After the Lowell debaucle, I took a week off. Brian's list of peaks left was winding down, so we settled on East Huntington with possibly Big Coolidge if time and energy allowed. East Hunt is another one of those peaks with a nasty reputation. Greg did it coming over from the main Huntington's and found it miserable. Unrelenting thickness. If you look at a map, you'd be tempted to come in from Kancamagus Pass, as it's a mere 300' of elevation gain, but Joe did that and found it equally miserable. I was thinking of using the east ridge, thinking it couldn't be any worse (back to thinking that again...), but after studying Google Earth I could see hardwoods in the SE ravine. Hmmm. I think someone did this and found it “thick, but not memorable” but it seemed to be the best option.
We went up the Sawyer River Trail, having no issue with the crossing. We could've used the ski trail with a bridge crossing, but this avoided a 100'+ climb at the end of the day, and Brian, having done the Captain with Greg the week before, assured me the crossing was decent. We missed the ski trail, went back a bit and to no surprise, found it mucky. We lost it for a while, following the river, and left it for good to hit hobblebush woods. Before we did, we noticed the ski bridge had been washed out, so no loss not taking the shorter route.
Hobblebush has never bothered me, but here it was tripping me up more than usual. Annoying, but nothing major. I was determined to take the pace easily (even if it was relatively speedy), and to stop at anytime I could feel annoyance coming on. We came onto a little rise where we could see the summit ahead, getting a bit off track from the ravine itself, and I took a break here. Not because I needed to, because I just wanted to. Nice and easy. I wasn't going to get all burnt out again, even if this was short.
We headed up starting a bit east of the brook but staying in the ravine, finding good woods, but little clumps of young spruce in the way everywhere.
This was easy to move through, but in short sleeves, it was constantly scritching at your arms. Not a big deal heading up. That would play out later. This was one of those hikes where things are better than you expected, so you keep waiting for the other shoe to drop, but it the woods continued to be decent and I was thankful for every step in good woods. We'd find herd paths here and there, but they'd come and go. We came up to the steep part in the final climb to the ridge and were heading directly north, a bit off course. There were some ledges to deal with, but one of the great things about bushwhacking is the surprises, especially this ledge.
It looks like a man-made wall, but obviously it can't be. I've heard of similar structures on Savage Mtn. up north. Pretty cool. I took another break as the steeps were playing havoc with me, but no big deal. As we neared the ridge, we hit a blowdown patch dead-on, but got another surprise from that.
Bracing myself for a crapfest, the blowdown field ended very quickly. Oh, ok, I really wasn't expecting that. Damn this is a good route, I did good for once! We were a bit east of the summit though and the ridge was thick pencil woods. So we weaved about, getting scratched up, and emerged into a more open area which seemed like it should be the summit. It was, as expected, pretty flat, so we had to search for a while before we found the high point. I thought I heard about views near here, so I followed a herd path north to find some partially obscured views.
We relaxed for a bit, and I was happy that this finally marked the point where I was now in single digits for peaks left to the NH3k. It was a gorgeous day, and the bugs only slightly annoying. We set off on a more direct course to the ravine and completely avoided the pencil woods and ledges.
We hit a thick area around 2700' and found to the east to get above the brook (I actually thought we were on the other side of it), and hit the woods we came up in. It was easy to avoid any sketchy woods, but still the young spruce were there to brush up against you. Problem was now, my arms were scratched up from the pencil woods, plus were getting slowly abraded by this spruce so they were getting painful with every spruce brush. We stayed closer to the brook down low and avoided the hobblebush, and went ahead and just crossed the Swift River. I had thought we were going to just climb up to the Kanc, but we came to a ski trail and slabbed along and came to the other side of the washed out bridge. From there we missed the trail going up to the Kanc, and continued slabbing to meet the road. It was now hot, and there was a great breeze coming up the road at us, but the car was merely around the first bend.
It was now 1:20, and I didn't want to push going up Big Coolidge. I had just had a great day, nice and relaxed, and found a good route, so why push it. Brian was more than agreeable to this, so my more relaxed outlook to the list was doing very nice things to me. Sometimes I have a brain. Sometimes I even use it.