When I woke up with the birds at Trapper John Shelter, I made coffee and breakfast and started a fire in the stone chimney in front of the shelter. It was a quick hike down to Dartmouth Skiway where I met Jeff and we shuffled our cars, so we’d have one at the parking area for the end of the day. There were a lot of people out at Smarts Mountain, a New Hampshire 200 Highest, but the trail beyond the summit had not been broken out. I was feeling wet and cold at that point from pushing through the snowy trees, so there was a moment of doubt about continuing. But we pushed on, and the fast hike/jog down J Trail on the northern face of Smarts Mountain was one of my favorite parts of the day. After climbing Mount Cube, another NH200, with its nice views and unique quartz summit, we finished at my car at Gilman’s Corner. This and the previous day’s hike completed a nice 30+ miles section of the New Hampshire Appalachian Trail for me.
Started at Trapper John Shelter
Hiked up Trapper John Shelter Spur to intersection with Holts Ledge Trail
Left on Holts Ledge Trail to Dorchester Road
Right on Dorchester Road to Dartmouth Skiway Parking
Moved my vehicle from Dartmouth Lot A parking to Gilman’s Corner parking
Left on Dorchester Road to Lambert Ridge Trail
Right on Lambert Ridge Trail to summit of Smarts Mountain
Straight on J Trail to Kodak Trail
Straight on Kodak Trail to summit of Mount Cube
Right on Mount Cube Trail to car at Gilman’s Corner
Date: 18 April 2021 Distance: 16.4 miles Moving Time: 06:47:37 Pace: 24:48/mile Elevation Gain: 5256′
As the snow began to melt in Spring, I was struck by trail fever. I needed to spend some time on the trail. But I knew that too much elevation would mean old snow and ice, which wouldn’t be pleasant. So I focused my attention to section hiking the Appalachian Trail in New Hampshire. With some coordination with Jeff, I selected a section from the New Hampshire and Vermont border, where on the second day Jeff could help me shift cars and we could get a couple New Hampshire 200 Highest mountains.
The first day of the hike was from Hanover, New Hampshire to the Trapper John Shelter near Dartmouth Skiway. Dartmouth College allows section hikers to park at A Lot if they call and leave info about their vehicle and how long it will be there. So I parked there and walked across campus to the Connecticut River to start. Of course it snowed the day before, so much of the day was through sticky snow that was the perfect depth to make it difficult to hike both with and without microspikes. I hardly saw anyone, just a trail crew at Velvet Rocks and a few people near South Moose Mountain. The sun was setting as I reached the vista at the top of Holts Ledge, my favorite spot for the day.
I set up in the Trapper John Shelter and had a facepalm moment as I chucked my new ultralight bear-hang kit into bear-hang tree. The paracord tangled as I threw it and I wasn’t holding or standing on the end. Every time you think you’re experienced at something, you do something stupid. I was getting ready for bed when a couple showed up, they had been following my tracks all day. We talked for a bit before they (successfully) hung their food and set up their tents nearby. The next day I would be hiking the AT to Gilman’s Corner with Jeff.
Parked car at A Lot Parking off Wheelock Street in Hanover, NH
Walked Wheelock Street to Connecticut River and back to intersection with South Main Street
Right on South Main Street to intersection with Lebanon Street
Left on Lebanon Street to intersection with South Park Street
Right on South Park Street to Velvet Rocks Trail
Left on Velvet Rocks Trail to Center Hanover Trail
Straight on Center Hanover Trail to Moose Mountain Trail
Straight on Moose Mountain Trail over Moose Mountain peaks and to Holts Ledge Trail
Straight on Holts Ledge Trail over Holts Ledge to intersection of Trapper John Shelter Spur
Left on Trapper John Shelter Spur to Trapper John Shelter
Date: 17 April 2021 Distance: 18.8 miles Moving Time: 07:29:59 Pace: 23:58/mile Elevation Gain: 5161′
Fueled by my previous hike where I completed a section of the Appalachian Trail, I headed to western Maine to do the same. In my mind I was going to take a few hours to trail run from the AT trailhead to Baldpate Mountain and back. It would complete another small section of the Appalachian Trail. In reality it took me nearly those two hours to do the first climb, Surplus Mountain, and I sucked down all of my water in the process. I still completed a small section, but now I’ll have to return to connect the in-between.
At the trail head I met a Native American AT thru hiker, True North, and his dog. He was keeping an eye out for a reportedly sick thru hiker, Mango, to give him a ride to town. I told him I’d keep an eye out for him, but I didn’t come across Mango during my run.
Parked at Dunn Falls Trail parking on Andover Road in Newry, ME
Ran south on Appalachian Trail until near the summit of Surplus Mountain
Bushwhacked to the summit of Surplus Mountain and back
Left on Appalachian Trail back to parked car
Date: 19 July 2020 Distance: 7.9 miles Moving Time: 02:47:35 Pace: 21:06/mile Elevation Gain: 2151′
In early November 2016 a friend and I camped out near Grafton Notch in western Maine. The next morning we hiked the two peaks of Baldpate Mountain. Baldpate was supposed to be a great hike above treeline, so we had to check it out.
We parked at the Old Speck parking lot and crossed the street to follow the Appalachian Trail north. We took the side trail to Table Rock and rejoined the Appalachian Trail to both peaks of Baldpate Mountain. We returned along the Appalachian Trail with a short side trip to see Baldpate lean-to. The hike was just short of 8 miles with 3800 feet of elevation gain and took us a little less than 6 hours.
Map of hike
At around 9:30 am we pulled into the parking lot along the Appalachian Trail on Maine Route 26 at the Old Speck Trail head. It was mostly cloudy, 30 degrees and there was only one other car in the lot.
For this hike I parked at the lot across the street from the Inn at Long Trail on Route 4 in Killington, Vermont. I hiked up the Sherburne Pass Trail to Pico Camp where I took the spur trail to the summit of Pico Peak. I returned to Sherburne Pass Trail and continued south on it until the junction with the Long Trail and Appalachian Trail. I followed this trail south until Cooper Lodge shelter where I took the spur trail to the summit of Killington Peak. I returned using the same trails but bypassed the Pico Peak spur trail.
This hike was twelve and a half miles long, included 3500 feet of elevation gain and took me six and a quarter hours to complete.
With all that was separating me from the mountains was a few hours of state highways, I had no excuse not to leave for a hike when I would normally be getting ready for bed. Knowing that Crocker Cirque Campsite was just a short hike in the woods, it was a non-decision to pack up and head out for a hike in the middle of the night. Normal people would call this behavior crazy, but that’s okay, I’ve never pretended to be normal.
I arrived at the hiker’s parking lot on the Caribou Pond Road just after 12:00 am. With it being a clear and cool Friday night I was not surprised to see three other cars in the lot. I threw my gear on and headed up the road on foot to where it crossed the Appalachian Trail. I headed north on the AT and after about an hour of hiking by headlamp I started to keep an eye out for the side trail to the Crocker Cirque Campsite.
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.
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.