Monday, March 8, 2010

Kearsarge North Mt. 3/7/10

What a surprise! Sorry, getting ahead of myself here...
Leaving our winter jackets behind we started our hike up a well packed Mount Kearsarge North Trail at 8:30am. The trail begins gradual giving you a nice warm up as pass by many boulders. About a mile in, the trail begins to climb steeply following the East bank of the Kearsarge Brook. When you reach the ridge crest the trail moderates as it climbs over the ledges (covered in snow for this hike). Views start to open up across to the Moats, Chocorua and Carrigain. The forest on this mountain is spectacular. Large stands of hardwoods and a pleasing collection of Pines, including my favorite the Red Pine which dominated the ledge areas. Boreal Oak Moss was also plentiful here. Once past these ledge areas the trail curles West into what seemed to be another world! We went from bright, 56 degree weather with 1 foot deep snow to a dark pine forest with temps. dropping to 38 degrees and 2 ft. + snow! We shivered through this seemingly long section, grudgingly putting the light gloves and hats back on. The trail then climbs the North side of the mountain then West again with restricted views to Washington and Madison before breaking through the tree line 100-200 ft. from the summit fire tower.

We arrived at the summit at 11:30am. A rainbow, fluffy clouds and spectacular sunshine. The 270* view was impressive, only blocked by some small pines to the North. The Old Fire Tower (the last in the White Mountain National Forest) was actually glassed in! We carefully climbed the steps which had accumulated a little rime ice. The view from the observation area now opened up to 360*! A surprising view indeed. SO MUCH to take in! Starting at the Ossippee range across to Chocorua and the Sandwich Range, Green Hills Preserve, Moat Range, Pemi Wilderness, Franconia Notch, Twin Range, Crawford Notch, the Presidential Range, Pinkham Notch, Carter-Moriah Range, Carter Notch, Baldface-Royce Range, Evans Notch, the Double Heads, and finally into Maine's sprawling farm land along Rt. 113 and the Pleasant Mt. Range. Wow, wow, wow!! And the clarity today like I have never seen!

A man in his late 50's sooned joined us (I failed to get his name) who claimed to hike this mountain regularly. I asked if he lived nearby and he spoke of what we all dream about. He traded his home in Mass. for a studio apartment and got a place in the Conway area and planned to retire soon and live in the mountains, smart guy! He also mentioned of a 70 year old man (there abouts) who jogs this mountain to ready himself each year for the Mt. Washington foot race (he told me his name but I forgot it). We chatted a bit, had lunch and just basked in the view. The visitor book signed (Excape & Ascender) and pics taken we decided to head on down.

We started back at 11:50am passing many people coming up, most with dogs. We arrived back at Hurricane Mountain Rd. just after 1pm. This surely goes down on the top of my list for best view especially for such a short trip. It rises well above the surrounding mountains giving you the feeling of a higher peak and the view to countless peaks and wilderness areas, and seeing all the notches from one spot was pretty neat.

Trip Overview:

Total Time: 4.5 hrs.
Total Mileage: 6.2 miles
Total Elevation Gain: 2,600 ft.
Weather: Perfect! Sunny; high, fluffy, unusually shaped clouds; temps. ranged from the upper 30's in shaded/West and North areas to mid 50's at base and summit; light wind; well packed trail with some ice.

Pics of this hike HERE

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