After the hike in Nottingcook Forest, I was pumped up to do something else on my weekend. Something bushwhacky, something viewy, despite what would likely be hazy conditions. Hmm, Blueberry, 52WAV. Jeffers, NH200. Hogsback, no list at all. See, I'm not list oriented!
I don't know why I was expecting Long Pond Road to be this big wide road, like Magalloway, but it certainly wasn't bad. I parked at the trailhead, unsurprisingly the only car there, and headed on up. Quickly enough, there's a logged out area that gives a view of Moosilauke.
The grades were sweet, and the trail started getting ledgey. I was one happy boy!
I had just relinquished trail maintenance of the very nearby Chippewa Trail to a nice couple who wanted it, and I couldn't help but think what a much nicer trail this would be to maintain. Few waterbars, no insanely steep parts, no bypasses that constantly need brushing in.
Blueberry was aptly named, as there were indeed blueberries. Lots of them, right next to the trail, quite a surprise. Unfortunately, they were long past due, and I ended up spitting out anything I tried. Ah well. Note for the future. Little views south came and went, I was so enjoying this, what a beauty of a trail.
I was topping out and came to a large cairn in the trail, and no views. What the hell? This is a 52WAV peak. I checked my printout, oops, missed a side trail. How'd that happen? Backtracking, oh geez, that should have been obvious. Up to the summit, not impressive. Kinda Carr-like in that it's pretty overgrown. Ah well. The trail certainly made up for the summit.
Took a break, studied the map, and could see I wanted to head NE before heading north, staying on the ridge. Friends of mine have done this trip, and glorified the open woods. I headed off, finding a herd path to nowhere leading to crappy woods.
Where are these open woods? I struggled to keep a bearing, especially since the ridge was not well defined here. Eventually the woods opened up more and more.
OK, this was more like it! This part reminded me of heading over to Castle from Sugarloaf up in Nash Stream. Crap to start with, amazing after that. Well, this wasn't amazing, but it was quite nice. The ridge became defined well enough and navigation became easy. Some fall color was starting to show, a reminder it was indeed September. The terrain was interesting. There were gradual rises punctuated by sharp ledgey rises. Moose paths led me to easier ways up. Did I mention the woods were nice?
Some chickadees bitched at me until I passed on by. The ridge flattened out and I started the hunt for jar. There's a bump! Nope, not it, there's some higher ground ahead. Repeat something like 10 or 15 times. Finally I hit the canister in all its red and purple garishness. I suppose it makes for less false sightings of white ones in winter.
My GPS said this was over 3000 feet. And I thought I had finished already, dang! ;-) I read through the entires, some dating to 1996, and found the unual sighting of a Steve Smith entry. I think there were 3 Keith entries as well, a new record for repeats. :-) I pondered whether I should head over to Hogsback or not. I was feeling out of shape, it was indeed hazy, but I estimated it was only ¾ of a mile away. Yeah, ok, let's give it a whirl. I stayed on the ridge well enough heading down, and thought I spotted something odd, but couldn't be sure. Further along, bingo, a boot print, and a recent one at that.
Interesting since no one had signed in on Jeffers recently. Not everyone bothers, but so strange to see recent traffic in such a remote place. As I headed down I kept trying to stay on the ridge, but it was usually nasty. Herd paths stayed just right of the ridge, which sometimes petered out, but I kept insisted on trying the ridge, only to fight my way off it again. Mainly, I didn't want to miss the viewpoints. I finally just followed the path as best I could and spotted a boulder ahead. Woo hoo! Woo.... whoa. Steep, maybe 30 feet high, no way I'm getting up that! Crap, move along. I was getting anxious to be done, I was lagging. That and I underestimated the distance from Jeffers. I plodded on, slidesloping, and spotted another opening. Short stretch of steep woods, and some questionable scrambling. Carefully I grasped for any rockholds and topped out. Aw, sweet spot! I don't know if this is the best view of many on this ridge, but I didn't particularly care right now, either. What I did care about was vertigo. This was a rather sharp edge. Once again, pictures don't do it justice, but trust me on this.
The view of Sugarloaf on the other side of ridge was sweet.
This is another trail-less gem that I visited not too long ago. N. Lafayette, Lafayette and Lincoln were visible behind S. Kinsman. Man, I gotta come back here on a bluebird day. Jeffers looked far away.
I studied the map, debating a potentially quicker and shorter exit directly off the summit and retracing my steps. The latter didn't sound too spiffy at this point, but the latter presented some challenges. I hadn't left this as an option with my wife, and the map indicated I'd have to go a fair bit north or further south to avoid some nasty steep looking areas. Sigh. I tried calling Neesh, no go with a Verizon error message. Huh? I have Verizon! I sent an email, and then it hit me I should try the area code also. That did it. I must have been pinging a Vermont tower. Change in plans informed, I decided on heading east to a potentially overgrown forest road up high (FR 190) back to Long Pond Road.
I decided on north first, figuring I'd have to go some ways, but the slope looked fine, so I headed down, being careful to keep an eye out for what looked to be worse conditions ahead. It didn't happen. Steep, but not concerningly so. Cool! Good woods to boot.
In fact, the woods were great for almost the entire way. Towards the bottom though, logging clearings made for some swampy going. I found a road and popped out on the forest road. Phew! OK, quick now, right? Wrong. The trip down 190 went by quick, and I managed to spook a cow moose just 15 feet away from me. The moose was correct that it had managed to spook a human just 15 feet away. She backed up a bit and once again, got a crappy picture, but it was pretty awesome. We stared at each other until I moved just a touch to try to get a better shot and she scooted another 15 feet. One more try and off she went. Thanks for the encounter.
I had, again, underestimated distance, thinking the trip on Long Pond would be a mile. More like 2. Mind you, this took only 40 minutes to travel, but like all outward journeys, it couldn't end fast enough. Feet a'hurtin', I greeted my awaiting car with a hearty “uhhhng.” Fun trip, and found a good route to return to the Hogsback (minus two miles of roadwalk) on a better day.