Trail Conditions: Mostly dry, mostly clear at least when we were on trails. No snow all day (3200’ max. altitude).
Lincoln Woods to N. end of Pine Is. Trail: 0:30
Whack to N. Hitchcock: 3:00
Whack to Cedar Brook: 1:30
Cedar Brook/East Side Tr. To Lincoln Woods: 2:30
Well, the plan was for the north, main and west peaks, but I had a feeling I was being overly ambitious again. No matter, better than running out of things to do. The Hitchcocks are a series of peaks, some of which can be seen from the Lincoln Woods Trail early on to the right. Brian, Greg and I met at LinWood at 7:30, with Joe making an appearance to just say hello. Joe and I proceeded to immediately give each other crap.
We headed up the East Side Trail, which was new to me, and at least had more curves than the other side of the river. Around the north end of the Pine Island Trail, we tried to find a logging road, which we did, but not the one we wanted. This one led NE, but with great woods, who cares? The clouds were clearing, the usual Laugh-a-Mania was well underway, and we just headed east, trying to skinch north wherever possible to avoid reported bad stuff on the east side. We ended up finding nearly the steepest part of the climb to a 2255’ nub, thanks to me wanting to lead today with all the intelligence I had gathered. Ha ha. I also managed to find a short patch of garbage woods with young spruce and lots of blowdowns. It opened up back to wide open woods quickly.
The bugs weren’t even a factor, unless your name was Greg the Great Black Fly Attractor. I saw more thick stuff above 2550’ and we skirted for a while, trying to get around to the north side. We made it to the NE side before the vote was taken and a full frontal assault was ordered. Now, truth be told, the Navigator wanted to slab more, so this, at least, is clearly not my fault. Actually, I think this is all that wasn’t my fault…
We assaulted mightily. And slowly. Very, very slowly. It was a hellacious mix of thick young spruce and copious blowdowns in the way, and yet more blowdowns hiding under the spruce. The only thing I hate worse is thick stands of stick woods where you have to force your way through. Yet, we were still quite happy and laughing heartily at our misfortune. At around 2800’ the woods opened up to a mossy carpet, with some blowdowns, but nothing major. The slope, however, got pretty steep, but the progress was now steady. Calls of blue sky were issued as we neared the ridge, and we finally broke out on top within about 50’ of the summit.
Now, the joy of North Hitchcock is the USFS has set up a radio repeater for their network on the summit, presumably to cover a fair bit of the Pemi region. While that doesn’t sound like much, these things need servicing, and humping heavy equipment on a 1-2 mile bushwhack doesn’t sound like much fun. So, they built a helicopter platform, which means – VIEWS! We also contemplated, given its small size, how tricky the landing must be. We hung out for an hour and a half, shooting the bull and taking in some nice views, including a unique one of the Franconia Range, Owls Head and Garfield. The top of Chocorua also made an appearance.
Exit strategy. Go back the way we came (ugh), or try something to the north or east. East won because it was shorter to the Cedar Brook Trail, and we didn’t want to get too low and have issues crossing Cedar Brook. So I led us promptly to a steep slope loaded with 3-5 foot ledges. Well, at least we dropped elevation quickly. More laughing, many cries of “whoa!”, “ahhh!”, “OWWWW!” and “$#@%!!!”. More skidder roads to be crossed or followed once we got low. The woods were OK, but still a fair amount of blowdowns in many stretches to be negotiated. The trail couldn’t come fast enough. After a cruel uphill out of a small stream, we reached Cedar Brook around 2000’, which was easily crossed. Ah, trail.
Things got boring after that. There was talk of food (sweet, glorious food), and some more views of the river, but otherwise, it was a dull, dull, quiet, long walk out. Had we gone back the way we had, we would’ve gotten out faster.
A big bonus for me was coming across a logging camp during the day with a ton of interesting stuff. I love this kind of stuff.
So in true fashion, I close with a more and more common phrase. “We ran into Erin.” We had joked about this on the way out, and went about looking for the Erin-mobile when we saw it, and lo and behold there it was, complete with him right in front of us. Always a pleasure to see you Erin, but I had to cut it short due to the late time, and the strong desire to sit on my butt. Overall, some pain involved in the day, but I enjoyed this overall immensely, especially after failed Wolf Cub and E. Scar attempts.