Salty's Smarts Mtn Trip Reports

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Hiking Dates

05/02/2010

03/25/2009


Date Climbed: 05/02/2010

Distance: 14.2 miles

Low Elevation: 900 feet
High Elevation: 3238 feet
Elevation Gain: 4150 feet
Elevation Loss: 4350 feet

Start Location: Lambert Ridge TH
Finish Location: AT TH, Rt 25A
Route: AT (Lambert Ridge Trail, J Trail, Kodak Trail, AT)

Weather: Periods of clouds, then periods of full sun. Hot - probably 80.
Companions: New Hampshire, JustJoe, HardCoreIdiot

Photos: http://saltynh.smugmug.com/Hiking/Smarts-and-Cube-02-MAY-2010

3 with the brains of a sugar Cube, but Brian got the Smarts

Dorchester Rd. to Smarts: 2:30
Smarts to Quintown Rd: 1:50
Quintown Rd. to Cube: 2:00
Cube to 25A: 1:40

It Looked Good on Paper, and funny, by the numbers above it Looks Good on Paper Now

Brian needed Smarts, I hadnít been to Cube, and by gosh theyíre right next to each other. Traverse! Thought it was around 12 miles, that grew to 14, and the elevation gain didnít look too horrible. We suckered JustJoe and HardCoreIdiot into coming. The night before Brian finally realized I was trying to kill him, and said he was going only to Smarts. Fair enough. I could happily(?) spend most of my day convincing Joe and Greg that I was insane, and that I wanted them to swear to never hike with me again or just wanted them dead. It almost worked. I think all I did is got myself excluded from planning a trip ever again.

Smarts via Lambert Ridge Trail

Second time for me. I was warmed up in about 2 minutes. A little chilled standing around turned to hotter than a politicianís breath that quick. I extolled the virtues of this wonderful trail, which meant that after only a year, I had forgotten about all but one of itís not so easy sections. I had forgotten about the PUDís to which Brian spat upon on the way down. At least I hadnít forgotten that you quickly hit ledges and views. The last time I was here, the sky was perfectly clear and the views were equally perfect. Today, it was perfectly uninspiring. Cardigan could be seen, but even Kearsarge was out of sight. Yuck. Stupid unseasonable warmth.

Oh but we laughed and laughed, making all manner of fun of everyone, including ourselves. We mourned the absence of our dear friend BobC, and then quickly made more fun of his abandoned trip up here due to two right boots, and none of the left variety. We were happy to have Joe, but quickly made fun of how heís falling apart in his old age. Greg was sporting his latest injury, and thus managed to keep all of his gear. It was good to have loads of laughs then, because they would not last.

The privy had been cleaned out of all its mirth and merriment. Where there was once bath toys, a shower curtain, and a shower head connected to nothing, now there was nothing. The humor had been cleansed. Phooey. Heading up the tower, we all discovered we hated going up towers, but it seemed silly to bag a 52 with a view to only view trees around a tower. Again, the views werenít nearly 10% of what they are on a clear day, but were of some interest. We had lunch, and each of us felt the need to exclaim ďdid you know thereís snow here?!Ē when each had to do their business in the woods. I managed to stink up the summit in all manner of ways, so it was now time to part ways. We mocked Brianís lack of testicular fortitude, bade our farewells, and set off on the J Trail.

Smarts to Cube via J and Kodak Trails

Well, almost, we had to check out the cabin with its interesting reading. I noted some new ones, Greg found a particularly amusing one, and I noted some favorites from the last time. I really like the blaze on the building, too. OK, back to the J Trail. There were only small patches of snow on the north side of the mountain, but lots of mud patches. It had rained hard the night before according to some campers. Itís basically another ridge walk, and along the way I spotted something large moving across the trail, then clumbering up a tree. ĎTwas a porcupine. While standing under him, I was suddenly hoping the branch would hold his weight. We finally came off the ridge, more boulders, more mud, more glades, more streams, on and on. It was definitely quieter without Brian, but Greg was doing his best to provide amusing noises Ė so much so that I almost walked face first into a blowdown laughing. It was downright hot now, and I was already through my 2nd of 4 liters of water for the day. Iím usually lucky to drink two. We came to a nice woods road, then the S. Branch of Jacobs Brook, which we had to go downstream a bit to cross, and then finally Quintown Rd.

Now we were pondering how lovely it would be to have a vehicle here. Ah, for now we were jealous of the one we mocked. We were 1500 feet below the summit, and had a not negligible PUD in front of us to deal with. Did I mention it was hot? Donít worry, Iíll bring it up again shortly. We set off to the PUD that is the Eastman Ledges, which was steep. Our legs were not happy at this return to going up. Still, we climbed the 600 feet or so surprisingly quickly. We now reached the N. Branch of Jacobs Brook, and here I plunged my head into the cold water. Ohhh, did that ever feel so good. Too bad it was so short lived. A quick and pleasant climb to the shelter spur, some following the contour, and pretty much all I remember after that is long stretches of easiness, following by serious boulders. Repeat. This stretch seemed to take forever. We finally caught sight of Cube, Joe yelled out exactly what he thought of it, and then Greg pointed out there were people up there. Hopefully the wind was blowing the wrong way. We could see a dog up there, well, that doesnít look so far. It was a Golden Retriever and I was looking forward to handing out some free doggie love.

So of course, that stretch seemed to last forever. I know the map says it goes straight up, but to me it seemed like it skirted the summit in every way imaginable. On the summit, we finally got a decent breeze, and again, the views were much their haze sameness. No dog. :( Joe spotted the north summit, where Jason Berard said thereís even better views. I thought it was a whack on a now abandoned trail to 25A, and there was no way in hell I was doing that. On our way down, we found such is not the case Ė it is a trail to that peak. There was no way in hell we were doing that, either. We were beat, and it was still 3.3 miles to the cars. This is a nice little mountain to return to someday when the skies are clearer, so no loss there. As Gov. Arnold once said "Caleeeefornya". No wait, that wasn't it.

Cube to 25A on the whatever the AT is locally called here

More boulders, more mud, the occasional half-serious (maybe) ďI forgive youĒ from Joe and eventually some decent earth to walk on. Except it wouldnít end. We could see the lake, and it looked so close, but we were still over 1000 ft. above it. It just couldnít go down fast enough. Trudge, trudge, trudge. An annoying PUD or two. Trudge, trudge, trudge. A few grunts that could be mistaken for words. Looking at the track, the numbers don't look too bad. Then, it seemed to drag on forever and ever and ever...

I have to say it was probably the hardest hike Iíve done ever. I think the combination of two big climbs and the heat did a number of all of us, but for me personally it was nice to push the bounds a bit and build up some more strength for more adventures this summer. I may just be doing it alone from now on. :wink:


Date Climbed: 03/25/2009

Distance: 7.5 miles

Low Elevation: 1110 feet
High Elevation: 3238 feet
Elevation Gain: 2128 feet
Elevation Loss: 2128 feet

Start Location: Lambert Ridge TH
Finish Location: Lambert Ridge TH
Route: Lambert Ridge Trail, Smarts. Mtn., Lambert Ridge Trail, Ranger Trail

Weather: Warm, probably in the 40s, hardly any wind
Companions: (none)

Photos: http://outdoors.webshots.com/album/570698113okhdpy

5 Ĺ weeks without hiking. Ooof. Planning vacation, vacation, recovering from vacation. This relaxing stuff is really cutting into my hiking. From the moment I saw Kearsarge on the drive home I was super-antsy to get out, especially with the great clear weather weíve had. Smarts has long been on my hit list. Itís on the 3k list, itís supposed to have great views, and that itís only about an hour away from my house, and nowhere near I-93 is a nice change. I had planned to head up this past Sunday, seeing nothing but sunny skies in the forecast all the way up to Saturday night, where, alas, it was now supposed to be cloudy, windy, and a chance of snow. #@*&^#@$! Nuh-uh. I wanted a perfect day for this mountain, and Wednesday was going to be the day to deliver that.

This would be a day of getting to know my gear, getting to know all about my gear. I finally got a pack worthy of a winter dayhike (meaning, the sleeping bag could finally go IN the pack), but now this raised some issues. It was supposed to be quite warm. For winter, Iím used to having a lot and clothes coming OUT of my pack, today, clothes would certainly be going in. There was no room with my super-thick wool sweater, sleeping bag, and outer shell. Something needed to go. Bye bye shell. I still had enough for a comfortable bivy if need be. Iím not used to this weird transition season where I canít go heavy nor go light. Truth be told, though, in the end it wasnít exactly light.

The trailhead for the Lambert Ridge (part of the AT) and Ranger Trails lies on Dorchester Rd. in Lyme, which in its upper reaches is a dirt road. There was some serious washboarding and some muddy spots, but the road was easily passable. The trailhead is hard to miss, with a kiosk right next to the road and a decent sized parking area. I decided on the Lambert Ridge Trail on the way up, mainly because it promised views quickly. Iíd take the Ranger Trail down. So, up I went at a leisurely 9 AM, finding hardly any snow for a while, quite the pleasant change! The trail goes up moderately right away, leaving me wondering just how out of shape I was. Five minutes in, off came the fleece. Ten minutes later, the shirt came off., leaving the undershirt. This would be my dress for the entire day, and given the polypro longjohns and insulated snow pants, I was quite hot by the PM. I was something Iím not usually accused of --- overdressed.

After the initial climb, the trail moderates, and in less than an hour I came to the first ledge. A nice little view of the Dartmouth Skiway and Killington, and I knew it was going to be a spectacular day. I had a big stupid perma-grin on my face. Moving on up to the next ledge gave even better views. I hung out here for about 20 minutes, taking in the scenery. The first thing I noticed was a mountain with a steep side near the summit. ďI donít know what it is, but I definitely want to climb that!Ē Well, as it turned out, I later found out it was Cardigan. And I was hoping it was something I hadnít climbed. Kearsarge was plainly evident here, too, as the shape of the mountain practically in my backyard is firmly implanted in my head.

Onward, onward ho. I started hitting some icy spots and for the first time ever, on went the Microspikes. I felt wobbly at first on the bare sections, but they did nicely in everything else but sheer ice. There were a number of sections that had to be skirted due to this. I thought about crampons, but with all the bare sections I was running over, it didnít seem like the best choice.

Today was also a weird day. I always think Iím slow, worried Iím donít have the stamina, and never very hungry. Today, I felt strong and was quite hungry, even after breakfast. I was drinking a lot more than usual too. Hmmm, I was doing things ďrightĒ for a change. Iíve had bad days, and clearly today, I was having a very good day.

Thereís another steepish section before the ridge, and then a nice long ridge walk. These are beautiful, very open woods in these parts. Occasional views came and went, and along the way yet another ledge with a view right at the summit. Why do they always look so far away?! I finally got bored with the ridge walk, and was happy to start ascending again. I knew after the junction of the Ranger Trail, it would get pretty steep, and thatís what was delivered. There was one long section of ice I was dreading dealing with on the way down. After what seemed like not too long, I could see one of my favorite sights, sky nearly horizontal to me all the way around. I was near the summit plateau.

I was feeling quite leisurely today, another unusual event. I think the Osceola hike with (cue eerie music) other people really helped to adjust my pace, and has made it all the more enjoyable. So first thing to check out was the privy, which really wasnít all that privious. It does have some of the best views of any crapper Iíve ever seen though, and hey, thatís gotta be worth an extra poop or two. As a bonus, there are bath toys, a shower (head), and a curtain rod, complete with hangers. Next to check out the tent platform, but alas, no tent platform found. Must still be under the snow. Looks like some good views to wake up to, though. Moving on, I almost missed the tower. Donít know how, but I happened to glance up to see this monster to the left. I was for some reason under the impression Smarts was bare, but Ďtis not, Ďtis quite scrubby. Thank you O Great Tower. I shall climb thee with great appreciation of thy marvelous construction.

And so, my brain said to my legs ďClimb!Ē My legs let my brain know that this was quite a steep climb, and theyíd really rather not do any more climbing, seeing as the brain had led them to believe they had summitted. My brain ignored my complaints and commanded the legs to kept climbing. Having the nice brain that I do, though, it did allow for a couple short stops before my legs revolted and ran off with the shower head. The legs almost had the last laugh, though, as the tower door will not hold open on its own, and said brain couldíve easily been knocked out of commission, giving said legs a much needed rest.

Then I looked. And looked. And looked. The views were nothing short of stellar. Washington and Moosilauke were readily evident. Cardigain, Kearsarge, Killington as previously seen. I grabbed my binoculars and started ticking off peaks. Layfayette, Lincoln, Flume (and Liberty I think), Bondcliffs, Carrigain, the Trypyramids and a few more I could ID later from the pictures. Several mountains in Vermont, they were all there in crystal clarity. Shazam. I could not have picked a better day, and there was only a light breeze to top it off.

I stayed there for about an hour checking out the views and taking pictures. Finally, I decided I had seen all there is to see and headed down, now even more mindful of not bonking myself with that door. Next stop was the cabin practically next door. It was cabiny enough, with a little wash basin and little else save for upside down empty cans of tuna tied to the posts, with the string running through it tied to a stick underneath. OK, so what are these things for??? It looked like a perch for something who likes to be under a tuna can.

Well, time to go down, and I had good reason to dread the ice section I went over on the way up. I was hanging on to trees for dear life trying to reach crusty snow, but once that was done, it was a piece of cake back to the Ranger Trail. I was getting quite warm now. I trounced off down the Ranger Trail, wanting to see new sights, and was pleased it was nicely tracked, and still pretty firm. Then things just kept going (ahem) downhill from there. First, the Ranger Trail seems to favor going right through a brook bed, at least thatís how it is right now. Partly snow covered, partly running water. This was merely annoying. Next add in lower elevation, high temps., and there you have it slippery mucky snow. This too was merely annoying at first, so I had 2*annoying.

I reached the wardenís garage, and the stream there was about 4 short rock steps across and pretty simple. I rested here, actually feeling a little pooped. Time for more food. After a nice rest, and forgetting my annoyance, off I head in my usual downhill superpace, and quickly remembered what had been annoying me ever so much. Now it was getting worse, more water to either walk through or around, and now my feet were constantly slipping out to the side from me due to the unevenness in the trail. This was no longer merely annoying, it had now reached aggravating. The odd curse slipped from my lips, for alas, I had only seen 3 people earlier, all on the ridge trail, and the curse only fell on cold, deaf and uncaring snow and water.

Fine. Be that way. Time for snowshoes. Goodbye spikes, you have served me well. This was much better, I was now cruising along no longer caring, splashing about, just wanting to be out of the woods at that point. Hey whoa! Stupid snowshoe slipped off. Iíve occasionally had this problem with these danged things. They were a gift. A well-intended gift, but well, not the best gift. OK, buckled them back on, and hip, hip, hip and away I go. 5 minutes later, same thing. Grrrrr. 5 minutes later, again. And on and on. This was no longer aggrevating, this was flat out making me outright P.Oíed. Curses, long and strong, flew mightily from my mouth, daring anyone within hearing distance (the census of which being exactly zero) to contradict the shoddiness of my stuff, the snow, the water, and all else that tormented me! Ah, from such highs to such lows does the Salty go. So I did what any sensible person who has lost their mind would do. I took off the shoes and carried them, because at that point, it was less than a mile to the trailhead, and I had had it with putting on that pack over and over.

Slipping here, sliding there, melting snow dripping on my hands with only one focus. The car. After what seemed like the amount of time it takes me to write up on of these TRís, I came to the car. My lovely car. My beautiful car. I looked back up the Ranger Trail to see nothing but a good stream running down it. Why didnít I see this in the morning? It had to be running, and at least the bare ground should have been a clue. Argh. I curse you Ranger Trail. I have been informed you are an emergency route for the brave ones, but to me you should only be of that use.

Now that I got that over with, I almost went into a ditch pulling out of the lot because I wasnít paying attention and the mud was slick, and then just down the road almost decided to go back in the woods because I was doing a whopping 19 mph and the mud was (amazinglyÖ) still slick. I forgot sometimes how much fun mud on frozen earth is. The only other thing of note is I found around mile 82 on I-91, you can see Washington.

Iíve heard some people camp in the tower, which is do-able. I can only imagine the sights youíd see, but personally I wouldnít recommend it unless you like lots of company. I can imagine lots of visitors from the cabin checking things out at night, and wanting to see the sunrise (oh.. sayÖ someone like me). This is definitely one mountain Iíd like to overnight at.

Despite my troubles, the Ranger Trail did not take away from that the Lambert Ridge Trail is a great trail for getting views quick, and Smarts has some of the best views around. Jason Berard has told me that the J Trail is good for its moderate grades and beautiful spruce/fir forest. Whatever way, if you havenít, CLIMB THIS MOUNTAIN!