Another low humidity weekend called for another peak with great views. The short list submitted to Brian, Magalloway was the instant response (he was already thinking of this). With 3.5 hours of driving to Pittsburg and a 0.8 mile hike to the top of Magalloway, I tossed in a triple peak hike with the addition of a couple of bushwhacks nearby to create a hopefully full, but not too full day. We enticed Greg (HardCoreIdiot) into joining the fun.
I woke up at the ugly time of 4:45 to overcast skies. Hmmm, supposed to be sunny today. This made for a gorgeous sunrise, however, and I met Greg and Brian in Bow at 6:00. As we drove north, the skies cleared. From Rt. 3, you take Magalloway Road, a wide, well-groomed logging road. Easy to do 30-40 mph on this gem, and then you take a little rougher road to the fire tower. The way in well marked, and was no problem from my little car. So at 9:45 we were finally, and thankfully, on our feet. There are two trails, the Coot, leading directly from the parking lot, and the Bobcat, which leaves maybe 100 feet below the lot. We didn't even see the latter, so up the Coot trail, passing by a camp at the beginning. The trail is loose, steep and rough, with the waterbars generally being the typical loggers' rubber mats sticking up.
It is short, however, and was an easy 35 minutes up, coming out on a meadow complete with a fire tower, picnic table and cabin. There were a number of clouds now, but the views from the tower were nothing short of phenomenal. The Presis were obvious, everything else was very unfamiliar, despite a cheat-sheet that I had. Peaks were visible in Maine, Quebec and Vermont in front of a vast expanse of wilderness. Absolutely beautiful country up there. The wind was biting with the chilly temperatures, so my time on the tower was cut short. On the way down I spotted a Gray Jay, so I knew some fun was in store.
The cabin, as it turns out, can be rented, and someone's stuff was in there (locked up). I can't imagine the stars you can see staying up there, something I'd like to do sometime. We ate, and headed down pass the cabin to the Overlook, a sheer dropoff with views of the boulder field below and cliffs on the east side of the mountain. I hate sheer heights with nothing to hang onto and nothing but air in front and around you, and couldn't even look at Brian and Greg a mere foot from certain death. I'm wimpy that way, and once they were clear of it, inched my way out to take a couple of pictures and head back to safety. I get vertigo in these situations and can easily lose my balance, so no sudden movements or anyone around me are a necessity. Amazing to think I went out to the Bondcliff rock at one point in my life.
The trip down was quick, and before we got to the lot, headed off to another peak nearby for bushwhack #1. It's not on the 3k list, but I heard it was worth the effort. I had been eyeing the woods on the way up, and they didn't look as open as I had heard. But once in them, despite being overrun with hobblebush, it was easy going. There were tons of moose paths here, so getting through any thick brush was pretty easy. Once on the peak around noon, we were treated to the promised views now under abundant sunshine, something you'd never guess looking at Google Earth. Very sweet. We took a more direct route down to the lot, and came across a footprint in the mud. As it turns out, Marc Howes and Ethan (Slopetastic) were at this peak the very same day – trippy! We had missed them by several hours, though.
Back at the lot at 12:40, off for a 15 minute drive to bushwhack #2, Diamond Ridge. We went up a logging road and I ended up bottoming out my car badly. Uh-oh, we're probably 8 miles from Rt. 3. Not good. A quick inspection showed nothing dented, broken or leaking, so I got lucky. Driving slower and staying in the raised center and side of the road did the trick. The beginning of the hike had a logging cut that looked pretty overgrown, so we skirted this for a while, only to find a bunch of muck. We were in and out of the cut for as long as it went, and although muddy at times, was doable, again due to an abundance of moose paths. Above the cut, anytime we came to the rare thick woods, 10 feet to the left or right provided open woods, or at least a path right through it. I kept getting turned to the right on this section, and kept correcting my bearing until I finally noticed the bearing I wanted was just right of my shadow. Duh.
The route finally became a fernwhack, with gorgeous open woods. We hit the ridge just a short distance from the summit, only an hour later for a mile of whacking. Love it. Heading down, we headed in a more straight-line direction, hitting the cut high up and sticking with it. Brian coined the term “grasswhack.” Everyone fell into a boot soaking mud hole at some point on this section, but again, it was easy going. We ended up nailing where the car was parked at 2:50, amazed we had got 3 peaks in 5 hours. I'm digging these North Woods.
We headed to the Buck Rub Pub, which had excellent prices, but alas, the food was a bit bland. On the way back, we hit the Border Patrol set up in Thornton, where we were waved right through after sitting there for 10-15 minutes. Argh.
I don't know if I'd recommend a day trip just for Magalloway, but if you're staying in the area, definitely do not pass this up. The other option is to include a (trailed) hike up Deer Mountain or go visit Fourth Connecticut Puddle (errr, Lake). I suppose you could include the Percys with Magalloway if you like to drive, too. In any case, a big bang for a little effort. Magalloway marked a milestone of sorts for me, I now have less than 100 NH 3k peaks left.
A final note. When International Paper sold this land in 2003, a lot of parties came together, with the Lyme Timber Company purchasing the land under a conservation easement and providing open access to a variety of parties. No camping except in designated sites is allowed, but I am very thankful for the public access the company has provided on their private land. It's a real treat to be able to visit this region as deeply as one can.