Saturday, June 10, 2017

No. Straightback, East & West Quarry Mtns

West Quarry is one of the 12 mountains required to obtain a Belknap County Sportsman's Association Hiking Patch.  Though we've previously summited North Straightback Mountain, we decided on a route to West Quarry that would take us across this summit again, then on to East Quarry and thru to West Quarry.  There are shorter routes to reach this goal but we wanted a longer hike.  We retraced our steps to return.

Hike Stats
Distance:  6.8 miles
Elevation Gain: ~1,400'
Total Duration:  4 hrs. 20 min. (incl. stops which were brief due to black flies!!)
Difficulty:  Moderate
Driving Directions:  Trail is an out and back departing from the main Mt. Major parking lot.  The entire world seems to know where the parking lot for Mt. Major is so I won't detail it here. 

This hike begins by using the Main Trail (Blue - RH side of parking lot) to Mt. Major.  While on this section you will be accompanied by what seems like hundreds of hikers and non-hikers alike.  You will soon reach the Brook Trail (Yellow - continue straight) which only about half the Mt. Major hikers use to ascend or descend, so the heavy traffic slows a little here.  Fear not, things will quiet down when you reach the green blazed North Straightback Link trail which veers to the right.  From this point on we only saw two people for the rest of our hike.  Perfect!

Here the trail steepens while climbing the backside of North Straightback.  Just 10 yards shy of the actual summit, the Quarry Trail will depart to the right (sharp right and easy to miss coming from this direction).  From here it is a bit interesting as there are a number of PUDS (pointless ups and downs) to be covered and we were not certain if we had reached either East or West Quarry.  Things were made worse by the fact that there is a downed pine tree near the summit of East Quarry which was obstructing the summit sign.

We knew we were on the correct trail but we felt lost.  I had brought along my Garmin hiking GPS however, when charging the batteries the night before I had forgotten to turn it off.  So, when we reached the parking lot and I attempted to turn it on, it was already on and nearly dead.  No worries, I 'always' carry a spare set of batteries.  But not so today.  Knowing this was a short hike I had decided to leave my spare batteries at home.  Not a good decision!

Like all safe hikers, we had a paper map with us but knowing where we specifically were on that map was a bit of a challenge.  So, as we meandered about I finally remembered that I had only recently downloaded a GPS hiking app on my phone.  I had gotten the idea from Philip Werner who writes a daily hiking blog called sectionhiker.com.  If you have not signed up to receive his daily blog you really should.  I've learned a lot from him.

Sure enough I queued up the GAIA GPS app on my phone and within seconds we found our location to be just past the summit of East Quarry.  I am now sold on having this app as a fallback (never depend solely on a cell phone).

We eventually reached the viewless summit of West Quarry.  There are however several small views of Lake Winnipesaukee along the way.  You should also know that there is a trail junction at the summit of West Quarry that does not show on my maps.  It was blazed in yellow??  We were in a hurry to get back to attend a graduation party so we did not investigate this further.  On to some pictures:

One of several limited views of the lake.

The summit of North Straightback.


The turn for the Quarry Trail.  You'll approach this sign from the backside so it is easy to miss.


Evidence!  We did find it...
As seen in the next couple of shots, though this hike covers some of the 'baby' mountains of the Belknap Range, there are some short but challenging and fun sections. 

The East Quarry sign and summit partially obstructed by a large fallen pine tree.


 Here I've zoomed way in with my camera to the crowds on Mt. Major in the distance.

 Lady Slipper flower.  Learn more...


The End!!

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