Tuesday, April 14, 2009


After dealing with some mushy snow on Tuesday, the search was on for bare ground. I had a hunch the hardwood-clad west slopes of the Benton Range might fit the bill, and it paid off with a fine bushwhack to The Hogsback. The Lime Kiln Road was a muddy rutted mess in places, but the road in to the west end of Blueberry Mountain Trail was better and parking was fine. The field and woods at the trailhead were bare! Walked the first half mile of the Blueberry trail,, which follows a lovely old farm road. And then, bare hardwoods, all the way up the slope. Along the way I traversed several areas that were logged maybe 25 years ago, with new flagging perhaps marking future cuts. I found a portal of uncut woods leading up between two big old clearcuts. Then I negotiated a large selectively cut area that was a bit brushy and brambly but not bad. Above 2300 ft. was a beautiful open forest dominated by maples, a whacker's dream.

I angled up to the col between Hogsback and Jeffers, with 98% of my steps to this point on bare ground. Followed a rough and frequently obstructed herd path N along the crest, with a fair amount of ice and a bit of snow. Getting to the great open viewing ledges on The Hogsback (which are a bit S of the actual 2810-ft. summit) required some manuevering through dense spruces and scrambling up sharp-edged quartzite ledges.

Those of you who have been there know that this upthrust ledge is one of the finest viewing perches around. Cardigan and Sunapee are to the south, Smarts and Cube to the SW. The western sweep is vast, taking in the Green Mountains from Stratton to Mansfield beyond the Connecticut River valley. Ledgy Sugarloaf, a pergerine falcon nesting site last year, is close by to the NW. The Nash Stream Range, Pilots, Cabot and Waumbek can be seen far off to the north. To the NE, the Kinsmans and Franconias rise beyond sprawling Long Pond.

Moosilauke is a giant presence to the southeast.

It's the kind of place you can linger for hours on a sunny day, which I did.

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