Hike: Franconia Loop 2016

TRIP REPORT

In late April I took my older son on one of the classic hikes in New Hampshire, a traverse of the Franconia Ridge Trail. The weekend prior I went camping with both my boys and we hiked Bald Mountain and Artists Bluff. From that vantage point we had a great view of Lafayette. It looked like most of the snow and ice had melted from the ridge, so I had asked my son if he’d like to hike it the next weekend. He said he did.

We got up early (for a teenager) and drove to Franconia Notch State Park, getting there at about 8:30 am. Getting out of the car was a practice of tempering ourselves against the frigid temperature and gusts of wind from the northwest. With it being a clear day, the parking lot at the Falling Waters Trail head was fairly packed with like-minded hikers. We set off up the trail to get our blood pumping and fend off the cold penetrating our layers.

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Hike: Mount Cube

TRIP REPORT

After a quick hike up Mount Major for a sunrise that never really showed its face, I headed to Orford, New Hampshire to meet a couple friends and hike Mount Cube. I thought that Mount Cube would have a square shape to it, but in fact its name is a local corruption of Mount Cuba. As legend has it, the mountain was named after a dog that fought a bear on its summit.

I first caught sight of the mountain as I drove around Lower Baker Pond on Route 25A, its rocky north summit stood high above the water. I passed by our starting point, the roadside parking for the Appalachian Trail and hooked around the northern side of the mountain. I was meeting my friends on the dirt Baker Road on the west side of the mountain at the Cross Rivendell Trail head, where we would be completing our hike.

They arrived soon after I go there and we headed back to the Appalachian Trail in my friend’s truck. We got to the start of our hike at 9:15 am. There were two other cars parked off the road and the weather was in the 40s and overcast. We started up the trail following a couple with a dog, and we were followed by a guy and his dog. We soon lost the trail and we all convened in a clearing slightly befuddled. In short time we discovered that we were on a logging road, not the Appalachain Trail. We headed back out to the road and found the trail on the western end of the parking area. It was signed and pretty obvious once we looked for it.

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Sunrise Hike: Mount Major

Trail Report

A friend of mine and I made plans to hike Mount Cube the first weekend in April, but one mountain was (of course) not enough for me. So I left home at 3:30 am in order to hike Mount Major for sunrise before meeting him and his brother at Mount Cube.

I arrived at the Mount Major parking at 5:15 am and there were already two cars in the lot. I was slightly concerned about doing the hike in the dark as I had never been to Mount Major. This hadn’t stopped me in the past, but then I’d had the descriptions from the AMC White Mountains Guide to help me. I started up Boulder Loop Trail anyway.

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Hike: Southern Presidentials

Trail Report

Since March 2015 I had been commuting to work via my Surly Long Haul Trucker. Final, in March of this year I put a down payment on a Toyota RAV4 which gave me and my whole family a lot more flexibility around commuting and other activities. I also bought a THULE Spare Me spare tire bike rack, which I was excited about as it provides a lot of flexibility in my hiking. Bringing my bike with me on solo hikes allows me to do traverses rather than always doing a loop to hike. I decided to put this to the test by doing a traverse of the Southern Presidentials. Additionally, a few weekends prior I had wanted to hike Mount Washington and bailed on the idea because of the ice conditions. But this time I borrowed crampons from a friend to make it happen.

After leaving home at an incredibly early time, I swung by the parking lot on Clinton Road in Crawford Notch at 6:00 am. I ditched my pack in the woods and clambered back into my car. There were only two cars in the parking lot, so that was good.

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Winter Bushwhack: Mount Isolation

Trail Report

What do you do on the final full day of winter? Get in your last Winter New Hampshire 4000 Footer of the season of course. Since the weather was going to be mild, a couple of friends and I decided to bushwhack to Mount Isolation. It was a Winter 4000 Footer that none of us had, and since we had done the other difficult Winter bushwhack of Owls Head, we figured we would round out the season.

The night before, one of my friends and I camped out at Barne’s Field Group Campground. As drove through Pinkham Notch it started to snow, but it was not supposed to accumulate to anything. We were surprised to find many of the campsites were being used, it must have been due to the favorable forecast. We did dinner over a fire and hit the sack early.

We met our other friend at 8:00am at the Rocky Branch Trail parking. There were about 10 cars in the lot and the weather was sunny, in the 20°s and breezy. We were somewhat surprised that there was no snow on the ground, the forest floor looked more like May than March. The plan was to hike Rocky Branch Trail to the top of Engine Hill and then do Engine Hill Bushwhack to bypass all of the water crossings on Isolation Trail. We would then hike Isolation Trail after doing a single water crossing and finally Davis Path and Isolation Spur to the summit.

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Winter Hike: Return to Chocorua

Trail Report

As the last weeks of winter rolled around I considered a winter ascent of Mount Washington. Unfortunately, there were a lot of icy trail reports that dissuaded me from attempting Washington. Instead, I decided to return to Mount Chocorua as I really enjoyed the summit and I was hoping that the lower elevation would mean less ice. Plus, in a few months the weather would be nice and undoubtedly the crowds would return to the mountains and I wouldn’t be hiking Chocorua then.

I chose Piper Trail as the starting point of the hike and would go up Nickerson Ledge Trail, Carter Ledge Trail and Middle Sister Trail to make the hike into a lollipop loop. I got to the parking lot at 8:00 am, and there were no cars in the lot. It was pretty windy (the final icing on the no-go-Washington cake) and partly cloudy. The forecast was calling for a significant drop in wind speed and a clearing of the clouds.

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Hike: Blackstrap Hill Preserve

Trail Report

This weekend I was on call for work so I couldn’t retreat to the mountains to replenish my soul. Instead, I grabbed the boys and headed to Falmouth, Maine, to explore Blackstrap Hill Preserve. I only really knew of it’s existence from planning my route when I biked around Sebago Lake.

We parked at the southern access on Blackstrap Road shortly after the I-95 overpass. The trail started across private property then dipped down to a crushed rock path into the preserve. The hike was mostly flat and pleasant through some hardwood and evergreen forests. Once we got to the intersection of the white-blazed trail and the red-blazed trail we decided to go all the way to the overlook.

The overlook was a rocky knob standing proud in a treeless swath around power lines. If it wasn’t for the power lines and the distant highway it would have been a very pleasant view (though it would probably be forested, so take what you can get).

We returned the way we came except that we completed the white-blazed loop prior to returning to our car. It was quiet in the woods; we only saw a couple walking their dog and one mountain biker. The best part was the signs of spring; bright green leave pushing up the dead leaves and a few flashes of color from flowers.

Video

Video of Blackstrap Hill Preserve hikeVideo of Blackstrap Hill Preserve hike
Music from Free Music Archive: “Add And” by Broke for Free
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