Saturday, March 26, 2011

Early Morning Hike Up Pawtuckaway Mountain, Middle Peak!

I finished up my grad classes for this term this past week, and it feels good! To celebrate, I decided to get up early and take a morning stroll up Pawtuckaway Mountain’s Middle peak (map). It’s a short drive from my house and the hike is only 3.6 miles round trip from the from the Tower Rd./Reservation Rd. intersection. I figured I could get out there before the sun came up, hike the trail, do a little bushwhacking, and still make it home by 9am.

Starting Out, Not So Bright, But Early

South Peak over Pond

It was 22° when I left the house at 5:30am, but it felt like 12° with the wind. The sun hadn’t made its way over the trees yet when I made it to the trailhead, but I knew it would be along soon. To my surprise, I found a reasonable amount of snow on the trail. It was all pretty icy and crunchy, but certainly didn’t require snowshoes or microspikes. The hike up Tower Road, which is an old trail road, was pretty flat and even. Most of the way down Tower Road, you follow the banks of a pond (which is still froze over) to the right. Unfortunately, with the maps I could find online, I couldn’t identify a name for the pond. It did have quite a few beaver dams built up in it, and plenty of evidence of beavers chopping down trees along the road.

Middle Mountain Trail

First Glow from the Sun on the Treetops

0.8 miles up the Tower Road, I found the Middle Mountain Trail entering from the left. This trail ascended slightly and I noticed some really nice stonewalls following the right shoulder of the trail. On this section, I noticed a small water runoff in the distance that had created a miniature waterfall. I decided to bushwhack out to it, to see if it was worthy of any pictures. It was small indeed, but did have some pretty icicles which I thought were cool.

Snow Cover Near the Top

Bright Orange, Frozen Sap

Once back on the trail, the hike continued to climb gently. On this stretch, I noticed the tree tops turn orange from the sun which was peaking over the landscape before my eyes. It’s nice to be out in the woods all by yourself to see things like this take place. It’s certainly something I take for granted every day.

Cedar Trees on Ledges

View to the southeast

The trail curved to the left and then began climbing steeply for a short way through a couple switchbacks. As I climbed in elevation, the snow became less sporadic and more consistent. I finally got through the short, steep section and the trail flattened out again. I noticed wind was also hitting me a bit harder near the top.

View of the Fire Tower on the South Peak

Weathered Tree on Ledges

As I hiked on the top of the Middle peak, the trail seemed to go on forever. That’s the thing with these Pawtuckaway Mountain peaks. They are all very long mountains (sort of a smaller version of Owl’s Head), so to get to the true summit sometimes takes a while of walking on the top. At one point, I thought for sure I was at the summit as I didn’t see any land around that was lower than where I was, however, there was no cairn or marker of any sort. I continued on the trail and finally came to ledges on the southeastern slope. I realized at that point, that I had passed the summit and it must have been where I thought it was.

Me on the ledges, proving I was there

I sat down and relaxed for a bit on the ledges. There were good views to the east, over to the South peak where you could easily make out the fire tower standing on top. There were also pretty nice views to the south, although, there is not much of a landscape in that direction. I also noticed that there were quite a few cedar trees on the ledge area, which I thought was pretty neat. Cedars are pretty uncommon in this area of New Hampshire, and I always enjoy seeing them.

Small Waterfall I Found


Making my way back, I again found what I believed was the tallest point of the Middle peak and proclaimed myself as “summitted”! As I descended the mountain, the morning grew a bit later and the wildlife started making an appearance. I followed a squirrel and a chipmunk up the side of the trail for a while. I also startled some blue jays (by accident) from the banking of the trail into some trees. I tried to get a picture, but they were too far away, unfortunately. While walking out, I also noticed a hawk circling, looking for breakfast I assume.


Hawk in Flight

There is nothing better to clear your head than an early morning walk in the woods. I can say that I would much rather be hiking the Whites than hiking Pawtuckaway Mountain. But when you’re short on time, you can’t beat it. I was up early, enjoyed nature and was home by 9am to conquer the rest of the day!


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Traded Up My Harley for Microspikes!!!

I recently sold my Harley. It was extremely tough for me to do but as everyone always says, guys have to sell their toys when they have a baby! Well, I suppose I didn’t have to sell it, but it really made all the practical sense in the world. I bought it new in 2008 and in three seasons, I had only racked up 3000 miles on the motorcycle. You see, over the summer, Jill and I would plan out our weekends and ask ourselves what we wanted to do in the event of nice weather. Rarely, we picked riding the motorcycle. Instead, the answer was always the same. “Let’s go up to the Whites and get a hike in!”

My 2008 Harley Davidson Softail - Now Sold!

My love for hiking always trumped my love riding. So, it was time to let someone else cruise around on that Softail. I did, however, decide to take a bit of the profits from the bike to buy myself a pair of Kahtoola MICROspikes. They arrived the other day and I’m looking forward to trying them out soon. It seems as though general consensus believes these are a better product when compared to YakTrax or STABILicers.

My New MICROspikes!

Without a doubt, I will miss my Harley and I know I will be thinking about it often, while on the trail!


Thursday, March 10, 2011

Another Hiking Sticker On My Truck!

I was recently sponsored and accepted to be a member on the Views From The Top forum. As many know, this forum is the “go to” place when looking for information regarding hiking in the Northeast Region of the country. On a daily basis, it has new trip reports, questions, pictures, etc. that can be very useful and enjoyable to the outdoor enthusiast. I’ve certainly enjoyed being an active member so far.

One thread that caught my eye was with regards to VFTT stickers. As some of you may remember, I purchased a truck recently and actually wrote a blog on the hiking stickers I displayed in the back window. I thought to myself that I must get a VFTT sticker for my truck too. I joined in the conversation and learned that new stickers would be ordered and available soon, so I just needed to wait. However, one extremely nice member (Rob) contacted me to see if I’d like an extra one that he had. Of course, I jumped at the opportunity! Rob didn’t charge me a dime and even took care of shipping. I must say, it was extremely kind of him and I hope to one day return the favor. I guess that’s what I love about the hiking community in general. They will go out of their way to help you out, on, and in this case, off the trail.

Thanks again, Rob, for the generosity. It’s appreciated and won’t be forgotten! It’s a nice addition to my rear window!

My VFTT sticker displayed next to my MWObs Member sticker! (Click on the image to make
it bigger so you can see more detail!)


Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Live Free and Hike NH on TrailsNH.com

This past weekend, I received an email from a gentleman named Kimball, who is the creator of the site TrailsNH.com. For those of you who have not had the privilege of visiting this site, let me just tell you it’s awesome! Kimball has designed the interface to pull recent trip reports (within the last 12 months and updating daily) from other sources such as Views From The Top, New England Trail Conditions and various other sites. There’s an interactive map (powered by Google) that shows you the location of your searched trail. The terrain for the map is even available in topographical format with trails. Also, you’re able to sign up for “Trail Watch” which allows the site to send trail updates directly to your inbox. The site covers more than just New Hampshire too. It covers the Whites, Adirondacks, Catskills, etc. There are many other cool features on this site which I have not listed, so please go check out TrailsNH.com and explore.

Actual screen shot of a search I did for Cardigan using MyTopo terrain

So why did Kimball email me? He was notifying me that Live Free and Hike NH will now have trip reports (most recent of course) fed into the site. I was very excited about this and was happy that my blog could help with content for TrailsNH. If you have a blog, you can be a part of it too. There’s a blog submission form right on the homepage.

You can look through my trip reports on TrailsNH here. You can also find a Trails NH User Group on Facebook, which Kimball also set up!

Pulled from the Facebook User Group Page, Mt Washington stats at a point in time


Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Happy Birthday White Mountain National Forest!

Amendment to Post 03-02-11: I jumped the gun on this one. The Week's Act is 100 years old today (well, yesterday now) which protected the forest. I found out from a Facebook follower that the actual date the WMNF was officially created, was May 16th. Sorry for the misinformation on this one. I had assumed the two were not exclusive. Thanks Michael, for pointing this out!

I wanted to take a minute and wish the White Mountain National Forest a happy birthday. It’s the big one-zero-zero for the WMNF! That’s right, 100 years of providing “Many Uses” to the people of New Hampshire and all around. Happy Birthday White Mountain National Forest!!! Here’s to 100 more years!!!

WMNF sign at the Welch-Dickey Trailhead