Tuesday, June 26, 2012

2012.06.23 & 24 Bah Hahbah

So you might be thinking to yourself, this is a blog about hikes in the White Mountains of NH so why is it titled Bah Hahbah?  Well, we took a last minute getaway weekend trip to Bar Harbor, Maine and being near Acadia National Park we were able to get some hiking in.  No 4,000 footers here though...

We made the sudden decision to go to Bar Harbor on Thursday afternoon.  We scurried to find accommodations and we left the very next morning.  Both Sue and I wanted to get away from our newly empty home.  Let me explain why.

You see, we lost our dog of 9-years on Monday.  Barrett, our beloved Basenji, suddenly became ill on Fathers Day and we took him to the emergency room (yes, there are veterinary emergency rooms) and he was quickly diagnosed with acute kidney failure.  Kidney failure is reasonably common in this breed of dog.  The following day we took him to his regular vet and she confirmed the diagnosis.  Our only humane option, as odd as that statement seems, was to euthanize him.  Sue held Barrett in her arms as the vet injected him with a massive dose of anesthesia.  Within 30 seconds his heart stopped.  I think both of our hearts skipped a beat also.  It sure has been a rough week.  We humans can become very attached to our pets.  Here are a couple of pics of Barrett before I continue with my hiking story.  

R.I.P. Barrett

The interesting piece of this story and its relationship to hiking is that when we selected Bar Harbor as our getaway destination hiking was the furthest thing from our minds.  It was only later that we realized we could have our getaway and get some hiking in.

We hiked for two days and summitted the three tallest peaks in the Acadia National Forest.  We accomplished Cadillac and Dorr Mountains on Saturday (~7 miles) and Sargent Mountain on Sunday (~5 miles).  Yes, on Saturday we can be accused of peak bagging.  Though the tallest peak in Acadia is only 1,570' in height, you are basically starting at sea level (or close to it).  I must say that there was more substance to these hikes than I would have predicted.  In particular there was one section of the Sargent Mountain hike on the East Cliffs Trail that was particularly challenging.  Once we climbed that trail we quickly changed our mind about returning on the same route, which was our original plan, due to how difficult it was.  More stories and info follows with the pics below.


The lonely waterfall.

There were many minefields of rock like this on both hikes.

I've not seen as many waterfalls and trails following long sections of rapidly flowing brooks as we did during these two days.  There were heavy rains on both Friday and Saturday nights so by Sunday the water was really flowing.

We reach a mid-mountain pond.  No, my camera lens was not dirty, that is fog.  It got heavier as we reached the summit so our views were limited to the toes of our boots. That's it.  We did not see one view all day.

Loads of ledge that goes on endlessly near the summit.

Note the views... or lack thereof.

Reds, greens and whites.  Pretty really.

More rock minefields.

Did the Mama pine cone and the Daddy pine cone make these baby pine cones?

Crying pine needles.  They must have heard about Barrett.

On our descent from Dorr Mountain we used a trail called the Ladder Trail.  It was appropriately named as there were several steel ladders along the way, some much longer than this one.

There were also a few locations with steel hand holds drilled into the rock like these.

Yes, the trail goes through this gap in two huge rock sections.

Without a doubt, more work had been put into making stairs on the trails descending from Dorr than I have ever seen on a single trail.  Nearly all of it was done with cut stone.  Not simply a boulder rolled into place but instead each stone cut to fit.  It was simply amazing.

Even when stairs were not really necessary, this trail had stepping stones built into it.  There were many, many man-years of work done on this trail.

There were also long runs of log walkways/bridges on the end of the trail.

Sargent Mountain
The waters were a'raging.

For Sue's recent birthday our eldest son Addison bought her a titanium spork.  We planned to bring it along for those emergency needs when we had forgotten utensils for our lunches.  Sure enough we needed to use it this weekend because we had forgotten our plastic forks.

What makes hiking in Acadia so different are the views of the Atlantic Ocean and the massive bays surrounding the mid-coast of Maine.  In last week's blog I mentioned having problems with my camera.  Sure enough this week those issues continued and I lost nearly two dozen shots, in particular from the summit of Sargent Mountain.  This in fact is the only photo that was usable.  I was both sad and mad at the same time when I realized this was the case again this week.  It did not take me long to order a new rugged, waterproof camera when we got home.  Enough is enough.

Sargent Pond located not far below the summit.  At least three bullfrogs surrounding the pond were calling out to each other.

We have reached the bottom of Sargent Mountain on our return and that is Jordan Pond in the foreground.  Problem is, though we have been at this hike for several hours already, our car is located on the other side of that small mountain ahead (known as South Bubble) and there is only one way to get there.  Yep, we must climb up and over it.

A picture down the length of Jordan Pond.

I will close with my vegetation shot of the day.  Beautiful colors.

Oh yes, we also lost photos of the deer we ran across on our return due to my failing camera.  I must have taken 8-10 shots of that deer that was only 50' from us.  She was not spooked at all.  I whistled, I tapped my trekking poles together and more yet, she would simply look at us and then continue on with her eating.


Saturday, June 16, 2012

2012.06.19 Mt Passaconaway via Dicey's Mill Trail

This week our hike was to the summit of Mt. Passaconaway which is located in the Sandwich Wilderness Range.  This mountain rings in at about 4,100'.  That means we are able to check off another 4,000 footer off of our list.  This hike runs about 9.3 miles long and we added another 1/2 mile to that in pursuit of an outlook near the summit; though we never made it to that particular viewpoint.  According to the White Mountain Guide, the route we selected has  a total elevation gain of 3,125 feet.  Based on my heart rate during this climb I would say this sounds about right.  This was our route:

There are a number of ways to reach the summit of Mt. Passaconaway and our route today was up the Dicey's Mill Trail.  The hike begins in a unique way with hikers being required to park about half a mile or more from the actual trailhead.  You walk along a dirt road and across a long private drive to begin the hike.  A huge THANKS to all of the private land owners who allow hikers to cross their properties in order to reach the trail.

More of the story follows with the pics below:

Our vegetation shot of the week was this beautiful wildflower with the morning sun shining on it. 

Here we pass around a fence which stops vehicles from accessing the private drive to the house in the distance.  This is one of several homeowners who allow the hikers to cross their properties to reach the trail. 

Here the Blueberry Ridge Trail turns left and has a nice bridge crossing the river.  This is not the trail we took but, we did pause the take a few photos at this river crossing.  The next few shots are from the bridge above. 


Sue sizes up this little pebble along our path. 

I was struck by the odd almost eerie look of this area we passed. 

There were four viewpoints we passed on our trip.  We accessed 3 of those viewpoints but the fourth, which we did begin to head towards, would have added another mile to our trip so we scrapped it part way through.  For some reason many of the photos I took today were awful and the shot above was the only usable one.  I suspect something is going wrong with my camera as the photos were pretty much white (washed out).

I found this trail sign at one of the intersections we reached to be rather hilarious.  Read it closely.

A great hike on a perfect mid-70's degree day.  It doesn't get much better than this.


Saturday, June 9, 2012

2012.06.09 Mt Tecumseh - A Path Less Traveled

Our hike this week departs from Tripoli Road off of Route 93 just South of Lincoln, NH.  The Mt. Tecumseh trailhead is located about 5.5 miles off the highway exit with about half that distance being on a dirt road.  There is a sign and turn on the right of the road simply marked "Hiker Parking".  A small parking area exists but other than the trailhead sign, you might not even notice the trail leaving the parking area.  It was immediately clear that this trail was a path less traveled.  It was a very quiet hike at least until we reached the summit and there the hiker traffic increased because of those coming from other directions.

This trail climbs the back side of Mt. Tecumseh which is the mountain making up Waterville Valley Ski Area (on opposite side of the mountain).  Tecumseh is a qualifying 4,000 footer but it is the shortest in the State of NH at just 4,006'.  The elevation gain to the summit was listed in our hiking book as being just over 2,000 feet.  We soon learned though that the total elevation gain on this hike was just over 3,000 feet.  My legs today (two days later) are telling me that this extra 1,000 feet really did matter.

I will tell more of the story with the pictures below:

The requisite trailhead photos were taken.  It was 9:30 am and we finished the hike at 3:45 pm.  The total distance traveled was 7.8 miles. 

Well before you reach the summit of Tecumseh there is an unmarked path to the right which takes you to this viewpoint.  From this point we supposedly had just another 150' of elevation gain to accomplish however, we soon learned that we would be spending some timing climbing down the mountain before gaining elevation again in order to complete the final summit to Tecumseh.  This was the first of several undulations that would add that extra 1,000' of elevation gain I mentioned earlier.

This weeks vegetation shot of the week.  Psychedelic mushrooms?

Here the climb steepens and goes on for some time. 

Just under 2.5 hours into our hike we reach the summit of Mt. Tecumseh. 

 More views from the summit of Mt. Tecumseh.
At this point we have descended Mt. Tecumseh (summit in the background) and we are on our way to the top of the Waterville Valley Ski Area.  We will return by the same route.  This extra leg adds about 1.6 miles RT to our hike but I would highly recommend it to all.

This is the elevation plot from my GPS.  As I've noted, there are a number of undulations after you think you may have reached the summit.  The scale of this plot does not do the changes justice.  You'll also note that the last leg to the summit of Tecumseh has a rather steep grade.

I never expected to find a construction zone at the top of a mountain (near Waterville Valley). 

We all love our cell phones so that forces the construction of contraptions like this on our mountain tops.  I am not a true "tree hugger" but, isn't there a better way?

If only we had been able to ride this lift up the mountain our hike would have been much, much easier.  We were not allowed to ride it down either.  We waited for about 15 minutes for an operator to show up but it was not to be.  Maybe we should have carried our skis up the mountain so we could ski down.  It would have been tough on the edges though... 

A look down the ski slope. 

My GPS plot (black line) overlaid in Google Earth.  The maze on the lower right is the ski area.

All in all this was a great hike and reasonably tough when one considers it is the shortest 4,000 footer in NH.