Bushwhack: Vose Spur & Mount Carrigain

SUMMARY

We started on the Signal Ridge Trail off Sawyer River Road . At the junction with Carrigain Notch Trail we took it. There was no official path to Vose Spur, but there was a pretty good herd path to the summit from Carrigain Notch Trail. Soon after passing Bushwhack Boulder we took the herd path on the left, stepping over a large birch log, and followed it to the summit. We then continued our bushwhack down the western side to the talus strewn col between Vose Spur and East Carrigain. The bushwhack continued up East Carrigain and then followed the ridge to the fire tower atop Mount Carrigain. We looped back to our car by taking Signal Ridge Trail back to the trailhead.

The hike was about 10 miles with 3600′ elevation gain and took us under eight hours to complete.

Trail map

Map of hike (interactive map)

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A Look Back on 2016 and Ahead to 2017

2016-featureA Look Back on 2016

2016 has come and gone and now is the time to reflect on all that was accomplished or not. I think that many would agree that it was a rough year with all of the musician and celebrity deaths, Brexit, the US election, the war in Syria, the Keystone XL pipeline standoff, and the proposed motel near the summit of Mount Washington. But for me (outside of celebrities, politics and global disaster) it was a pretty good year. Here’s a rundown of my goals for the year and whether or not I attained them:

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Top 10 Photographs of 2016

2016-feature

Here is a list of my favorite photos from 2016. Last year I posted about my 10 favorite Instagram photos of 2015 because I had photo storage issues. This year I made a return to carrying my DSLR on hikes and captured some shots that do a good job of summing up my year of wandering. A bunch of these are from hikes I haven’t blogged about yet, so look forward to reading those posts in early 2017.

#10 – Great Range Traverse, Adirondacks
A couple of friends and I spent three days traversing the High Range in the Adirondacks in mid-September. This photo was taken of me on the northern edge of The Gothics just before the cable climb down to the col between it and Saddleback Mountain. The large slide in the background is Basin Mountain. These three mountains, despite their intense ups and downs, were my favorite part of the trip.

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Sunrise Hike: Crocker Cirque

TRIP REPORT

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.

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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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Best Gear Purchase of 2015

At the end of 2014 I hiked Mount Moriah and my fingers nearly froze off on the summit. I knew I needed to purchase suitable hand protection in order to hike through the winter.

I decided I wanted mittens and glove liners. Mittens were the logical choice as they keep fingers warmer than gloves, but I also wanted the option of taking them off for short periods of time to get into my pack, unfold a map, take photos, etc. Glove liners would give me the dexterity of my fingers without leaving my hands exposed to the elements.

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Hike: Baldface Circle

Date Hiked: 20 June 2015

Work stress, home-buying stress and Father’s Day weekend found me pining for the mountains. It had been nearly two months since my last hike, nearly three months since my last mountain summit and seven months since my last solo hike. It was a gorgeous weekend, so I volunteered to take the ferry to town to procure the weekly groceries and then stole to the mountains to get a reprieve.

The Baldfaces was one of those hikes that doesn’t make the list of big hikes, but I had heard was one of the better hikes in New Hampshire. So I took the drive to Fryeburg and instead of heading west toward North Conway, I kept north toward Evans Notch. I found the trailhead parking lot overflowing and pulled over on the sandy shoulder and hopped out of the car. I was on a tight time-budget so I threw on my daypack and headed to the trailhead, which was on the opposite side of the road and a few hundred feet north of the parking lot.

The 0.7 mile trail to Emerald Pool was very flat and I took it in a few minutes. I popped down to the pool to take a gander and quickly headed away from the small crowd gathered there and toward the mountains.

Green pool of river water

Emerald Pool

At the spur trail to Emerald Pool was also the intersection with both branches of the Baldface Circle Trail as well as the Slippery Brook Trail. I headed toward Slippery Brook and then turned off to head toward South Baldface via the Baldface Circle Trail. The trail soon became moderately steep and I found the indiscreet Chandler Gorge Loop Trail. I followed it to Chandler Gorge, a small canyon in the forest will a few cascades and pools, and back to the Baldface Circle Trail. Since I was Red-lining the White Mountain trails I briefly hiked downhill to the junction with the Chandler Gorge Loop trail to bag the section of the Baldface Circle Trail between.

A few miles up the trail I hit the Baldface Shelter and sat on the pile of flat stones next to the fire pit for a quick lunch of PBJ and pretzels and pondered over the fact I had seen no one on the trail (aside from the crowd at Emerald Pool). Soon after the shelter the fun began, the trail exited the forest and hit a section of bald granite with cliffs looming above. I picked my way carefully over the boulders and in several places I had to pull myself up short rock faces. It was actually one of the more difficult sections of trails I have hiked in the White Mountains and would definitely not be fun in bad weather. Apparently this section of trail can be skipped if you take the Slippery Brook Trail and Baldface Knob Trail instead, but I was up for the challenge.

A couple of times I had to pause and search around for the trail, neither the blazes painted on the granite nor the cairns were obvious or frequent. I was able to find my way based on the wear from trekking poles and soon found myself on the crown of granite for which the Baldfaces got their name. The trek from there reminded me of hiking up Bondcliff for whatever reason: I suppose because of the spectacular view, the exposed rock and the lack of underbrush. Soon thereafter the ridge leveled off at the junction with the Baldface Knob Trail and was crowned with an enormous cairn and a wonderful view up to South Baldface summit.

Pile of rocks with mountain peak in the background

Looking up at South Baldface

The climb from there to the summit was similar to the Boott Spur Trail: mostly exposed but fairly steep and occasionally dipping in and out of the trees. As it approached the summit, the trail entered the trees but surfaced from them again just prior to the summit. I paused to look back toward the baldfaced ridge before hitting the peak.

Trail climbing up mountain ridge

Looking down from South Baldface

There were several small groups of people gathered around the spacious summit, so I made my way to the south and found some shade beside a large boulder. It was my brother’s 40th birthday and a few days after the birth of his 3rd child so I made him a short video of the summit, including a shot of one of the greatest mountains we’ve stood on top of together, Mount Washington.

Large mountain on horizon

Mount Washington from South Baldface

I began the hike north toward North Baldface and the trail took me into the trees again. Soon after the summit I came upon a spruce grouse in the trail. I slowly walked up to it and came within a few feet before it darted off the trail. It stood frozen as I approached it again, probably suspecting that I could not see it if it held still for long enough. I watched it for several minutes until a couple of hikers came down the trail toward me. I pointed out the grouse to them and started on my way.

Bird hiding under tree

Spruce Grouse

The hike from the col between the mountains up to North Baldface was very rigorous. I was quickly soaked with sweat and breathing heavily but pushed on. I’ve hiked with several people who have said they were near vomiting while keeping up with me. I don’t think I’m the fastest hiker, but I do like to push through hard climbs. To me it is a workout that cleanses the body of the cruft which gathers from the nine-to-five life.

Halfway up to the northern summit I came across a large group of college-age guys and ladies as well as a dog. The dog was sprawled out taking a breather and trying to dissipate as much body heat as possible into the ground. Several of the guys were as well. I uncharacteristically made a few jokes about how the dog looked how I felt and bid them farewell.

Arriving at the summit there was a decent view to the south which was intensified by the haze in the air, but the Presidentials were cloaked by the Carter-Moriah Range. Again there were several groups of people scattered about. I wolfed down my second PB&J as well as an orange and began my descent as the large group of college-age folks were taking the summit.

Layers of mountains in the distant haze

Looking south toward Attitash

The hike from North Baldface toward Eagle Crag was an interesting one. It weaved through the trees and out onto bald rock intermittently, similar to Bamforth Ridge on Camels Hump in Vermont. One of the highlights for me was the spectacular view of the bald ridge and ragged cliffs on the east spur of South Baldface (which I had climbed a few hours earlier).

Rocky ridge viewed from a distance

Baldface East Spur

Once the trail hit the junction with Eagle Crag Link it entered the trees and headed for the trailhead. The trail was steep at first but gradually leveled out until the final flat mile heading from Emerald Pool to the road. Once I hit that section I also hit the crowds. It seemed that many of the vehicles that were overflowing the parking lot belonged to people going for a cool dip in the pool.

The hike up to South Baldface was an impressive one and one I will likely do again. Next time I will probably do a loop of Slippery Brook Trail, Baldface Knob Trail and South Baldface so that I can check out Baldface Knob, which looked interesting from above.

The block of granite which was an obstacle in the pathway of the weak, became a stepping-stone in the pathway of the strong.
—Thomas Carlyle

Map of hike

Map of hike (interactive map)

Stats:
Highest Elevation: 3566′
Elevation Gain: 3600′
Distance: 9.8 miles
Book Time: 5:42
Actual Time: 4:50
Temperature: 60°s
Weather: mostly sunny
Wind: SW 10mph

Completed Red-Lining Trails:
Baldface Circle Trail
Emerald Pool Spur
Chandler Gorge Loop

References:
North Baldface & South Baldface.” summitpost.org. SummitPost.org. Web. 10 September 2015
Spruce Grouse.” allaboutbirds.org. Cornell University. Web. 10 September 2015.

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