Mt. Pemigewasset

A morning hike on a sunny day.

New Hampshire has been an extremely popular destination for hikers during the pandemic, attracting in-staters as well as many from Massachussetts and other parts of southern New England. As a result, my aim is to hike lesser-known trails, to hike on weekdays, and to hike early in the morning. Today I headed up to Franconia Notch (often an extremely crowded destination) and was almost the first car to arrive at the trailhead. I was soon on the trail to Mt. Pemigewasset, a tiny bump between the deep valley of Franconia Notch and the 4000-foot peaks to its west. I’d never been here before, dismissing this little destination as unworthy. But it has a wonderful view, and it makes for a pleasant 3.6-mile round-trip morning walk.

David on the summit of Mount Pemigewasset, NH.

In the photo above you can see Mount Moosilauke – my hike from two weeks ago – in the distance to the left above my head. I had passed a father-daughter pair coming down just before I arrived at the summit – darn, I’d intended to be here an hour earlier – but otherwise saw no other hikers on the way up.

View of Moosilauke (distant right) from the summit of Mount Pemigewasset, NH.

In the south-looking photo above you can again see Moosilauke in the distance. On the way down, however, there were several large parties coming up, mostly family groups, several with children or dogs.

View of South Kinsman from the summit of Mount Pemigewasset, NH.

In the photo above you see the Kinsman ridge, which John and I traversed a few years ago. I was back at the car by 9:30am and home by 11am, ready to get back to work. Nice way to start the day!

Presidential Sunset

Sunset views of the Presidential Range from Mount Martha, in New Hampshire.

On the night before the spring equinox I hiked with a dear friend to the top of Mount Martha in the northern White Mountains of New Hampshire.  We aimed for sunset, knowing that Martha has a spectacular view of the Presidential Range to the east.

The snow conditions were excellent, after a week of warm weather had consolidated the snow and a day’s cold weather had firmed the packed trail into a solid base that was perfect for micro spikes.  I pushed up the trail hard and fast, carrying a heavy pack with photography equipment, spare clothing, and a warm dinner, with a wary eye to the sun setting behind me as I neared the ridgeline.  I arrived at the summit 15 minutes before sunset and was pleased to see the Presies still fully illuminated, with the nearly-full moon rising above them.  The wind was dead calm, and the temperature a moderate 15 degrees.  As the sun’s orange globe glowed orange through the trees behind me, I quickly set up my tripod and started snapping photos of the Presies.

2019-03-19-65317We reveled in the beauty of the moment, as the sun set in the west while the white-capped Presidential peaks turned pink and the sky above blended into a gradient from purple to blue.  After about forty minutes we reluctantly turned and headed back down the trail, with the rising full moon so brightly illuminating the forest floor that we never needed headlamps.  A magical evening in an amazing place!  I’ve posted my favorite photos in this gallery.

Wildcat-Carter range

An example of the rugged trail along Wildcat ridge, and the impressive rockwork needed to support hikers.  It's even steeper than this photo makes it look!
An example of the rugged trail along Wildcat ridge, and the impressive rockwork needed to support hikers. It’s even steeper than this photo makes it look!

I had the honor of accompanying my dear friend Lelia on a two-day backpacking trip across the Wildcat and Carter range, in the eastern part of the White Mountain National Forest, to complete her list of 48 four-thousand-foot peaks. We managed a late start on Friday afternoon, heading steeply out of Pinkham Notch from Glen Ellis Falls to scramble up the Wildcat Ridge. This route fortunately provides some nice views of the Notch, and eventually of the Presidential Range, though it spends most of its length deep in the scrubby trees of a New Hampshire ridgeline.  The ridge is rough, with many ups and downs and scrambles around boulders. We enjoyed the late-afternoon sunshine, and reached the rocky outcrop known as Wildcat D as the light began to fade.  I paused here for a moment to reflect on my own journey to the 48 peaks, which I had completed here – on this very spot – 20 years earlier.

A morning view into Carter Notch, with the hut and ponds visible at bottom, and Wildcat ridge behind, from an outlook on the climb up to Carter Dome.
A morning view into Carter Notch, with the hut and ponds visible at bottom, and Wildcat ridge behind, from an outlook on the climb up to Carter Dome.

We could just barely see our destination down into Carter Notch, in the dim light, and began to scramble down the steep and jumbled blocks of the trail into the notch. I finally gave in to the need for headlamps, and we pushed past the creaky door of Carter Notch hut, well after dark, to the warm and relieved smiles of Lelia’s husband and son.

Celebrating Lelia's 48th NH 4000-footer on Middle Carter mountain with the Presidential Range beind; with David, Lelia, Will, Lars, and Bill.
Celebrating Lelia’s 48th NH 4000-footer on Middle Carter mountain with the Presidential Range behind; with David, Lelia, Will, Lars, and Bill.

 

The next morning broke a bit cloudy.  Concerned about spending a day hiking through drizzle, we clambered up the steep slope of Carter Dome.  Right on schedule, we met another friend – a veteran 4000-footer himself – and continued along the ridge.  On Middle Carter we cheered Lelia’s 48th peak with cheese and crackers and celebratory beverages. Her thirty years of determination and perseverance paid off!  The weather had held out nicely, and we had fine views of the Presidentials to the west and the Maine peaks to the east.  We scampered down the Imp trail into the Notch, enjoying the bright colors of fall, and capped off a fine weekend with a hearty dinner at Pinkham Notch camp.

Mitzpah hut

A hike up to Mitzpah hut on a snowy day.

My friend David Metsky wrote this trip report about our hike up to Mitzpah hut on a snowy day.

On a fine winter weekend, Dave Kotz and I decided to hike up to Mizpah Hut from Crawford Notch, via the Crawford Path. It had just snowed and we were expecting deep snow conditions. But the snow was very light and fluffy, so hiking wasn’t a problem.

The trip to the hut is pretty straightforward, just up the Crawford Path and take a right onto the Mizpah cut-off, total distance is only about 3 miles. People had hiked infront of us, but in places the light snow had drifted in and completely covered the tracks.

When we got to the closed hut the weather seemed to be turning worse. The snow was falling heavier as we stopped for lunch. There were lots of folks tenting near the hut (much too close, actually) and one group set up their tents under a huge huge cornice on the far end of the hut. I hope they made it through the night.

We walked around the hut to the backside for a view, then nice hike outthrough the snowy trees. The weather started clearing a bit, and we got nice views in the notch of the old Crawford HouseSaco Lake, and the old Crawford Depot. Through the clouds we even got some nice views of Mt Avalon and Mt Field. Then we shoveled out Dave’s car and were on our way.

Presie traverse – summer solstice

A traverse of (most of) The Presidential Range on the longest day of summer.

Text and photos by David Metsky; see the full version (with photos) on his site.

The summer was starting and a bunch of friends decided to do a one-day Presidential Traverse around the summer solstice. It’s a very seasonal thing to do, don’t you know. Most of us had done a Traverse, although I think I was the only one to who’d done a one-day trip before.

There were five of us; 3 Dave’s, Kathy, and Lelia, plus Mugs the Wonder dog.
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