5 Days of Hiking in the Whites


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Well-known member
Jan 28, 2010
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NH Seacoast
I was able to spend an extended 5 day weekend hiking in the Whites this past week. Here are some notes on the days. I could not have asked for better weather for the July 4th weekend.

Thursday 7/2/15: Cabot, the Bulge, the Horn, and Unknown Pond: it was a gorgeous day to be in the North Country and I have wanted to try “running” the Bunnell Notch Trail, so it seemed like a good day to give this a shot. The lower stretches of the trail had the usual mud pits, but overall, this was a good trail to move quickly along as the treadway was good and the overall grade not bad coming in at about 9% for the near 3 mile section of trail. Doing a 5k in an hour is no one’s idea of fast, but my goal is to maintain 3 mph, which I can do with a combination of jogging the easy stretches and moving quickly up the steeps, but to call it running is certainly a stretch. I longingly looked down the Mount Cabot Trail as I moved past; it has been far too long since I approached from that side of the mountain. One of these days, a bushwhack route may be in order. I skipped the cabin, took in the view of the prison from south peak, met a hiker and his dog on the summit, and noted that the rogue trail sign formerly on the backside of the summit tree is no longer present. The bulge was fun, the view from the Horn stunning as always. I love how the Northern Presidentials and the Mahoosucs stand side by side in the view from here. Unknown Pond, always a favorite of mine, had two loons lazily taking turns diving under the surface. The tent sites here are great and ideally will help keep people camping away from the shores of the pond where there has been a lot of damage over the years. The hike out Unknown Pond Trail was fairly grown in as it has nearly always been on my hikes of this trail.

Friday 7/3/15: Pondicherry National Wildlife Refuge: this was an easy 3-4 mile stroll with a friend in search of a few specific trees and plants. The walk in begins at the start of the Presidential Range Rail Trail and is an easy, level walk about a mile to Cherry Pond and Little Cherry Pond. Along the way, we passed and noted the state champion white spruce as well as the national champion black spruce (at 93 feet high, not tall compared to some, but this is the country’s biggest known specimen). Along the shores of Little Cherry Pond, we saw purple pitcher plants, a carnivorous plant much like a Venus’ fly trap. The whimsical flowers resemble a sun as drawn by a child. The views of the Presidential Range are gorgeous and dramatic. It’s a bold statement in a state filled with gems, but this place is touted as the “crown jewel of New Hampshire.”

Saturday 7/4/15: Mount Jefferson via Caps Ridge: a 5 mile round trip up a classic route. Is there any better scrambling than the wall heading up the second cap? Maybe, but this is good. I returned with a friend who had been halfway up this route before. This time, we climbed it out to the summit and had a wonderful day of warm sun, cooling breezes, and hand on rock. There were very few others on the summit when we were there. I love the open views of this ridge as you approach each cap. It’s almost as fun as the Castellated Ridge. A planned trip up to some ledges to watch the fireworks was just too much to really consider at the end of the day.

Sunday 7/5/15: Snyder Brook (Randolph):
this was an easy stroll to stretch out the legs and go tree finding again. We maybe did about 3 miles in total (if that) in a loop including the Presidential Range Rail Trail, the Valley Way, Fallsway, Link, and a short BW. But, we found the largest beech tree in the county which is truly stunning. What a gorgeous tree this is! We also found a county champion eastern hemlock and state champion red spruce, both impressive specimens. Most of rest of this day was spent by a lake.

Monday 7/6/15: Mount Tecumseh: another trail run day to get the legs moving. I much prefer the Mount Tecumseh Trail from the north on Tripoli Road as opposed to approaching from the ski area. I find the northern section of the trail to be a much more enjoyable walk with a preferable treadway. The maintenance is great on both sections, but the approach from Tripoli has a more remote feel and includes a nicer ridge walk. I “ran” the easier stretches from the trailhead to the summit finding the lower section of trail ideal for it before hitting the steep, rocky ascent in the last half mile or so which tested the legs. I had the summit to myself at shortly after 9 AM, enjoyed the beautiful view, and counted the mountains I could recognize from the summit. I headed out after a 20 minute break taking longer to descend than I did coming up. It was a good day to end a great stretch of hiking.