Tuesday, June 28, 2016


With a half-day free, I took a hot & humid morning hike up the Sandwich Mountain Trail to the viewpoints on Noon Peak and a set of ledges a half-mile farther along the ridge. After crossing Drakes Brook near the start, this trail gets right down to business, and has climbed 500 feet by the time it enters the Sandwich Range Wilderness at the 0.6 mile mark.

These neat erratics rest beside the trail a mile up in an area of open spruce woods.

Above here there is a very steep pitch. For a minute I thought I was back in the Northern Presidentials. Overall the trail climbs almost 1600 ft. in its first 1.6 miles.

The first Noon Peak view ledge, with Tripyramid and the Sleepers in the distance. Even at mid-morning, it was hot in the sun.

The Tripyramids, backlit and hazy.

Mad River Notch on a humid morning.

The second Noon Peak outlook, peering into the depths of the Drakes Brook valley.

Looking across the valley to the col between the northern Flat Mountain and Sandwich Dome. The southern Flat Mountain peeks over the low spot.

The dark mass of Sandwich Dome.

Beyond Noon Peak there's a half-mile of wonderful ridge walking.

Waterville Valley historian and renowned trail-builder Nathaniel L. Goodrich wrote this of the Sandwich Mountain Trail: "Beyond Noon Peak it passes through an area of curious elfin beauty. Gray ledge and grayer reindeer lichen, green moss and low green spruces, long vistas into mystery, utter quiet, a feeling of remoteness, of simplicity, pervade this spot. Go slowly here." Marvelous.

My turnaround point was this expansive ledgy area a half-mile before Jennings Peak.

A wild vista from the lower ledges.

The high peaks of the Sandwich Range beyond the northern Flat Mountain.

From here you can see the connecting ridge followed by the trail between Jennings Peak and Sandwich Dome's summit.

Jennings is a great destination, but not enough time today.

Sandwich Dome, close-up. I hung out here for a while in the sun, listening to birdsong from below: Winter Wren, Swainson's Thrush, Nashville Warbler, Common Junco, and Yellow-Bellied Flycatcher. Also heard the call of a Boreal Chickadee.

Witherod was in bloom at the ledges.

On the way back, better light on the Tripyramids from Noon Peak, with the South Slides visible.

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