While on vacation up north a few weeks back (my vacation report), Jill, Lylah and I decided to hike Black Cap Mountain. We figured it wasn’t that long and the elevation gain wasn’t much, so it would be a good hike to commit to after a long hiatus from hiking as well as with a one year old on my back.
We took Hurricane Mountain Road to the trailhead, which was an adventure in itself. I’ve heard stories about the road and how steep it was, but nothing really prepares you for driving up it until you commit yourself to it. It was steep, narrow and very windy. A few times, near the top, I felt my rear tires actually slip a bit while going around steep curves. The whole time, all I could think about was how nerve racking the trip down the hill will be.
Putting sunscreen on the Munchkin!
Lylah, ready to tackle her first mountain!
Once at the top of the road, we came to a parking area on the right for the Black Cap Trailhead. We all put on sun screen and bug spray and we were on our way. The beginning of the trail was very nice, and went through a pine grove with little or no elevation gain. Right away, it was clear that we had missed prime wildflower season, as many of the Painted Trilliums had passed and lost their beauty and the hobblebush plant leaves were large with no flowers at all. I did find a couple wild blue violets on the side of the trail. I learned quickly that it’s not easy to take get on your knees and crouch down to take a photo of a flower with a one year old on your back. As soon as I did, Lylah almost came barreling down over my head…thank gosh I caught her before she did :).
Lylah on my back...gosh this pack is so uncomfortable...for me!
A nicely groomed trail!
The butterflies followed us the whole way up to the summit.
At the junction with the Black Cap Connector Trail, there was a kiosk maintained by The Green Hills Preserve. They had some information there, a log book and supplied maps of the local trail network to hikers passing through.
Painted Trillium, past its prime :(
My favorite plant, the Hobblebush, large leaves and no flowers. I missed them this year :(
I assume this to be a Common Blue Violet, but could be another variety.
Green Hill's Preserve Kiosk
We continued on while the trail climbed more moderately. A family passed us just before making our way to the rocky slab portion and asked us if we were missing an “Elmo”. We didn’t realize it at the time, but Lylah apparently got sick of having company in the pack and decided to ditch Elmo further down. They told us they propped him up on a rock in the trail. We figured we’d pick him up on the way back if he was still there.
Memorial on summit
Stairs on summit
Near the top of the mountain, the views open up to a slab trail leading to some view points and eventually the summit. The views to the north and west are great. There were excellent views of the Moats, Chocorua, Carrigain (in the distance) and Kearsarge North. What took us by surprise was Lylah. She kept pointing out to the distance and making sounds, as if she was amazed by the views of the mountains surrounding us. I hope she was…she is my daughter!
Our feet on the summit...notice Lylah's little foot on her first summit!
Family photo on the summit!
Kearsarge North, You can easily make out the famous fire tower on the summit.
The Moat Range, with Cathedral and White Horse Ledges in the foreground.
Even though the summit was breezy, it was still buggy. We took a few pictures, a few deep breaths of White Mountain air and headed back down the way we came. It would have been nice to relax for a bit and soak in the views, but the bugs would not let us! I did notice on the summit, that there was a nice memorial to Anna B. Stearns, whom I’m guessing was a generous contributor to The Green Hills Preserve. Also, there was a set of stairs created from rock and cement, although I’m not sure what they could have gone to. Maybe there used to be a fire tower or house up there at one point. If anyone has any info on these, let me know, because I’m curious. Before we left, we took our standard “summit shot” of our feet on the marked (or assumed by me) summit location…It was Lylah’s first summit, so she got to participate too!
Mount Chocorua in the distance.
Cool, tall tree on the summit
Hurricane Mountain (foreground) and Kearsarge North (background)
Elmo, waiting for us on the trail!
The hike down was fast and smooth for the most part. The munchkin fell asleep half way down and I recall her head resting to the left of me. So, the weighted pack was constantly throwing me off balance, which was a little annoying (I hate this Kelty pack!). We also came across Elmo, propped up on a rock, just like the nice family told us he would be. Once packed up in the truck, we survived the white knuckle ride down Hurricane Mountain Road. It was a great morning hike and one that I hope Lylah enjoyed as much as we did!
Here's Elmo, propped up on a rock!
Lylah, out cold in my pack...throwing my balance off every step!