Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Cannon

STATE: New Hampshire
DESTINATION: Cannon Mountain
ELEVATION: 4100 Ft
TRAIL: Kinsman Ridge Trail
DISTANCE: 2.2 Miles
ELEVATION GAIN: 2100 Ft
HIKING TIME: 2 Hours 5 minutes
SEASON: Winter
DATE: 1/24/2010
WEATHER: 30 Degrees, sunny, 40 MPH winds
MAP: (Cannon)

DESCRIPTION: From the Ski Area parking lot the trail travels through a flat picnic area then ascends steeply. After ~0.5 miles the trail switchbacks through a ski glade and can be difficult to follow. Staying my course angling across the glade would eventually result in finding a faded blue blaze. As the glade thins there is a tree on the left hand side with ski rope wrapped around it. The trail continues to the left of the tree and incline isn't as steep.

At 1.5 miles there is an unmarked junction. The left spur leads to open ledges and spectacular views of Franconia Ridge.

The 0.5 miles to the rim trail are exposed and if I didn't have clear skies and a visual of the summit tower following the trail through the windblown drifts would have been extremely difficult. The final 0.2 miles followed a ski trail.

TRAIL DISTANCES:

Kinsman Ridge Trail - unmarked lookout spur = 1.5 miles
Lookout Spur - Rim trail = 0.5 miles
Rim trail - summit tower = 0.2 miles

Round trip = 4.4 miles

HIKING TIMES:

Round trip = 2 Hr 5 min.

NOTES / COMMENTS: The exposed ridge from the outlook trail merge contained 40 MPH consistent winds and significant drifting making the trail nearly impossible to follow. My tracks had completely blown over the few minutes I was on the summit.

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Wildcat D, A, Carter Dome, South Carter, Middle Carter

STATE: New Hampshire
DESTINATION: Wildcat D, Wildcat A, Carter Dome, South Carter, Middle Carter
ELEVATION: 4062 Ft, 4422 Ft, 4832 Ft, 4430 Ft, 4610 FT
TRAIL: Polecat Ski trail, Wildcat Ridge Trail, Carter-Moriah Trail, North Carter Trail, Imp Trail
DISTANCE: 15.3 miles
ELEVATION GAIN: ~3500 Ft
HIKING TIME: 9 hours
SEASON: Winter
DATE: January 23, 2010
WEATHER: 25 degrees, slight breeze, sun
MAP: (Wildcat D) (Carter Dome) (Middle Carter) (South Carter) (Wildcat A)

DESCRIPTION: Hiking a ski trail to the summit doesn't provide the wilderness experience some trails offer on the other hand the 2.75 mile Polecat ski trail is 50 Ft wide, groomed and contains spectacular views of Mt Washington's Tuckerman and Huntington ravines making the experience more enjoyable than I originally expected. There is a trail sign past the chairlift directing hikers a few hundred yards to the 4060 Ft Wildcat D summit.
Snow levels along the Wildcat Ridge trail along with snow laden overhanging branches required ducking, twisting and an occasional crawl. Even with care the fir trees still deposited cold snow down my back while traversing the 2.2 mile ridge over Wildcat C, and B to 4422 Ft Wildcat A and dramatic views of the Carter Range.

The Wildcat Ridge trail into Carter Notch is steep but the footing wasn't bad resulting in a quick 0.8 mile descent.


A short 0.3 miles on the 19 Mile Brook superhighway leads to the Southern terminus of the Carter-Moriah trail and 1.2 mile steep ascent to Carter Dome.


A gradual 1.3 mile descent to Zeta pass via the Carter Dome trail bypassing the summit of Mt Hight was deceptively simple and the illusion of energy to continue 2.5 miles North along the Carter-Moriah Trail over South Carter and Middle Carter eventually to the North Carter trail. My description of this section is probably exaggerated due to the sore leg slow progress and over-hanging branches but the 0.8 miles to South Carter started off relatively steep becoming more gradual with a final steep pitch to the 4130 Ft summit. The 1.3 miles to Middle Carter was more up and down than expected but nothing too strenuous. The 0.6 mile descent from Middle Carter to the North Carter Trail felt longer than the 0.6 miles described. Descending the gradual grade 1.2 mile North Carter Trail to the Imp trail felt good. A quick 3 mile descent along the Southern terminus of the Imp trail left a short road walk to the car at the 19 mile brook trail head.

TRAIL DISTANCES:

Polecat - Wildcat D summit = 2.75 Mi.
Wildcat D summit - Wildcat A Summit = 2.2 Mi.
Wildcat A - 19 Mile Brook Trail = 0.8 Mi.
19 Mile Brook trail - Carter-Moriah Trail = 0.3 Mi.
Carter-Moriah Trail - Carter Dome = 1.2 Mi.
Carter Dome - Zeta Pass (bypassing Hight) = 1.3 Mi.
Zeta Pass - South Carter = 0.8 Mi.
South Carter - Middle Carter = 1.3 Mi.
Middle Carter - North Carter Trail = 0.6 Mi.
North Carter Trail - Imp Trail junction = 1.2 Mi.
Imp Trail Jct - Southern Terminus = 3.0 Mi.

Total Distance = 15.3 Miles

HIKING TIMES:

Round trip = 9 hours

Monday, January 11, 2010

Mt. Tom, Mt. Field, Mt. Willey and Mt. Avalon

STATE: New Hampshire
DESTINATION: Mt. Tom, Mt. Field, Mt. Willey and Mt. Avalon
ELEVATION: 4051 Ft, 4340 Ft, 4285 Ft.
TRAIL: Avalon Trail, A-Z trail, Mt. Tom Spur, Willey Range trail, Avalon Trail
DISTANCE: 10.5 Mi.
ELEVATION GAIN: 3055 Ft
HIKING TIME: 5 Hr 45 Min
SEASON: Winter
DATE: 1/11/2010
WEATHER: single digit temperatures, sunny skies, very windy
MAP: (Tom) (Field) (Willey) (Avalon)
DESCRIPTION: From the Highland Center the Avalon trail is broken out and well used to the A-Z junction with a moderate grade. I continued up the steep and difficult A-Z trail where previous hikers appeared to lose the trail for a few hundred yards here and there but following the packed incorrect route was easier than breaking trail. Chilling winds announced my arrival on the ridge soon reaching the Mt. Tom Spur. A 0.6 mile gradual incline to the summit of Mt. Tom provided spectacular views of Zealand, the Bonds and Carrigan to the West.
The high winds created large snow drifts completely covering sections of the Willey Range trail however the moderate incline and relatively straight shot up field made navigation a literal breeze. No substantial blow downs but I needed to duck under a few low hanging branches.
With the whipping winds on Field's summit I didn't procrastinate and continued along the ridge 1.2 miles to Mt. Willey. Descent was steep and trail contained some PUD's (pointless ups and downs) but I would consider it easy to moderate. After returning to Field I descended the Brutally steep Avalon trail to Avalon's summit, the A-Z junction and finally to the Highland Center.

TRAIL DISTANCES:
Avalon Trail - A-Z trail = 1.7 Mi.
A-Z trail - Mt. Tom spur = 1.0 Mi.
Mt. Tom Spur - Summit = 0.6 Mi.
Summit - Mt. Tom Spur = 0.6 Mi.
Willey Range - Mt. Field Summit = 0.9 Mi.
Mt Field Summit - Mt. Willey Summit = 1.2 Mi.
Mt. Willey Summit - Mt. Field Summit = 1.2 Mi.
Mt. Field Summit - Mt. Avalon Spur = 1.0 Mi.
Mt. Avalon Spur - A-Z Junction = 0.5 Mi.
A-Z junction - Highland Center = 1.7 Mi.

Total distance = 10.5 Mi.

HIKING TIMES:
Round trip = 5 Hr 45 minutes

NOTES / COMMENTS: My legs were very sore from a 17 mile trip to Owl's head yesterday and I wasn't looking at my watch or calculating mileage. My goal was Tom and Field with the potential to attempt Willey depending on how energetic my legs felt and I made the judgement call continuing to Willey once I hit the Field Summit. Whipping winds along any Western facing ridge or slope made the single digit temperatures even colder.

Owl's Head

STATE: New Hampshire
DESTINATION: Owl's Head
ELEVATION: 4025 Ft
TRAIL: Lincoln Woods, Black Pond, Bushwhack, Lincoln Brook, Owl's Head Slide
DISTANCE: 17 Miles
ELEVATION GAIN: 2865 Ft
HIKING TIME: 10 Hours
SEASON: Winter
DATE: 1/09/2010
WEATHER: 15 Degrees, sunny, very windy on the exposed slide
MAP: (Owl's Head)

DESCRIPTION: What a long arduous journey. I entered the Lincoln Woods parking area at 7:00 AM while my friend Mark sent Bob ahead and waited while I dressed for the 15 degree temperatures, skies were blue and I was hoping to see the temperature increase throughout the day, it never did. We made quick work of the well trodden 2.6 mile Lincoln Woods trail catching Bob just before the Black Pond junction. We took the Black Pond trail and bushwhack to avoid 2 dangerous stream crossings of Franconia and Lincoln brook. The Black Pond trail was much more narrow however heavily used. I was pleased to see the Black Pond bushwhack was also packed out by an AMC group of 10 with an earlier start time. We leap-frogged a group of 3 (who I recognised as regular posters on a NH Hiking forum) throughout the bushwhack. The short lived excitement of hitting the Lincoln Brook trail and solace of paralleling the semi-frozen Lincoln Brook soon deteriorated to a long monotonous walk.

The AMC group bushwhacked the Southern slope of Owl's head known as the Brutus Bushwhack and we continued North to the base of the Owl's head slide. There are no trail signs here but it's an obvious junction to the attentive.

The base of the Owl's head slide had been traveled withing the past 48 hours and while not completely broken out, wasn't hidden. The exposed slide is steep climbing 1500 vertical feet in approximately .7 miles however the views towards the Western flank of Franconia Ridge are spectacular and the best views on the trip. The most difficult aspect of hiking the slide was the top 1/3 crawling on hands and knees through thick stabbing branches of fir trees. We encountered the AMC group and 3 hikers mentioned previously on the summit ridge. The official summit is currently marked with a small cairn however loose lips sink ships. Don't tell the Pemigewasset Rangers.

We descended via the now-broken out bushwhack the larger group ascended.

TRAIL DISTANCES:
Lincoln Woods Trail - Black Pond Trail = 2.6 Mi.
Black Pond Trail - Black Pond = 0.8 Mi.
Black pond bushwhack - Lincoln Brook trail = ~1.0 Mi.
Lincoln Brook Trail - Owl's Head Slide = 3.2 Mi.
Owl's head slide - Summit = ~1.0 Mi.
Round trip = ~17.0 miles

HIKING TIMES:

Ascent = 6 Hr 15 Minutes

Descent = 3 Hr 45 Minutes

NOTES / COMMENTS: Why hike this remote peak with limited views in the middle of the Pemigewasset Wilderness? Because it's there!

North Hancock, South Hancock

STATE: New Hampshire
DESTINATION: North Hancock, South Hancock
ELEVATION: 4420 Ft, 4319 Ft
TRAIL: Hancock Notch trail, Cedar Brook Trail, Hancock Loop Trail
DISTANCE: 9.4 miles
ELEVATION GAIN: 2290 Ft.
HIKING TIME: 3 Hr 45 minutes
SEASON: Winter
DATE: 1/1/2010
WEATHER: 25 - 30 degrees, cloudy, light snowfall
MAP: (North Hancock) (South Hancock)

DESCRIPTION: The entire loop had been recently traversed and the trails were an easily navigable channel of packed powder. The Hancock Notch trail is relatively flat. Cedar Brook had some ups and downs however I'd classify the terrain as easy. The Hancock Loop trail was brutally steep and difficult, challenging both the legs and lungs.

TRAIL DISTANCES:
Hancock Notch trail - Cedar Brook Junction = 1.8 mi.
Cedar Brook - Hancock Loop Junction = 0.7 mi.
Hancock loop = 4.6 mi.

Round trip = 9.6 miles

HIKING TIMES:

3:45 round trip

NOTES / COMMENTS: Hiking in winter conditions can be challenging and I was extremely pleased to see the trail in optimal conditions. I was able to snowshoe the entire distance making great time. The North Hancock slide is brutally steep and the crampons of my Denali EVO snowshoes passed the test. Overcast skies limited views to a few hundred yards.