(older entries, separated by genre or date, are listed at the bottom of this page.)

Monday, August 19, 2013

Hedgehog Mountain

In my post about Mount Potash, I said how I didn't understand why everyone hiked Mount Hedgehog and not Potash (since they share a parking lot). Well, it was time to find out!

I parked at the same parking lot,

and used the same picture

But instead of ignoring this sign, I turned left to go to the UNH trail.

It was a calm walk through the woods.

After just a bit, I hit a giant trailhead with a ton of information. I didn't even know there was a cross country ski trail. I turned right to follow the trail (I don't know where straight would have gone).

After a bit of climbing, the trail came out to this giant clearcut area that was pretty sweet. 

I had started out the trip wondering if I was following the guide I found online correctly or not. I was worried I'd follow it backwards and confuse myself, which is exactly what I ended up doing. This sign confused me, and even though I have dealt with this several times, I did it wrong. Rather than take the longer trip up the mountain (assuring less steep inclines), I decided to take the straight line to the summit. Why hike 2.1 miles when I can hike .9?

I mostly made this decision because I felt it would be ridiculous to hike up to Allen's Ledge on the way back, when I could just hit it on the way up. This made sense, but in hindsight, maybe the other way would have been better. 

The hike got surprisingly steep right away, and I was having another one of those hiking days where I just had zero energy. Oh, and it was also in the mid 90s with pretty high humidity- temps I like to claim are perfect conditions for exercise, which is a statement I'm starting to feel doesn't apply to me anymore. I was exhausted.

I took the small spur trail to Allen's Ledge.

I was met with a giant rock face, and it made sense to me that the views would be from the top of the rock. Incorrect.

The farther down and to the left I went, the views got better. THIS was the ledge:

Not bad- only a little bit into the hike and I was getting awesome views already.

After getting back on the trail, it started to open up out of the woods pretty quickly. It also started to get quite steep:

And insanely rooty:

But with enough breaks and enough focus, I started to come out to the top of a mountain:

And after a nice section partially above the tree line, I got to the true summit. Here's an HDR I love that I make a nice shadow appearance in:

The true view up there was looking straight towards Passaconaway, which was an absolute monster this close. I was impressed by it on Potash, but here, you're right next to it, and it's frightening. Here's a mini panorama:

And a much wider one of the view to the left:

There are two lookout points at the summit, and while the most obvious one is better, turning around and hitting up the other one is definitely worth it. The views are more similar to Potash's:

I loved this little tree fighting through the rocks. Yea, I might have edited it a bit:

I hung out up there for awhile. I had tons of views, and even though black flies were trying to ruin my moment, my PB&J was still fantastic. But it was getting dark and I had planned on driving to NY for the weekend after this hike. I needed to get going. 

I followed the same trail over the edge of the summit since I knew it would loop around to that sign in 2.1 miles. Right away, I started to understand why people go up this way rather than down. There were tons of sections of rock with very little grip- stuff that's fun to go up but pretty hard to go down:

I could have taken a billion pictures getting back to the tree line. This section was awesome. The entire way was just walking towards Passaconaway over giant rocks, in and out of the trees, with ledge views everywhere. While it was probably harder to hike down, having those views the whole way rather than having them behind me started to make a lot of sense. Maybe I had made the right decision.

Eventually, I was back in the woods, walking around a giant rock wall.

And after awhile of hiking in dead silence after I thought my backpack scraping against my back was loud grunty breathing from a bear or sasquatch (and didn't realize until later that I had completely fooled myself (.... or had I?)), I was back on ledges. This spot was pretty incredible. It was nice to be able to look up to where I had just come from:

Passaconaway and the valleys around it made for a pretty glorious view. So it was time to take a Mike vs. The Mountains shot:

I feel like camping up here would be pretty cool.

This section lasted awhile, and it made me hike insanely slowly. I couldn't stop taking pictures. It was just nothing but open faces, ledges and views for quite some time. I don't even remember where I took this picture, but the sky was just dark and cloudy enough that it was making for incredible HDRs:

Once back in the woods, I got into a case of Down Syndrome. Let me explain: when I finally got to the parking lot, I saw a guy I had seen at the top of the mountain who was either just really weird or super high. He was quite psyched to see me. "DUUUDE YOU MADE IT!" I told him that yes, I had. I had enjoyed the hike, but going the way I did, I had to deal with a lot of ups and downs, and I didn't understand why they made the trail that way. "Oh, you got a case of down syndrome huh?"

I am now going to call it this all the time. I just wanted to be at my car, and the hike down just never ended. I just kept going down, down, down. Down Syndrome.

I'm assuming these trails are called the UNH trails because people from UNH made them, probably for a class or something. I don't know what they were thinking on that 2.1 mile section. I like a small climb on the way down every now and then just to give my muscles a break, but jesus, this was ridiculous. I thought I was climbing back up the mountain a few times. Not only that, but it felt like the trail went around stuff a bunch or meandered randomly when it absolutely didn't need to. Maybe they designed it for people who love hiking and being in the woods, and not the jerks like me who are sick of hiking as soon as they're a half mile down from the summit. 

But all in all, this hike was awesome. I got some nice beginnings of sunset on the way down, and there were views everywhere. I now understand why people hike Mount Hedgehog. Potash is awesome and worth it- the summit views are better in my opinion, but Hedgehog had all those ledges, and just tons of rock sections to hike around/over. Definitely an awesome mountain that I will absolutely be hiking again- maybe in the fall so I can peep tons of leaves. 

I got in the car and started heading north up the Kanc to go to NY, when I realized how stupid of an idea it was. I wouldn't get there until probably 2 in the morning, and even though Dustin and Amanda would be out late at a Phish show (which is why I was going), it would have been a huge pain in the ass to drive that far when I was that tired only to bother them and be that guy who shows up that late. So I called an audible and called Kevin and Gina to see if I could just stay at their house. I stopped at Wendy's on the way and destroyed some JBCs.

Their house was maybe the hottest house I've ever been in (BUY AN AIR CONDITIONER YOU LUNATICS), but I got a shower, some nice unexpected hang time, and once I set up my travel fan, I slept pretty damn well. I also got some cute overload:

I got up fairly early the next day and started making the 4 hour trek to NY for a crazy weekend. 

Hedgehog Mountain is awesome. Go hike it. Here's probably my favorite shot from the trip, all instagramed. This would have been my view after coming out of the trees if I'd hiked up the way the online guide told me. That small ledge with Passaconaway staring down at me was quite glorious. 

currently listening to: Those Who Lie Beneath- "An Awakening"

Monday, August 5, 2013

Caverly Mountain

After doing some huge hikes, then sitting through a week of rain, I decided late in the day one Saturday to get out and hike a small mountain I'd been curious about for a few years, Caverly Mountain in New Durham, NH.

Heading north on King's Highway, shortly after a small pond on the left, the road bends to the right, and there is a gated dirt road on the left. This is Caverly Road, apparently. I parked here and headed out. Here's an atrocious picture of the starting point:

It's just a dirt road for awhile, but I'm glad I didn't try to drive up it, since there are huge rocks and loose sand. Follow it for probably a half mile, and you'll reach the trailhead.

Turn left here, this is the start of the "trail."

I put trail in quotes because this is basically just a dirt road up a mountain. I wasn't expecting much since this is a pretty unknown and small mountain, but I was hoping for more than this.

thanks for the arrow though!

It's very wide the whole way up, with increasingly bad footing:

And, since it had rained so much, a lot of that footing was quite wet:

Eventually, the trail got a bit flatter and opened up into some nice woods. It then got a LOT wetter:

But shortly after that, I was at the top. 

I was immediately happy. This was exactly the hike I wanted- short and easy with not a lot of elevation gain, but still enough so that I felt like I was hiking a mountain. Due to the high humidity and temperatures (it was 90 if I remember right), I was pretty soaked by the time I got up there. I also had had almost zero bugs on my last few hikes, so I stopped bringing bug spray. Whoops! The entire hike up, I was battling 10 deer and horse flies who thankfully mostly didn't bite me, but still annoyed me to death by just flying all over me the entire hike. Always bring bug spray. Always.

The top of Caverly was pretty open rock with a lot of sporadic trees and sections of grass. It was very nice and I thought about how it would probably be a great place to camp. Someone had even set up a sweet fireplace and left a chair!

There was also this awesome rock that looked like a Graboid from Tremors or the worm monster from Star Wars: 

But what ruled about the top was the view. This immediately gets thrown in the book of hikes with awesome views with minimal effort. 

To the right was Winnipesaukee, but the sun was so brutal, it was hard to capture, even with HDR skillz:

I hung out for awhile and enjoyed the views, then headed down. On the way down, I thought about coming out here with a tent and basic survival stuff and food and just living in the woods for a month, and the logistics of all that. What would I do all day? What would I do when someone wandered over and found me, a haggard mountain man living in the woods on a tiny mountain in New Durham? I think about weird stuff while hiking.

I stopped on the way home to take pictures at that little pond. It was pretty gorgeous:

And I turned around and drove past this again just to get a picture. Apparently this has been like this for a long time. I love it, and I love that the town kept it.

Was this the Graboid from the top of the mountain?!?

I pulled over at Sunrise Lake too, since we all know that my hiking trips are really just photography trips/instagram fuel.

All in all, great little semi-local hike. Once I decided that where I was parked was in fact the right place, and found out that the trailhead really was the trailhead, it was only about a 3 mile round trip hike with somewhere between 700 and 968 feet of elevation gain. I say this because the sites I use have drastically different numbers- I'm guessing the higher elevation gain number takes into account the walk up Caverly road (which is pretty hilly) and the other only starts counting at the trailhead. So the higher number is probably the right one. Either way, this is a great small hike with a crappy trail but fantastic summit. Definitely a good warm-up or last-minute hike for a pro, and a great option for a n00b looking to get into hiking. 

currently listening to: The Story So Far: "Under Soil And Dirt"