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 I don't think we are in New Hampshire anymore Toto! 
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I Spend All My Time on This Forum
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 I don't think we are in New Hampshire anymore Toto!
When I finished the 48, I made a promise to myself to expand my horizons as a hiker. What this mainly entailed was spreading out to other states to find what they had to offer. This promise was furthered along this past Christmas when, after all was said and done, I came into possession of the VT, ME and MA atlas’ by DeLorme. While thumbing through the MA one I looked over the various little hills offered up with trails. One that stuck out for some reason was little Mt. Grace, just over the border in Warwick MA. After the plans I had made for this Sunday got cancelled I began scrambling to figure out what to do this weekend. In one of the PM’s I sent to Jim (SilentCal) I happened to mention Mt. Grace. When all was said and done a group hike was set up to do some section hiking of the Metacomet-Monadnock trail up to Mt. Grace. So with that all said and done, Jen and I set off for our first peak bag EVER outside the state of New Hampshire.

To be honest, the hardest part of this entire hike was finding the trailhead! I contacted Dugan for some help, and between her advice, Map Quest, the Atlas and a map of Mt. Grace State forest Jen and I set out for this daunting task. I could tell the day was going to turn out good when I was given the pleasure of seeing a fox running on the side of the road… a BIG one at that! I had used Map Quest to get me to Robbins Road, which was an indication to me the trailhead was only about half a mile down the road. After we had gone nine tenths of a mile I knew we had gone too far so I pulled off to the side of the road to use the facilities, and while doing so I saw a gray Forester and green pick-up go by. I had a feeling this was the group (as these were the vehicles described to me by Dugan) so I jumped back in the car and turned around. Not too far down the road the 2 vehicle convoy had pulled over and Dugan waved me down. We set off to try finding the trailhead, eventually doing so a little ways down. We parked my car and Jades truck here and all piled in to Dugan’s car for the trip over to Gulf Road.

For today’s hike it would be Jim (SilentCal), Jade, Dugan (2legs, though at the end of the day it was down to 1 ½ ), Jen and myself along with Jades super pup Carmen. We all threw our packs on and started a short walk up the road to a point where the guardrail stopped and the trail entered the woods. What we did not know was that we would parallel the road all the way back to a spot near where the car was. Oh well, we called it a little warm up! We ambled along for a ways, enjoying a little beginner conversation as we got to know each other a bit better. As the trail miles clicked off the more comfortable we got with each other, and we were having a blast. The trail lazily loped along with some ups and downs, eventually dumping us out on a power line cut. From this cut we got to see our first great views of the day. The sky was crystal blue with some high level whispy clouds. We knew that the views from the Mt. Grace firetower were going to be great. After enjoying the views for a few minutes we re-entered the woods and continued on.

As Carmen galloped up and down and all around the trail, licking snow and begging for some rump scratchings we kept to a more moderate pace. My new GPS I got for Christmas ( a Garmin eTerx Legend) told us we were averaging about 2.5 MPH, though at one point we hit a whopping 4.4 MPH. We temporarily lost sight of Dugan for a few minutes, and when she caught up she said she had spotted two does off in the woods. Man, this was turning into a gorgeous day! Re grouped we continued on, eventually coming out on an old road on which the trail followed. We came to an intersection where we took this moment to eat some food. Dugan broke out some awesome chocolate mint cookies. I had one of the Seasonal only Cliff Bars, a nicely flavored “spiced Pumpkin.” After the food and a few bathroom breaks it was off once again.

Before long we found ourselves crossing the road and starting the final push of the day up to Little Grace and finally Mt. Grace. With Carmen in the lead we started along . We once again took on a nice, moderate pace, easing along in the crisp winter air. There was a slight nip in the air, and the woods had been dusted with a charming layer of snow. At one point we looked back and saw Dugan was once again not with us. We stopped and waited, expecting her to catch up no problem as she had before. When a few minutes had passed we got a bit worried. Eventually she appeared, now carrying a stick with her to help her walk. Jim asked if she was ok, and she replied that her knee had started to hurt awfully bad, so much so that she considered heading back to the road and waiting for Jim and Jade to get the car to pick her up. She decided to give it a little longer to see, hoping she could trooper through. But it quickly became apparent she was having a rough go of it. She decided to turn back and go to the near by road while we continued on to Grace. Jen and I bid her farewell, pleased to have placed another face to the trail name, and now minus one we made the push up to Little Grace.

Little Grace came after a nice little steep pitch. We came upon a quaint little viewpoint and stopped for some water. We idled around for a few minuets, taking everything in. With our breath back in us (i.e. MY breath back in me :lol ) we dipped down a bit before the longer steep pitch up to the summit of Grace. I huffed and puffed my big butt up and up, slowly but steadily. The nip had gone from the air replaced by a nice sweat that warmed me through. The tower appeared in short order, and none too soon as I was starting to feel the burn. The trail leveled off and petered up to the base of the tower. Jim headed up immediately with Carmen leading the way. She would lose the nerve to go any further than half way up so Jim moved along while she returned down. I had to build up my nerve though. I am by no means afraid of heights. Stand me on the ledge on Bondcliff and I am fine. But something about firetowers spooks me. Maybe it’s the sparse wood and steel construction, or perhaps the idea of putting my safety in the hands of state run organizations, trusting they could build a stable platform despite the fact the word “government” and “quality” have a hard time mixing :lol . But I got the nerve and made my way up. I am glad I did as the views were absolutely breathtaking. And whats nice about this tower is, unlike many others, no massive communications array thwarted your attempt for nice, clean, expansive views.

With our fun had we picked our way back down, and continued on to finish the hike so Jim and Jade could go get Dugan. After a little more down we found ourselves coming out to a lean-to shelter, one of very few on this trail. Jade headed off out back to use the facilities when she suddenly yelped out. I had thought she had slipped and fell, but found out she had stepped on a piece of wood with a nail on it. She hobbled over, the piece still sticking in her boot, and sat down to pull it off. Apparently someone had driven up the night before (perhaps gotten drunk) and kicked a hole in the back of the shelter, which is where the wood came from. After making sure Jade was ok, we took a quick break before making the last short stretch back to the road and spotted cars. The sound of cars on the road beckoned us on and we walked out to the little turn around that housed our vehicles. We said our good-byes, wished each other a happy New Year, and Jen and I jumped into the car to return home.

With our first official Massachusetts peak bag done I can say I was impressed. This hike showcased a lovely little gem on a quaint trail. I can not say it was better or worse than a WMNF hike. Indeed there is no comparison. I have come to realize there is a world of difference in terrain, and the genius of trail building comes from what the builders offer up. This was a great hike through some pretty woods to a summit offering expansive views (thanks to a tower.) I look forward to returning, and am now more excited than ever to see what the other surrounding states can offer. Here is to many more peak bags throughout the New England area!

Brian

P.S. NO Pics. Nada. Zippo. Zero. Jen was in charge of the camera and I don’t think it even got turned on. However, I do have the GPS track and Elevation Profile for you HERE


Sun Dec 31, 2006 5:40 pm
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Welcome to trail-bagging. The next section of this hike will bring us to the state line and then a beeline to Mondanock. Looking forward to it.

I'm just glad I got to break trail in the snow for the first time. It was fun. :roll:


Mon Jan 01, 2007 3:13 pm
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 Re: I don't think we are in New Hampshire anymore Toto!
New Hampshire wrote:
Jade headed off out back to use the facilities when she suddenly yelped out. I had thought she had slipped and fell, but found out she had stepped on a piece of wood with a nail on it. She hobbled over, the piece still sticking in her boot, and sat down to pull it off. Apparently someone had driven up the night before (perhaps gotten drunk) and kicked a hole in the back of the shelter, which is where the wood came from.

Stepping on a nail stinks.

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Tue Jan 02, 2007 11:22 am
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Welcome to Bahston!

we got rules, you know!

Great TR and I'm really glad to see how much you and Jen have expanded horizons. Just sorry I couldn't be there to wish everyone a Happy New Year.

Peace!
Bill

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Tue Jan 02, 2007 3:20 pm
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I Spend All My Time on This Forum
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 Re: I don't think we are in New Hampshire anymore Toto!
ScenicNH wrote:
New Hampshire wrote:
Jade headed off out back to use the facilities when she suddenly yelped out. I had thought she had slipped and fell, but found out she had stepped on a piece of wood with a nail on it. She hobbled over, the piece still sticking in her boot, and sat down to pull it off. Apparently someone had driven up the night before (perhaps gotten drunk) and kicked a hole in the back of the shelter, which is where the wood came from.

Stepping on a nail stinks.


Thankfully she says it did not break skin. Good thing too since she could not remember when her last tetnis shot was.

Hey Bill, it was scary for a bit there. I was afraid the Ents, or liberal rednecks (is there such a thing!? :lol: ) might swallow the car whole and dump us into middle earth where the hobbits played "Dueling Banjos"!!! :lol: :lol: :lol: Thankfully it appears Massachusetts is no different than NH...well, ok, NH will always be home to me where as MA will not :wink: . With Jim as my guide I think Jen and I should do just fine (unless Jim is swallowed by Ents prodded on by Banjo playing liberal hobbits :shock: :twisted: :P .)

B.


Tue Jan 02, 2007 6:17 pm
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I will say that if you were colorblind on this hike, you would have been in BIG trouble. Lots of intersecting trails of many different colors. I guess this area is also a popular cross-country ski area.

I like the stats layout on the elevation profile. Neat program indeed.


Tue Jan 02, 2007 10:12 pm
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