Tuesday, July 24, 2012

2012.07.24 Middle & North Sugarloaf - Better With Friends!

I'll begin by saying that I am woefully late in creating this post!  I have no idea why....

This was to be the first of two days of hiking with some dear friends, let me restate that, our VERY BEST friends Rick and Janet.  Sadly Rick and Janet live in NC, having moved there many years ago from NH.  It's probably best.  Had they stayed in NH I would, without a doubt, be a "Gold Member" of AA by now. 

Rick and Janet were back in New England to attend a wedding in MA and while in the area they decided to spend a few days in the White Mountains to celebrate their 30th anniversary.  Of course we all couldn't resist the chance to hike together.  It only made sense, after all, last year Sue and I were in Charlotte, NC and while there we visited Rick and Janet and took a day hike to Crowders Mountain; the one and only substantive mountain in Charlotte.

We are trying to convince Rick and Janet to join us in 2014 on a hiking adventure in New Zealand.  So far they have not agreed but, I am hoping this 'pubic' pressure will coerce them to join us!!  A special note to Rick & Janet:  "If you don't go first class, your children will."

Back to our two days of hiking.  This first hike was a bit of a warm up with our schedule only allowing for a quick afternoon jaunt to Middle and North Sugarloaf.  Though we had already done this two summit hike in May of this year (view prior post), it made sense to do it again today because it fit our location and our schedule and, no small point, the reward is fantastic for such a reasonable effort.

Now on to some photos:

The INFAMOUS Rick and Janet with whom we were hiking today.  All these years in NC and their NH accents have not been lost!  :-)

Are the rocks in NC this big?

Rick pauses mid-trail and thinks to himself....
"I am here for my damn anniversary and to relax and enjoy the beauty of the mountains.  I really did not want to climb a mountain, I just wanted to "see" the mountains..."

We reach the first of two summits.  The low and threatening clouds make for an eerie feeling.

30 years of marital bliss!

The sun's rays peer through the clouds.  Beautiful.

Janet takes a picture of me taking a picture of her OR; am I taking a picture of her taking a picture of me.  Such complex questions.

As far as I am concerned, this is one of the best short hikes in the Whites.  Only a little over 1,000 feet of elevation gain and slightly over a 4-mile round trip yet such great views from each summit.  And, it was made all the better by having our very dear friends join us.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

2012.07.21 Hedgehog Mtn - Minimal Effort; Great Reward

Over the past month Sue has been struggling with knee pain on our hikes.  This pain goes way beyond the norm that we 'older folk' get when descending on hikes.  She had her knee checked by an orthopedic surgeon and it looks fine.  She has been going to PT and they have found the issue is caused by a pinched nerve in her lower back.  The work they have been doing in PT is now causing back pain while hiking on the ascent.  So, after a weekend off, we decided to try a short hike with minimal elevation gain.

We settled on Hedgehog Mountain.  The trail head is located midway along the Kancamagus Highway.  We did the UNH loop trail in a clockwise direction (either direction would have been fine).  The University of New Hampshire has a forestry camp in the area and that is why the trail is named as it is (I believe).  It is a 5-mile loop with a total elevation change of about 1,500 feet with the summit being at an elevation of 2,532 feet.

This hike offers a number of ledge outlooks so the reward is very good for the effort expended.  Wanting to use an even slower pace than normal due to Sue's back and knee, the hike took us 4 hrs and 10 minutes.  Book time is 3.5 hours and I'm guessing it could be done in 3 hours so if you are lacking time this would be a great hike.

If you intend to do this hike please be aware that an entire section of forest in the early part of the clockwise loop has been harvested therefore a portion of the trail found on all maps and hiking books has been rerouted.  Even the White Mountain Guide Online has not yet been updated.  Follow the new signs and you will be fine.

 The obligitory trail head photo.
We will follow the Downes Brook Trail for about .2 miles where we will reach the beginning of the UNH Loop.

We've not even begun our hike yet and Sue was giving me grief about something.  I was looking up and likely saying OMG. 

This is the section that was harvested and therefore caused the initial portion of the loop be rerouted (actually uses the other side of the loop for a time).

This squirrel was hungry so he did not seem to care that I was taking his picture. 

 The rerouted trail uses the return portion of the loop for a time until it reaches a new trail that reconnects you to the South side of the loop.  You can see from this photo that this trail is freshly cut.
A rock toupee....

 There were lot's of roots in sections of this trail.  Though you cannot tell from this photo, nearly every root in this photo emanates from a single tree.

 Our first views from a small outlook.

 The second set of views from more open ledges.
 Yet another ledge with views that are more northerly.   Yes, that face on the left of the shot is a shear cliff.

 I had a trekking pole clamp that was loose so I was using my spool (spoon/tool) to tighten it. 

 I look across this long valley from what is known as Allen's Ledges.  Beautiful...


Sunday, July 8, 2012

2012.07.08 Mt Moriah - More (For Your) Eyes Ahh

Wow!  This is a stunning hike that I knew nothing about and hadn't even recalled that it was on the NH 4,000 footer list.  It was only when some friends mentioned its beauty after hiking it a week earlier that I researched Mt. Moriah.  We then decided we should give it a try.

This moutain is about 4,050' in elevation and the total elevation gain during our hike was 3,223' according to my GPS.  The total distance covered is about 9.8 miles when using the Stony Brook trail in and out.  The Stony Brook trail head is located a few miles North of the Mt Washington Auto Road entrance off of Route 16.  Some groups at the summit had taken the Stony Brook trail in and were planning on taking the Carter-Moriah trail out.  The latter route would require a segment of roadside hiking so we had not even considered it.

The summit is a tiny little knob that can barely fit 8-10 people.  What makes this mountain different than many others is that there are several open ledges during the ascent that provide stunning views.  Even more interesting is that the fact that you reach one ledge and are looking South.  Press on to the next ledge and the views are primarily to the West.  Move to the next ledge and your views might be more Northerly.  Each view was different than the last.  Moving on to some photos:

From the trail head it would be 3.5 miles to the intersection of the Carter-Moriah trail and then another 1.4 miles to to the summit of Mt. Moriah.

This is a map of the route we took.

An elevation plot from my GPS.  The 'point' at the very top is real.  The last .1 mile was straight up the nub which creates the rather small summit.

A mini flume...

This is a 'mossy' rock.  Our namesake I guess (some of you who know us will 'get' this reference).

The golden mushroom.  Anyone remember my prior blog post from last year about the golden mushroom?

This is but one of the many frogs we saw along the trail in the lower elevations of this hike.  He (she) did a great job of blending into the background.

Two vegetation shots of the week.  The golden mushroom above and this pretty flower.

Our first view of where we are headed.

Our first substantive views from the initial ledges we reached.

Some of the ledges are a bit steep and it takes some confidence (and good boots) to just drive forward aggressively climb the stone.

The summit marker.  I was 4-years old when this was place here.

This shot and the next few are from the summit.

The "big one" in the upper left portion is Mt. Washington.

Along this hike there were a number of raised plank bridges to protect the sensitive vegetation. 

All in all this hike of Mt. Moriah would be one of the first on my list of 'repeat' hikes.