North Pack & Pack Monadnock

March 9, 2014.

The plan was to hike Mt Carr and some surrounding trails located just north of Rumney in the town of Ellsworth. One of the cool things about hiking is you hear of these little towns that, even though living in NH my whole life, I never heard of. Anyways arriving at the trail head and squeezing into the parking lot that is not plowed in the winter. There was enough space for two vehicles and someone who was overnighting was already there. Sitting in the car and eating my Dunkin Donuts breakfast and when I finished I go to take off my sneakers. That's when it hit me that the something I felt was missing when I left the house was my hiking boots. For a split second I actually contemplated going out in my sneakers as I was planning on snowshoeing the whole day anyways. Rather than risking anything happening I made the sad decision to head back home. The tough part was the skies were already blue as the sun was peeking up over the mountains and it is supposed to be a beautiful day.

Arriving back home and no way I was going to let this first time mistake ruin the day so off I go over to my "go to" backyard peaks, North Pack and Pack Monadnocks. These almost twin peaks are a short drive and can give some decent miles in with the trails and I have not been up them since last May when I did the whole Wapack Trail. The only question that remained is which trail/trails to do. Driving up Mountain Road in Greenfield and I slow down as I come up to Ted's Trail and the small pullout is not plowed. Heading further up the road and I reach the northern terminus of the Wapack Trail at the new lot built in 2012 and it is not maintained in winter. It is packed down enough to fit a few vehicles and I am only the second vehicle even though it is almost 10:30 in the morning. The "new" plan is an out and back over North Pack to Pack depending on the trail conditions.

Taking a peek at the trails and it looks like solid packed trail so snowshoes stay and microspikes go on.

A little bit of a nip in the air with the breeze but good enough for just a thermal and short sleeve shirt. Moving along at a brisk pace with my full pack and I get warmed up just enough. In twenty minutes I reach the first open area for views to the northeast.

In the above picture is Crotched Mt to the left and Rose Mt on the right. To the left of Rose Mt I spy something curious off in the distance.

 

This is something new that I have not seen before and I get excited at which mountain it could be. I know it is not the White Mts as this peak is to the right of the Belknaps so right now I am leaning to something in Maine. Can't wait to get home to figure this one out on Google Earth. Continuing up and a quick forty-five minutes from Mountain Road and I am on top of North Pack. Monadnock is off to the west.

In the distance are the Vermont ski mountains of Mt Snow and Stratton Mt. Not as clear as they should be on a winter day but you take what you can get.

 

And of course the good size summit cairn on North Pack.

A short trip over to the north ledges that no one has been to as there is no trail and the views are not what I was hoping for. On a good day Mt Washington can be seen but today just barely is the outline of Sandwich Dome, Osceola and a few others.

That little white blotch just to the right of center along the sky line is Mt Washington in the clouds. Hoping to add some miles to the hike I head over on the Cliff Trail. It is well broken out also and hopefully below the cliff is broken so I can make the loop. Reaching the cliff in short order and a clear view of the Wapack Range. The starting point of when I was out here last May on the Wapack Trail is the second to last bump on the left, Mt Watatic. Behind it is Mt Wachusetts.

Just faintly visible is the Boston skyline with the Hancock Tower and Prudential Building on the right.

Looking to my right and there is a packed trail going off that way behind a small set of trees. I follow over and there is another ledge with unrestricted views of Monadnock. The other times I have been here I never knew this was here so no matter how many times I have hiked these two peaks I always find something different.

The bump in the center of the picture is the high spot between North Pack and Pack that is sometimes referred to as Middle Pack. Making my way over to the left and surprisingly I find where the Cliff Trail leads down off the ledges. It is partially broken out but looks doable and strangely not as steep as I remembered it the first time I came up this way.

I pick my way down and at the bottom make my way over to the talus field, which I have never been to, located below the cliff view.

A little further up and another spot I have never checked out is a large cairn off the trail on a ledge all by itself. Exposed it is at least eight feet tall and possibly ten feet without the snow.

 

Back on trail and for the first time I do not get turned around on this little section. The first two times I somehow get turned around and end up in a circle. The Cliff Trail varies from open woods to clambering down off some more exposed rocks until it reaches the valley floor. Then it starts a gradual climb until it intersects with the Wapack Trail just below Middle Pack.

 

Crossing over Middle Pack and the blowdown that was pretty fresh last May when I did the whole Wapack Trail has been debranched so one can pass under the leaning trees.

A couple of small dips and I reach one of my favorite trees. It is a multi-trunk oak tree and unfortunately starting to die off up top. So I enjoy it every time I pass by because I know it is just a matter of time that it will no longer be here.

Climbing up the side of Pack and finally breaking out of the trees and a nice shot of Mt Cardigan 55 miles away.

Arriving at the summit and thanks to winter not too many people are here today. During the summer it is quite popular due to the auto road to the top.

The obligatory picture of Monadnock from the clearing looking west.

 

A look back at North Pack and its cliff.

 

And another shot of that curious white peak which after two days of playing around on Google Earth I finally narrowed it down to Prospect Mt located in Alton.

 

Heading over to the viewing ledge to look towards Boston and south towards Watatic and Wachusetts. The Boston view was no better from here and it's time to head back. I wasn't able to get the miles I was hoping to get today but I did get a good workout as I pushed the whole way and made a pretty good time for the over eight mile trek. I did discover that there is something else to look for the next time I am up here. It seems there was once a hotel on Pack that burned in 1924 but the foundation is still visible. Just love the history and these little hidden gems to look for that keep me coming back.


Final numbers: 8.2 miles, 4 hours and 45 minutes.