Mount Washington, NH ~ through the hiker’s lens

At 6,288 feet, Mount Washington is the highest mountain in the northeastern United States, and one of the 48 New Hampshire 4000 footers. Home to a weather observatory, a cog rail, and an auto road, it’s accessible to anyone in the area that wants to visit. For those who choose to hike to the summit, it’s an entirely different experience – one as beautiful as it is dangerous. The view as seen from the trail:

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Jockey Cap ~ Fryeburg, Maine

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Jockey Cap is a 600 foot glacial boulder in Fryeburg, Maine that offers exceptional views with about 10 minutes of (somewhat strenuous) effort. Enough to get your heart pumping, but over before you think about lying down.

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To find the trail, navigate to Quinn’s Jocky Cap General Store. Part across the street. The trail head is in the back left corner of the parking lot when facing the store.

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Mount Garfield ~ Winter Wonderland at 4500 feet

garfieldI could see snow in the distance on Mount Washington, but it had yet to stick in the valley, so I really didn’t expect to encounter much of the white stuff on our hike up Mount Garfield. Shortly into the hike, however, I realized that I was in for a surprise. Our boots crunched over a light dusting of snow. Then they sank into an inch of slush. Soon, we found ourselves marching through a winter wonderland, surrounded by ice frosted trees and snow banked trails.

garfield2At 4500 feet, Mount Garfield is the 17th highest of the New Hampshire 4000 footers in the White Mountains. The trail starts easy enough – for the first two of three miles, it’s like walking up a wheelchair ramp – a constant but not too steep incline. There are several river crossings which were quite easy to traverse, although I imagine that in late spring/early summer garfield6when the water level has risen from the thaw that they may prove more difficult.

Once you stop hiking straight up and start winding your way around the switchbacks, the trail takes on that endless feeling where you expect to see the top come into garfield3view around every corner, but it just doesn’t. The hike is in and out, five miles each way. Maybe it was the snow, but this was a VERY long five miles in. I’ve gotten pretty good at estimating how much ground we’ve crossed, but I was off by a good mile on this one. Just as I had garfield5convinced myself that we’d missed a turn and were hiking on to the next mountain, we finally reached a sign marking a split. Going straight would take us to the summit in .02 miles. Turning left would take us to a hut in .02 miles. Energy renewed, we hiked on to our destination.

garfield4At the very end, as usual, it gets a bit steeper and requires climbing some rocks, but for the most part, this was an easy, if long hike, with no slides, scrambles, large expanses of bald rock to cling to or any other more challenging features to garfield7conquer.The view was amazing, made all the more bewitching by the snow and ice. The summit was incredibly cold and windy, the kind of weather that claws at you, where your skin is whipped raw and you quickly lose feeling in your fingers and toes, so we snapped a few pictures and garfield8began our retreat.

 

It was too cold to stop and there was nowhere dry to sit, so lunch consisted of stuffing our pockets with food to eat while walking. With the short fall days, we were also pressed for time if we wanted to get off the mountain before nightfall. We did the ten mile hike in just under six hours.

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This seemingly endless hike was definitely worth the views, and even though I succumbed to the sniffles over the next couple of days, it was one of my favorite hikes of the year. I highly recommend this mountain.

 

Peaked Mountain

peaked9A chilly but sunny Saturday afternoon found us back at the Pudding Pond trailhead in North Conway, NH, only this time, instead of hiking around the pond, we were headed up to Peaked Mountain, one of the three summit trails that can be found in this section of the Green Hills Preserve.

peaked2At 1739 feet, Peaked Mountain isn’t the most challenging hike, but it is a rewarding one, with breathtaking views that can be reached in less than an hour, making this a great stop for a quick hike when you don’t have an entire day at your disposal. If you have a bit more time, you can add a trip over to Middle Mountain (which I haven’t hiked yet) to your itinerary.

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The trail is lined by a series of small falls and is well sheltered from the sun. This was a great little hike that allowed for some fresh air and exercise while still allowing plenty of time for weekend errands.

Pudding Pond

pudding2With winter quickly approaching, we’ve been scouting out places to go snowshoeing in the area. When we moved here in March, there was still four feet of snow as far as the eye could see, the result of sno-mageddon 2015. Unfortunately, with all the extra tasks that come with buying a house, we didn’t get much exploring done then. So we’re making up for lost time now. pudding6

For some strange reason, a place by the name of Pudding Pond caught my attention. I can’t imagine why 😉

pudding1This is the trailhead for several nearby mountain paths, as well as a 1.7 mile loop around a huge pond with sparkling waters, a beaver dam, and gorgeous scenery. 1.7 miles might not seem like very long, but it’s the perfect length for that first hike out while you’re getting your snowshoe legs, and with all the offshoot trails, we can easily extend the length of our hike. With such a beautiful place to get outside, I (almost) can’t wait for winter!

 

 

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