The AT and Mt Cube

November 22, 2014.

Sticking with the AT theme and its right back to where I left off last week. Instead of parking at the northern end of Ore Hill Trail though I opt to head down to the southern end of Atwell Hill Trail and hike north. This way if I have the time and energy I can try to hike up Mt Cube Trail which is just down the road a hundred yards or so. The total distance from Route 25A to Route 25C is 5.1 miles plus a side trip to Ore Hill Shelter. Double that for the return trip and then to the summit of Mt Cube is 3.5 miles for a 17.8 mile day.

I get to the trail head early to make the most of this day with the boots on the ground at 6:40. Atwell Hill Trail is known as swamp thing and hopefully everything is frozen to make this an easy trip.


This section of trail is relatively flat and thankfully the wet spots are frozen over. In a half hour I am at the crossing of Cape Moonshine Road, cool name but couldn't find anything on the origin.


Crossing the road and Ore Hill Trail begins, still part of the AT. Within a few minutes the trail goes through a very dense and tall stand of spruce trees. Then back into the open woods I can see the rising sun off to my right.


Twenty minutes from the road and I reach the spur for the Ore Hill Shelter site. Or I should say former Shelter. Unfortunately the shelter mysteriously burned down back in October of 2011. The privy is probably one of the nicest ones I've seen complete with a deck.


Curiously there was something else at one time near the privy as there is an old stone foundation and parts of an old wood stove also.


Back to the trail and it still is an easy hike through the woods. I reach a frozen pond which is just west to the old Ore Hill mine site. The AT used to run right next to this mine property which is highly contaminated from all the leftover tailings. The USDA has a brief history and synopsis on the mine site here.


Up and over the very nondescript high point of Ore Hill and down to the northern trail head of Ore Hill Trail on Route 25C where I was last week. Back up the trail and a side diversion over to the power lines to see if there any views. The only views for the day are Moosilauke and South Moosilauke with transmission lines included.


Back up and over Ore Hill and just beyond I spy something to my left in the woods. Curious I head over towards it and it is a stone wall forming a ninety degree angle. Located in the corner of the wall is an AT corridor boundary pin.


Down the trail I continue recrossing Cape Moonshine Road (just saying that name invokes curiosity to know the story behind the name) and through the frozen swampy Atwell Hill Trail and back at the car at 11:00. Not bad for a 10.2 mile stretch and I still have plenty of time to make a run at Mt Cube. Grabbing a bite to eat and twenty minutes later I am off heading up the Mt Cube Trail. The trail turns onto an old road and there a few old foundations out here that keeps the day interesting. Now if there was only some history behind these old stone lined holes. Checking the historic maps and they show nothing for 1928 or 1933 so not sure when there were houses on this old road.


Continuing up the trail and it soon crosses a well maintained gravel road and looking at Google Earth this road goes quite a ways splitting off here and there and eventually connecting with Quinttown Road, this is the road which runs between Mt Cube and Smarts Mt. Up further and crossing the mostly frozen Brackett Brook is no challenge.


Beyond the brook crossing and I get a glimpse of Mt Cube and its ledgey summit. Not far below the summit a group of four hikers are coming down and one of them looks familiar from his pics on the hiker boards. I stop and ask if his name is Joe and indeed it is and he his also hiking with Bob. These are two hikers that are friends with Mike and we talk about the usual "Where's Mike?". Right below the ridge and as if on cue the cloudy skies part and maybe I will get some decent views after all.


Reaching the tee junction where the South and North summits split left and right respectively I head for South Cube first. Clambering up onto the icy crusty ledge and I get the blast of the winds for the first time today. They aren't strong just consistent coming out of the west and limit the amount of time I want to spend out on the exposed ledge. Across the way is Smarts Mt, the next mountain on the AT, and to the left of that are Cardigan Mt and Mt Kearsarge.


Moving over to the north part of Cube and this is the path of the old AT at one time heading right over the north summit and down to Route 25A. Another thing to look into one day as to wether this trail is still visible and followable. These ledges are just as crusty and icy as the southern ones and there are views to Moosilauke and Stinson Mt which I was just on a month and a half ago.


There are plenty of other mountains in view also. Some I have been on and others I still have to do. It is time to move along and make my way down and just under two hours from leaving the summit I am back at the car ready to call it a day. Good mileage and I got to meet two of Mike's hiking buddies, not a bad day in the woods.

Final numbers: 17.8 miles, 9 hours and 5 minutes.

Redline Miles: 8.8, Total to Date: 660.4