|Kearsarge North (Pequawket)......
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|Author:||New Hampshire [ Sun Dec 03, 2006 3:41 pm ]|
|Post subject:||Kearsarge North (Pequawket)......|
.....or Pigwacket for you Anglicizing barbarians!
After spending pretty much the whole of this year pushing to finish my 4K list (46 peaks total with a few repeats) I had been getting pretty burnt on them lately. To remedy this I had planned on working on some smaller peaks that fell through the cracks in my craze. A few weeks ago it was one of my absolute favorites, Mt. Crawford, which was a coming full circle of sorts (it was my very first White Mountains hike.) The next one after that was Hale, to enjoy the festivities for Bill’s 48 finish. With that done, it was time for another fun hike, time spent away from the “big guys”. Combing the books I finally decided on which it would be.
A post in the Open Call section for a hike to Kearsarge North was placed. Folks quickly took to the idea of doing this non 4K peak with plenty of 4K effort. And with that mindset Jen and I came rolling into the tiny parking area on the left side of Hurricane Road, a silver SUV in front of us. Getting out I said hello to the aged gentleman who quickly asked if I was part of Rocks On Top. After replying yes, I was surprised to meet a last minute addition to this group in KayakDan and his wonderful wife Linda. As I would find out, this was a rare honor placed upon us since KayaDan and his wife rarely do group hikes or dayhikes, chosing to keep the major scope of their hiking to winter backpacking only. But instead of heading over to Chocorua for the day they decided to honor us with their company.
About 9:15, as we were getting ready, MichaelJ came rocking in, joyous to be early for once! The “OrangeGoogler” (a.k.a. the hiker formerly known as Steve ) and Christa followed along with a few minutes to spare. Introductions and hellos were handed around and everyone gathered their gear up for the start of a magnificent day of hiking. Passing a private residence off to our right, we made our way through the first soggy and muddy section of trail. Overall the trail would be very wet today (considering the heavy rain from the night before) but was in no way bad at all. Id seen plenty worse before!
We all picked our way slowly through the absolutely BEAUTIFUL and open woods of the trail. Many of us commented on how lovely this area of timber looked, and it is much deserved. KayakDan and Linda took the sweep and set along at their pace. The rest of us would stop every ¼ to ½ mile and wait for them to rejoin. We would talk about all things hiking and beyond before moving along again. We would do this for the majority of the way up. Dan and Linda told us they like to move very slow because of certain things they had seen in their time in the woods (and believe me, without relating the story, trust it would make ANYONE think more about being cautious!) so we left them to move however fast they wanted to. Besides, the frequent breaks to let them catch up were much welcomed by us all. We would talk about all kinds of things, but one in particular was Steve claiming “I really need a more imaginative trail name.” It was then I suggested the tag “OrangeGoogler”, for what I think is obvious reasons. Besides, I think it has a nice superhero tone to it!
About 1/3 of the way in we hit the boulder field. It’s a typical boulder field with many rocks of various size and shape strewn all over the woods, making for the usual hiker hemming and hawing. So far the grade had stayed pretty moderate, but consistent. At about ½ way up we hit the slab ledges and the grade picked up a little. Not much more difficult, but we slowed none the less because of all the wet spots from rain run off. Thankfully this far down the wind and temps had not frozen the water, but we remained cautious anyways. Looking back we got some views peeking through the trees, one a rather neat view of Whitehorse ledge. It was here we also met a woman coming down from the summit. She related it was windy and cold when asked by MichaelJ. We all got a laugh because she began describing how best to walk around on the wet slabs, her tone seeming to underestimate the hiking experience of this lot. Maybe the duct taped, heavily worn gaiters on MichaelJ’s legs did not scream at her loud enough!
After the ledges we went back into the lovely woos where the trail once again picked up a bit in steepness. The trail was a bit rougher, as well, and small spots of ice started appearing along with a few areas of snow dusting. The trail took to a few small switchbacks, and before we knew it the trees opened up, and the roof of the tower poked above the rocks. We crested out into some heavily gusting winds, ready to rush for the cab of the tower for cover. But all of us could not help but stop for a moment to take in the breathtaking views. We had an amazing 360 degree view, with mountains spreading near and far, from New Hampshire to Maine. Looking down on the western side of the mountain one could see trees frozen solid in ice, and above in the fire tower the windows facing that side were also coated completely. We all made our way to the staircase and went up, the western facing side of each railing covered in its own sheen of ice.
Up in the tower we were able to enjoy the views without the stinging cold of the wind. I sat amazed as I looked off into Maine, crystal blue lakes and unbroken forest as far as the eye could see. To the north, the Doublehead’s poked out the closest to us. And fading off to the east was of course the many peaks of the White Mountains. Most impressive was Stairs Mountain and of course the two Ledges, Whitehorse and Cathedral, just off to the east. It was absolutely comforting.
We all sat down and began eating lunch as the cab slowly filled with other hikers. MichaelJ knew a few of them, and one who came along not to much later was Audrey from these boards (minus the pup today.) We sat around on the floor of the cab, eating, talking and enjoying a wonderful time. We sat there for a good hour before deciding to make our way down and back to the cars. So stepping out into the heavy gusts we hurried for treeline.
The return down was pretty simple, though now the winds had begun to form a bit more ice. We were all a bit more cautious, but no one had any problems. Just before we hit the ledges again MichaelJ shouted “HEY I KNOW that dog!!!” I couldn’t see a dog, just a white horse with black spots. He said it again and I realized it was no horse at all, but a great dane! MJ said it one more time and me, being the smartass weirdo I am I said “you want to smell his butt to make sure?” This elicited a loud roar of laughter from the OrangeGoogler, though MichaelJ did not seem to find it so amusing. We then heard a voice through the woods and a second dane came trotting ahead of none other the MEB. She had gotten a wicked late start out of Maine and knew she would never make the start of the hike. So she figured to take the pups out for a walk to meet us along the way and head back down with us. Now plus one human and two dogs (horses?) we slid back down the trail, over the slabs, through the boulder field, and back out to the parking lot.
We mulled around talking for quite a while. The others talked about heading over to Moat Mountain brewery for dinner, but since we got down a bit later than I had planned, the fact I needed to get up at 4:30 the next morning, and a headache that had started to come on (I’ve slept pretty poorly these past couple of weeks and have been paying for it), and a 2 ½ hour drive, Jen and I decided to pass on dinner and make the trek back home. We said goodbye to everyone and, in line, pulled out of the lot.
Overall this was a spectacular hike. It was no cake walk despite the lack of 4000 feet of height. You worked for this one just as hard as a bunch of peaks on the 48 list, but this one has something that some of those 4Ks lack......good views. Id easily say this hike was better than HALF of those 4Ks I have done. Its one doozie of a gem!
(not that many.....Jen was in charge of the camera again, as you can tell .
|Author:||Pucknuts61 [ Mon Dec 04, 2006 2:20 pm ]|
Hey, no throwing Jen under the bus....bring 2 cameras.
Very nice TR and still some cool shots.
see not all hikes have to be 4K's to be a great one. Looks like a very nice day with a great group.
Hopefully I'll be able to get out soon. The winter list is calling me!
|Author:||New Hampshire [ Tue Dec 05, 2006 5:53 pm ]|
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