Trip Report: Bushwhacking in the Great Swamp, West Kingston, RI 1/26/2013

I wanted to get out and see if I could find some antler sheds this weekend, so we decided to visit the Great Swamp Management Area down in West Kingston. We decided early in the week that it would be more fun to try and bushwhack around rather than use the traditional trails, and should give us better luck finding any sheds. We got to the parking lot at the red gate and followed the road for a short bit before veering off into the frozen over swamplands. Our hope was to whack due south to Stony Point, but we soon gave up the idea, instead followed some of the many game trails we came across, as evident by the abundance of tracks in the light covering of snow that fell overnight. We came out to a power line running overhead and soon spotted a large deer and 3 smaller ones, none had any antlers. They dashed off before we could get a photo and we soon intersected the main trail again. We followed it for a short bit, chatting with a couple have a walk about and then headed west back into the bush. This area was very thick, but often opened up to some amazing Atlantic White Cedar groves. We continued on our bearing before finally heading back east to join the main trails. We had some lunch at the bunker area on Wordens Pond, and completed the loop back to the cars, without finding any sheds. We saw another large pair of deer, several wood-peckers, a large hawk, and many interesting wildlife tracks, one I think to be Bobcat.

Trails Map



Gear Review: Garmin GPSMAP 60cx

Do you hike in the White Mountains? Do you want GPS tracks for almost every trail, for free?

I use my GPS for almost all my outdoor adventures. When I am hiking, it makes a good fallback/compliment to a map and compass. I also use it to record tracks of my adventures, so I can track my activities throughout the years. If someone wants to go to a place I have been to, I can share the track or lay it over a topo map on the website for them to work with. I’ve had a number of units over the year, and currently I use the Garmin GPSMAP C60cx. This unit allows me to upload detailed topo maps and import and export tracks and way-points from my laptop. I upload most all of my tracks the the Garmin Connect website, this allows me to easily share my tracks, as well as run reports on my activities, and it stores them online so if I ever have a computer failure, they still exist somewhere.

In addition, when I am planning a new adventure, I often search the internet for others tracks to assist in route planning. You can search for your planned activity with the keywords GPX GPS TRACK ROUTE, and usually come up with something to use. A good resource to use is Wikiloc as well. Sites such as EveryTrail and Trimble Outdoors have a ton of user submitted trips one can browse and download. This link has almost every trail in the White Mountain National Forest as a GPX file!

There are a number of detailed map products you can purchase such as the Garmin TOPO products, or you can look online for free maps. A good site I use is GPSFileDepot, which has a wide variety of maps, some with trail data etc.

There is a site called OpenStreetMap that allows you to get some map data free for garmin products.

If you don’t have the money or need for a full on GPS receiver, you can utilize your smartphone as well, my favorite app is MyTracks.

Garmin Foretrex 301 GPS

The streamlined Garmin Foretrex 301 GPS sports a powerful new high-sensitivity receiver and a smaller design than its predecessor for easy wrist-top navigation.

Garmin GPSMAP 62stc GPS

The robust Garmin GPSMAP 62stc offers all the features of the GPSMAP 62sc, plus preloaded TOPO 100K mapping.

Garmin Montana 650t GPS

The waterproof Garmin Montana 650t GPS is big, versatile and tough. It features a large touch-screen display , preloaded TOPO U.S. 100K maps and a 5-megapixel camera.

Garmin Oregon 450 GPS

With a 3-axis compass, enhanced display, incredible map presentation and geocache gaming and a vivid display, the Garmin Oregon 450 delivers a versatile and fun GPS experience.

Garmin Oregon 450t GPS

With a 3-axis compass, enhanced display, touchscreen interface, spectacular trail mapping and geocaching, the Garmin Oregon 450t offers a fun and easy GPS experience.

Garmin eTrex 10 GPS

The compact Garmin eTrex 10 GPS gives you quick and easy GPS functionality at a great value. It’s perfect for geocaching and hiking.

Garmin eTrex 20 GPS

The Garmin eTrex 20 GPS features an full-color display, expandable memory and geochaching to offer a fun and easy GPS experience for outdoor enthusiasts.

Garmin eTrex 20 Topo GPS Bundle

The Garmin eTrex 20 Topo GPS bundle combines the eTrex 20 GPS with a TOPO U.S. 100K preprogrammed card, case and PC cable.

Garmin eTrex 30 GPS

With a 3-axis compass, full-color display and geocaching, the compact Garmin eTrex 30 offers a fun and easy GPS experience for outdoor enthusiasts.

Garmin eTrex 30 Topo GPS Bundle

The Garmin eTrex 30 Topo GPS bundle combines the user-friendly eTrex 30 with TOPO U.S. 100K mapping, 1-year BirdsEye subscription and a handy carrying case.

Trip Report: New England Hundred Highest – Scar Ridge, West Peak

I was invited to join a group heading to Scar Ridge, West Peak this weekend. I have been putting this peak off for a long time, everything I have heard or read about it did not sound very enjoyable. Trip reports mentioned a tough water crossing, very thick woods, making for a very difficult bush whack. My intention was always to make the approach from Loon Mountain ski slopes and follow a GPS track I found online, minimizing the time spent bushwhacking off trail. The group I went with had a different idea, making the approach from Big Rock Campground, crossing the Hancock Brook at the start of the hike and ascending to the East peak before continuing on to the West peak.

The trick here is to follow a route that will bring you out on a very narrow spine that ascends to the ridge line. We were very successful in doing so, thanks in part to using GPS with topo maps to guide us. We all met up at Lincoln Woods, and found a friendly person to drive us the 2 miles up the Kancamagus Highway to where we would start our bush-whack. We had a good mix of nice open woods, and some thick spruce. I found this hike challenging, the 2 partners I hiked with moved much faster than I, so I was exerting myself more than normal.

Once we made the ridge it was a short whack to the canister on the East summit. The tree that the canister is mounted to is on a fallen tree, we quickly signed in and started out to find the true summit canister and sign on West peak. This part was very thick and it took maybe 35 minutes to go .2 miles to find the canister there. This one we weren’t able to open, so we all took some photos and then changed layers and headed back. The descent was a bit easier as we followed our broken out tracks back the way we came. The river crossing was a bit sketchy, but the snow bridges held. Once we re-emerged on the Kancamagus Highway, we unfortunately had to walk the road back to our cars. This was most unwelcome. Overall this was a fun navigational challenge, but the thick spruce made it much harder than I would have liked, but that is par for the course when bush-whacking in the whites.

The official recognized summit per the AMC 4,000 footer committee is sometimes referred to as West-West Scar Ridge, as there are two bumps that can be called the summit.

West Scar was my 82nd peak on the New England 100 Highest List, and by far the most difficult bushwhack. A word of advice for anyone thinking of attempting this bushwhack, or any other – wear gear you don’t care for too much, it will get abused!


Crossing the river


A chaga!


Woods that do not suck


Patrick hikes fast


Nice woods



NOTE: GPS is never a substitute for a Map and Compass and common sense.

This is a map of our ascent:

GPS/GPX link

Distance: 8.26 mi
Time: 5:52:06
Avg Pace: 42:38 min/mi
Avg Speed: 1.4 mph
Elevation Gain: 2,488 ft




Trip Report – Mount Belknap, NH 1/13/2012

Today I went and took a short hike in the Belknap range to finish off the New Hampshire Fire Tower Quest program. The Overlook trail (orange blazed) follows some cross-country ski trails for a bit before entering the woods and ascending to the col between Belknap Mountain and Gunstock Mountain. It would normally have some really nice views on the way up and from the fire tower on the summit, but it was extremely foggy today.  The Belknap rage is quite enjoyable, and the Belknap Sportsman clubs offers a patch to anyone that hikes to the summit of all 12 peaks on the range. Someday I hope to try this a single day. While plotting out the route, I decided to send a few geocaches to my GPSr in hopes the trail may bring us by some. The one geocache we found was just near the summit, about 1/4 mile off trail. I hadn’t read the description beforehand, so I was quite surprised when after a few minutes of bushwhacking I came across the wreckage of a small passenger plane. More info on the plane crash cane be found here: NTSB information



GPS/GPX link

Distance: 7.17 mi
Time: 5:22:03
Avg Pace: 44:54 min/mi
Elevation Gain: 1,710 ft

IMG_0173 IMG_0174 IMG_0175 IMG_0176 IMG_0177 IMG_0178 IMG_0179



Here is a map I am working on, I combined as many GPS tracks as I could.

belknap map


Here is a map with the trail blazing colors – very helpful. Thanks MBP!



Gear Review: SteriPEN Traveler Mini Water Purifier

It is on sale today (1/7/2013) for $25.00 and code SWL12 will get you cheaper shipping! See link below!

SteriPEN’s Traveler mini water purifier kills 99.9% of bacteria, viruses and protozoa in a half-liter of water in 48 seconds with a touch of a button. I use this as a backup to a traditional pump style filter, because it doesn’t help if water is muddy or gritty. If you do know your water is clear like coming from a waterfalls or ice melt, then it could be used alone, or you can filter the floaties with a bandana. I do get worried as it uses a special battery (Requires two CR123 disposable lithium batteries), so I make sure to do a test run before I go out and this is why I consider it my secondary option. With a weight of 2.3 ounces, its worth a carry always. It is very easy to use and doesn’t leave your water tasting funky.

CLOSEOUTS . Perfect for back-country treks and international travel, SteriPEN’s Traveler mini water purifier kills 99.9% of bacteria, viruses and protozoa in a half-liter of water in 48 seconds with a … more info.

Gear Review: Marmot Zion Jacket

I’ll admit it, I have a jacket problem. I probably own a dozen different jackets, and I didn’t need any more, but I recently won a contest and the prize was a Marmot Zion Jacket. I’ve been hearing a lot about this item recently, and how its supposedly the perfect winter jacket, soft-shell but windproof and water resistant. I was able to get out and use it this weekend on a winter hike to Mt. Isolation. I was very impressed by it’s windproof capabilities and how very breathable it was. I had several layers on underneath but did not sweat all that much. It does not have pit zips, which is normally a requirement for my technical shells, but the large pockets are high enough to act as them. It is 100% seam-taped and has an attached hood with laminated brim. I found the Polartec NeoShell fabric to very strong and did not notice any tears or snags even after a lengthy bushwhack. This is an excellent jacket and I am looking forward to using it over and over again.


Trip Report: Mount Isolation 1/5/2012

I joined an AMC group Saturday for a hike to Mt. Isolation. It was my 3rd time up there, but my first winter ascent. The winds were strong at the Rocky Branch TH, but settled a bit as we got further into the woods. The trail had been lightly broken out a few days prior, and out group packed it down very well, wearing snowshoes the entire way. We opted to do the Engine Hill bushwhack which saved us a few miles. Skies cleared later in the day, which seemed to drop temps into the low 20’s. Several blow downs on the bushwhack and after rejoining the trail near the Davis path. It was very icy for the last bit up the the summit, we didn’t spend much time on top due to the very high winds. The only river crossing was stable snow bridged, but with warmer temps coming it could be compromised. Successful summit and retreated to Flatbread in North Conway for some much needed grub after.


Distance: 13.16 mi
Time: 9:58:52
Avg Pace: 45:31 min/mi
Elevation Gain: 3,388 ft

Some photos from one particpant:

Isolation 043-1-3

Isolation 048-1-6

Isolation 123-1-3