It was another pleasant fall day, with moderate temperatures and intermittent sunshine. I took the opportunity to hike with an old friend, Lelia, and to visit another old friend – the Appalachian Trail on the north side of Moose Mountain.
I remember spending many chilly afternoons in the fall of 1982, scrambling through the Hanover forest with other eager first-year undergraduate students, clearing a new route for the Trail on the steep slopes of Moose Mountain. I learned to fell trees, build sidehill cribbing, and build rock steps from huge boulders using nothing but rock bars, strong arms, and the seemingly limitless enthusiasm of 18-year olds. We were pleased to those steps have held up after nearly 40 years and thousands of thru-hikers.
Today was a beautiful fall day, with blue skies and a hint of oranges and reds scattered through the hardwood forests on the slopes of the White Mountains. I had a slow start to my morning but wanted to visit a new place, so I selected Hedgehog Mountain from the list of “52 with a view”. I’m surprised I’d never heard of it before, though it is located in the center of the Whites and is a close neighbor of some of the better-known four-thousand footers.
For my hike this weekend I decided to return to a peak I had not visited since the early 1980s – Mount Abraham, which is one of the five 4000-foot peaks in Vermont and one of only three Vermont peaks with an alpine-zone summit. My notion was to scramble up there in the morning and to stop by the Tunbridge World’s Fair on the way back, which would give me ample opportunities for lunch of both the healthy and unhealthy kind. Read on!
The Appalachian Trail passes right through the town of Lyme, where we live. It wanders through the forests, across the brooks, and over the hilly terrain of Moose Mountain, Holts Ledge, and Smarts Mountain. Last weekend I had a little time for two quick hikes along the A.T. On Saturday I scrambled up Lambert Ridge, a shoulder of Smarts Mountain, to a ledgy outcrop that has expansive views to the east. Along the way I listened to the acorns dropping from oak trees all around… and startled a chipmunk, holding one of those prized acorns in his little paws. After a brief standoff, he scampered away.
On Sunday, I returned to the area and climbed up to Holts Ledge, which has wide views to the south. Here, a chain-link fence keeps hikers away from the edge, not just for safety but to protect the endangered peregrine falcons who nest on the cliffs. This cliff is at the top of the Dartmouth Skiway, allowing a nice loop hike by strolling down the grassy ski slopes.
The amazing thing is that both of these hikes are only 15-20 minute drive from my house, and can be completed in less than an hour of hike time, so they’re a great opportunity for a break from a busy weekend. See the small gallery.
On this holiday long weekend I did not want to jostle for a parking space at the popular hiking spots in the White Mountains, so I decided to head south to Mount Kearsarge. It is also very popular – too popular, as its worn, eroded trails will attest – but at least its broad, open summit allows the crowds to spread out. I was last up there in November, with a bit of early snow and ice visible; on that day I had foolishly typed “Mount Kearsarge” into my nav system and ended up on the far (southern) side of the mountain, in Rollins State Park – where the road climbs far up the southern ridge to a parking lot less than a half mile from the summit. So this time I was more careful, parking in Kearsarge State Park on the northwest side – allowing a 1.1 mile climb of the rocky Winslow Trail and descent via the 1.8 mile Barlow Trail.
A grueling hike up and down the slides of the Tripyramid range.
In search of new places to go, I find myself thinking back to hikes I completed more than a quarter-century ago; enough time has passed that they may as well be “new” again, for me. I’ve had my eye on the Tripyramids for several years now, because they make an intriguing triplet, easily recognizable on any horizon. Most notably, when I climbed them last in 1985, we approached from the north, from the Kancamagus Highway; now, it was time to try the western route, up the sheer North Slide and down the scree-filled South Slide. Read on, and check out the photo gallery.
One of my favorite hidden gems of Mount Moosilauke.
One of my fondest memories of hiking on Mount Moosilauke was a solo bushwhack in August 1984, when I decided to follow Gorge Brook to its source, and beyond. The Gorge Brook Trail follows the brook for a mile or so, then diverges east to attain the ridge and climb over East Peak to the summit. But the brook itself contains one of the hidden gems of Moosilauke: the Pleiades, a series of spectacular cascades that few ever have a chance to see. Although I mentioned this memorable bushwhack in a post from 2013, I had never returned to the Pleiades… until today. And what a day for it! Read on and be sure to check out the photo/video gallery.
After a busy and challenging work week, it was a pleasure today to return to one of my local peaks for a quick morning outing. I’ve already climbed Mount Cube a few times this year, in winter, spring, and summer, partly because it is close by (less than 30 minutes’ drive) and because it has a remarkably nice view for such a short climb (2 miles). The Rivendell Trail up Mount Cube is a favorite of many in the area, so I was surprised to see only one car at the trailhead when I arrived a bit before 9am.
A short hike to a delightful remote peak, Mount Cushman, in central Vermont.
No, I’ve never heard of it either. This small peak in Central Vermont is not on anyone’s peak-bagger list, or on any long-distance trail. But when I was looking through the guidebook of dayhikes in Vermont, this one stuck out as an interesting new place to visit.
It was a beautiful day for a hike, so I was pleased to have a chance to join friends for a climb of Mount Hale – one of the 4000-foot peaks in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. Much of the trail follows Hale Brook, including several pretty cascades.