Trip Report: The Bigelow Range (West Peak, Avery Peak, and South Horn)

After last weekend’s adventures on The Grafton Loop, I decided midweek I wanted to return to Maine. The drive is long and the bugs are out in full force, but I’m so close now and there was a big AMC group camping event at the Rangley Lake State Park that was too tempting to decline. We headed north on Friday to beat the traffic and arrived at the park and got set up. I scored a fine campsite right on the lake and hung my hammock there. In the morning we drove out to the Stratton Brook Pond trailhead.

We decided to do the loop clockwise, as to head up to The Horn’s first. Parking was a bit of an issue as we got a late start and there was some kind of mountain bike race happening. There is a lower lot here, and then a more rugged road leads down to the first river crossing, and a handful of cars can park there. I saw a Corolla there, so any car should be able to make it, but we parked in the lower lot anyways. The route here is well marked and we quickly arrived at our first junction, staying right to head up to Horn’s Pond. That camp site is really nice, there’s a few lean-to’s and many tent sites, I bet there’s ample moose viewing at dusk. We pumped some water here and slowly ascended South Horn. From here you get great views out to the bigger peaks we were heading to. The higher we climbed the less the bugs were a problem, but down low, was the worst I’ve ever had to deal with. Eventually we popped out on West Peak, and had some snacks and enjoyed the alpine breeze and endless views. The trails in here were in great shape as we moved on down to the col to pump more water. The sun was very strong and we needed all we could get. There is a care taker at Bigelow Col and it seems as though he has been asking everyone to take down loads of roofing shingles to help him out. We only had day packs and politely declined. We got up Avery Peak and again had a rest and took some photos, relaxed and enjoyed the views. The building I remembered here is gone, it looks like it might of burned down. As we headed back to the Col and began out ascent down Fire wardens Trail, I was glad we chose to use this for descent. It drops to elevation very quickly, maybe 2500ft in a bit over 2 miles, and it was rather taxing, but I always prefer to come down the steeper sections. Once down to the junction

Distance: 12.60 mi
Time: 9:45:12
Avg Pace: 46:26 min/mi
Avg Speed: 1.3 mph
Elevation Gain: 4,154 ft









Trip Report: Mount Lafayette 5/27/2013

My original plans for Memorial Day involved a 3 day, 2 night backpacking trip in the Pemigewasset Wilderness, but cold temps and rainy weather caused me to check down to doing some day hiking. After some warm up hikes in the rain and sleet the days before, we awoke Monday to clear skies and a good 8 inches of snow had fallen above 3500ft. We set off to hike up Mount Lafayette, a 5,249-foot mountain at the northern end of the Franconia Range in the White Mountains of New Hampshire. We took the Old Bridle Path, which was in decent shape. We encountered one blow down below Greenleaf hut, but other than that the trail was clear. As the temperature rose, the snow began to melt, fast! We stopped for a break at the hut, and then set out on the soggy trail to climb the last ~1,000 feet to the summit. I brought a new toy with me on this hike, a Prism Stowaway Diamond Kite!

It took a bit of work, but it did fly, and survived the few times when the winds smashed it back to the ridge as well. Clear skies and good company, it was a great hike!


Distance: 7.86 mi
Time: 8:14:38
Avg Speed: 1.0 mph
Elevation Gain: 3,747 ft


Gear Review: Esbit Alcohol Burner / GSI Halulite Minimalist Cookset / Evernew Titanium Cross Stand

I’ve been wanting to try out an alcohol stove for a while, and finally decided to take the plunge. Alcohol burning stoves are one of the simplest and most popular options for cooking in the great outdoors. A simple cup shape design allows unpressurized alcohol to be burned providing an efficient source of heat. There are multiple fuel sources for an alcohol stove, the most common being methanol, like HEET, or isopropyl alcohol. Alcohol stoves are regarded as one of the most nature-friendly options for cooking in the wilderness.

For most trips my Jetboil Flash is perfect. It wasn’t until I attended a presentation by adventurer Andrew Skurka that I started wanting to try something different. It’s not an ultralight setup in my opinion, total weight is close to my Jetboil, but the size should be a bit less.  One benefit is that it is much less prone to failure, as there aren’t any moving parts that could lead to failure. Skurka uses a much simpler system, the cat food can stove, which is very wieght friendly. When I first started with the idea of a 2nd stove, I thought it would come in much lighter, but in truth, the Jetboil wins there.

This is where I am at so far, check back soon for an updated on how it packs down, and how it performs in the field. Those seeking a true ultra light-weight setup might consider:

There are some great points about alcohol stoves here:

The Burner:

Esbit Alcohol Burner

I chose this model because it was the only one I found that allows you to store the fuel inside the burner if you wish. The screw top lid adds very little weight, and the included simmer ring/snuffer cap with fold away handle is a nice touch. I’ve been able to light the stove with a spark from a firesteel in indoor testing. Evernew does make a titanium version, for those seriously counting ounces.

The Cooking Vessel:

 GSI Halulite Minimalist Cookset

I wanted a metal mug with a lid that I could boil water in, and also drink from, and hopefully, store most of my stove setup inside of. The GSI Halulite Minimalist Cookset does this well, and it’s unique 0.6 L pot and lid boil water for pouch meals before transforming into an insulated mug by simply inverting the lid and slipping the pot into its included sleeve. Also included are the Silicone Gripper and a spork.

The Fuel:
I bought a 32oz jug of denatured alcohol/marine stove fuel for less than $5.00. That should last a good long while. I can store 2.5 ounces in the burner itself, but I plan to carry 8oz in a squeeze type bottle.

The Stand:

I bought the burner as part of a larger kit that came with two pots and a stand, but for a true ultra lightwieght setup I leave that stuff at home and use the Evernew Titanium Cross Stand to support the GSI mug atop the burner. I haven’t yet decided if I will add something to put the burner on, in winter it may prove necessary, but for now, the closest rock or stump will do. The stand is half an ounce.

The Windscreen:
I also purchased a windscreen from Ultralight Designs.
•Edges are rolled for added strength and safety
•Made from a soft temper aluminum sheet so it can be rolled or folded many times
•Roll it around your fuel bottle for easy storage.



The Summary:

Weight 19.5oz

Evernew Titanium Cross Stand:         0.5 oz
Esbit Alcohol Burner:                           3.2 oz
GSI Halulite Minimalist Cookset       6.3 oz
8oz of Denatured Alcohol + bottle     9.0 oz (est)
Ultralight Designs Med Windscreen  0.5oz

New England Hundred Highest – North East Cannonball

This weekend I hiked into Lonesome Lake Hut for a weekend with my hiking friends. We got into the hut by the lonesome lake trail with no problems, and got setup and had a fine dinner. We spent some time watching for the forecasted meteor showers, and I took some long exposure photos with my new camera. On Sunday we woke up to clear skies and set out for North East Cannonball. The trail around the lake was semi frozen and slippery in places. We then started climbing and at the junction of the Kinsman Ridge Trail decided it was necessary to put on our Microspikes. The short hike up to the unmarked summit was very steep and ice covered and I was concerned coming down would be very dangerous. We spent some time at the lookouts near the summit and then headed back the same way we came. The view over to North Kinsman was fantastic. We stopped at the hut for a few moments to pack up our overnight gear, and then headed back to the car. In short, North East Cannonball has a fine view for an easily accessible summit, I would say it is best combined with Cannon, but makes a great short trip for those with limited time or looking for an easy hike from the hut.

Distance: 6.48 mi
Elevation Gain: 2,086 ft

This light, versatile traction system from Kahtoola is designed for use with any common footwear from trail running shoes to hiking boots to snow boots.


New England Hundred Highest – Mount Nancy, NH

It’s been awhile since I’ve set out to chase down another peak on the New England Hundred Highest list, so with a Sunday free and clear I decided to get out to the White Mountains. This was my 80th/100. Mount Nancy, elevation 3927ft, is located in Grafton county New Hampshire. There is no official trail to the summit, but there is a maintained trail from NH302 up to Norcross Pond, and a herd path direct to the summit from there. When doing my pre-hike information gathering, I found many trip reports and even a GPS track to follow, so I felt well prepared. Knowing it would involve some bushwhacking, I decided to go with a smaller pack. The trail begins on the eastern side of NH302 and quickly climbs to Nancy Pond at around 3,000ft, then continues on to the official trails terminus at Norcross Pond.

The trail begins on an old road of sorts, with a very gentle grade, and gets more difficult as time goes on. After a short while and several water crossings, some of which might be quite difficult at high water, I arrived at Nancy Cascades. It was running very well thanks to some rainfall in the day prior, and I spent some time here taking photos. From the cascade the trail meanders up and around to the top of the falls and steeply climbs to meet Nancy Pond, and eventually Norcross ponds. There were many sunken bog bridges between the falls and the ponds. Once arriving at the outlet of norcross pond, there is a path directly over ones right shoulder when looking at the No Camping sign. I followed this path and it soon came to a junction, to the right is a very nice campsite, to the left, the “unmaintained” trail that very steeply climbs to the summit of Mt. Nancy. Rain was threatening all day, but we did get some very nice views from the outlook.





Distance: 10.11 mi
Time: 7:33:48
Avg Pace: 44:54 min/mi
Elevation Gain: 3,210 ft


Trip Report: Mt. Shaw and Black Snout

I had never hiked in the Ossipiee range before, so I was excited when plans came togather at the last minute with some of my hiking friends to head there on Saturday. The plan was to meet at the trailhead on Route 171 where it meets Sodom Road in Tuftonboro, New Hampshire, and hike to Shaw and Black Snout. The trails aren’t very well marked in some places, the beginning follows some piping along fields brook and then ascends very steeply for a bit and joins a carridge road of sorts near the summit of Black Snout. There are some red blazes marking the way but sometimes we didn’t see one for a while. Along the lower sections of the Shaw trail we stopped at a few of the very nice waterfalls to take photos and rest a bit. Once joining the Black Snout Trail we stopped and enjoyed the views to the lakes from the summit of Black Snout and had some snacks.
Next, we hiked back to the Black Snout Trail and over to Mt. Shaw, where we were awarded fantastic views north to the White Mountains, and caught glimpses of the new fallen snow shining on the high peaks. We could easily identify Moosilauke, Franconia Ride, and the Presdidential range with thier white summits sparkling in the sun. We spent a while anjoying the views and then returned the way we came. I suppose a better loop could be done by returning to Black Snout and descending the Big Ball Mountain Trail, perhaps another day.

Distance: 7.60 mi
Time: 5:31:18
Avg Pace: 43:35 min/mi
Avg Speed: 1.4 mph
Elevation Gain: 2,417 ft


Trip Report: Mt. Moosilauke via Asquam Ridge 9/29/2012

I’ve been to Mount Moosilauke twice before, and had a weekend planned using the Dartmouth Outing Club’s Moosilauke Ravine Lodge as the basecamp for my group last weekend. I decided to take a new approach, via the Asquam Ridge trail over Mt. Waternomee, Mt. Jim and Mt Blue. The weather was misting and cloudy when we set out, but looked to clear up as the day went on. From the lodge the trail takes a very flat approach, following the river without gaining much elevation until gradually leaving the river on its way up to the ridge line. Our main destination was the summit of Mt. Moosilauke, so we didn’t spend the time to touch the official summits of any of the aforementioned peaks that were not on the trail, except for Mt. Jim and Mt. Blue, which has a very well defined herd path to it’s highpoint, and a canister as well. One thing I want to do next time I visit that area, is to checkout the Mt. Waternomee B18 Bomber Crash Site. We found a not-so-stealth camp site at the junction of  the Beaver Brook Trail, and stopped and had some lunch before setting out to Mt. Blue and on from there. After taking some photos atop Moosilauke, we proceeded down to South Peak and caught our only views for the day as the clouds were coming in and out. This was the first time I had been up there without any significant wind and it was a very pleasant  experience. We took the carriage road to the snapper trail for our return to the lodge. I highly recommend staying at the lodge, the food was excellent and the accommodations are more than affordable.


Distance: 10.11 mi
Time: 8:12:35
Avg Pace: 48:43 min/mi
Elevation Gain: 2,741 ft