MOUNT ISRAEL: 12/7/12
On a sunny, seasonably chilly December day I joined my good friend John "1HappyHiker" Compton for a trek up the Wentworth Trail to Mt. Israel, a small (2,630 ft.) mountain with a big view, including perhaps the best of all perspectives on the sprawling Sandwich Range. It was the first time John and I had hiked together in more than a year - way too long. John has a fine report about our hike on his blog.
We met at the Mead Base Conservation center, on a side road off Sandwich Notch Rd. The historic farmhouse here is used as housing for trail crews in the summer. There's an interesting history of this place on the Wonalancet Out Door Club website.
The trail heads into the woods right behind the old farmhouse.
In the 1800s there were pastures on the flank of Mt. Israel, and some of the stone walls remain.
Some fine rock step work by the trail crew of the Squam Lakes Association (SLA), which maintains this and a number of other trails in the Sandwich Notch-Squam Range area.
For a while the trail follows an attractive small, nameless brook.
Halfway up the mountain the trail turns L by these gnarled old warrior oaks.
The Wentworth Trail, originally opened in 1937, climbs steadily, gaining 1,700 feet of elevation in its first 1.8 miles.
At 1.5 mi., a sunny, warm outlook on the L gave us a nice southerly view over the Lakes Region. Mt. Kearsarge can be seen in the distance to the R of center.
John takes in the view of Squam Lake. In his classic late 19th century guidebook to the Whites, Moses Sweetser outlined a detailed description of the view from Mt. Israel, including "the fairy-like scene of Squam Lake, whose every island is overlooked...This is one of the most comprehensive of all the prospects over this beautiful sheet of water, and will long attract the admiring attention of the visitor."
After a bit more climbing, the trail levels off and provides a nice little ridge walk through spruce forest, giving the feel of a bigger mountain.
The SW summit knob offers a slightly different version of the view from the main summit, including this look at ledgy Black Mountain, a spur of Sandwich Dome, rising above Guinea Pond.
The true summit is a cairn-topped, uplifted ledge, which provides a particularly good view to the W.
Mt. Moosilauke dominates the view to the NW. It was clear enough this day that we could see Killington and Pico Peaks in Vermont far to the SW.
Ledges on the N side of the summit give you a great look at the huge sprawling bulk of Sandwich Dome.
Looking N and NE into the heart of the Sandwich Range: Triypyramids, Sleepers, Whiteface and Passaconaway.
From the summit ledge we followed a well-beaten path 100 yards E to ledges that are even more open. The farthest ledge has a wide view of the Ossipee Range, with Red Hill Pond in front.
Lake Winnipesaukee and the Belknap Range can also be seen from here.
The NE and E-viewing ledge here is the best perch on the mountain, with an amazing panorama of the Sandwich Range.
The panorama, labeled.
Zoom on Paugus, with its crumbling gravelly cliffs, and Chocorua, in Sweetser's words "girded with cliffs and as sharply cut as the Matterhorn."
A closer look at Whiteface, plus Passaconaway and its great SE spurs.
The remote Lost Pass (under Tripyramid) and Flat Mountain Pond region. This high plateau has a wild feel akin to the inner recesses of the Pemi Wilderness.
Despite a chilly breeze, we enjoyed a lengthy sojourn at the various view ledges before heading down. On the drive out from the Mead Base trailhead, the late afternoon sun illuminated the upper slopes of Mt. Israel. For more about Mt. Israel, click here.