Salty's Sugarloaf-Benton Trip Reports


Hiking Dates


Date Climbed: 05/11/2014

Distance: 5.8 miles

Low Elevation: 1297 feet
High Elevation: 2629 feet
Elevation Gain: 1466 feet
Elevation Loss: 1466 feet

Start Location: Chippewa TH
Finish Location: Chippewa TH
Route: Chippewa Trail to end of logging road, back to lot, trail to 1390' back to SPNHF sign, whack SE then E to near tributary, up to Sugarloaf/Hogsback col, Sugarloaf summit and ledges, ENE down to tributary, along tributary keeping NW to Chippewa Trail and trail to trailhead

Weather: Sunny, breezy, low 60's
Companions: (none)


So I had to go back to the Chippewa for the second week in a row to clear out the remaining two blowdowns and to add a couple blazes in a couple new trouble spots. One was a large hardwood that I wasn't particularly looking forward to, and it lived up to that reputation. Unfortunately, part of that was because I didn't cut the notch wide enough. I'm used to splitting wood, not chopping it! With those out of the way, I wanted to finally get up Sugarloaf. I've eyed this ledgey, trailless peak every time I get up here, and it was time. It's reputed to be one of the trailless gems in the Whites, and it was time to find out for myself.

Because of the location of the 2nd blowdown, I decided to stash the tools near the SPNHF sign down low. The woods didn't look particularly great, but how long could that last. My goal was to hit a tributary of Titus Brook that led to a logging clearing up on the slope, and from there to the Hogsback/Sugarloaf col that held another clearing. From last week's recon, it was wide, wide open hardwoods. Brian and I could see the ground from the Black summit.

Sure enough, there was scrappy woods as I made my way toward the tributary, with some rather steep ups and downs to boot.

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The Titus Brook crossing was easy enough, despite what my excellent map skills told me should have been a ton of runoff from Tuckerman Ravine pouring into here (or the Khumbu Icefall, that much wasn't clear), and the woods were opening up, albeit still in softwoods. They sure didn't feel soft when I ran into them. I think the terms hardwoods and harderwoods should be applied instead.

I came to the tributary above where it flows into Titus, coming at last to hardwoods (actually, harderwoods). I kept to the right side, above where the brook was in a deep ravine, finding somewhat whippy sapling woods amongst the mature trees, not quite what I expected. But then again I'm not a fan of traveling in ravines themselves. There was surely some nice scenery in there, but I'll leave that to Joe with his OCD (Obsessive Cascade Disease). The grades were excellent, what most would call easy. I didn't, still feeling badly out of shape, and a bit bushed from chopping up the two Giant Redwoods laying on my trail. So much so that I called Fish and Game for a helo lift, but they said no way, they knew what a deadbeat I was. Jerks. Just for that I poached a moose. HA! No... wait... it was moose scat. If only I had a moose for reference I wouldn't keep screwing this up.

The clearing below the col was overgrown,

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but some views of Black were to be had near the top.

The clearing in the col itself was likewise overgrown and also prickerbushy (new word), meaning useless other than providing me with my latest set of bushwhacker tatoos. From there the woods turned to softwoods (or hardwoods, but not harderwoods), but still easy going. Just before the first ledge I once spooked a moose, or should I say, it once spooked me. No flying squirrel, though. A mse once bit my sister, but that's another story. I managed to finally get my camera out in a tizzy and get a crappy shot of it staring at me behind some trees before it realized what a hideous creature I was and it bounded up a ledge.

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OK, *that* was impressive. I creeped up behind, not to get a better picture as some would suspect, but to be able to ask it where it had left it's antlers, only to satisfy Keith's OAD (Obsessive Antler Disease). I then realized it was moving further up on a peak with 3 sides of sharp drops, and potentially cornering it might turn me into Moosed Meat. Or maybe it was the fairly fresh bear scat that made me decide I didn't particularly feel like being so quiet anymore.

I hit about 7 or 8 ledges, some providing outstanding views, including Lafayette tucked between the Kinsmans,

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and also nice views of the Hogsback and Black.

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To me, right up there with Whitewall for whacking peaks with views. Clearly not as open, but some real interesting perspectives in every different direction. Nice herd paths to most of them to boot. I spent a good hour poking about and taking it in. After trapsing over the high point candidates (I have ONSPD - Obsessive Named Summit Peakbagging Disease, as well as ODND, Obsessive Disease Naming Disease), I headed down cutting the corner on the col in gorgeously open woods, and decided to try the other side of the brook to see if it was any different. It was, being perhaps even whippier than going up. A song by DEVO popped into my head. Occasionally I came across an old faint woods road beside the brook that I'd pick up and lose again, and after a quick-ish trip down, came to a spot where Titus Brook was split into 3, and also didn't have a steep embankment. I was shooting to skirt around a bit and come to a plateau to come out on the Chippewa just below the steeps. On the way I ran across the woods road that has been used by some to ascend Sugarloaf. At one spot, the road turned to parallel the trail, and a faint path towards the trail could be seen, coming out just above where I had spotted this at one point and followed it for a bit some time ago. Much better way than what I used to head up.

I then searched for the Eternal Brook of Beer found on an old map that a 3 year old had scribbled on, but all I found was stupid water. I bet Black Flies can't breed in beer. Harumph. Oh, they were out, but if they were biting yet, the wind was stopping any of that nonsense. Did I mention no snow? Grabbed my tools, took the loppers to a sapling or two to feel important, and then tried to remember the huge rut on Lime Kiln on the way out that I nailed very, very badly last week. Today, it was a roaring success! My front end's still only 30 degrees out of alignment!