Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Post Thanksgiving Hike

The Sunday after Thanksgiving we had beautiful and unseasonably warm weather so we decided to head up to Gunstock to bag a few more of the Belknaps. Unfortunately we had not managed to get in a lot of hiking this summer so it was nice to get out.

We parked at the base lodge and hunted for the trailhead. The information we had was vague and even though there were lots of cars around there were very few people to be seen. We hiked up under one of the ski lifts towards Mt. Rowe and then crossed over to the right. We found a mountain bike path that appeared to be a trail.

We followed this up and eventually ran into some other hikers. It was a steep climb and we were both winded. Apparently walking in our neighborhood is a bit different than hiking. Should have expected that.

We followed the trail to a cell tower that had lots of construction equipment next to it. Not exactly a pretty summit but it is what it is.

We crossed the ridge towards Gunstock and enjoyed the views of Winnipesaukee. The skies were blue with scattered clouds. As we looked to the north we could see the Presidentials were covered with snow.

We were surprised to find equipment set up on the mountain that tracks the movement of the Earth's crust. Living in the east I never think about earthquakes or shifting plates. We read the information signage and thought about how these mountains were created years ago.

As we continued on the ridge trail we became confused as it crossed over the ski trails. We lost the trail several times and at one point we were hiking up a steep grade under the ski lifts. Eventually we made it to the summit of Gunstock and stopped at the "Pub" to look out over the scenery. The ground had permafrost and was crunchy but there wasn't much in the way of snow. The resort had its snow guns prepared to go. They are scheduled to open up before Christmas. We crossed over to the Brook Trail and headed back down the mountain. This trail did have some snow on it.

The signage said it would take us 1 hour and 40 minutes to make it down. We took about 30 minutes which was fortunate because it was getting dark and cold! When we reached the car the moon was out and the sun had set behind the mountains.

This was an easy hike but with a few struggles in finding the trails. As long as the resort doesn't mind hikers stomping on their ski trails I would recommend it for the views from the summit lodge. Perhaps we'll get up there to ski this winter.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Labor Day Weekend!

Finally I got a chance to head up to the White Mountains. Memorial Day and Labor Day weekends have been a standard around here. We head up to the mountains and camp occasionally throwing in a difficult hike. Since I hadn't been up to the mountains the entire summer, I wanted to try either Jefferson or Monroe. The group opted for Mount Jefferson.

We decided to hike the Cap Ridge Trail up from Jefferson Notch Road for the 5 mile round trip hike. The weather couldn't have been more perfect. There wasn't a cloud in the sky. When we arrived at the lot around 11:30 we didn't even make it in. There were that many people hiking. We parked on the road and made our way to the trailhead. The lower portion of the hike was fairly easy. We made it to the "potholed" rocks and took a break to enjoy the views and a snack. Some gray jays were scoping out our food too!

We pushed on to reach the caps. Each cap gave us a terrific view of the surrounding mountains. The trail was tough from this point on. Lots of rocks to navigate on and around. I'm very glad that there was little water on the trail so the rocks were dry. The heat would have been tough but we had a wonderful breeze. At the second trail junction we stopped for some lunch before the .4 mile push to the top. We thought we could see the summit from here but in truth we couldn't. We would think this several times!

We reached the summit about 3 PM. There were tons of people up there. Some had done loops up and around the other Presidentials and others were just up and back like us. We chatted with some of them and rested admiring the views. Jefferson is the 3rd highest on the list of 4000-footers and we could see many of the mountains we had already conquered.

Below the summit was a cairn that was taller than our tallest hiker. I went down to the trail junction and took a picture of it. Being at the top of a mountain like this made me strongly desire that we could go on and tackle Mount Clay and head up to Washington! But fortunately, I have some friends that remind me that even when you reach the top you have to hike back down to the car and civilization.

The hike down was treacherous at some points. Dan hiked backwards which he stated saves his knees. It caused quite a stir with some of the other hikers. We made our way down and chatted with several other groups. During this point, Ben slowed quite a bit. His head cold was getting the best of him it seemed. We quickly made it below the Alpine Zone and then back into the forests.

The group arrived back at the car around 5 PM. We definitely did not make "book" time. However, I definitely feel that this was one of my favorite hikes. There were people of all abilities on the mountain. Some stopped at the potholes and others trekked their way to the top. The views were outstanding and the challenge was just enough. So here's the only 4k that I'll get to do this year. I hope to get a few more hikes in before winter decides to show up but I doubt I'll be able to head back up to the White Mountains again for a hike like this.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

3 Peaks in 1 Day

Who knew that this summer would be so crazy? I haven't been on a hike since June and that was a failed attempt to summit Mount Flume. We turned back on that one when we noticed that my hiking buddy was stopping every hundred feet or so. I still think we could have made it to the top but I've learned not to push things too far. Fortunately, we have been biking a few times and managed to go for a few walks a week. I think this has kept us in better shape than in past years.

Today, I demanded that my husband put things aside and we go hiking. We were scheduled to go camping up in the Whites and try Flume again but with talk of tornado warnings and hail we decided to play it safe. Instead we went up to the Belknap Range and bagged 3 peaks.

We found the Mount Major parking lot fairly full around 11AM and set off on a trail that we hadn't tried. I believe it was the Beaver Brook Trail. It was a humid day and we were pouring sweat from our pores as we made our way up the 2 mile trail. The trail itself was a moderate grade with only a few challenging points. Once we made it to the higher elevation we enjoyed the breeze off of Lake Winnipesaukee and found our way to the old shelter. We had a bite to eat up there with lots of families. We did not know where the next trail started and had to ask one of the dads if he knew where it was. He didn't.

We decided to follow the blue/yellow trail that everyone else was taking back down. It was a good choice because that trail led us to a trail sign pointing us to our second peak, Straightback Mountain. We followed along the blue blazed trail and eventually came to the summit. It was much quieter! Only one other pair of hikers showed up while we were there. We had been hearing thunder in the distance and as we sat in the sun watching the clouds we wanted to push on to our third peak.

Mount Anna was a mile away from Straightback. There were lots of bare rocks and some nice cool dark trees. During this portion of the hike we came across scat from many different animals. Deer, coyote/fox, and possibly bear! We saw very few animals on the hike though. Except for the large bird that we startled out of a tree. We crossed over a stone wall and into the Boy Scout Reservation. A little ways from there we found a trail marker pointing to trails all over the reservation. The clouds were rolling in so we paused only for a minute or two and dashed back on the Anna/Straightback Link.

A few minutes later the rain started. A few minutes after that the sky opened up and we were getting soaked. Neither of us took out our rain gear as we were so sweaty from the humid hike that it wouldn't matter. Fortunately we made great time and avoided all of the electrical storms going through the area. During our dash we startled a red fox who was prowling about the trails.

We decided to take the blue/yellow trail back down to the parking lot. I believe it's official name is the Brook Trail. There was quite a bit of erosion on this trail and I could see that someone had done lots of maintenance. In truth all of the trails were well marked. I was surprised since our last trip in the Belknaps was filled with searching for our trails.

Unfortunately we didn't have a working camera for this trip so no pictures to actually post. I was happy that this 8 mile hike wasn't too challenging for me. I had very few knee problems and don't feel exhausted. I hope that next weekend I can actually get up to the Whites for a hike and tackle one or two of those 4k's. As it is for the Belknap List... I am now 50% complete. I just have Klem, Mack, West Quarry, Whiteface and Rowe to do.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Midstate #4

After a much postponed hike we struck out last Saturday to complete the 4th segment of the Midstate Trail. We started at Old Worcester Road in Charlton and went through the Cow Tunnel. Of course, there was mooing. :-)

Thru the cow tunnel and into the woods. At first the trail seemed just like all the other times we've traveled the Midstate. It was rather flat, occasional street walking, and then back in the woods. As the day went on it became warmer and warmer. I'm not certain how hot it was but I can guess that it was above 80F. This is pretty unusual for a day in April in New England.
The heat may have started to get to Jen. Either that or this fish was looking for a nibble.

The trail took us up and over the Mass Turnpike (I-90). It was rather terrifying to see how quickly the traffic travels on that interstate.

Then we went in through a nice little village area. The historic signs were all around. This building was the old schoolhouse. Now it houses the Cultural Center. It was built in 1848 on the site of an Baptist meetinghouse and held classes for 100 years. The bell was cast in England in 1719. It was the first bell in the town of Charlton.

There also was this lovely cemetary near a vineyard. I have a thing for cemetaries since one of my other hobbies is geneology. I find them so peaceful and the headstones are so interesting.

Aside from the heat, the other thing we didn't expect to encounter was the massive blowdowns. We all had forgotten about the horrible December ice storms that left many with out power for weeks in Central MA. The beautiful weather must have blotted it from our minds. We were quickly reminded as we lost the trail, cut our legs up, bushwacked, and fought our way through the fallen trees.

It was a great hike. We completed about 11 miles and are very close to the middle of the Midstate. We all agreed though it was tough and that we were really ready to start reaching some peaks. The next hike will be at a higher elevation than 1000 feet.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Midstate #3

Today we picked up the trail in Oxford at Rocky Hill Road and began our hiking season. There were 9 of us and one 4-legged friend. It was pretty cold to start with temperatures in the mid 30's.
The trail wasn't muddy as the ground was still a bit frozen. We walked through marshes near the Buffumville Dam with little trouble.
There were a few other hikers out, as well as dirt bikers and mountain bikers.

We all were eager to be out and enjoying the day. I lagged behind a bit as I took some pictures of the scenery. There was little wildlife except for some ducks swimming in the marshes.

Since this was our first venture out for the season, I had planned a short trip. I was unsure of some of our new hiking partners' abilities. Everyone proved to be strong and quick. We finished our 6 mile trek well before lunch. Here are a few more pictures of our trip.
After our hike we went to Zorba's in Charlton. Decent food. Pretty good service. But odd policies when it came to billing. Then we went on for the drive home. Next hike is coming soon!

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Spring is creeping in!

Yesterday we had temperatures up in the 60's. I actually can see some of the yard that has been buried under snow for the last 3 months. My feet are craving some hiking. I've sent out my save the date to some of my hiking pals and have pulled out the Midstate Trail guide book. There's three weeks until the first hike and I need to start getting some cardio in before then. Winter often kills my exercise routine and though I look fit I definitely do not have the stamina needed for a 12 mile hike through the woods. Time to get in shape!

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Cabin Fever

It's February now. The holidays are over and yet the snow keeps coming. I know winter doesn't end for another 2 months but I'm starting to get a bit twitchy. I want to be out hiking. I've been reading about some trips that others have done this winter but they don't draw me. I still don't want to hike in the snow. It's too cold!

In fact, I've participated in very few winter activities this year. I did do some cross country skiing a few weeks back at Great Brook Farm during one of their weekly lantern lit nights. It was terrific. Gorgeous stars and the lanterns light the trail just enough so you don't run into anyone.

I'm still hoping to hit the next segment of the Midstate Trail next month. I think it might be time to start planning those trips.