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Thread: Seclusion

  1. #1
    Senior Member TJsName's Avatar
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    Seclusion

    What is the hardest spot to get to in all of the Whites (hiking-wise)? It doesn't have to be on trail, and it doesn't have to be a destination in an of itself. My last trip into the Wild River had a great feeling of being remote, but also that it was very accessible. I'm wondering what's really remote and inaccessible.
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    Senior Member DayTrip's Avatar
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    That is a fairly broad question if I understand it correctly. I assume based on the fact that you reference "remote" and that when you say "hardest spot to get to" you are not talking about technical difficulty of the hike but more the likelihood of no one being there because of the effort (distance and time) involved to get to this place/area? The Wild River Wilderness is the only area of the Whites I have never explored so I can't compare that with anything else but I'd say nothing in the Whites really feels remote. Just about everywhere you are you can see a building, a road, hear motorcycles on a highway, etc. and of course endless supplies of hikers which seem to be everywhere nowadays, even in Winter (I've only been on one hike in 25 years where I never saw a single person). Seems like no escape from that in NH. Having been to the Adirondacks and Baxter for the first time this year I find NH feels decidedly smaller in terms of a remote, wilderness feel. The proximity of major roads to most mountains and the relatively short distances to most peaks takes away that remote feel for me.

    If I had to pick my most "remote feeling" areas I'd probably go first with the Dry River Wilderness (particularly past the shelters and deep into the valley and headwall which felt very unique and different to any other area I have gone in NH), the sections of Davis Path past Stairs Mountain to Mt Davis and maybe lastly, while very popular, Mt Bond and South Guyot (primarily because of the lack of seeing anything artificial in any direction - no shortage of people here though so it kind of kills that far away feeling).

    Great topic by the way. I enjoy getting off the beaten path too and really feeling like I'm alone in the middle of nowhere.
    Last edited by DayTrip; 08-11-2016 at 11:18 AM.
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    Senior Member TCD's Avatar
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    The hardest spot to get to is probably the spot that is furthest from the nearest trail. Off trail travel is so much slower than on trail travel, any place on the trail network, even a relatively remote place, is faster and easier to get to than are most bushwhack destinations.

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    I would suggest the Killennys NW of Mt Cabot. The Pilot Range doesn't get much traffic except for occasional bushwhackers. No real trails in the area and the extra distance from Boston probably cuts way down on usuage.

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    After reading AlpineBee's adventures thrashing about the Hancock / Carrigain areas, that sounds like it's extremely difficult terrain.

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    Senior Member TJsName's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TCD View Post
    The hardest spot to get to is probably the spot that is furthest from the nearest trail. Off trail travel is so much slower than on trail travel, any place on the trail network, even a relatively remote place, is faster and easier to get to than are most bushwhack destinations.
    So that was my first instinct as well, but the more I thought about it, the topography and vegetation are a much bigger factor. It's also more complicated than just saying "what's the hardest way to to somewhere?" It's really "what's the hardest easy way to get somewhere?"

    For example, Carrigan Pond is pretty remote, but one can still take forest roads from the south to make the trek substantially easier. Stuff in the Killkenny range is certainly less used, but as for a specific place that is hard to access, I'm not sure. I was thinking something like the bump on the eastern ridge from Middle Carter, between Cypress and Moriah Brook. Things that are miles in by trail and bushwhack.
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    Senior Member DayTrip's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TJsName View Post
    So that was my first instinct as well, but the more I thought about it, the topography and vegetation are a much bigger factor. It's also more complicated than just saying "what's the hardest way to to somewhere?" It's really "what's the hardest easy way to get somewhere?"

    For example, Carrigan Pond is pretty remote, but one can still take forest roads from the south to make the trek substantially easier. Stuff in the Killkenny range is certainly less used, but as for a specific place that is hard to access, I'm not sure. I was thinking something like the bump on the eastern ridge from Middle Carter, between Cypress and Moriah Brook. Things that are miles in by trail and bushwhack.
    Based on that description I'd suggest taking a look at the Davis Path and Mt Davis. The true summit of Mt Davis is not obvious to get to (or at least I certainly didn't see any obvious path from the South peak. Looked like you had to push through the scrub) and the Davis Path has numerous trail-less knobs along the way if you're combining a long trail hike and some bushwhacking to a unique spot. I've been out this stretch between Stairs and Isolation a few times and never saw people. It definitely feels "out there".

    And to add a twist to this, when I researched Mt Davis last year here on VFTT someone mentioned how they bushwhacked up to the Davis Path from the Dry River Trail. Apparently there is a nice slot of forest somewhere just after a river crossing beyond the Mt Clinton Trail junction that offers an alternate route to the Davis Spur versus the slog up the miles of fairly featureless Davis Path. I wound up going up Stairs Col Trail and doing the 4.5 miles or so of Davis Path. Really no water anywhere up here either which added to the challenge.
    Last edited by DayTrip; 08-12-2016 at 12:05 PM.
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    Member AlpineBee's Avatar
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    In the Pemi, Shoal Pond Trail is quite spooky, particularly the section south of the pond and north of Stillwater. In some place, the forest seems to be swallowing the trail. I've hiked it a few times, last time in rain, and it feels a bit creepy for some reason. The trail-less region just East of Shoal Pond Trail appears fairly large and is remote - Ethan Ridge, I believe?

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    Senior Member Stan's Avatar
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    I've never hiked the Dry River Wilderness though there were a couple backpacks I fantasized about that I never got around to when focused on hiking ihe WMNF. Maybe if there had been a peak or a pond to bag I might have gone there. It sure did seem secluded from the maps and descriptions I read. Same with the Wind River Wilderness. Great Gulf and Pemi are secluded but with trails and traffic maybe not so.

    Though by no means secluded, a late fall backpack at Unknown Pond while bagging The Horn was very lonely as the tent shook and rattled in a storm that crashcked (yep, a new word) a few nearby widow makers. Same with an unplanned bivuoac after losing a trail in Baxter (which we quickly found at first light the next morning). My seclusion conclusion is that it is more than geography. It is also a frame of mind dictated by the circumstances and setting.

    Pardon the geographical drift but the Klondike in Baxter strikes me as a secluded and uninviting place. Extrapolating that by hundreds of miles of klondike in Alaska and you start to get a perspective of seclusion. In the northeast, focus on circumstances and setting and that'll get you there surer than measuring the miles.

    Hey Capt. Caper! You ever run into any secluded areas at sea?

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    Senior Member sierra's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stan View Post
    I've never hiked the Dry River Wilderness though there were a couple backpacks I fantasized about that I never got around to when focused on hiking ihe WMNF. Maybe if there had been a peak or a pond to bag I might have gone there. It sure did seem secluded from the maps and descriptions I read. Same with the Wind River Wilderness. Great Gulf and Pemi are secluded but with trails and traffic maybe not so.

    Though by no means secluded, a late fall backpack at Unknown Pond while bagging The Horn was very lonely as the tent shook and rattled in a storm that crashcked (yep, a new word) a few nearby widow makers. Same with an unplanned bivuoac after losing a trail in Baxter (which we quickly found at first light the next morning). My seclusion conclusion is that it is more than geography. It is also a frame of mind dictated by the circumstances and setting.

    Pardon the geographical drift but the Klondike in Baxter strikes me as a secluded and uninviting place. Extrapolating that by hundreds of miles of klondike in Alaska and you start to get a perspective of seclusion. In the northeast, focus on circumstances and setting and that'll get you there surer than measuring the miles.

    Hey Capt. Caper! You ever run into any secluded areas at sea?
    There is a peak to bag, Isolation! I set a camp along the river and bagged Isolation from there. I agree, the Dry river valley feels quite remote. I will also second the Shoal Pond area, I felt way out when I spent time there, although it's been year's since I've been to the that pond.

  11. #11
    Senior Member alexmtn's Avatar
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    To truly meet TJ's concept of a "remote and inaccessible location" in the Whites, I think the easiest possible route to it needs to combine 3 factors:
    (1) A long approach by trail (ideally, at least 5 miles);
    (2) A substantial (at least a mile, preferably two) bushwhack from the easiest point of departure from the trails; and
    (3) Difficult terrain (steep pitches; dense woods; blowdown piles; lots of rocks; mud; swamp; streams) along as much of the way as possible, especially on the 'whack.

    Applying these factors, I would nominate two locations:
    - A flat stretch, at roughly 3950', on the easternmost of Hancock's 3 north-pointing ridges, overlooking Carrigain Pond and the Captain [44.085335,-71.471300]
    - The high point on the southern end of Owl's Head's ridge at roughly 3650' [44.131310,-71.599917]

    Having reached either of these cool places, I definitely would not be thinking of my return journey as a quick/easy hop, skip and jump . . .

    Alex
    Last edited by alexmtn; 08-12-2016 at 10:39 PM.

  12. #12
    Senior Member Raven's Avatar
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    Two thoughts for seclusion:

    Head out 6-10 miles on Success Pond Road and park. Grab a compass and hike north until you get tired of it. You'll lose yourself among 2000 foot hills and a bog or two if you are lucky. You could end at Umbagog. Alternatively, do the same from East B Hill Road near Andover Maine. Check the Mahoosuc Range map. Rugged, remote, not often explored.
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    We are but one thread within it.
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    All things are bound together.
    All things connect.
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    WMNF
    the bog at the head waters of Labrador Brook
    the base of Garfield Cliffs

    New England
    the Klondike & Klondike Pond
    the Summit of Mullen Mountain

  14. #14
    Senior Member Stan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by sierra View Post
    There is a peak to bag, Isolation! I set a camp along the river and bagged Isolation from there. I agree, the Dry river valley feels quite remote. I will also second the Shoal Pond area, I felt way out when I spent time there, although it's been year's since I've been to the that pond.
    We hiked Isolation from Pinkham and never felt very isolated given the quality of the trail and number of people using it. Its a looooong hike and the reason it is one of the last baggers hike. To me it argues against miles and for setting as "seclusion", the title of the thread.

    "remote and inaccessible" are a correllated matter and Alex defines it nicely though the mileage is very subjective. I suppose to add to that complexity maybe a paddle up a river or across a lake to a remote and questionably maintained trail etc. I know a couple places like that in Maine but in the end they were reasonably accessible and one turned out not so secluded as a local hiker 'snuck' in via the network of logging and skidder roads.

  15. #15
    Senior Member alexmtn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Stan View Post
    We hiked Isolation from Pinkham and never felt very isolated given the quality of the trail and number of people using it. Its a looooong hike and the reason it is one of the last baggers hike. To me it argues against miles and for setting as "seclusion", the title of the thread
    Like you, I've never felt particularly Isolated on Isolation, nor has it ever felt particularly remote. Perhaps the approach from the west, which I haven't yet explored, would better instill such a feeling than the eastern, northern and southern options offered me. Re: "looooong', you can cut the distance to a little over 5 miles from the Rocky Branch trailhead with a fun, pretty open 1-mile bushwhack directly up to the col between Davis and Isolation, with some very scenic routing options.

    Quote Originally Posted by Stan View Post
    Pardon the geographical drift but the Klondike in Baxter strikes me as a secluded and uninviting place. Extrapolating that by hundreds of miles of klondike in Alaska and you start to get a perspective of seclusion. In the northeast, focus on circumstances and setting and that'll get you there surer than measuring the miles.
    When I saw TJ's question, Baxter's Klondike was the actually the first thing that sprang to mind for me as well. Though getting there likely is uninviting, I'm optimistic that actually being there, perhaps in early fall, could be really nice -- esp if you're a seclusion fan. Re: Alaska, I still marvel at Andrew Skurka's journey around the wilds of the state -- the options there do clearly meet the criteria I laid out!

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