North Percy was hard to beat for the eclipse in Northern NH.

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peakbagger

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I was up early and decided to head over to the parking lot in Stark NH at Christine Lake. Its a paved road and plowed to the summer club gate. The driveway to the boat landing and parking was not, but most vehicles could make it through to the parking. There looked to be few folks who had camped there overnight (despite signage to the contrary. The hike to the Percys via side trail to connect up with the Coos trail is about 1/2 logging road and then once on CT its well graded until the climb up round south Percy and up to the Col. This is a longer and lesser-known approach to the Percy's but I and others wanted to avoid parking at the gate on the south end of Nash Stream Road. The Percy Peaks trail coming up from Nash Stream Road is shorter including the road walk but its steep and has one known slide path that crosses it, but the majority of the folks took that route. There was steady stream of folks coming up the summit of North Percy even past the beginning of the eclipse. What made it ideal for eclipse is the North Percy has extensive open ledges accessible from the trail from the col which avoid the steep ledges to the SW of the summit (the former Underhill trail traversed that side. The summit cone also drops rapidly to the west so its sharp drop down in the valley looking west. There were a lot of people on the summit, my guess 100 plus but there was plenty of room to stretch out. The crowd was mixed from well-equipped folks to people with little or no gear and sneakers. Most had come up from Nash Stream road and those who took the route described it as conga line in many spots. When I arrived at the summit, there were a few groups already up there and the skies were blue with a faint trace of high clouds in VT. As the morning progressed into afternoon these clouds came closer but never got overhead. Most of the summit had snow on it with various rocks and some ledge was exposed. I hope that that minimized the impact to the summit. I didn't see any trash. I think a lot of folks elected to go to Rogers Ledge as it "was easy to get too". Given the shift in the eclipse model I expect they were disappointed and given the small area of the cliff it must have been packed.

Winds were very light and temps were mid fifties. Despite applying sunscreen, I got some color from the full sun and reflection from the snow. Around 2:30 the eclipse started. It was still bright out but as totality approached the view to the west reminded me of sunsets on the west coast. I think the high clouds to the west gave some additional coloration to the sky. I and others were looking in the general direction the eclipse was approaching from rather than at the sun itself looking for a distinct shadow rushing at us which various experts said to look for. I dont think anyone of us saw a distinct shadow but we could see the zone of totality darkening up and approaching with some very sunset colors to the north and south. Totality was only a minute and half long but it was definitely impressive. I did find my Android phone would not take crisp pictures as putting a filter over the lens appears to impact ranging. There were some folks on the summit with tripods and high end gear but I was there for the experience. It did not get as dark as I expected but it definitely cooled down and the winds picked up quite a bit. Long Mountain blocks the view to the east so I dont think a lot of folks hung around very long post totality.

The hike back to the col was a conga line but once I turned on the Coos trail south it was fairly quiet. I used my snowshoes for about a 1/3 of the total. Many folks were forgoing snowshoes running down the trail making a mess of it but my snowshoes regroomed it a bit. Once I switched to microspikes the snow at best was 4" deep and melting rapidly, my guess is the snow line had gone up slope considerably with the days sun and melting. In the AM I had sawed out a blowdown that people were bypassing and potentially missing the turn to Victor head (a closer alternative). By the afternoon traffic had shifted

I did get a surprise when I pulled onto RT 110. Barely any traffic, into Berlin. As I entered Berlin I saw brakelights ahead and the traffic was nearly stopped. It was that way all the way to traffic lights in Gorham. What normally would take me 15 minutes took me close to 1 hour and half. Luckily, Gorham opened up the shoulder of the road and designated it for RT 2 west so once I made the turn onto RT 2 there was no traffic in my direction but quite steady in the other direction to Gorham. My guess is anyone traveling south on RT 16 probably will be on the road for many hours As traffic through Conway down to Ossipee is slow even with normal traffic.

I guess to wrap it up , miracles do happen, a sunny day in April in Nothern NH that lined up with an eclipse. I am glad I had a plan and actually got to use it.
 
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I must confess, I am very surprised that many people hiked into a normally elusive peak this time of year. Nice trip report. I was thinking of trying that route from the lake for my next ascent of the Percys, how would you rate or describe it overall? I'm really not terribly in love with the route up from Nash Stream road, although, I do find the trail up South Percy an absolute blast to climb.
 
It starts out on a wide recent gravel road that start at the Sumemr Club gate anf then splits off the summer club road to newer road networj. The newer road is pretty raw and hasnt stabilized (grass hasnt moved in) It wide and well marked. It crosses a couple of old roads and snowmachine grades. Eventually the newer road ends and it transitions to older road, still well graded. Eventually it becomes a woods walk and start climbing steeper in couple of long switch backs. There are some steep parts but nothing requiring boulder climbing, The woods are hardwoods until the last climb into the col. It goes by the junction of the South Peak and then wraps around climbing a bit before meeting the Percy Peaks trail coming up from the road. I did it in July and on this hike and definitely prefer it to the Percy Peaks trail which it just to steep in spots to drain well. In general its less used route so not eroded out like I seem to remember the Percy Peaks (been quite a while). Good place to for the pup to clean off at the beach next to the parking lot. There are several smal stream crossings until approaching the South peak from the south. It not a full days hike but getting there chews up a while. The actual Coos trail start about a mile east from Christine lake road, I have not hiked it but various reports is its through a very recent logging cut and is better than a road walk but that is about it.

There is supposed to be the Devils Den Shelter along it, I see signs but still havent figured out exactly where it is.

My guess is if it was farther south it would be very popular hike given its great views from a different perspective.
 
It starts out on a wide recent gravel road that start at the Sumemr Club gate anf then splits off the summer club road to newer road networj. The newer road is pretty raw and hasnt stabilized (grass hasnt moved in) It wide and well marked. It crosses a couple of old roads and snowmachine grades. Eventually the newer road ends and it transitions to older road, still well graded. Eventually it becomes a woods walk and start climbing steeper in couple of long switch backs. There are some steep parts but nothing requiring boulder climbing, The woods are hardwoods until the last climb into the col. It goes by the junction of the South Peak and then wraps around climbing a bit before meeting the Percy Peaks trail coming up from the road. I did it in July and on this hike and definitely prefer it to the Percy Peaks trail which it just to steep in spots to drain well. In general its less used route so not eroded out like I seem to remember the Percy Peaks (been quite a while). Good place to for the pup to clean off at the beach next to the parking lot. There are several smal stream crossings until approaching the South peak from the south. It not a full days hike but getting there chews up a while. The actual Coos trail start about a mile east from Christine lake road, I have not hiked it but various reports is its through a very recent logging cut and is better than a road walk but that is about it.

There is supposed to be the Devils Den Shelter along it, I see signs but still havent figured out exactly where it is.

My guess is if it was farther south it would be very popular hike given its great views from a different perspective.
Excellent detail, I'm looking forward to trying this route. I like the sound of the lake at the beginning. I don't necessarily hate the Percy trail, but the middle section is ledgy and its just not that fun, especially when its wet, which it usually is. Once you reach the Col the trails up each peak are fantastic and at that point it's a great hike. Last year, I started descending the back side and doing the road walk back ( Nash Stream), that route is a much better descent route, beautiful forest, streams the whole way and a much better footbed, the added length takes the bite out of the elevation loss. Such a nice area, not sure how you feel about Sugarloaf up the road, but that is another one my favorites. The trail is short and steep, but the summit and its views over the surrounding wilderness are brilliant.
 
It starts out on a wide recent gravel road that start at the Sumemr Club gate anf then splits off the summer club road to newer road networj. The newer road is pretty raw and hasnt stabilized (grass hasnt moved in) It wide and well marked. It crosses a couple of old roads and snowmachine grades. Eventually the newer road ends and it transitions to older road, still well graded. Eventually it becomes a woods walk and start climbing steeper in couple of long switch backs. There are some steep parts but nothing requiring boulder climbing, The woods are hardwoods until the last climb into the col. It goes by the junction of the South Peak and then wraps around climbing a bit before meeting the Percy Peaks trail coming up from the road. I did it in July and on this hike and definitely prefer it to the Percy Peaks trail which it just to steep in spots to drain well. In general its less used route so not eroded out like I seem to remember the Percy Peaks (been quite a while). Good place to for the pup to clean off at the beach next to the parking lot. There are several smal stream crossings until approaching the South peak from the south. It not a full days hike but getting there chews up a while. The actual Coos trail start about a mile east from Christine lake road, I have not hiked it but various reports is its through a very recent logging cut and is better than a road walk but that is about it.

There is supposed to be the Devils Den Shelter along it, I see signs but still havent figured out exactly where it is.

My guess is if it was farther south it would be very popular hike given its great views from a different perspective.

This trail between Stark and the Cohos Trail proper is part of what is informally known as the "Stark Cutoff" because many hikers are lured off for a visit to the Stark Village Inn and the more recently added lodge now even closer on the road. It takes a purist to go all the way back where you came from to rejoin the trail and many, myself included, will head directly towards South Pond via the road on either side of the river.

The Devils Rest Shelter is located about a third of a mile north of the bridge on the logging road, maybe half a mile before you get back to the CT. It is on the lake side and much easier to find now that they have cut down a lot of trees. They left some around the shelter, but I am sure the wind will take many of those now that the forest isn't there for protection. The logging work and then all the huge rains last Summer left that road a serious mess.

You can see the bridge and road damage followed by the shelter area if you skip to about the 28 minute mark in this video from last year's Longhos Loop

 
It interesting to hear your opinion on Sugarloaf, things must have healed up or there was a reroute. It been 30 years since I did it but remember some very deep ruts from logging equipment heading quite far up the slope and the messy burnt out remains of a fire tower cabin. It was straight up, no waterbars or switchbacks so the route had running water and erosion. I remember the view was great down into the Nash Stream Valley, not so good to the west.

Those ruts eventually heal and now that the land is in state hands I expect the fire tower mess has been cleaned up. I guess its time for revisit once the road opens and it will give me a chance to go explore the lng set of falls on the Coos trail.
 
It interesting to hear your opinion on Sugarloaf, things must have healed up or there was a reroute. It been 30 years since I did it but remember some very deep ruts from logging equipment heading quite far up the slope and the messy burnt out remains of a fire tower cabin. It was straight up, no waterbars or switchbacks so the route had running water and erosion. I remember the view was great down into the Nash Stream Valley, not so good to the west.

Those ruts eventually heal and now that the land is in state hands I expect the fire tower mess has been cleaned up. I guess its time for revisit once the road opens and it will give me a chance to go explore the lng set of falls on the Coos trail.
It's still steep and rutted to a degree, but really isn't that bad considering the slope. You are correct, it goes straight up, but the deep ruts you mentioned have been reclaimed by the forest, as the trail has a fairly decent footbed. They put in a new Kiosk last year as well, right at the junction and for the Coos trail, it's past the summer camp, you have to hike in to see it. Once you get to the ridge and off the initial slope it's a beautiful trail. The stove from cabin gets moved around, it's been on the summit for a bit, but sometimes it goes back down to the clearing. I will be up there twice this year, I would be very interested to hear your report when you get back up there. You should hike it with me and my dog, bet we could share a lot of notes.
 
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