Thursday, April 2, 2015


On this sunny, crisp winter-like day I made the long drive north to climb Mount Cabot, the high peak of The Kilkenny. This is one of the most beautiful areas in the Whites, especially in winter, and it was time for a "Kilkenny fix."

After driving down the partly-icy York Pond Road, I parked in the plowed trailhead for Unknown Pond Trail and made the short road walk to the start of the York Pond Trail, enjoying this view of sharp-peaked South Terrace Mountain along the way.

The day's objective - including the vast talus slope on the south face of Cabot - was in sight from the lower part of the Bunnell Notch Trail.

North Weeks seen through the trees.

Once past the lower section through old logged areas, the Bunnell Notch Trail is a delightful walk up a quiet valley of open hardwood and birch forest.

The strong spring sun was flooding the woods.

Up on the flat floor of Bunnell Notch, at 3000 ft., the conifers rule.

In the notch the route joins the Kilkenny Ridge Trail, probably my favorite single footpath in the White Mountains.

Towards the west end of the notch I left the trail and made a short bushwhack on firm snow to visit a remarkably open hardwood glade.

This spot, with a peek up at North Terrace Mountain, reminded me of a similar glade in Willard Notch, on the other side of Terrace.

The Mount Cabot Trail from East Lancaster has been officially closed since 2000 due to a landowner dispute.

As the trail rises above 3200 ft. you get your first glimpses of views out to the west.

At 3350 ft. a short path leads out to Bunnell Rock, a fine sunny viewpoint.

The view from Bunnell Rock, with Mts. Starr King and Waumbek and distant peaks in the western Whites seen beyond the western shoulder of North Terrace.

A fine place to hang out in the sun.

I did a little bushwhacking on firm snow along the rim of Bunnell Notch for some additional views.

Then I whacked up the slope back to the trail.

From here the Kilkenny Ridge Trail climbs by long switchbacks, following the old tractor road used for the former fire tower on Mount Cabot.

I visited with this esteemed quartet of descending hikers: Charlie and Nancy Foote, and Bill and Diane Schor. The first three are all "Grid" finishers, and Diane plans to finish on Mt. Garfield next week. Also on the trail today was a group with Jadwiga Rosenthal, who plans to finish her grid this weekend on Cannon Mountain.

Reaching the crest of the ridge.

Just beyond is the old Mount Cabot cabin, managed by the WMNF and Jefferson Boy Scouts. Many years ago some friends and I spent a miserable 15 below zero December night in there.

The eastern vista from the viewpoint above the cabin (site of the old fire tower), featuring The Horn and Unknown Pond Ridge.

The Horn, a finely shaped peak, is one of the best vantage points in The Kilkenny.

The long chain of the Mahoosucs in the distance.

Part of the western view from the fire tower site.

Heading towards the summit, the trail winds through stands of old balsam firs.

A new trail sign has been placed at the summit of Mount Cabot, where the Kilkenny Ridge Trail bears right to continue towards The Bulge.

A short side path leads to the actual high point of the mountain.

Another side path leads to a western viewpoint in a scrubby fir wave area.

Today the view was superb, thanks to the lift of a five-foot snowpack.

The Presidentials gleamed beyond the dark, rolling peaks of Terrace Mountain and Mount Weeks.

Zoom on the Northern Peaks and Mount Washington above the trio of Weeks peaks.

Following my tracks back to the summit area.

Serious snowpack here. Though I was able to find a geocache near the cabin, the deep snow covered up the Cabot summit geocache.

Winding back through the wonderful ridgetop forest.

On the way back I followed the Footes' and Schors' tracks out to a fir wave with a neat view of The Bulge and The Horn.

Then I bushwhacked down through mostly open woods to the great talus slope on the steep south face of Cabot.

This is one of the great spots in the mountains, here looking east to the Mahoosucs. In 1886 AMC explorer William H. Peek and companions dubbed this the "Sheep-Fold" for the resemblance of the boulders to sheep huddled in an enclosure.

This scree field offers far-reaching views.

Another angle on Terrace, Weeks and the Presys.

Zoom on the Carter Range, where I had enjoyed another spectacular day a week earlier.

Despite a chilly wind, I was able to hang out here for a while.

Sun-baked snow and rocks, and a weathered root.

At five o'clock it was time to head out. This parting shot was taken from the upper edge of the talus.

Following my tracks back through the fir wave.

Stark snags framing The Horn.

On the way down, a brief stop at Bunnell Rock.

Evening light on the Kilkenny Ridge Trail.

The height-of-land in Bunnell Notch.

On the way back down I made a snowshoeing foray off Bunnell Notch Trail through inviting birch glades with firm spring snow.

A great way to conclude a sweet winter journey in The Kilkenny.

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