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Thread: A Thread About Favorite Mountains!

  1. #1
    Senior Member Raven's Avatar
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    A Thread About Favorite Mountains!

    All this talk of power lines, permits, new hotels, and the Americans with Disabilities Act has me wondering whether we are a hiking community or a zoning board. I’m missing threads about mountains, especially given the usual summer lull in interesting topics. And to be fair, I'm nursing a sprain and have to have my leg elevated, so this seems like a good plan. So…

    We tend to come across “favorites” over time as hikers, whether it’s a mountain you’ve climbed once or one you do daily like some hikers who have peaks in their back yard. Maybe it’s the view, maybe it’s the solitude, maybe it’s the beauty and peace of a trail through the boreal forest, maybe it’s a cave or waterfall along the way or just a really great trail. Of course, maybe you were married there, maybe divorced, maybe you finished a goal there, or maybe you barely survived and have one heck of a story. Maybe it just feels like the right mountain. Which one is yours and why? (Not limited to the northeast or the US). Got more than one?

    Some thoughts:
    A Favorite Mountain
    Elevation
    A Great Route
    Features you like
    Stories/personal notes
    What is something on the mountain you want to explore or experience next?
    How long have you been hiking it? How many times? Seasons?
    Why?
    Humankind has not woven the web of life.
    We are but one thread within it.
    Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves.
    All things are bound together.
    All things connect.
    ~ Chief Seattle, 1854 ~

  2. #2
    Senior Member Raven's Avatar
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    Mount Adams in NH has always been a very special mountain for me. At 5,799', it's the second highest mountain in the northeast and has a summit virtually untouched by humans other than trail work and a summit sign. The view on a good day into the Great Gulf is unparalleled. You also get an incredible sense of power and depth there looking into the ravines. I first hiked Mount Adams in 1998 and first in winter in 2002 and have stood on the summit 23 times, the most recent being this past Wednesday. I've eagerly taken friends and family members on the mountain to show them the beauty and the rugged landscape. I've led hiking trips for groups of teens on the mountain and watched with pride as they gazed into King Ravine for the first time, wondering how this could possibly be New England. At various times, it's been the sole goal for the day, part of a Presidential Traverse, part of an AT thru-hike, or in combination with Jefferson or Madison. I've hiked out the Valley Way more times than I can count; I purposely take alternates now most of the time. I've been on the summit on Christmas Day.

    One of my favorite features is Star Lake. The quartz outcropping there is stunning and I always enjoy laying on the cool surface and feeling the earth's energy. Taking some time to look around, you can see quartz sparkling all throughout the surrounding mountain walls. I've had many great trips on Adams, but perhaps one of my favorites was in 2014, a year I hiked the mountain 6 times. I set up a tent at Valley Way Tentsite for a few days and spent time above treeline wandering for a few days. During that trip, I circumnavigated the summit by taking a route over and down into the Great Gulf and back up Six Husbands and around, something I had always wanted to do.

    As far as routes go, I love anything in King Ravine from the King Ravine Trail to the Great Gully Trail to the Chemin des Dames. But, these are hard routes and make for a long day. The Airline is classic for a reason. Right after hiking through a supremely peaceful stretch of spruce needle covered boreal forest, the ridge opens up and King Ravine appears to drop off just to your right. I love the numerous lower summits on the mountain: Sam Adams, JQ Adams, IV (AKA Abigail) and V. The USGS pin atop Quincy Adams was placed there by Brad Washburn. It's a great spot to perch and well worth the short scramble off the Airline.

    As for things I'd like to experience on the mountain, I've long had a goal in mind that I may or may not ever attempt. Chris Goetze is a legend in Randolph and the Whites in general. His endurance and speed records were unbelievable for the time. Some of the traverse records (Mahoosucs) stood for 50 years before being bested only by some of the top trail runners in the region working really hard. I'm not breaking anyone's speed records, but Chris also loved Mount Adams. Once he climbed it three times in a day. It's my goal to do the same at some point when the time is right. I would leave from and return to a valley trailhead three times and summit each of them. It's one of the more compelling challenges I've considered, but being on Adams, it's one I believe I'll attempt. Chris Goetze died too young. It would be an honor to attempt something he had done so many years ago on my favorite mountain. And it would be an attempt. With close to 30 miles and 13-14,000 ' gain, I'd be hard pressed to not stop after the second one (maybe the first!). I’ll write a report if and when I take this on.

    So anyway, yes I love Mount Adams (and many others too) but this mountain is magical. So that's my answer. What's your mountain?
    Humankind has not woven the web of life.
    We are but one thread within it.
    Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves.
    All things are bound together.
    All things connect.
    ~ Chief Seattle, 1854 ~

  3. #3
    Senior Member jniehof's Avatar
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    I'm terrible with "favorites" but I'm very excited to be heading back to the Uintas. I was at a conference in Heber City about twelve years ago and popped over to do the Lakes loop and have been planning to go back ever since. The Highline trail is a pretty popular through-run that's on my bucket list, but for now it's five days' backpacking with my dad.

    I hate Adams but might be up for the three in a day...I need all of the subpeaks for TW and was thinking of a double day sometime so I could at least count two, might as well make it a triple if you want company.

  4. #4
    Senior Member Tom Rankin's Avatar
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    Living near the Catskills, I've hiked the 3500' peaks extensively. There are 2 that are tied for my favorite:

    Hunter Mountain - Centrally located and the 2nd highest peak. Views from the Fire Tower show high peaks in all directions.
    Balsam Lake Mountain - Located at the edge of the high peaks. Views from the Fire Tower show high peaks in some directions, rolling hills in others and visibility of > 80 miles on a perfect day out to 4 other states.

    In other places:

    For the ADKs, Algonquin, Colden, Whiteface
    For the Green Mountains, Mansfield
    For the Whites, Carrigain, Adams.
    For Maine, Katahdin, Bigelows
    Tom Rankin
    Web Master - NY Forest Fire Lookout Association
    Volunteer - Balsam Lake Mountain
    Past President - Catskill 3500 Club
    CEO - Views and Brews

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Raven View Post
    Mount Adams in NH has always been a very special mountain for me. At 5,799', it's the second highest mountain in the northeast and has a summit virtually untouched by humans other than trail work and a summit sign. The view on a good day into the Great Gulf is unparalleled. You also get an incredible sense of power and depth there looking into the ravines. I first hiked Mount Adams in 1998 and first in winter in 2002 and have stood on the summit 23 times, the most recent being this past Wednesday. I've eagerly taken friends and family members on the mountain to show them the beauty and the rugged landscape. I've led hiking trips for groups of teens on the mountain and watched with pride as they gazed into King Ravine for the first time, wondering how this could possibly be New England. At various times, it's been the sole goal for the day, part of a Presidential Traverse, part of an AT thru-hike, or in combination with Jefferson or Madison. I've hiked out the Valley Way more times than I can count; I purposely take alternates now most of the time. I've been on the summit on Christmas Day.

    One of my favorite features is Star Lake. The quartz outcropping there is stunning and I always enjoy laying on the cool surface and feeling the earth's energy. Taking some time to look around, you can see quartz sparkling all throughout the surrounding mountain walls. I've had many great trips on Adams, but perhaps one of my favorites was in 2014, a year I hiked the mountain 6 times. I set up a tent at Valley Way Tentsite for a few days and spent time above treeline wandering for a few days. During that trip, I circumnavigated the summit by taking a route over and down into the Great Gulf and back up Six Husbands and around, something I had always wanted to do.

    As far as routes go, I love anything in King Ravine from the King Ravine Trail to the Great Gully Trail to the Chemin des Dames. But, these are hard routes and make for a long day. The Airline is classic for a reason. Right after hiking through a supremely peaceful stretch of spruce needle covered boreal forest, the ridge opens up and King Ravine appears to drop off just to your right. I love the numerous lower summits on the mountain: Sam Adams, JQ Adams, IV (AKA Abigail) and V. The USGS pin atop Quincy Adams was placed there by Brad Washburn. It's a great spot to perch and well worth the short scramble off the Airline.

    As for things I'd like to experience on the mountain, I've long had a goal in mind that I may or may not ever attempt. Chris Goetze is a legend in Randolph and the Whites in general. His endurance and speed records were unbelievable for the time. Some of the traverse records (Mahoosucs) stood for 50 years before being bested only by some of the top trail runners in the region working really hard. I'm not breaking anyone's speed records, but Chris also loved Mount Adams. Once he climbed it three times in a day. It's my goal to do the same at some point when the time is right. I would leave from and return to a valley trailhead three times and summit each of them. It's one of the more compelling challenges I've considered, but being on Adams, it's one I believe I'll attempt. Chris Goetze died too young. It would be an honor to attempt something he had done so many years ago on my favorite mountain. And it would be an attempt. With close to 30 miles and 13-14,000 ' gain, I'd be hard pressed to not stop after the second one (maybe the first!). I’ll write a report if and when I take this on.

    So anyway, yes I love Mount Adams (and many others too) but this mountain is magical. So that's my answer. What's your mountain?
    I was up there (in the Presis) on Wednesday, too. Lot of people out hiking on such a pretty day.

  6. #6
    Senior Member sierra's Avatar
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    I have two favorites for much different reason's. Pierce is number one. Many years ago, I went through a pretty bad time. I got away and hiked Pierce. Granted, I had already hiked it a bunch, but on that day, for the first time in awhile, I felt good. I continued to go back time and time again, sometimes adding IKE or Jackson or even Monroe and Webster. But, that Crawford path was like taking Prozac for me, as soon as I stepped on the trail, I felt better. Then, my bad time went away, but Pierce still is the peak that kept me going through a bad time. Second, Washington. When I decided to go west with the goal of soloing the 14ers in CO, I knew I would have to be good at snow climbing. I planned on starting these peaks in early May, where in the Rockies, there is a lot of snow. I decided to climb various routes on Washington for a whole winter. I averaged 1 to 3 soloes a week, through the calendar winter. I never missed a week. funny thing was, a lot of guys frequent that mountain and guides as well. It became like walking a neighborhood, seeing the same guys out there. I became so used to the mountain, I remember one day in a close to Whiteout, recognizing one particular rock, jutting out of the snow, that was just enough, to let me know I was on the right track, coming off the Southeast snowfield. It paid off in spades, that winter. Climbing gullies in CO was actually a lot easier, then the routes on Washington.

  7. #7
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    I guess I have two answers. First is Mount Greylock, which is close enough and small enough to provide me with hiking opportunities just about anytime I choose. There are quite a few trails on the mountain that can be combined in different loops so that hiking the same mountain does not become boring. It's better than going to a gym or spending more time driving than hiking. And there is a view from the top (weather permitting). My second answer is Grand Teton National Park. Not too much there for dayhikes, but there is good backpacking and mountaineering (my favorite activity). Still haven't skied Jackson Hole, but it's on my list.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Grey J's Avatar
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    First of all, I agree with Raven that Adams is the best "high peak" in NH and indeed in the northeast. Its unspoiled nature, its placement as the linchpin of the northern Presidentials, its multiple sub-peaks, rocky summit, views into the Great Gulf and King Ravine ,and the variety of trails that offer so many combinations for ascent and descent all contribute to this being my choice. I have solo-ed Adams twice, 25 years apart, in 1988 and again in 2013, bagging JQ and Sam on the first hike and Adams 4 & 5 on the second. As people have stated here recently, the view of Adams from Lookout Ledge across the way is fantastic.

    My favorite hike in the Whites was probably an out and back to Bond and West Bond coming in from the north. Big payoffs there and a very challenging 17 mile day hike. The out and back to Bondcliff from the south was much easier but the pedestal (or whatever you call it) on Bondcliff just might be my favorite feature in NH. I probably spent more time taking photos on the broad summit of Bondcliff than any other NH peak.

    Down in the 3K range, the Baldface loop has to be high on anyone's list with the long stretch of time above treeline and unparalleled views into the Wild River Wilderness. My favorite "low peak" is probably Crawford, for the views of course, and the feature I call "The Fist" (avatar) is pretty cool too.

    I have a story to tell but I won't bore you all with the long version. I was on Jefferson on August 23, 1986 and spent the night at the Perch with the intention of looping over Adams and Madison on the following day. We awoke to very poor weather with rain/sleet and unseasonably cold temperature. We decided to forego the 2nd day and slogged out in the rain. So we should have been on the summit of Madison a little before it was reached by MacDonald Barr, who perished there in what turned out to be a freak storm. For more details, see the great book, Not Without Peril. I have never lived in NH but I've been going up there to hike for about 45 years. Took me 37 years to finish the 4Ks but I got 'em. Thanks to KMan for introducing me to the list in 1985.
    Last edited by Grey J; 07-11-2017 at 08:52 AM.
    "I am a pilgrim and a stranger"

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    Every time I walk across the smmit of Madison, I think of Macdonald Barr after reading "Not Without Peril". I guess its kinda morbid when I think of all the people who died hiking the Presidentials.

    My favorite hike is still the Bigelows. The views rival the White Mountains, its not so rigorous, but still a challenge.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Driver8's Avatar
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    I would echo the fondness expressed above for Pierce, Greylock and Washington. Hard to pick a favorite, but I really enjoyed the views four years ago on the summer solstice at Eisenhower. Waumbek exceeded my expectations, with great views near the summit at Starr King, with a beautiful hike for the duration above 3000'. That one was lovely. Killington afforded an outstanding summit view as well, as did Stratton.

    If I had to pick one, though, it would be Washington because of the great expanse and varied terrain and all that water, wind and snow. Fascinating mountain. Also the scene of my two greatest hiking accomplishments to date, and of my favorite trail, the Tuckerman Ravine Trail, which I found enchantingly beautiful as it climbs the headwall. Breathtakingly pretty. Really enjoyed, as well, the view across to Boott Spur from the TRT's upper reaches, before hitting the parking area. I have mixed feelings about all the development at its top, but an unalloyed awe and admiration for the mountain itself. Hoping to hike the Great Gulf route to the top some day, and expect it will then stake a claim as a new favorite.
    Last edited by Driver8; 07-11-2017 at 06:22 PM.
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  11. #11
    Senior Member Raven's Avatar
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    Great answers here! Thanks for taking the time; it's good reading. A few comments:

    Jniehof: Yeah, favortites are impossible; I pick differently depending on the day sometimes. I'd likely slow you down, but I'll let you know when I'm thinking about this and will take you up the offer to join me on Adams if you are interested. I'd be happy averaging 2mph on that one. The Unitas look great - I was not familiar with the range. Very cool to see it's made of 600 million year old rock and is the only major range in the US with an East West orientation.

    Tom: You named three on my ADK list for when I get some time in NY - never done any of those but have heard great reports on all three. Mansfield is truly unique. What a gem for Vermont. Camel's Hump is pretty special too. Katahdin is Katahdin, can't argue with that. Carrigain has one of my favorite ridges (Signal Ridge) and the Desolation Trail rocks. That's a good call. And to echo you and Egilbe, the Bigelows are awesome. One of the most amazing days I've been in the mountains was on the Bigelows with a perfect undercast allowing just the 4000 foot peaks or so to poke through. It was incredible. Great range.

    Sierra: great story. I totally understand that mentality. Mountains are incredibly healing places, especially for the spirit. It's certainly my best medicine and keeps me in a healthy place on all levels. And like Katahdin, it's hard to ever argue against Washington. The mountain is another absolute gem, one of the few great, great mountains in NE. Sounds like it was more than worthy as practice ground for your experiences out west. Washington to me is a mountain I will always (hope) to climb. But the crowds have become such that in summer, I will pick my days midweek and leave either quite early or quite late. The time one chooses to hike this mountain has an impact on the experience. I've never had a bad time on the rock pile to be sure, but I selfishly pick times when I can have it in smaller company. I've had the whole summit area to myself and I've almost witnessed a fist fight at the summit sign. I love the mountain though. People are people. They're crazy around the summit sign.

    JFB: Greylock has always been a mountain I really liked as well. It's got great trails, a really great feel to the mountain, and I can see the whale shape the profile has from distance. I've heard that may have been part of Melville's inspiration for Moby Dick as he could see the mountain out his window. Lots of history. I hope to be there in September this year.

    Grey J: that is a chilling story. Thanks for sharing. You made a very wise move. The window to turn back is only open so long. It sounds so similar to a time a friend and I stayed over at the Perch with the plan to do Jefferson. It was a cold night and we woke to damp, snowy conditions with little visibility and my friend with little energy after a hard day and cold night prior. We started up to test the waters, but quickly chose the wiser decision and hiked out. We were both feeling the fatigue. Never in real danger, but real danger was only a bad choice or two away.

    Driver8: I echo those feelings on Washington. Eisenhower is another great one. This has become a hugely popular summit over the years, but I love the egg shaped dome top and have always been fond of the big cairn.

    West Bond is a favorite of mine as well, and I hiked Caribou Mountain for the first time last week. I love mountains just like that! Slab rock on top with patches of evergreens and plenty of open areas with 360 degree views. It reminds me of Hedgehog and some of the other small mountains along the Kanc. I took an hour nap on top before a young couple came along and offered me a PB&J on my way out. I appreciated the calories.

    Maine must have a few people are thinking other than the Bigelows and Katahdin. Keep it coming!
    Last edited by Raven; 07-11-2017 at 05:21 AM.
    Humankind has not woven the web of life.
    We are but one thread within it.
    Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves.
    All things are bound together.
    All things connect.
    ~ Chief Seattle, 1854 ~

  12. #12
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    Saddleback has great views, but not good hiking trails. Little Jackson Mountain has good views of tumbledown and the hoards of tourists, Mt Blue has a radio tower on top of it. Hiked Bald mountain and Speckled mountain a bunch whenI was a kid and in my early 20's. Streaked mountain was my training grounds when I got back into hiking. Went fron 1 hour to summit to 20 minutes when I felt I was ready to start tackling the Whites. Rumford Whitecap is an easy hike with great views of the Mahoosucs. North Brother has good views, but the trail was in ruins last time I was up there. East Bald Pate is a nice rock face you have to hike up and the other side has the cataracts trail to go down. Puzzle mountain has a great view of Grafton notch, but my memories are colored by black flies and running out of water. Sunday River Whitecap has a beautiful summit, but its the only view on the East side of the GNLT and those memories are colored by post-holing in four feet of rotten Spring snow.

    Now Im wondering if my memories of Maine are because its too close to home and the mountains arent epic?

  13. #13
    Senior Member dug's Avatar
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    Pierce - it was my mom's favorite peak and one we could always do together, and she knew it enough that she would be comfortable to do it alone as she got along in years.

    Roger's Ledge - In-Laws had a camp close by, so when staying the weekend I could easily grab the dog and head out for an afternoon for some peace. Great views, easy trail, nobody around. Did it dozens of times.

  14. #14
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    Sunday River Whitecap is under visited gem. Hard to beat the views in most directions and whenever I am there it reminds me of summits along the AT in Maine. The trail builders did a nice job of screeing in the route before the damage to the alpine zone was done so the alpine zone and its plants are remarkably untrammeled. The Grafton Loop trail seems to get used by more advanced hikers so they most likely have a better appreciation of staying within the trail corridor. Few folks are going to dayhike via the Grafton loop trail and the GLT due to the distance and those that do are probably more advanced hikers. The unofficial trail up from the logging road above Screw Auger Falls gets enough use and maintenance to make it an easy way to get to the summit but lacking any formal publicity it too most likely gets used by advanced hikers cognizant of rarity of an undisturbed alpine zone. I would be hard pressed to think of a similar summit anywhere in the whites with such good views and so little human impact.

    A couple of other favorites are all in BSP. Hard to beat Hamlin, if it was off on its own not next to Baxter Peak I expect it would be appreciated more. The Howe Peaks are not very prominent but the walk along the ridgeline north along the recently relocated trail feels like you are walking away from civilization. Unlike Baxter peak, the views in the distance have little or no civilization in sight compared to Baxter Peak which has Millinocket and the road and hydro systems marring the landscape. The views towards the top of the cliffs along the Northwest Basin are also quite impressive. In the same vein is The Traveler just a bit north.

  15. #15
    Senior Member Grey J's Avatar
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    A few distinctive features worth mentioning: I think Zeacliff is one of the best non-summit views in NH and just an amazing lookout. I would vote for Chocorua as having the most striking summit profile, especially as seen from either First or Middle Sister. Glen Boulder gets my vote as "Best Rock."
    Click image for larger version. 

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    Last edited by Grey J; 07-11-2017 at 12:57 PM. Reason: disappearing photo
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