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 Eastern Belknap Loop - 7/31/14 
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 Eastern Belknap Loop - 7/31/14
Spurred on by some of Scooters recent reports and a few others I've seen here in the past few months today was finally the day I dove deeper into the Belknaps. Up until now the extent of my hiking in the range was Mt. Major more times than I can count and Mt. Belknap. Today with severe storms threatening farther north I decided on and Eastern Belknap loop consisting of Mt's Major, N. Straightback, Anna, Makc, Klem, Rand, the Quarries and S. Straightback. I started at 4:45 in the morning to catch the sunrise from Mt. Major. Without much to see it was non-stop to the open ledges that gave me great views of the lake, which was making it's own fog this morning so watching the sun rise over that and seeing it dance around the islands was worth the early start.

The sun coming up over the horizon
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There was a nice glow to it as it rose above the foggy lake
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From just below the summit I watched for quite a while
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Lonely island
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Ossipees and Whites across the pond
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Eventually I made my way up the last few feet to the summit to enjoy the show. There were a few people up there trying to see how many four letter words they could use in a sentence and either didn't care who heard them or didn't realize how voices carry on quiet morning. Then a lady with three teenage girls showed up complaining they'd cracked their phon on the way up and the mother was hacking like she'd smoked a couple packs on the way up too. Nothing like a quiet morning watching the sunrise, but the show was nice so I tried to just enjoy the sights.

The fog started to fade away as the sun rose higher
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High enough for the sunlight to dance on the water
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VFTT
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About 45 minutes or so of that I continued along the Belknap Range Trail for the outward bound route, which was horrendously over-blazed but I guess with so many touristy casual hikers you have to try and keep them from getting lost somehow. Anyhow that trail took me over a lot of ledge with a few views and a look ahead to the other summits in the range and fairly quickly to South Straightback, which was covered in blueberries. I hadn't planned to pick them today but there were so many it was just too easy, so I spent a half hour or so filling a 32 oz. Nalgene bottle with berries. Yum!!

Views of what lies ahead
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And what lies off to the side
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The summit of South Straightback
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Too many to resist
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Time to hop off the diet wagon and start vacation! :D
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After the picking I headed off for Anna. This one seem to come up quickly, as had N. Straightback. Too quickly actually, as I had wanted to take the Precipice Trail but somehow missed the first turn off for it and before I knew it was at the other end of it and then on top on Mt. Anna's wooded summit. Not much exciting here ao off I headed for Mack.

More views of what's to come
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Really? That's the best they can do?
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Mack seemed to take forever. he woods were nothing special, may as well have been in my back yard, and it dragged on. I don't know what the mileage was but it had to be the biggest distance between two summits all day, as all the others seemed pretty close together. After a lot of climbing (700 feet??) the terrain suddenly changed to ledge and pines and I turned the corner and arrived on the summit. Again not much to see here so on I went towards Klem.

Mack's topper
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It's still there
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After a short dip I neared the open ledges of Klem (also covered in berries) and me a couple people also in search of the summit. There were no signs and the map I had was crappy so I poked around, finding views but no summit sign. As I returned they nicely told me the summit was a couple hundred yards up the trail, so I tagged that one and then moved along yet again.

Klem's blueberry covered ledges
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Viewpoint on the BRT just past the spur trail to Klem's summit
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Rand was next and from that point on I followed the Dave Roberts Quarry trail. The summit was a bit of a climb, with a viewpoint back at Mack and Klem along the way but again nothing special (see a theme here?) and then it was off again, moving about as quick as I can to try and beat the forecast storms back to the parking lot. The Quarry trail from there up to West Quarry was one of the more fun parts of the day. Passing the remnants and atifacts of the old rock quarries and then clambering up the steep ledges on the side of the mountain it was lots of fun. I wish the other trails had been more like this. There was a faded sign warning not to try the trail in wet conditions but it was dry and easy going with a handful of scrambles and view ledges. Good stuff! Too soon however I hit the summit and had a quick snack before moving on.

I can't figure out what this is telling me
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Something about steep unstable trails...
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Klem? Mack? Rand? They all look alike to me
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The ridge between West and East is relatively flat until you approach the summits, and while there were muddy spots and severely overgrown spots there again wasn't much of interest to me so I made quick time to the East Summit, which must have been hit a few years ago by some serious winds as it was quite a mess of blowdowns.

Quarry Trail goes through a lot of this
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And some of this
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Finally!! A view!!
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The zoo on Mt. Major
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Sounds like fun, but maybe not solo
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A good size drop and steep descent along with an overgrown and wet trail, I came to an overlook on a rock slide area with a view of Mt. Major and Winnie. There was a sign for "Caves" but being solo and not knowing what I was getting into I decided to pass and save them for another day. So another small drop and then a ateep, scrambly, fun climb brought me up to North Straighback. Now all I had to do was descent the Quarry Link (I think) down to the Brook Trail (which bores me to tears) and head out on the superhigway that is the Main Trail on Mt. Major on a nice summer day. Even on a Thursday the thing was crowded with groups and families and when I finally hit the parking lot there were buses, vans and dozens and dozens of cars filling the lot and lining the road. I was glad I was the second car there and until I joined the Brook Trail only saw 5 people on the hike.

Ah, the quiet Brook Trail
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And this must be the Main Trail
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Toatal was about 10.5 miles (I think) with about 3000 feet of elevation (again, I think. Info is hard to come by for this area) and with a sunrise stop and blueberry picking it took me 7+ hours to do the loop, but probably only about 5 hiking time. My impressions of the Belknaps are that they might be better in small doses. Calm, quite, enjoyable yes but cherry picking the better trails and smaller loops, exploring some of the points of interest rather than 10+ mile traverses might make it better. To me this was like the Conway Scenic Railroad to Bartlet, which is not very scenic at all and what scenery there is goes by too fast. By the time you hit the Brook Trail you just want it to be over. The caves, old quarry and mill sites and various (but limited) viewpoints were interesting. Much of the wooded trails between the peaks were not. Views are good when you get one but scarce and leave you wanting more. I plan to finish off the "rest" of the range in a big loop of some sort (probably I'll advised) and then explore it in smaller chunks. The bigger trip today was definitely good to help me get my bearings in the place but once I learn my way around better I think it'll just be a place to go closer to home or when there's limited time and get in a nice hike but nothing big. It just didn't seem to lend itself to that type of hike at all. Too much off the same old stuff and not nearly enough excitement for me. But still a nice morning out and warmed my legs up nicely to go home, climb a ladder and clean out some gutters.

After the gutters I washed the berries up. Their fate is still to be determined but a pie is a good guess!
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Thu Jul 31, 2014 11:23 pm
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Nice! You almost make me want to get up early in the morning :)

The fog pics are outstanding.

I really like Straightback. Anna , Rand, Quarry ... meh. I really did not like the Quarry trail the one time I've been out on it. Partly I had some pretty bad lacebite, that makes it hard to appreciate ... but mostly seemed just kind of a blah woods walk. Maybe I'll go out and check it out the artifacts some time.

Mack has some nice views , but I think your route bypassed them - they are down the orange trail toward Round Pond :(

The Precipice Path is kind of hidden. I was told that it was deliberately left a bit hard to find as a way to filter the hikers a little. Seems like a good idea to me considering the number of rescues that seem to happen in the Eastern Belknaps.

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Thu Jul 31, 2014 11:47 pm
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Awesome photos of sunrise as always! You even got some sort of under cast! I rather liked this loop. Its a fairly nice walk in the woods. I just did it in reverse. I wonder which way is better. It is like either way it drags between Anna and mack. Did you bag both quarrays? One is off trail. I wish I cared for blueberries. What's left? White face?


Fri Aug 01, 2014 7:11 am
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Sunrise and under-cast, pretty cool. Nice looking blueberries. My pie's almost gone. You could just give those to me and stay on your diet. 8)

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Fri Aug 01, 2014 7:33 am
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Getting up ealry isn't easy for me either Scooter. I'm not naturally an early riser, but I'm always glad when I do it. Scenery seems somehow different than mid day, it beats the crowds and you're done by lunch! :D I've seen nice stuff in your reports so I can only assume the side trails are far more interesting than the Belknap Range Trail. Precipice will be worth finding I think as will the Valley View you wrote about and those caves sound interesting.

Gibba that section did drag between Mack and Anna. I rather enjoyed Major - Straightback and really liked Mack - South Straightback. It was almost like two ridge lines with a drop in the middle. I did hit both Quarries, or at least saw the summit signs on them. 2 Straighbacks too. Both Q's seemed to be right on the trail though so maybe not?? One after the scrambles and one in the big blowdown area hidden behing a dead tree top. The fog/undercast was cool. It was the stuff warm water seems to generate on its own when the air temp is much cooler (55 degrees when I started out, water was 75) and burned off quickly once the sun hit it. White Face, Piper, Gunstock and Rowe are left. If I get a hike in this week might just finish them off. Not many lists you can finish in 2 hikes!

Quarries??

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Last edited by Granite Guy on Fri Aug 01, 2014 8:22 am, edited 3 times in total.



Fri Aug 01, 2014 7:45 am
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JustJoe wrote:
Sunrise and under-cast, pretty cool. Nice looking blueberries. My pie's almost gone. You could just give those to me and stay on your diet. 8)


I could...but you made me fall off the wagon and my wife would kill me. Making pie tonight to kick off a week of vacation and over-eating. A week at the lake no less, and there should be plenty more picking involved. 8)


Fri Aug 01, 2014 8:00 am
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Awesome photos! This makes me want to go back and explore more of the Belknaps. I've only done a few peaks there.


Fri Aug 01, 2014 8:38 am
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I haven't done that loop exactly, but I'm not surprised you were underwhelmed if you remember (and you seem to remember every tr in hike-nh history) my B12 finish, which was a truncated version of Rand, Anna, Quarry, and Straightback. SBack is nice, but the rest were better for solitude than views.

I do seem to remember Mack having some views, and the ledges of Klem were good -- it's much shorter, but the Round Pond/Mack/Klem loop really did have plenty to commend it IMO. And with the exception of Rowe, you'll probably like the W peaks better.

Agreed with all re: sweet pics of the fog/lake/sunrise!


Fri Aug 01, 2014 10:17 am
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Grindboy wrote:
...if you remember (and you seem to remember every tr in hike-nh history).

...the Round Pond/Mack/Klem loop really did have plenty to commend it IMO. And with the exception of Rowe, you'll probably like the W peaks better.


I do remember that one, and as noted way too many others for some reason. Hopefully there's no limit to the space available in the filing cabinet upstairs. :roll:

Ill check out the RP loop. Looking forwarde to the west peaks now so thanks for pumping them up. I know views are relatively limited (except in Scooters reports) but I thought hiking the namesake trail in the range might have a little more of interests.

Dingo I'm looking forward to checking out more of the place too. Side trails, historic sites, ponds, caves...it's got stuff there apparently, I just have to find it. Foliage season seems like it would be a great time to see the place.


Fri Aug 01, 2014 12:42 pm
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Wow those are some spectacular pics GG. I've hiked more of the periphery than the middle with the exception of straight back and Anna which had no views. Don't forget there is Shannon, Whiteface, Swett, and pine hill X 2 and goat pasture path that i have yet to get to. There are a ton of trails i think would be worth exploring. My only problem with hiking in gilford/alton is it reminds me of work since our office is in gilford :(

Sounds like it was great exercise at least to burn calories that you plan to consume this vacation. Have fun!


Fri Aug 01, 2014 1:49 pm
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hiking lady wrote:
Wow those are some spectacular pics GG. I've hiked more of the periphery than the middle with the exception of straight back and Anna which had no views. Don't forget there is Shannon, Whiteface, Swett, and pine hill X 2 and goat pasture path that i have yet to get to. There are a ton of trails i think would be worth exploring. My only problem with hiking in gilford/alton is it reminds me of work since our office is in gilford :(

Sounds like it was great exercise at least to burn calories that you plan to consume this vacation. Have fun!


Thanks! Should be lots of fun. At least you have some nice places to visit on your lunch break! I'll be driving right by you it sounds like. I'll be sure and beep! :D


Fri Aug 01, 2014 2:16 pm
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We're with everyone else as far as the pics! Another WOW TR from GG! The view with the undercast is far superior to any of the views we have had in all the times we have been on the Belknap Range. Curious as to how big are you going to make that pie? Just saying we all like blueberry pie! :lol:
You'll have the range finished in no time. Remember, Rowe is what you take from it, we enjoyed that mountain. At the very least take the rights going up the access roads and take a peek at history! 8)

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Fri Aug 01, 2014 7:31 pm
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Awesome pics, as usual. Timing was impeccable to catch the best of the sun and fog. Nicely done.

And since Joe admittedly already has a pie, I think you should stay on your diet and give the berries to me. I will make a pie, AND post the pics here for all to enjoy.

Of course, I could just get myself up there to pick my own, but that can't happen for at least two weeks and by then........

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Fri Aug 01, 2014 8:00 pm
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WeRmudfun wrote:
Curious as to how big are you going to make that pie? Just saying we all like blueberry pie! :lol:


Well, it had all the blueberries from the 32oz Nalgene bottle so I guess 32 oz! :)

Kathy wrote:
And since Joe admittedly already has a pie, I think you should stay on your diet and give the berries to me. I will make a pie, AND post the pics here for all to enjoy.

Of course, I could just get myself up there to pick my own, but that can't happen for at least two weeks and by then........


...and by then me an my army of pickers will have stripped the range bare! :P If only you'd have spoken sooner. But I just took it out of the oven an hour ago. Wicked sorry. Maybe I can get a few extras this week and make some pies for the FOT48 tailgate! :D

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Fri Aug 01, 2014 8:35 pm
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Ok, it's late and I'm waiting for my wife to get home from work. . . and suddenly the pie is the best pic in the thread.

For real though, I'm going to have to do a sunrise up there sometime with hopefully similar conditions. I've never sunrised anything other than a road and Lincoln Woods on Owl's Head day, but for that effect I could pay the small price of Major for sure.


Fri Aug 01, 2014 10:16 pm
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