Saturday, February 26, 2011

Mt. Roberts - Winter Hiking

Mt. Roberts
Elevation: 2,582ft
Trails: Mt. Roberts Trail
Elevation Gain: 1,313ft
Distance: 5 miles roundtrip
Duration: 5 hrs.

Difficulty:  Moderate

Met up with 9 other members of the New England Over 50 Hiking Group today. On my way to the trailhead parking lot I passed Center Harbor and made mental note of what to photograph on my way back out if there was still enough light out. Of course, Lake Winnipesaukee always catches my eye and there would be more than enough to shoot.

The trailhead parking lot is located on Ossipee Park Road off of NH 171.  I spotted the gatehouse at the entry as well as the busy bottling plant next to the parking lot.

We started up the Mt. Roberts trail which winds around the barn and pasture. The trail continues past a logging road, then behind the stables along an electric fence.

One of my hiking companions started off with snowshoes. The rest of us packed our snowshoes with the exception of one who decided not to carry any. Fresh snow fall from the night before  made for some difficult going and after clearing the pasture, we stopped to put on our snowshoes. The one hiking companion who had not packed his snowshoes went back to his car to get a pair on. I get cold too quickly if I stand around so I continued onto the trail with a couple others.

Snowshoes made the hike so much easier! I didn't have to make sure I stepped in the footprints of my companions before me. Nor did I have to worry about post-holing.

The elevation gain is gradual and the views from much of the trail of this little mountain are stunning! This trail is also very well marked with oranges blazes. During my ascent, I kept turning back to see the view and snapped photos every opportunity I had. We met several hikers on their descent including a furbaby. It was very sunny but very cold, and a bit windy. We hadn't reached the summit but the group wanted to stop to eat. Joe found a spot out of the wind to have some lunch and by that time, the hiker that had gone back to his car to get his snowshoes had caught up with us.

There were several ledges leading to the summit. At these ledges we stopped to catch our breath as well as snap photos. The "Lookout Point" was a great place to snap photos with its views of Lake Winnipesaukee. And as we neared the summit, the Cairns became frequent. When we reached the summit, we each had our photos taken next to peak sign. We hung out a bit to take in the view....so breath-taking! We even got to see the top of Mt. Washington when the cloud over its peak lifted momentarily! On the descent, I stopped frequently to take in the views, snapping photos along the way. At the bottom and across from the pasture, there are picnic benches and shelter that overlook Shannon Pond.

** Click on the photos to see a larger view   

















Center Harbor, NH on Lake Winnipesaukee

After hiking Mt. Roberts in nearby Moultonborough, NH, I stopped to
get a few shots of Center Harbor on beautiful Lake Winnipesaukee! 
Sorry for the dirty camera lens filter!
** Click on the photos to see a larger view   









Saturday, February 19, 2011

Mt. Pierce - Winter Hiking

Elevation: 4,310ft
Trails: Crawford Path Trail
Elevation Gain: 2,350ft
Distance: 6.2 miles roundtrip
Duration: 5.5 hours

My 4000+ Peak #1 
Listed 4000+: #27
Difficulty:  Moderate

Alright this hike was easy....easy compared to last week's hike up to Noon Peak! The Sandwich Mountain Trailhead to Noon Peak is so steep near the top, it resembles what we rock climbers refer to as a "Slab Wall"! But today's hike was enjoyable.

The commute to Mt. Pierce took me through the Franconia Notch way. I have to admit, in the 24 years that I've lived here in New England, I've never been through that State Park...heck I haven't been to alot of the state parks in New Hampshire! Along the way I spotted more I-93 Ice Flows and stopped to snap photos.

As usual, I got lost, which is why I leave early. But I did find my way to the Crawford Notch AMC center and stopped to use the restroom and ask for directions. Joe Halloway pointed me in the right direction and also told me to come back after my hike to shop in their AMC store. I missed the turn onto the road to the Crawford Path parking lot and when I slammed on my brakes, I slid past the entrance and into a snow bank. Oopsies! In the parking lot I quickly shoved my 3 bucks in the bright yellow envelope and checked the front fender and grill of my truck...okay, no damage.

Met up with my fellow hiking companions; Janet, Catherine, Jess, Lyon and Clarice. I had previously hiked with Janet, Jess and Catherine and it was my first time hiking with Lyon and Clarice. Clarice and I were both bagging our first 4000+ footer peak, so we were totally excited about this hike!

We took the Crawford Connector from the parking lot. This led us to the bridge over Gibbs Brook and continued onto the Crawford Path Trailhead. Just upstream of the bridge was Gibbs Falls. Since we weren't making any stops on the way up, I settled for making sure I stopped at the Falls on our descent. Crawford Path Trailhead is moderately pitched and I kept telling myself how much I enjoy this ascent as compared to the ascent at Noon Peak a week ago. It was still overcast and there were just a few other hikers on the path. We met some hikers on their way down and some on their way up that we let through. And we came upon two hikers who were feeding a pair of chunky Gray Jays.

With our stops along the way, I didn't have to 'unlayer' but as we neared the summit, I did have to put on my balaclava. The wind started picking up and my cheeks and forehead were freezing. Several hikers on their way down warned us of the super windy conditions at the summit. We continued on and as we neared the top, we made the decision to get to the summit then come right back down, taking photos once at the bottom. 

At the summit you COULD NOT SEE A THING! It was a blizzard up there and I was not gonna attempt to take my camera out in that weather! 'Sides, my little 'Aloha' sign would have been blown away! And as for the view....what view? There was NO view! The wind was so strong that in no time my eyelashes and eyebrows were frosted up with icicles and the outer corner of my right eye was frozen shut...yep, no goggles! For just a split second I asked myself, "Seriously?" But I quickly put that out of my mind and chalked it up to a good experience and an excellent excuse to do more shopping.....buy goggles!

We quickly backed down making sure to stay close to one another just in case we got blown off the side of the mountain. Once under the tree line we stopped and regrouped. Janet's a 'runner' and told everyone she was running down. The rest of us just took our time on the descent and I figured that by the time we were at the parking lot, Janet would already be home!

I had purchased a pair of Reporter/Backpack straps from B&H Photo for my backpack but for some reason they didn't work out. When I got them I had hooked them to my backpack and camera and practiced with it on while at home. But on the actual hike, it didn't work and I couldn't strap my camera in for the descent, so I ended up carrying my camera near the bottom of our descent. I gotta work on this setup a bit more.

On our way down there were a lot more hikers making their way up and the cloudy skies gave way to sunshine. We stopped at Gibbs Falls but there was so much snow over the falls 'cept for the bottom where the water pools. No photo ops here.

Once at the parking lot we had our photos taken with the little paper sign I made and then drove across the street to the AMC center to use the restrooms and do some shopping. No "I climbed Mt. Pierce" bumper stickers and no goggles either. But there were plenty of books, maps, LLBean and AMC brand clothing and products. I spoke with Joe again and with the White Mountains map in hand, he pointed out the various trails to the mountain summits around us.

All in all it was a memorable hike for my first 4000+ peak! And this hike definitely had it all: cold temps at the base, comfortable temps on our ascent, a raging blizzard at the summit, patches of sunshine on our descent and shopping at the AMC center before heading home!

** Click on the photos to see a larger view 

Aloha from Mt. Pierce!





Saturday, February 12, 2011

Noon Peak - Winter Hiking

Noon Peak
Elevation: 2,976ft
Trails: Sandwich Mountain Trail
Elevation Gain: 1,400ft
Distance: 3.6 miles roundtrip
Duration: 5 hrs

Difficulty:  Moderate

3 words to describe the trail hike to the Noon Peak....steep, steep and steep!

I left the house early on to make certain that I would have some time to check out the local neighborhood shops at the town center. Good excuse to the use the bathroom before going out into the woods. I also checked out the ice skating rink, a couple shops and picked up a chocolate croissant.

The Sandwich Mountain Trail parking lot wasn't plowed so we parked on the road just outside the parking lot entrance. We passed the power station, crossed a cross-country ski trail and down a small bank across Drakes Brook. For the first part of the hike the trail was moderately pitched. But as we neared the top, the trail pitch became steeper. Don't get me wrong, it's doable without having to scramble, but I wasn't expecting a steep pitch that distance to the lookout. There were several other faster hikers that we let go ahead of us. And since the snow was still soft and deep, post holes they left were inevitable every step.

At the top I was expecting to find a summit with a bit more room. It was actually a ledge and with all the snow you had to be careful not to stand too close to the edge. We took in the view and snapped photos. One of my other hiking companions found another lookout point just a few feet up the trail and we ate our lunches there then snapped more photos.

We decided to follow the same route on our descent. Did I mention how steep the trail near the top was? Also, with the post holes from the ascent, the descent was hard on the knees and ankles. After we got past the steeper portions of the trail, we donned snowshoes and that helped a bit. But some parts the lower trail were steep enough that you could find yourself skiing and butt sliding a bit. My snowshoes did keep me afloat and also prevented my knees and ankles from twisting with each step.

Where my calves were burning on the way up, on the descent my thighs were aching! By the time we got down to the brook, I was more than ready to call it a day. The temps were in the high teens and it was overcast with some brief periods of sunshine. But all in all, it was another beautiful day for a winter hike. 

My apologies for the dirty camera lens filter!

** Click on the photos to see a larger view 






























Sunday, February 6, 2011

Alton Bay, NH - Photos

Since both winter hikes were cancelled this weekend, I decided to take some photos today. Last week I spent Sunday hiking to the summit of Mt. Major overlooking Alton Bay, NH and I was not able to get photos of the ice fishers on Lake Winnipesaukee. So I went back this morning and spent a couple hours from the shore as well as on the lake happily snapping photos. For lunch I dined at Shibley's At The Pier. They're located on the Lake and their wait staff are friendly and professional. Dined on the Hawaiian Chicken Sandwich, soup and hot tea and snapped more photos as well. Oh, and I finally got photos of those ice flows on the northbound side of I-93 between exits 8 & 9, as well as some along Route NH 11! I so desire to climb those!

** Click on the photos to see a larger view 

Ice flows on I-93 Northbound between exits 8 & 9.

 Icicles everywhere! Route NH 11

 Lake Winnipesaukee, Alton Bay, NH



Ice fishing huts on Lake Winnipesaukee


Busy lake with traffic and skiers

as well as homemade snowmobiles!


View of the lake from Shibley's At The Pier

Lake Winnipesaukee from NH11 scenic point