12/12/15 – Iron Mountain

image imageWhile my friends were off hiking some 4kers, I decided to chase down some easier 52WAV peaks. I hit IMP Face in the morning,and then drove over to Iron Mountain for a quick afternoon hike. It was surprising to see the road open this late in the year.

 

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Trip Report: New England Hundred Highest Finish – East Sleeper and the Tripyramids – 11/23/2013

This was it, just 1 peak left. There was a big group gathering of my AMC friends scheduled for the weekend, so I decided this would make for a good weekend to finally get to East Sleeper. I ended up saving this peak for last mostly due to the damage sustained from hurricane Irene a few years back. All the trip reports I’d read said that area on the Kate Sleeper trail was hit REALLY hard, so I kept putting it off, hoping that the trail would eventually get cleaned up. With a nice large group, we decided to spot some cars at the Downes Brook TH, and then shuttle over to the Pine Bend Brook TH to get our start. The ascent up Pine Bend was relatively easy and we made good time up and over the Tripyramids. It was nice to be able to look out from the limited view points, the last time here I was socked in some clouds. The trails were in great shape, and it was a great day for hiking. We stopped to celebrate briefly at East Sleeper, take some photos, but knowing we still had a long hike out we didn’t stay long. After leaving East Sleeper we got a good luck at the back breaking labor it must of been to clear the Kate Sleeper Trail. It seriously looked like someone dropped a bomb up there. Kudos to the army of trail workers it must of taken to clean that up. The sun went down and we slowly made our exit to Downes Brook, crossing the river at least 10 times, luckily, the only time someone went in the drink was the last crossing, just a short ways from the car. Victory beers a Moat after, what a great day!

GPS/GPX Link

Time: 11:07:40
Moving Time: 6:15:39
Elapsed Time: 11:07:40
Avg Pace: 50:18 min/mi
Avg Moving Pace: 28:18 min/mi
Best Pace: 4:05 min/mi

Selling Used Gear Quick and Easy

I am a big fan of Gear Trade. They make it easy to buy and sell hiking, climbing, and all other sorts of outdoors gear, you can really score some deals there. It’s fast and easy to get an account setup, and you can set the price and put photos of the gear you want to sell. As much as I love gear, my needs change over time, and unloading some lesser used gear makes more room and funds available to get the next hot ticket item on my wish list. Have a look at their site, you might find something you’ve had your eye on! You can even get setup right from your I-Phone!

 

Trip Report: 4 Day 3 Night Grafton Loop

“The Grafton Loop Trail is a 38.6 mile, backcountry hiking experience in the Mahoosuc Mountains of Maine. The trail, which connects to the Appalachian Trail at Old Speck and the East Peak of Baldpate Mountain on either side of ME Route 26, highlights the natural features and mountain peaks of the area encircling Bear River Valley. Because of its length and the terrain it traverses, the trail is strenuous and requires appropriate equipment and preparation.”

I’ve had my mind set on trying some new longer loops this year, and The Grafton Loop was at the top of the list. The mountains of Maine are inviting and remote compared to the high peaks of New Hampshire that I am used to. They’re not as crowded, and the woods just have a whole different personality up there. We tackled the loop as a team of 6, we drove up to Gorham NH to spend night 0 at Hikers Paradise, a hostel I’ve stayed at a few times when hiking in the northern parts of NH.

After checking over all the gear and getting organized and a hearty breakfast, we set off for Maine, spotting a car at the Northern TH on RT26 before heading back to the Southern TH to start our loop. We traveled clockwise; our intention was to go all the way to Bull Branch tent site. We ended up getting caught up in a scary lightning storm atop Sunday River Whitecap, but the rain wasn’t too bad, and we got to Slide tent site and set up camp. This was a nice camp with good water sources and a bear box. After a hearty dinner we went to bed and int he morning we set out on the trail again, heading for Old Speck. The woods here were really nice, and soon we came to the fire tower at the summit. We spent time here taking in the views and eating some lunch. Just after Old Speck the Grafton Loop Trail joins the Appalachian Trail, and we met a few south bound hikers. There are some really nice views back to Old Speck on the way down, as well as some really nice waterfalls. Eventually we made it back to the parking lot, and we quickly did our resupply, crossed the road, and re-entered the woods for the eastern half of the loop. We pushed hard and gained elevation up to Baldpate lean-to. This was my favorite camp, it’s a large lean-to, great water source and privy, and a small fire ring. I think some group had been up there the night before having a 4th of July party, it was sad to see they left so much trash behind.

Day 3 was going to be difficult, we knew it from the get go. We got an early start and headed up towards Baldpate. This section is very ledgy and has some ladders in places. I really like this terrain and the views are fantastic from East Baldpate. Again we met more south bound hikers at the summit and chatted with them for a bit. We couldn’t stay long as we had a long day of hiking to get to our final camp, Stewart. We hiked up and over Long Mountain, and along the ridge, going past some very inviting campsites. Lane is right along the river and looked like it had some great swimming hole potential, but we really needed to push on the Stewart to ensure we’d have a nice easy 5 mile hike out on Sunday. This section was very overgrown in some places, and the bugs were much worse than the rest of the loop. It was a good 13 mile push, with an unwelcome climb halfway up Puzzle Mountain at the end, but we arrived at Stewart and met 1 solo Grafton Loop hiker. We set up our camp and made dinner again, and had a wash up in the stream. In the morning we packed up and headed for the summit of Puzzle. Again there’s some fantastic views of the whole park from the top, it really is nice to look back and see all the places we’d hiked over the past 2 days. We got down and back to our cars, had a celebratory beverage and headed to the Pinkham Notch Visitor Center for some much needed showers, and then onto Moat Mountain Smoke House & Brewing Co for a big lunch.

This was a great trip, my first time camping out for 3 nights. Surprisingly my legs weren’t even that sore after! East Baldpate was my 89th summit for the New England Hundred Highest list. I’m getting close!!

Distance: 37.93 mi
Time: 73:11:48
Elevation Gain: 12,710 ft

Photo Slideshow

GPS/GPX Link

Trip Report: Vermont NEHH Peaks – Mt. Dorset, Mt. Equinox, and Stratton Mountain – 6/21/2013

It was earlier this week when I started thinking about getting back to Vermont for some peak bagging. The forecast for Friday looked quite promising, so I started to solicit hiking companions. I’ve never done much hiking solo, but I couldn’t seem to find anyone interested or available on a weekday, so I decided I would give it ago on my own. This initially was discouraging, but then I decided it’s OK, I can go at my own pace, and if all goes well, I can try and hit all three in a single day. I’ve done some long hikes in my time, but never have attempted 2 separate hikes, never mind three. My initial estimate was about a 15-20 mile day, and about 11 hours of hiking time with somewhere around 6700ft of elevation gains by the planned routes. It was an ambitious plan, but certainly doable, and while it’s nice to hike with a group, sometimes I like a good challenge. I was able to get some fantastic lodging at the Green Mountain House Hiker Hostel, providing a central location to all 3 peaks. Normally I would just hammock camp, but with the heat and bugs, sleeping indoors was quite nice. I started the day on Equinox, and made some really good time. The trails there are in great shape, I was able to do some trail running on the way down. On returning to the car, I ate some snacks and made my way over to Dorset. I was able to get my car to the end of “maintained” Tower Road, and headed out. Dorset really inst a bushwhack, the unofficial trail was in good shape except for a small bit thats seems to be a washout. On the way down I stepped into a big mud puddle and had to get creative on how to dry my shoes on the way over to Stratton. I was able to get a parking spot at the base of the ski area, and started my hike up under the gondola. The bugs really chewed me up and the sun was much hotter. The path from the gondola area to the fire tower is in great shape, it was nice to be back in the trees. Rumor has it there is a very territorial moose that has been charging at hikers, 3 different people warned me about it, but I didn’t have an encounter, although moose tracks were plentiful.

All 3 peaks in a day totals:
Distance: 18.94 mi
Time: 9:08:52 h:m:s
Elevation Gain: 7,510 ft

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stratton

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Mount Dorset:
Distance: 6.69 mi
Time: 3:08:43
Avg Pace: 28:13 min/mi
Elevation Gain: 2,440 ft
I was able to get some info on the trail to Dorset from my hiking friends, and set the GPS for the intersection of Lower Hollow Road and Tower Road in the town of Dorset, VT. A good address to get you to the trail head is: 315 Tower Road, Dorset, VT.
GPS/GPX Link

 

 

Mount Equinox:
Distance: 6.51 mi
Time: 3:08:31
Avg Pace: 28:57 min/mi
Elevation Gain: 3,090 ft
Again I got some beta from hiking friends and a guidebook, setting the GPS for 65 West Union Street, Manchester, VT to start this hike. The Equinox Preservation Trust has some fine information available for aspiring hikers including a great map!

GPS/GPX Link

 

 

Mount Stratton:

Distance: 5.74 mi
Time: 2:51:38
Avg Pace: 29:54 min/mi
Elevation Gain: 1,980 ft
Stratton is normally approached from the South side via the Long Trail, starting from the Stratton-Arlington Road trail head, I chose instead to hike up via the ski slopes. As a rule, I generally try to use trails and stay off ski slopes, but my reasoning for this approach was two-fold. I was to be hiking solo, and if something did go wrong, better chances of getting someone’s attention on the developed side, and by starting from the ski area, it would save me a decent amount of driving time. The Stratton Ski Resort website offers a map of the hiking trails from the ski summit to the true summit.

GPS/GPX Link

So I’ve now hiked 88 of the New England 100 Highest Mountains!