Lake George

Lake George
Lake George - from Tongue Mtn Range - 11/11/2011

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

Welch-Dickey Mountain Loop - White Mountain National Forest - 9/30/18

I'm absolutely certain that the Welch-Dickey mountain loop is well known to locals in the area and that guide books sing praise to these peaks.  I'm ashamed to admit that I had not heard of them before.  I spotted them from Route 49 as I was headed north towards Waterville Valley.  I said a few choice words before I pulled over to look at the map to see what they were.  Thankfully they are accessible and there is a fantastic trail to take you straight to heart of them.

I had actually spotted this pair of peaks the prior weekend on the way to Mount Tecumseh.  I put them right on top of my list for my next hike.  A little internet research confirmed that I should not wait to check them out.

So my son Nick and I had stayed at Sugarloaf Campground the night before and did a short morning hike to North and Middle Sugarloaf before checking out of the campground to head to these gems.  We had lunch en route and got to the trailhead around 1 PM.

The parking lot is quite large and probably holds a hundred or more cars.  We grabbed what was probably the last spot in the lot.  If crowds aren't your thing, consider saving this hike for a weekday.  Also save it for a dry day because half the hike is on sloping slabs of rock.  If you can only do this hike once, give it your full attention and some good weather.

Nick and I cruised around this loop pretty quickly as I had to head back to NY and Nick had things to do.  I believe the hike was 4.6 miles and we finished in just over 2 hours.  We passed a zillion people on the trail, but we did stop at a half dozen jaw dropping viewpoints along the way.

Entering the zone of slab rock and approaching the 1st viewpoint.

There were about 50 people at the first viewpoint taking a break.  The climb gets relatively steep, but it doesn't feel bad because you are walking up a slab of rock instead of climbing over chunky rock, boulders, roots and mud.

Looking at Welch Mountain from the 1st viewpoint.

Starting at the first viewpoint, the next couple miles is mostly walking on an expanse of slab rock like I've never seen.

Looking over to the descent route

Looking back at Welch Mountain

As you can see, every picture shows an expanse of rock and that is what sets this hike apart from any other.   Oh, by the way, the view isn't bad either.

Welch Mountain from a different angle.

Down we go!

A last look back before leaving the rock. 

This is definitely a hike that would be enjoyed by most people.  It is rated as moderate, but the steepness would be a challenge for some people.  Don't miss this one!

Hike Stats:
Hike Distance: 4.3 miles
Hike Time:  2 hours, 10 minutes
Total Vertical Gain:  ~1850'

The route (done counterclockwise)

Saturday, October 13, 2018

North and Middle Sugarloaf Mountains - Twin Mountain, NH - 9/30/18

We had just climbed Mount Washington the day before, so on this day we decided to mix it up with a couple of short hikes.  We were still staying at the Sugarloaf Campground and the baby Sugarloaf mountains were right behind us... the perfect place to start.

These twin peaks are a great pair of small mountains and this hike would be an ideal hike for a family with young children.  In fact, we saw many families had the same idea.   The hike is only about 3 miles total, including both peaks, and the rewards are great.         

The Zealand Road

Great fall colors

The trailhead is just a half mile down the Zealand Road from the campground.  The trail follows the stream for a distance before veering away and climbing steeply for 500 feet to th col between the two mountains.   

We chose to climb the North Sugarloaf first.  It was a fine morning and we reached the summit to find a glorious view from the open rock summit.

Great color in the valley

Nick on a rock promenade

I was amazed that such a low peak would have such an open summit, and the middle mountain was supposedly even more open.  We had a hot chocolate before going back to the col to go to Middle Sugarloaf.

It was indeed true that Middle Mountain was also an open summit.  Quite amazing.  This was a warmup hike for us, but for young children, or people who don't hike much, these peaks provide a lot of bang for the buck.   They are quite accessible, as far as mountains go.  Many high peaks don't provide views this nice.

Looking to North Sugarloaf from Middle Sugarloaf.

The summit of Middle Sugarloaf

From this pair of peaks, we returned to the Sugarloaf campground to checkout and head south.  Our 2nd hike of the day would be the Welch-Dickey loop just south of Waterville Valley. 

Hike Stats:
Hike Distance:  2.9 miles
Hike Time:  2 hours, 15 minutes, including stops
Total Vertical Gain:  ~900'

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Mount Washington - White Mountain National Forest, NH - 9/29/18

I got to spend another weekend with my son Nick on the last weekend in September.  We talked about doing a bigger hike on Saturday and perhaps a couple smaller ones on Sunday.  I was dog free on this trip, so we decided to do the 6288' Mount Washington on Saturday.  We'd be able stop in at the summit building.  Nick hadn't been there since he was small so he didn't remember it.

The weather was questionable.  We started in the fog and didn't know if it was going to blow out or not.  Temps on the summit would be in the high 30's with wind gusts to 70 mph.   We made sure we had all the necessary gear for whatever the weather would be.

We had camped the night before at the Sugarloaf campground, located between Twin Mountain and Bretton Woods.  Our morning drive was only a couple miles long and we were on the Ammonoosuc Trail at 9:30.  We heard the whistle of the nearby cog railway as we started out.  As expected, lots of people were climbing.  We passed about 50 people on the way to the AMC Lake of the Clouds hut (including a woman carrying a baby in her arms with the baby just wrapped in a blanket).  Lots of hikers were concerned about this woman carrying the baby above treeline in the conditions that were forecast.  She gruffly said that she was the baby's mother and that she knew what she was doing.  There was nothing anyone could say to her. 

Our campsite at Sugarloaf Campground 1 (near Twin Mountain) 

We reached the Lake of the Clouds  hut in an hour and 45 minutes.  The fog had gotten thicker.  We had toyed with adding Mount Monroe to our itinerary, but decided against it since we couldn't see anything.  A large number of people were huddled out the wind on the leeward side of the hut, taking a break and having some food.  We weren't hungry yet, so we didn't take a break.

The AMC Lake of the Clouds Hut

Nick at the Lake of the Clouds

The Crawford Path 

When we reached the summit, an hour later, I told Nick to brace himself for the crowd inside the summit building.  Since the auto road and cog railway were still running, there were many non-hikers in the building and it was standing room only.

Just some of the people in the summit building... 

I had an awesome bowl of chili and Nick had a coffee and some potato soup.  I'm not used to buying food on top of a mountain!  We lingered for about an hour, with the foolish thought that the clouds and fog were going to blow out.  It didn't look promising.  It was now a little after 1 PM and we decided to resume hiking.

This is the line of people waiting there turn to take a picture at the summit sign!

The old Tip Top House

Wouldn't you know it that 10 or 15 minutes after we left the summit, it started to clear!

At first we saw a little hole in the clouds with blue sky behind.  Within minutes the whole cloud mass was leaving us!  We crossed over the cog railway to the lip of the Great Gulf Wilderness and it opened up before our eyes!  Just look at the next few photos...

Our first glimpse of blue sky.

The cog railway

The Great Gulf !

Here comes the cog...

Smoke from the approaching cog railway

Lots of smoke!

There's the culprit 

The clearing below is the base of the cog railway

We were thrilled to get some awesome views while we were still in the alpine zone above the treeline.  We slowed down our pace to take in the beauty around us.

A ray of sunshine is beaming on the AMC Lake of the Clouds Hut with Mount Monroe in the background. 

Looking up at Nick re-entering the trees on the Jewell Trail.

Needless to say, we really enjoyed the day.  The changing weather added  another dimension to the hike.   A bluebird sky day wouldn't have been as much fun.

Hike Stats:
Hike Distance:  9.4 miles
Hike Time:  4.5 hours + an hour on the summit
Total Vertical Gain:  ~4000'



Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Mount Tecumseh - Waterville Valley, NH - 9/23/18

We had a few hours to get out and hike on this day and we were in the area of Waterville Valley.  The Welch - Dickey loop was an option, but weI suspected the trail would be quite crowded.  Making the final cut was Mount Tecumseh from the Mount Tecumseh ski area.

It was another warm day and the weather was nice.  We started out on the trail just after lunch.  Parking was not an issue since the trailhead is at the ski area.  There appeared to be lots of people on the trail sjudging by the number of cars in the lot. 

looking east

The trail does poke out onto one of the ski trails about halfway to the summit offering some first views.

There were limited views along the way, but the summit did offer some views and a small loop option at the top.  We ate lunch at the top, but Rev was a handful with other dogs in the vicinity, so we didn't stay as long as we had hoped.

Looking NE from the summit.

I didn't take too many pictures on the hike so only a half dozen pictures were available for this post.
The hike was a moderate trek most of the way with just a couple short steeper sections.

A ski trail along the way.

Hike Stats:
Hike Distance:  5.25 miles
Hike Time:  3.5 hours, including stops
Total Vertical Gain:  ~ 2400'

The route

Friday, October 5, 2018

Mount Moosilauke via Gorge Brook Trail,Carriage Road and Snapper Tr - 9/22/18

Mount Moosilauke has lots of different trails that lead to the summit.  My wife Leesa missed out on my hike there the previous weekend, so I volunteered to go again... just taking a different trail.

For our 9/22 hike, we were also going to meet Leesa's brother Rob at the trailhead.  When we got there, his car was there but he was not.  We started the hike, figuring we'd hook up with him at some point.  This route for this trip began at the Moosilauke Ravine Lodge  and climbed the Gorge Brook Trail to the summit.  For the decent, we made a counter clockwise loop by coming down the Carriage Road Trail to the Snapper Trail. 

The previous weekend had perfect weather, but this day wan't so promising.  The mountain was socked in with clouds that didn't show any sign of clearing.  It was also much colder (high 30's) and there was a fierce wind.  At treeline we met Rob, who had already been to the summit, but came back down to the trees to stay warm.

Looking NW to Black Mountain (open summit) from South Mountain.

Choices, choices

We went up via the Gorge Brook Trail and came down via the Snapper Trail

Interesting signwork...

Last water ... 3300'

With the weather the way it was, we didn't linger at the summit.  WE huddled behind the rock wind wall for a few minutes, but that was it.  We started down the carriage road trail towards South Peak.

We couldn't see beyond the summit cone

The old carriage road

At the South Peak spur trail we took the 0.1 mile spur to the summit.  It was starting to clear!  As we stood there at the top, the clouds blew out!  Moosilauke was now visible.  What also caught my eye was the open rock summit to the NW, which I determined was Black Mountain, not a 4000 footer, but a peak on the 52 with a view list.   Another future hike...

Moosilauke is soon to appear!

The summit of South Peak

A dedication...

Looking NE from South Peak

Looking towards the summit of South Peak

We debated whether to go back to Moosilauke, but it was still cold and windy so we chose to continue down.

Moosilauke appears!

There were quite a few people on the trail, in spite of the weather.  What can you say, Moosilauke is a popular mountain.  We enjoyed our trip.  This route is the most popular route and probably the least strenuous.

Hike Stats:
Hike Distance:  7.8 miles
Hike Time:  5 hours, including stops
Total Vertical Gain:  ~2600'