Peak Above the Nubble (3813'), for 79 of NE 100

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Feb 28, 2012
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New Boston, NH
  • Forest Road 304A (0.24 miles, 1870 feet from gate on Haystack Road, Bethlehem, NH)
  • Nubble Peak Bushwhack, through to Peak Above the Nubble (1.6 miles)

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I'd been anxious to get started on the road toward finishing the all-season New England 100 Highest list, after finishing the NE 67 and Winter NH 48 recently. Looking through the 22 I had left for the NE 100, a nice set of groups of three or four could each be bagged within a two- or three-day adventure. I have a friend or two that are also working the lists, so I've been trying to hit those we didn't share, to get them out of the way.

This first time out, I targeted Peak Above the Nubble (PAtN, 3813') and Northeast Cannon Ball (3769'), each short enough to hit in one day. I started with PAtN since it's a bushwhack and I wanted to make sure I would finish it with plenty of daylight left. Info from the site, as usual, was quite good and helpful. I easily found the most common trailhead, at the Forest Road 304A gate on Haystack Road, and started up. As expected, I passed the sand dune hill on the left, and within a couple hundred yards came to a junction with a trail that headed off to the right. The directions did indicate that a trail would head off right after "a few minutes", but this seemed a little sooner than that so I decided to keep hiking further up FR 304A just in case. It soon became obvious I wasn't gonna run into any other trail going right, so I backtracked and headed up what did indeed become the right trail.

The initial trail was clear and well brushed-back, very easy to follow, climbing moderately/easily and soon becoming wet with some remaining spring thaw. I found it easy to skip from rock to rock or along the side of the trail to avoid the water. Pink ribbons started to appear along this stretch, to guide me farther as the trail became more dense and less defined. The trail took on a "herd path" quality, which I've been growing accustomed to as I've been hitting the lesser-known peaks on the NE 100 list. While the width of the trail wasn't at all like the formal ones elsewhere in the Whites, I could still follow it pretty easily without the ribbons; still, I found some solace in them nonetheless as I went along.

I've been really enjoying the challenge of hitting these bushwhack/herd-path peaks on the list. In some cases there's GPS covered on the maps I've downloaded, but I've enjoyed the challenge and excitement of hiking to a high point simply by sight, and relying on my own knowledge and intuition of how best to work up slopes, stay on a ridge line, etc. It's a very cool feeling, being slightly out of a comfort zone, yet still knowing you're pretty much on the right track. And, so far, I pretty much know when I'm not, thanks to an intuition you build up after hiking these mountains so much.

I continued up, the grade growing more moderate as I left the wet stretch and started climbing in earnest toward the Nubble, which is merely just height of land that sits just under the Peak Above the Nubble. I'm unsure how the Nubble got its name, but I hope someone on this forum might be able to help with that! I did just learn there's also a "Nubble Mountain" just west of the Nubble and PAtN; the mountain has a cone-shaped summit that seems to pop up out of nowhere, whereas the Nubble is a three-sided, well, "nubble" (a small knob or bump), albeit less pronounced than its "mountain" counterpart a short distance away. This "Peak Above" the Nubble is what wins the day in elevation, though, so it gets all the attention.

Back on the trail, I eventually lost any sight of the pink ribbons as the forest became less dense. Perhaps there were no more, or I simply got off someone's established track. In any case, it was pretty obvious that you just simply hike up, and not over or down. You could mostly make out daylight as you looked left and right to see the slope of land, meaning I was ascending the Nubble in earnest now. So I continued up: sometimes following what seemed like a herd path left by those before me, other times just making my own way. With a bushwhack like this, you of course end up with many different paths, some invariably becoming more popular than others.

I eventually reached height of land, the Nubble, which was covered in dense evergreens. Thankfully there was a more well-established path in this area. A very small clearing provided a direct view of the Peak Above, so I looked around for a path that might lead me in that direction. The dense evergreens certainly didn't let on that there was a herd path, but I could make one out as I looked down toward the ground. I followed this and soon the herd path opened up a little, making the going easier. The stretch between the Nubble and the Peak Above was pretty easy to follow, and more well-defined than the earlier stretch leading up to the Nubble. As I got closer, I encountered multiple blowdowns that covered and obstructed the herd path, but worked around them easy enough.

Temps cooled as I went higher, down to around mid-50s, and the winds picked up as well, but I was still comfortable. It didn't take long to reach the Peak Above, where the "PAtN 3813" canister hung, fastened to a tree. I removed the log book from the canister, left a short message, returned it to the canister, and chilled out for a bit.

Those who have been to this summit, might recall a sign that was hung right above the canister. A friend of mine who actually placed it there a while back, asked me to remove it. It had originally been painted with the number 3813 (the elevation of PAtN), but the paint had long-since worn off, revealing the letters "WHITE" upside-down, presumably indicating a former use of the sign.

A few scattered sprinkles fell here and there as I approached and hung out at the summit, along with a bit of drizzle, so I changed into a dry top and started my way down. On the descent, I mostly followed the way I came, but sometimes diverged as I saw a clearer way. The going was simple, and with no snow or ice present, I didn't have any issue with footing.

As I hoped, this was a straightforward hike, easily fit into a half-day. 4.8 miles, with 2277 feet of elevation gain, in an elapsed time of 3 hours, 35 minutes. I'd started just before 10am and finished a bit before 1:30pm. But I wasn't done for today; I had Northeast Cannon Ball left to visit! The next day would be Scar Ridge.
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