

I had brought along a book "Explorers Guide 50 Hikes North of the White Mountains written by Kim Nilsen" and found this next hike in one of the chapters, so we thought "why not?". It didn't look that bad and even though were pretty spent from the steep descent off of Sugarloaf Mountain, we figured we had time and energy (or so we thought) to do another "easy" hike. Devils Slide is located in Stark, New Hampshire and it seemed like we were almost right around the corner from Sugarloaf Mountain as Kris made the quick drive into Stark.

The directions in the book were a bit confusing (as we would come to find out later). We even had to stop and ask a local resident outside of their house where the trail started and we were told that it was a short ways down the road.  I think the people asked figured we were going to try and drive up to the summit in Kris' SUV as i was told "we wouldn't make it up the road in that car". It seemed like we drove down the road several times, passing the houses in the area over and over before we stopped and found an old road of some sort heading into the woods. Kris parked, we geared up, and then headed into the woods hoping to have some views from the cliffs that are on the east side of Devils Slide.

We parked on the side of Northside Road after getting directions by some locals who obviously were not too sure where the actual trail started. We went anyways.

The dirt road disappeared not long after we started up it so we bushwhacked through mostly open woods, and rather steeply at times, towards the summit of Devils Slide.

Eventually we hit this yellow blazed trail, which we took to get near the ledges below the summit of Devils Slide.

The views from ledges below the summit of Devils Slide looking towards Mill Mountain and Stark, New Hampshire.

The wooded, view-less high point for Devils Slide (elevation: 1580 feet).

I walked past the summit of Devils Slide, along a herd path that ran towards another ledge with views looking towards Square Mountain, Rogers Ledge-North Peak, and Unknown Pond Peak.

This short road walk back to Kris' car provided us this look towards South Percy Peak, as Brian admires it along the way.

We followed the un-named trail a short ways but noticed it was heading off in the opposite direction of the car, so we ended up bushwhacking back down to the road and walking through the property of the people we initially asked for directions, and then short road walk back to the car. 

On the way back out, we managed to find where the trail actually started (exactly where the book says it is, but the yellow blaze is very hard to notice if you are not looking for it). The trail would actually make things a lot easier if you aren't too fond of bushwhacking. 

Overall, the views from Sugarloaf Mountain was the highlight of the day. We thought there would be decent enough views from the ledges on Devils Cliff but for the effort, you can find them on other peaks in the area like Sugarloaf Mountain or North Percy Peak and South Percy Peak. Still, despite the bugs, it was a nice day to be out hiking with Brian and Kris.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

West Quarry * East Quarry * Rand Mountain: 6/12/2016

Mileage: 4.60 miles
Elevation gain: 1455 feet
Trails used: Old Clough Road, Dave Roberts Quarry Trail.
Highlight(s): old quarry site.
Type of hike: Trailed.
Views: Yes

I did a quick hike on Saturday, but Desi wanted to get out for a hike and Sunday was going to be a perfect weather day to get out and enjoy one, so I mentioned a hike in the Belknap Range. I only had two peaks left to do, West Quarry and Rand Mountain, and then I would be done with all twelve peaks in the Belknap Range. Plus, we could red-line some trails while we were out hiking and Desi needed the three peaks that we would get along the days hike so it was a win-win all around. 

We headed out kind of late in the morning and made the drive into Gilford. I had attempted to do these peaks in the late winter/early spring but the road into the trailhead was snowed over and I would not have made my car too far up. There was a pile of plowed snow as well, and I didn't feel comfortable parking in front of the house that is near there. This time we were able to drive up the rough road, where we parked and geared up quickly to begin the hike.

West Quarry, East Quarry and Rand Mountain are located in Gilford, New Hampshire. I only needed to do West Quarry and Rand Mountain, but we would see how the day went and try to do more. We brought along a map of the Belknap Range, to see what we could string together if we wanted to continue on.

Desi walking up Old Clough Road. We drove as far as we could (right around this spot) and parked in the tall grass. Right away, it was tick city.

Old Clough Road was tall grass to start, then it transitioned to mostly dirt and old tire tracks as we neared the Quarry Trail junction.

The junction of Old Clough Road and the Dave Roberts Quarry Trail. We would turn left and head towards West Quarry and East Quarry first.

Just before you make the steady climb to the summit of West Quarry, you come across an old stone quarry site.

Several metal cables and artifacts are in the area. Please respect and leave these relics of our past in the same spot you found them for others to enjoy.

We decided to take the Quarry Trail spur path up towards the summits of West Quarry and East Quarry, which was rather steep.

A section of the Quarry Trail, as it makes its way to the summit of West Quarry.

The West Quarry summit sign, which is not the actual high point for West Quarry. It's about 100 feet nearby and reachable by herd path.

The wooded, view-less high point for West Quarry (elevation: 1894 feet).

Another section of the Quarry Trail as we head over to East Quarry.

The wooded, view-less high point for East Quarry (elevation: 1880 feet), which I had visited with Brian in the past.

We took the Quarry Trail back down to the old quarry site, which was just as steep and with quite a few ledges like the Quarry Trail spur path.

A view from some ledges along the Quarry Trail looking towards Rand Mountain, Gunstock Mountain and Mount Rowe.

Another steep section of the Quarry Trail, which looked like there was ten different ways people climb up through here.

There were quite a few snakes out sunning themselves along the Quarry Trail, as we headed towards the summit of Rand Mountain.

The wooded, view-less high point for Rand Mountain (elevation: 1883 feet).

After hitting my final peak in the Belknap Range (and with little celebration), we reversed course off of Rand Mountain, where we saw the only other hikers today (coming down as we were heading up) and made it to the col between Rand Mountain and West Quarry. We walked back down Clough Road and back to the car rather quickly (tick control). Desi actually had more ticks on her than I did today, surprisingly. 

This was a nice day to be out. I finished my Belknap Range peaks finally (on Rand Mountain) and we both managed to red-line a few trails in the area. Since these peaks are relatively close, and always make for a good time, I am sure I will go back to continue hiking more of the trails in the Belknaps.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Brown Ash Swamp Hill South * Brown Ash Swamp Hill North: 6/11/2016

Mileage: 3.15 miles
Elevation gain: 930 feet
Trails used: none. bushwhack.
Highlight(s): register on the summit of Brown Ash Swamp Hill South, register on the summit of Brown Ash Swamp Hill North, open woods bushwhack.
Type of Hike: Bushwhack.

Deciding to keep it a low mileage day with one, maybe two hikes, I had a few peaks in mind for Saturday. Due to low ambition and energy levels lately, it helped influence my decision to not want to travel too far north, as well. So, I decided to do a few peaks just off of I-93 which (hopefully) wouldn't take too long, and I could be home early.

I originally checked these peaks out for access a few months back but wasn't keen on the approach I wanted to take so I never did them at the time, plus with the late time of day I put this on the back burner. I saw a recent trip report though that confirmed the particular access is doable, although you should ask the property owner if it is okay first (who I did run into). I parked with cloudy skies and moderate temperatures and began my hike while the bugs weren't out yet.

Brown Ash Swamp Hill South and Brown Ash Swamp Hill North are located in Thornton, New Hampshire. There are no trails that go to the wooded, view-less summits of Brown Ash Swamp Hill South and Brown Ash Swamp Hill North so it so it requires a bushwhack to reach their high points.

I parked at the cul-de-sac on Wanosha Road, and started hiking on an obvious flagged trail, which crossed these plastic crates and led to a private camp area (which was occupied).

I bushwhacked from the camp, steeply at times, through open woods towards the summit of Brown Ash Swamp Hill South peak.

I hit the White Mountain National Forest boundary, which is just below the summit area of Brown Ash Swamp Hill South peak.

With the warm weather and abundant sun, the snakes were out sunning themselves.

Nice open woods between the summit of Brown Ash Swamp Hill South and Brown Ash Swamp Hill North made for quick, easy bushwhacking.

The jar register on the summit of Brown Ash Swamp Hill South (elevation: 1903 feet).

Just as I was coming off of the summit of Brown Ash Swamp Hill South peak, I noticed something big swoop down and land in this tree. I believe it is a barred owl.

The woods were open as I hit Brown Ash Swamp Hill North (elevation: 2009 feet).

I reversed course and headed back down, pretty much using my route heading up, and made it to the car as the owner of the property was surveying the area. He has survey stakes set out and a private driveway in place for a house he is having built in the near future. 

Seeing the owl was neat as I have seen them from a distance but not close up. The bugs held off for most of the day, but were pretty persistent as I got back to the car. This would be the only hike of the day for me, alas.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Towns Mountain * Mount Misery * Farr Hill: 6/4/2016

I would be solo today as Brian was hiking with Jim, and Desi joined Joe and Becky on Mount Washington to look at alpine flowers. I didn't want to burden anyone if I had a relapse of the prior week's energy/fatigue let down. Thus, I only planned to do a few peaks in Littleton, New Hampshire that weren't too tough and if I had to bail, would not be hard to try again later. I headed out shortly after Desi left, and after a quick gas stop, I was on my way up 93 north towards Littleton. It was going to be a pleasant enough day with partial sunshine and moderate temperatures.

Towns Mountain - Mount Misery

Mileage: 4.55 miles
Elevation gain: 1310 feet
Trails used: none. snowmobile trail, bushwhack.
Highlight(s): register on the summit of Towns Mountain.

This one has been on my radar for a few months (more than six actually, when I tried it about that long ago) so today would be the perfect day to finally get it done. I tried this during late fall/early winter but unfortunately due to sketchy access, I decided to not try it that day. I saw a recent report so I decided to give it another go. Driving north, I made go time through Franconia Notch and into Littleton. The access I saw from the earlier report mentioned driving up Mount Misery Road, onto a private drive but I usually won't go up them without asking. So, making my way back down Mount Misery Road, I found a good place to access the first peak without trespassing or causing a disturbance. As I departed, the morning air was crisp and perfect; a far different story than last week's brutal heat and humidity.

Town Mountain is located in Littleton, New Hampshire. Towns Mountain is also the high point in Littleton. There are no trails that go to the wooded, view-less summits of Towns Mountain and Mount Misery so it so it requires a bushwhack to reach their high points.

I parked at this snowmobile trail off of Mount Misery Road and began my bushwhack to Towns Mountain. Going further up Mount Misery Road is a private road, so I chose to park here.

I walked the wet snowmobile trail (which had fresh moose and bear tracks) to this old logging road and took it towards the summit of Towns Mountain.

I followed multiple herd paths and old logging cuts as I made my way through mainly open woods towards the summit of Towns Mountain.

The recognized southern summit of Towns Mountain (elevation: 2203 feet). It is debatable if the southern summit or northern summit is higher, so since they are relatively close, do both.

I made my way northwest off of the summit of Towns Mountain and hit a logging road/snowmobile trail. I walked this until I was close enough to begin the open woods bushwhack to the summit of Mount Misery.

The high point of Mount Misery (elevation: 1940 feet). I thought there might be views from here but unless I grew a few feet, there were none to be had.

Walking back down this snowmobile trail as I head towards Mount Misery Road to begin the roughly mile walk back to the car.

Not a bad round trip hike through mainly open woods, but unfortunately, I managed to pick up about nineteen hitchhikers. This has been a bad year so far for ticks, so after making sure there were none stuck to me still, I hopped in the car for a quick trip down the road for another peak that shouldn't take too long to do. I would then call it a day and head home early.  

Farr Hill

Mileage: 1.50 miles
Elevation gain: 575 feet
Trails used: none. road walk, bushwhack.
Highlight(s): register on the summit of Farr Hill.

On paper, this shouldn't take too long to do but sometimes that never translates to the actual hike itself. I think I drove by Farr Hill Road several times before I actually pulled out my GPS and found that it was indeed the snowmobile trail that I passed and thought "maybe that was it".  It seemed I drove around looking for a place to park longer than it took me to do this hike. I parked directly across from Farr Hill Road (enough to not impede traffic), and started up the road which was a bit muddy and wet. I did not take my backpack for this short hike but I did put on plenty of bug spray as the mosquitoes were out in force.

Farr Hill is located in Littleton, New Hampshire. There are no trails that go to the wooded, view-less summit of Farr Hill so it so it requires a bushwhack to reach its high point.

I parked on the side of Broomstick Road and would walk up Farr Hill Road, which is a snowmobile trail in winter.

Eventually I hopped off of Farr Hill Road, and took a series of logging cuts up towards the summit of Farr Hill.

The high point area for Farr Hill (elevation: 1953 feet).

The jar register on the summit of Farr Hill. 

I noticed no new ticks on me or my clothing when I returned to the car so the total stood at 19 for the days two hikes. Once back at the car, I hopped in to avoid the fly and mosquito swarm and cranked on the air conditioner. Having finally finished Towns Mountain, it brought me within two of finishing the New Hampshire One Hundred Prominence List (not official) so I should finish off the last two (up north in Errol and Stewartstown, New Hampshire) peaks soon. Not a bad day for a couple of bushwhacks.