Saturday, May 8, 2021

Hiking in the Southwest: 5/7/21

On the second fine spring day in a row, I headed into the quiet southwestern corner of the Whites for two hikes off a road less traveled, NH Rt. 25C.


Tucked up among low hills at the north edge of Piermont, and within the WMNF, is a beautiful mountain pond known as Lake Constance. An unofficial, unmaintained route leads to the pond along old woods roads (sometimes used by ATVs) and a narrow but well-trodden footpath. The second old road along the route climbs steeply, as seen below.

Approaching the pond, the footpath runs along an unusual quartzite ridge forested with red pines.

Looking down at the pond from the ridge.

Since I last visited here in 2016, the path has been flooded where it drops down near the shore. To reach a good shoreside vantage point now requires a short bushwhack.

A pretty spot on a puffy cloud afternoon.

On the way back from the pond I made a short diversion on a herd path to quartzite ledges atop a steep knob. Piermont Mountain looms close by to the south.

The best views are from some lower slabs.

Endless skies looking southwest into Vermont.

The Killington Range on the horizon behind the sharp knob of Peaked Mountain.

The Signal Mountain Range in west-central  Vermont. Pretty good vistas for an elevation of just 1550 ft.


I drove a few miles up Rt. 25C to the Appalachian Trail crossing for the second hike of the afternoon. The Wachipauka Pond Trail provides a mellow climb to the broad, wooded summit area of Mount Mist. No views unless you bushwhack, but fine woods and an explosion of trout lilies on the upper half of the 1.8 mile climb.

The first part of the trail is a pleasant piney ramble.

I think almost every hiker who passes this way snaps a pic of this massive trident tree.

Hobblebush was starting to leaf out.

Starting around 1900 ft., the sides of the trail were carpeted with trout lilies.

One of the main reasons I chose this trail for today.

An elegant flower.

Meandering through a fine open hardwood forest.

Trout lily trio.

Spring beauties and trout lilies hanging out at the base of a big sugar maple.

Great stretch of walking.

At the start of the trail I had met three northbound AT hikers taking a break at Ore Hill Brook. They passed me, one at a time, up at the summit of Mount Mist. Chatting with them, I learned that two of them were well into an attempt at a Calendar Year Triple Crown - hiking the Appalachian Trail, Continental Divide Trail and Pacific Crest Trail in 2021. Their trail names are Buzz (in photo below, buzzing ahead of me at a rapid pace) and Woody. Some research that evening revealed several news stories about the two Standford students, whose real names are Sammy Potter and Jackson Parell. They post occasional updates on Instagram at @cytriplecrown. Currently they have walked some 2500 miles of the 8000 mile total for the three trails, having started on the AT on New Year's Day, and shuttling to the other two trails for section hikes before returning to the AT. If successful, they will be the youngest to complete the feat. Only nine hikers have accomplished it to date. I wished them good luck on their challenging quest.  

Two bolts remain where there was formerly a Dartmouth Outing Club sign for the summit of Mount Mist. The trail passes over the western summit knob; the true summit (2208 ft.) is a slightly higher knob to the SE.

A couple of log seats for resting at the trail's high point.

From here I made a 3/4 mile bushwhack loop to visit the high point and a couple of precarious view perches atop Mount Mist's NE cliffs. Not far from the trail was this magnificent maple.

At the base of the maple were the only Dutchman's breeches leaves I saw on this hike. No flowers yet.

A small wetland in the saddle between the summit knobs.

Black cherry  duo.

That's the true summit over there.

An amazing hardwood plateau on this broad-spreading summit.

Maple glade.

Headwater of Black Brook.

View of Mt. Kineo and Carr Mountain.

Mt. Moosilauke and its long southern ridge, behind Wyatt Hill.

Moosilauke, with a good look into Slide Ravine. Glencliff Home can be seen at the base.

From another clifftop, Wachipauka Pond with Owls Head cliff/Benton Range and Mt. Clough behind.

Red trillium in evening sun.


Hedgehog Mountain: 5/6/21

Spring trail maintenance trip on my adopted trail, the western section of the UNH Trail up Hedgehog Mountain.  Due to a morning appointment, it was a crack o' noon start.

Most of the afternoon was spent cleaning and digging out the 36 drainages, the most important task of the trail adopter.

Late in the day I encountered a couple of surprise blowdowns on the upper section. It was a fairly windy day, and this one looked pretty fresh; I had asked descending hikers about blowdowns and no one had mentioned this kind of obstruction on the west side.


One more, on a steep pitch.


On the approach to the summit, the view north to Mt. Washington beyond Mt. Tremont.

Looking west from the top: the Tripyramids in silhouette.

Hancock and Carrigain.

The mighty Mt. Passaconaway casting a shadow over its eastern slopes.

A look at Mt. Chocorua and the Three Sisters, then time to head down.


Tuesday, May 4, 2021

Moose Mountain: 5/3/21

The long, low ridge of Moose Mountain in Hanover is the first peak on the northbound Appalachian Trail after it enters New Hampshire. The AT runs over the summits of both South Moose (2293 ft.) and North Moose (2313 ft.). The mostly hardwood ridge walk between the peaks is delightful in spring, and there are wildflowers in profusion. North Moose has two restricted views and South Moose has a good open view to the east and southeast. Though far from spectacular, this mountain has a special charm akin to the Catskills, and the Moose ridge walk is one of my favorite AT sections in New Hampshire.
I prefer the approach from the quieter north end of Moose Mountain Trail, off Goose Pond Road.

The trail makes a steady, switchbacking climb up onto the ridge.

Mossy foot.

Interesting pattern of trees and ledges.

In one section the trail climbs over a series of quartzite ledges.

There were a bazillion trout lily leaves lining the footway. In a few days this route should be bursting with blooms.

Gnarled tree and verdant ledge.

The NE viewpoint high up on the mountain has closed in considerably since I was last here ten years ago.

There's still a good look at the huge bulk of Smarts Mountain.

Some impressive trail construction by the Dartmouth Outing Club trail crew. DOC maintains all of the AT from Hanover to Mt. Moosilauke. After a multi-year land acquisition and trail construction project, this section of the AT over both South and North Moose was completed in 1984.

Many of the trees on the North Moose ridge are sugar maples, but there are some black cherries in the mix.

Inviting corridor approaching the North Moose summit.

This tilted quartzite ledge near the summit offers a restricted view out towards Vermont.

Despite the cloud cover, Killington was clearly visible.

Salt Ash Mountain on the horizon.

Wonderful ridge walking.

DOC has placed a new sign on the south knob of North Moose, though the north knob is 6 ft. higher according to the Lidar 2-foot contour map on the NH Granit website. My GPS altimeter agreed.

Trout lilies rockin' it.

Is this the Catskills?

Moose Mountain Shelter, located above the North Moose/South Moose col. DOC has a long history of shelters on Moose dating back to 1910. Through the years various cabins have gone by the names of Calf Moose, Cow Moose and Bull Moose. These were all on the west side of the mountain. They were torn down in the 1940s and 1950s.  The original Moose Mountain Shelter was built in 1930-31 down on the east side of the col. It was replaced by the current shelter in 2003.

The DOC is noted for the originality of its privies.

Bench with a view in front of the shelter.

Signage at the junction with the shelter loop trail.

In the col the trail crosses the historic Old Wolfeboro Road. In 1772 Governor John Wentworth, the last of New Hampshire’s royal governors, had this road built from his residence in Wolfeboro (near Lake Winnipesaukee) to Hanover, passing through the Moose Mountain col. Some sources say the road was built so that the governor could more easily keep an eye on restive Connecticut River valley settlers in the tumultuous days before the American Revolution. Another states that it was made so that he could attend the first commencement at Dartmouth College. Variously known as the Province Rd., Governor’s Rd. and Wolfeboro Rd., it was later used as part of the Appalachian Trail.

The opening near the South Moose summit has been cleared out since I last visited. The east/southeast view takes in Mt. Cardigan, Ragged Mountain, Mt. Kearsarge and Mt. Sunapee.

Cardigan and its satellite ridges spread out behind Goose Pond.

Sign at the summit viewpoint. The pack in the corner belongs to "Captain Jack," an early northbound AT hiker who hails from Louisiana. Having encountered snow on Killington, he knows what's coming in the Whites.

A red trillium spotted on the return trip.

Tufts of grass show the way along the ridge.

Some early Dutchman's breeches!

I was a few days too early for the trout lily festival, which was just getting underway. The round trip to North and South Moose from Goose Pond Rd. is 7.4 miles round trip with 2150 feet of elevation gain.