It's been a long cold winter and a slowly developing spring with nice weather one day and cold raw weather the next. If you live in New England I'm not telling you anything you don't already know. I would argue however that today was thus far the most beautiful day of 2014. Weather in the mid-70's, even at the summit, crystal clear skies with only the contrails of jets making streaks across the perfectly blue sky. All in all it was a stunner of a day!
I've been struggling with an ankle injury that is still bothering me from a hike on the Hancock's last year and Sue is struggling with Morton's Neuroma in a foot so we decided to hike something less aggressive than a 4k in the Whites. Is this a medical blog or a hiking blog? Funny thing is the next morning at breakfast Sue and I are comparing notes on our aches and pains when I stopped to point out how ridiculous the topic of conversation was. Is this how our hikes will be for the rest of our lives? No discussion of the beauty, the views, the wildlife, the peacefulness but instead a conversation about aches and pains. Geez....
Our plan was to hike Mt Sunapee on the Andrew Brook Trail leaving from Mountain Road off Rte 103. If everyone is efficient about it there is roadside parking for a good number of cars (20+). This is a popular hike on weekends, so it appears, but it was not overwhelming. As far as we could tell a good number of the hikers only went to the lake, or maybe to the cliffs I describe later, with many seemingly foregoing the trip to the summit of Mt Sunapee. The total round trip according to my GPS was 6.8 miles with about 1,450' of elevation gain and 1,800' of cumulative elevation gain. The trek to the summit has many small ups and downs which add to the cumulative gain.
The Andrew Brook runs alongside the trail (thus the trail name if you've not figured that out) for the first mile or more. You don't really get many views of the brook but the sound is always nearby. Lot's of stones along the trail and lot's of mud. The mud is easily maneuvered but there is a lot of it. The trail could certainly use more stepping stones in places and more log bridges over some of the wetter sections.
I'll mix in a few pics here with more descriptions.
It is a 2-mile trek from the trailhead to Lake Solitude. The lake is beautiful as you will soon see.
In the early sections of the trail there are literally miles and miles of blue plastic tubing from maple trees that have been tapped. These blue lines feed into larger black tubing. It is absolutely unbelievable how much of this tubing there is. I wondered what would happen if a deer were trying to make its way through.
The morning sun on the new green leaves was beautiful. A camera does not really capture how pretty it is.
We've reached Lake Solitude. We will next circle around the right side of the lake and then climb up to the cliffs you can see in the background.
We've reached the cliffs overlooking the lake, called White Cliff, and the views are stunning. It was a great place to have lunch. If you do this hike be careful as it is easy to miss this lookout as it is not marked. Just look for the long section of ledge that has a white color and looks like the back of a whale. Follow that rock even beyond where it ends and you will find a few great spots to sit on the edge of the cliff.
After you leave the cliffs it is a 1-mile hike thru the woods that undulate up and down. Eventually you will reach the first ski trails on Mt Sunapee. From here you follow this dirt maintenance road about 1/4 mile to the summit lodge.
I should have brought my skis! Yes, that is snow that remains. That is hard to believe it has not yet melted because it is in a wide open area.
Magnificent views of Lake Sunapee from the top of one of the ski trails.
A shot from the deck of the ski lodge (and next photo also).
Note: Be sure to go to the upper deck of the lodge (on back side of lodge). There are nearly 180 degree views from that deck. We found the deck and enjoyed the views but I was sans camera. I intended to return to my backpack to get it and return to take photos but I forgot. Can you spell Al-Zih-Mahs. Sue says she will hike it again this week to take some photos from that deck. :-)
One of the few views of Andrew Brook along the trail.