Cube again

A climb above the valley fog to clear my mind.

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.

Map of my route up and down Mount Cube.
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Mount Cube

Cloudy but beautiful.

Rivendell trail, Mount Cube.

On Independence Day it finally stopped raining. It has rained, more or less non-stop, for four days. True, it was a welcome respite from the hot and humid weather at the start of the week, but it the rain was getting a bit tiring. So I was eager to get outdoors, and jumped at the chance to hike Mount Cube with an old friend. The trail was wet – to be expected on Mount Cube under almost any circumstances, but especially now – but the forest was lush green, and the bugs seemingly washed away. Although there were no views – low clouds still clung to the hilltops everywhere – it was a fine day to be out.

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Mount Cube

Returning to an old favorite with old friends.

There’s something magical about gathering with old friends, even after a long absence. It reminds me of the experience of slipping on a well-traveled pair of hiking boots: they fit just right and enable you to walk for miles in comfort. So it was for us today, a group of friends who have been hiking together for more than three decades. We met at the base of the Rivendell Trail on Mt. Cube – a trail that is one of my local favorites, because it gives one a dose of the “White Mountains” without a long drive or a major hike. Standing apart, and forgoing the usual hugs, we donned a layer of warm clothes as the wind whipped through the trees overhead. Read on!

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Mount Cube

The weather this week has been startlingly warm, almost as if summer has lasted into November. Yesterday’s high temperature here at home was 71ºF! It may have been the last ‘summer’ weather of the year – and also the last day before deer-hunting season fully opens – so I was eager to get out for a hike. I try to hike on weekdays to avoid the weekend crowds.

Despite a dense fog clinging to the Connecticut River in the early morning, I hopped into the Tesla for an all-electric drive to one of my favorite trailheads – the Rivendell Trail up Mount Cube, only 30 minutes away. I’ve been up this two-mile route many times, because it gives one all the features of a “real mountain climb” without the temporal overhead of a long drive or a long hike… a stroll through leafy hardwood forests, a scramble up rugged rock-strewn trails, the pungent scent of balsam firs, and distant views from its granite outcrops and 2900′ summit. In the view below, from the summit you can see the foggy Connecticut River valley in the upper right and Smarts Mountain at upper left.

Seen from Mount Cube.

Sadly, the summit has poor views to the northeast, but if you stand on tippy-toes and peer between the firs you can pick out Mount Moosilauke. No photos worth taking, so here’s the summit trail sign, where the Appalachian Trail passes by.

Seen from Mount Cube.

Holts Ledge

Hiking from fall to winter.

After yesterday’s brief snowfall the weather turned warm and sunny once again, allowing us a beautiful fall afternoon. This morning we woke to dense river-valley fog, so I headed across Lyme to the Dartmouth Skiway and the high point of Holts Ledge. There, well above the fog, I encountered brilliant foliage at the base and an impressive 2″ snowcover on the exposed slopes near the top. Here is one photo from the top, showing Holts Ledge at left and the peaks of Moosilauke, Cube, and Smarts left to right – but don’t miss the gallery for six other full-res photos in brilliant color.

View of Holts Ledge with (L to R) Moosilauke, Cube, and Smarts, with waves of fall foliage below.

Hike stats:
distance = 5.9km
gain = 353m
time = 1h 37m (including photo stops)