Salty's North Percy Trip Reports


Hiking Dates


Date Climbed: 08/17/2008

Distance: 5.5 miles

Low Elevation: 585 feet
High Elevation: 3430 feet
Elevation Gain: 2507 feet
Elevation Loss: 2507 feet

Start Location: Percy Peaks TH
Finish Location: Percy Peaks TH
Route: Percy Peaks Trail, N. Percy Tr to summit, back to S. Percy Tr to summit and back

Weather: Mostly cloudy
Companions: (none)


It was time to head way up north. I havenít been north of Whitefield in eons, and havenít hiked north of Cherry Mtn. ever. Both Mapquest and Google said going up 89 and 91 was the best way to go, much to my surprise. Fidgeting around with things revealed why Ė going down 89 and up 93 was only slightly quicker. Worked for me, I love the drive up 91, with its great views of the Connecticut River valley. I quickly found out the problem with this. The problem was the Connecticut River valley. Foggy fog fog of fogginess. Ah well, certainly much less traffic to deal with. I cut over on Rt. 2 and somewhere before Lancaster, I saw a cow moose and her calf feeding beside the road. Unfortunately, I neglected to stop and snap a picture or twenty, but it was a great sight. Nice to see something other than their poop.

_x000D_ _x000D_ I hit the trail at 9:00 after a 2.5 hour drive. The trail was mucky near the bottom, but nothing major. Itís only 2.5 miles to the top of N. Percy, climbing up about 2300 feet. The trail starts gradually and save for the col, it continually picks up on the steepness. The first mile went by in its usual fashion for me Ė miserably. Iíve finally realized I hate the first mile of every trail. My bodyís trying to figure out just what Iím doing to it and rebels against me, and thoughts of a warm cozy bed creep into my mind. The phases are clear to me now:

_x000D_ _x000D_ 1) What am I doing here?

_x000D_ 2) I feel good and strong now and have a great time

_x000D_ 3) Joy of summiting

_x000D_ 4) Second and successive peaks drain me

_x000D_ 5) Am I out yet?

_x000D_ _x000D_ Maybe Iím too neurotic for the mountains.

_x000D_ _x000D_ Phase 2 kicks into gear as the steeps pick up. There a long, steep slab maybe running around 200 ft. parallel to the trail. I come to what I think is the top of it and gingerly step out onto it, avoiding the wet spots like the plague to get some views. Uh oh. I go down and I find myself sliding, and sliding not particularly slowly. Not good. I could go a long way down, but I keep my wits about me, and see a ledge sticking up about 10 feet away, and slide right into it. I ever so carefully claw my way back to the trail and move along, only to find out higher up the slab continues, and thereís a viewpoint up there. Crap!

_x000D_ _x000D_ Eventually I reach the col area where the trail evens out a lot more. I pass a sign pointing to S. Percy and a blazed, well-defined path. Hmmm. I thought there was only a herd path going up there according to the AMC guide. Shortly thereafter the N. Percy trail leaves the main trail, and slowly climbs up. I know thereís a steep section hiding here somewhere. Ah, there she be. The trail ascends the ledges quickly, and Iím very careful on this section to avoid another sliding mishap. I reach the summit and have a local father and daughter for company. That and a gagillion blueberries. They pretty much cover the entire summit area. Oh yummy. Great views in all directions, and I could see the Presiís were covered in clouds (or less likely, clouds were in front of them).

_x000D_ _x000D_ I chat with the father a bit, and he tells me the rains have been horrible on the loggers up there. They can only work 1 or 2 days a week, and thatís not going to provide much of a living. Good insight on a situation I hadnít considered. I study Long Mtn., and it appears thereís a good route out of the Percy col to get up there. Down low, it appears to be largely hardwoods, and a mix up to almost the summit ridge.

_x000D_ _x000D_ I head back to the S. Percy trail, noticing immediately I have some knee pain going on caused by going downhill and on the increase. Uh-oh. I had hoped to do S. Percy, nearby Sugarloaf, and possibly Eagle Cliff on the way back if I felt up to it, now I had a mystery condition with no idea how bad it might get. Well, the S. Percy climb is only about 300 ft. of vertical, and itíd be a shame not to bag it while Iím right here, so I head off to S. Percy and will re-evaluate when I get down. The trail is signed as the Old Summer Club Trail, and I quickly notice itís part of the Cohos Trail now. Excellent! This side of the col was sopping wet, and thereís a lot of moss on the rocks you have to climb up, so you have to be careful. It was really pretty, though. Itís another steep climb, but the views, especially of the slabs on N. Percy was definitely worth it. I could see the father and daughter heading down and was surprised how steep it looked where the trail went. I was curious if a register was here, as this used to be something of a whack, but didnít see it at the summit. The blueberries here were all over the place, and seemed to be bigger, probably as theyíre less picked over. I stay for a while here, and as I head down and bend over to grab some more blueberries, I see a jar hanging there. I felt a little silly signing in, but I did leave evidence of my goings-on on the notepad.

_x000D_ _x000D_ Iím careful heading back to the trail head, and my knee is not happy. I had no incidents coming down S. and N. Percy as far as traction, but coming out of the col was another matter. The slab-like nature of the rocks in this area and the moisture made it very slick. I fell once, taking another short slide, but at least with no real danger this time. When I get back to the car, I checked out mileages and elevations and realized thereís no way Iím risking a trip to either Sugarloaf or Eagle Cliff. Iím happy anyway, and figured I could finally get those views on 91. A quick call to the Mrs. to check in as soon as I get service near Lancaster, and I find out they all forgot where they parked the car at Tanger Outlets. Argh! I know what I have to do now in Lancaster: head down Rt. 3 to Twin Mountain and over to 93 so if they need me in Tilton, Iíll be on the way. I check in later only to find they found it (just where they left it!!), leaving me to have fun in the 93 traffic. Ah well, it was still a good day!