A solo hike was in order for the weekend, and a big long hike picking off 4 peaks Brian's already done wasn't a bad idea either. I knew hitting Cabot, The Horn, The Bulge and a trail-less 3k would be perfect, and looking at the map, noticed a lot of things within ¼ of the trail that looked interesting.
After a restless night's sleep, I headed up the Unknown Pond Trail at 7:50. First stop was about halfway up, a close trio of small ponds about 200 feet off trail. I emerged onto a nice little beaver pond, looking quite attractive in the morning light. Lots of moose sign, and was surprised to see a minnow swimming around.
Back on the trail, it was a relatively easy climb to Unknown Pond, although I was feeling a lack of sleep. Unknown Pond is stunning, and looks like a great place to set up camp, and maybe do some fishing or exploring.
At the junction, I headed east on the Kilkenny Ridge to just beyond the height of land, where the woods opened up wide into ferns and birches. Here I bushwhacked for 10 minutes up to Unknown Pond peak, a NH3k and one of the easiest whacks I ever seen. The summit was equally as open and was inviting me to take a nap, but I had much more to do today.
A quick 5 minute trip down and now going west on the ridge trail, I broke off trail again after a while for a ¼ mile trip to another small pond.
On the way out I happened to look down and find a moose antler. I wasn't about to hump that over 3 peaks, and besides a couple of the points were broken, but it was very cool to finally find one. Next up, The Horn, a nice climb, except near the summit where the trail gets kinda weird in its routing. I didn't understand the warning about the tricky bit getting to the top until I saw the large boulder that is the summit. A foot wedge, and a ring screwed in helped, but the view was fantastic, with nearly 360 degree views.
The climb to The Bulge was pretty easy. The climb up to Cabot wasn't so easy. 50 feet of elevation at a time, my legs were beat, it was hot, and I hadn't eaten enough, as usual. Finally crossing the summit, I stopped at the cabin, where the views were ok enough. I was hoping to hit the talus fields, but I was pretty beat already so maybe another day. I did spot a ledge very close to the trail further down, and I wasn't surprised to see it was trailed, and it had a decent view. The PUD before the Bunnell Notch Trail was just plain cruel at this point, and I was reminded why I like hiking with Brian – his pace is sane. It was a long, long trudge down, but I was at least treated to some cool brook water and interesting woods, arriving at the parking lot at 3:00. 4 peaks, 3 ponds, 3 bushwhacks, 7 hours, 12.5 miles. I think I've got my “killer day” out of my system for a while.