Salty's Blue Ridge north peak Trip Reports


Hiking Dates


Date Climbed: 05/25/2008

Distance: 9 miles

Low Elevation: 1870 feet
High Elevation: 3478 feet
Elevation Gain: 2838 feet
Elevation Loss: 2838 feet

Start Location: Kinsman Ridge TH, Rt. 112
Finish Location: Kinsman Ridge TH, Rt. 112
Route: Kinsman Ridge Tr, with short trips to Blue Ridge & Wolf. BW to old AT (couldn't find) then to Gordon Pond. Gordon Pond Tr. To Kinsman Ridge trail.

Weather: Perfect sunny, upper 60s.
Companions: None


First part of trail is steep, not great for first starting a hike! After that, pretty easy stuff, especially as I was feeling pretty strong up to Wolf. Found the jar (first one ever!) on Blue Rige in about 5 minutes, Wolf was only about 1-2 minutes as there was a herd path to it. Beautiful trail, with ridge views, little glades, boggy areas. Trail was moist in spots up to Gordon Pond, but then got wetter. Nothing major._x000D_ _x000D_ Got down from the Wolf viewpoint, and started the 'whack to the first waypoint, SE from Wolf to the old AT. Was steep at first, with my foot occassionally going into a hole, but doable. Still, had doubts from the get-go, especially when I started slipping a little, realizing I'm completely alone out here. And then the spruce/fir hell began about halfway down. Once is a while would get onto an animal path, but other than that it was spread the branches, look where to step, grab on to something, take a step, repeat. Kept watching the mileage on the GPS go down extremely slowly. Finally got to the AT waypoint, and thought I might be able to pick out a trail, but very questionable. There were a lot of deer/moose beds there. Track shows I was pretty much standing on it. Not sure when it was relocated. _x000D_ _x000D_ Soooo, decision time. Got very concerned at this slow pace it would be pushing my luck to go on to Wolf Cub, especially not knowing when the spruce/fir might let up. Decided to bail, shooting for the low point, but no matter what, the spruce/fir hell wouldn't let up. Started getting despondant at that point. Hit the brook, and decided to follow that with still slow going for the same reasons. Considered walking the brook, but wasn't in the mood for hypothermia :-)_x000D_ _x000D_ And then I saw it. The orange flagging. There did appear to be a trail associated with it (as reported), so followed that. And that was the last orange flag I saw. Argh. Decided not to backtrack, as I had pretty much had it by then, and finally made my way to Gordon Pond. It was sure nice to walk (quickly!) on the grass out there. Sat there for a good long time looking back at Wolf and the Cub ridge. _x000D_ _x000D_ Headed out on the spur path to the pond, and ended up knee deep in mud before I realized I was heading south on the trail. Backtracked and then I just happened to spot the stream crossing. Sheesh. Trail was pretty wet. Went back without incident, although my legs pretty much had no more "up" in them. No complaints about the steep descent to 112 :)_x000D_ _x000D_ Snow above 3000' in patches. No more than 1' deep._x000D_ _x000D_ [From]_x000D_ So this would be my first multiple peak attempt in my goal of doing the NH 3000+. While a completing a list appeals to the engineer in me (like, in the worst way), I also see it more as a means to the end - the method of visiting peaks I might not otherwise, I love different viewpoints, and I'm becoming more interested in finding long lost natural and manmade curiousities. So seeing Blue Ridge, Wolf and Wolf Cub bunched together had an appeal to me. I've done a little bushwhacking in the Whites in the past, and plenty of it further south, including the Mink Hills preserve behind my house (ohhh, how convenient). I can readily use a map and compass to get where I'm going, so I figured this (ahem) little whack to Wolf Cub shouldn't be too horrible. Ahh, grasshopper, how much we still have to learn

_x000D_ _x000D_ I left the Kinsman Ridge trailhead on 112, and got the expected oxygen stealiing steep prolonged climb out of Kinsman Notch. On the bright side, I was feeling pretty good. Oh, bless ye lungs of cleanliness! What wonders ye bring! This to me is a really nice trail, with a lovely mixture of ridge walking, some nice little glades, and a bog crossing. The occassional views from the obvious herd trails off the trail were really nice. Towards Whaleback and Loon were particularly prominent. The trail up to Gordon Pond was mostly dry, with some minor moist areas. I hit the high point on the trail on Blue Ridge, and then headed off into the woods for the short walk to the register. This was something of a special moment for me, as this was my first register (see my avatar, although I was putting on a purposely ridiculous happy face). Yeah, I know, it's that close to the trail, but hey, little junk gives me immense pleasure. Remember the part above about a 43 year old little boy

_x000D_ _x000D_ There was some minor snow patches above 3k, but never anything over 1 foot in depth. Going up to Wolf was a little wetter, including a flooded rock hopping patch. I reached the Wolf highpoint, and in this case the way to the actual summit was obvious for another register sign in. Back to the trail and the lookout where the view was stunning towards the Franconia Range. If you don't care about the peakbagging and just stick to the trail, you will be happily rewarded going up to Wolf.

_x000D_ _x000D_ So I'm now sitting on Wolf thinking, am I really going down there to bushwhack to Wolf Cub? Well, yes. Yes I am. Right? Errr, sure. So I headed back down the lookout trail to the KRT, and from there headed roughly SE. The idea was to try to avoid the steepest part of the E and NE slopes, hook up with the old AT and follow that north to a point where the woods were reported to be more open. Then up to Wolf Cub and along the ridge where there were some viewpoints, going along to Gordon Pond.

_x000D_ _x000D_ The first part was still somewhat steep, and I had to be really careful where I was putting my feet. I was hiking solo, and my wife (my former hiking partner who unfortunately can no longer walk very far) needs me, and I started to wonder of the wiseness of this venture. I did leave an annotated map with her, with phone #'s and "panic" time, and I was set to make it through a night out there, but still, I wouldn't want to put her through that, and a twisted ankle (or worse) would not make for a quick exit. Yet on I pressed, albeit as carefully as I could.

_x000D_ _x000D_ Somewhere above the old AT, I then ran into it. Spruce/fir saplings from H-E-double hockey sticks. I'd heard about it. I've experienced it to some degree. What I was mentally unprepared for what the extent and length of it. No skirting around it, having to spread the branches to see what I was about to step (or slide) on, forcing my way through. The only high points was near the old AT there were a number of deer or moose beds and trails, but not in the right heading for long. By the time I hit the area of the old AT, I had to stop and re-evaluate. First dumb mistake was not checking how long ago the AT was relocated. In that area, I could "sense" there was an old trail there, but heading one way or another, I couldn't get a firm grip on "yeah, this is it." So that was pretty much out.

_x000D_ _x000D_ I finally made the decision to bail. For the length of time it took me to get that far, there was a chance it would be getting late before I got out going with the original plan. So I headed obliquely down to the col towards Gordon Pond, eventually hooking up with the brook that feeds the pond. The spruce/fir saplings did not abate the entire time excepting for short sprints. I did find the orange flagging (well, an orange flag) as someone else had reported, and followed what I thought was an obvious trail, but this petered out, and that one flag was the only one I saw. At that point, I knew I was close to the pond and didn't feel much like backtracking.

_x000D_ _x000D_ I hit the pond, took some welcome long strides in the grassy area on the banks, and sat and enjoyed the view for quite some time, mainly looking up a Wolf on one side, and the Wolf Cub ridge on the other. And back. And forth. It was at that point that I realized I had lost my fleece, which was... ahem.... firmly attached to the back of my pack. Dang it, that thing was mighty cozy. I'm 43. I'm liking cozy more and more. Anyway, I eventually made my way to the Gordon Pond Trail, and par for the course, missed the brook crossing to head back to the KRT. I only went about 200 feet beyond it, but did manage to find a knee deep mud puddle (surprise!!). Of course, I had removed the gaiters at that point. HA! This trail was considerably wetter, but generally the worst of it could be avoided. Hooked up with the KRT, and headed back the way I came. Only notable part was I couldn't help but notice my legs had much less "up" left in them. I could go down and level speedily enough, but where did all my up go? Maybe I lost it with the fleece. Maybe the fleece was my magic "up" thing! Oh no!

_x000D_ _x000D_ Heading out in the car, heard a siren go by the trailhead, followed by two ambulances and a fire truck. Haven't been able to dig up what happened, but that might be a good sign it was nothing horrible. Anxious to get home, the Border Patrol had setup a 15 minute delay of a checkpoint on I-93. I was used to these in Arizona, but this was a first!

_x000D_ _x000D_ In retrospect, the off trail hike didn't seem that bad (it certainly wasn't great, but just something I haven't become accustomed to yet). I think it was as I said, I was mentally unprepared for that level of it, and to continue in that state would not have been productive. So it'll be a slower break-in for me, or find the worst thickets up in the Minks behind me and endlessly keep wandering through it Basically I made some dumb mistakes, but I'm happy to look back realizing I didn't make any that were that serious, in my opinion, just something to move forward and learn from.

_x000D_ _x000D_ And that kind of learning, I've never had a problem with.