Black Mt(Benton)

April 18, 2015.

The other half of the Black and Blue Tour is, of course, Black Mt located just up the road from Blueberry Mt. The trailhead is located just up the road a few miles on Lime Kiln Road.

Heading up the road and I spot an opening in the trees at a field of the next target so pull over to get a picture. I had untied my shoes back before leaving Blueberry Mt Trail to take off my thermals and did not tie them right away to let some air into the shoes. So I rush up over the embankment to get to the top of the field and as I come over the old stone wall I fall flat on my face. I neglected to see the old barbed wire fence that was just a few inches off the ground and my shoelace got wrapped around it causing me to trip. Picking myself up and thankfully no injuries I get the shot of Black Mt and it's neighbor Sugarloaf Mt.

 

Dusting myself off I head back up the road and reach the trailhead for Chippewa Trail which is the trail my brother volunteers to maintain. It is the first time I have been on it and is supposed to be a good trail for views as is evident from the picture of open ledges. It's 1:30 as I take off for the short 1.8 mile trip to the summit with the destination visible through the leafless trees.

 

The trail dips down into a low area and as I descend I step into a pile of dog crap. Things happen in threes and this is the third for the day. Nothing piss's me off more than irresponsible dog owners who can't clean up their dogs mess especially on the trail. I just don't get what they are thinking and seems to becoming more prevalent lately on the trails. Anyways I find a patch of snow and rub the heck out of my shoe to get it off. Great way to start a trail! Shortly the trail reaches a spot to cross a brook and there is the remnants of an old beaver dam to cross on. There is also a huge pine tree fallen across that would suffice but I chose the beaver dam. Up where the trail intersects with a logging road there is a curious object on the tree and I chuckle at it as it is right up my brothers alley, beer!

 

The trail heads right but first I want to check out the old lime kilns that are off to the left. They are down the logging road a short ways and then another right leads over to them. They are two different styles and not knowing much about the process I'm not sure what function each one serves. They are beautiful structures, however, built out of stone.

 

An info board is located right by the large one and I'll let it explain the process. The ghostly reflection is yours truly which I didn't notice until I got home looking over the pictures.

 

Their is even a path that leads to the top of the kiln and you can peer down inside of the structure. Up top I discovered the answer to the mystery beer cap on the tree as there is a geocache located here with a plastic tub full of them. You can just make out the tub in the left picture in that nook on the front left.

 

From the top another view of Black Mt and down on the path back to the logging road the first flowers of spring, Coltsfoot.

 

Passing the intersection I came up from and just up a ways the trail leads off to the left on another logging road. A few minutes up the trail and it's way too early as there is a patch of snow. Thankfully it is not the norm and for the most part the rest of the trail is snow free. Ten minutes later and there is an old cellar hole next to the trail. Checking the Moosilauke map of 1929 again and there is a house at about the same elevation so perhaps this is it.

 

The trail is in great shape considering the winter we just had, or still having depending at what elevation you are at. I am impressed with Mike's adopted trail and can see return trips in the future. At the boundary line the trail starts it's steep ascent up through a red pine forest. It's a beautiful section of woods and I wish I had more time to enjoy it.

 

Heading over to a view ledge there is another sour note. There is a spot where someone has had a fire going up here. Not the brightest people or person as this part of the forest could go up quite easily. To make matters worse they are cutting down live trees to fuel the idiocy.

 

Out on the ledge I do not linger long as I take a few pictures towards a couple of peaks I did this past winter. Smarts and Cube are in the first one with Piermont (which I have not done). Sunday Mt is in the second one which I did on a cold blustery day and stayed low for safety's sake. The day after, which was way worse than the day I was out, a female solo hiker died near Mt Adams on a disastrous Presi traverse she was attempting (see here for the story).

 

Looking to the west and until now I had forgotten about the storm they predicted coming in. Well it is not far off as I can see the dark clouds enveloping the terrain and moving towards me.

So it is time to kick it into high gear as I try to make it to the summit before the rain hits. I push as best as I can considering the steepness of the trail. Oh how I wish I had that hour or two back from this morning when I should have started. Reaching the ledges and it is just a matter of minutes before it hits. Last place I want to be when the rain hits, ledges.

 

A pano shot on the last set of ledges before the summit. Across the valley is Moosilauke with Clough in front then the ridge that consists of Jeffers and Sugarloaf. Smarts and Cube can be seen way in back to the right of Sugarloaf.

The trail ducks back into the woods as it skirts the western side of the summit and the snow is back and continues all the way up. Nothing to worry about as it is well packed and I reach the intersection with the trail that comes up from the north side, Black Mt Trail. Just as I start up the path to the summit the first sprinkle begins along with the wind. The temp drops and I do not linger long as I snap a few pictures of what I can. Flume and Liberty are partially obscured by the trees and Mt Wolf is to the right.

 

I know I'll be back to do Black Mt Trail so it is time to get out of here. At the trail sign I stop to put on my long sleeve shirt and take off making a quick exit. At a ledge outcrop I miss the slight turn and as I look for the trail I hear thunder heading this way with the increasing rain. Being careful on the wet ledges I make my way down to the first set of ledges and the clouds have swallowed up the mountain.

Making my way down quickly but carefully through the steep section and just as quickly as the storm came in the rain is letting up. I reach the old foundation and the rain has completely subsided. I continue to push it as I don't know if this is a small break or it is done for now. I make it to the trailhead in a hour and as I am driving back home along Route 25 the blue skies from this morning are back as I take a parting shot of Black Mt. Down the road a bit further and the skies are even clearer as I take a shot at the ominous looking Owls Head (yes another one of at least three in NH).

 

A lot of old history today exploring in the woods as well as knocking out a couple of trails. And even though I got pushed off of Black and didn't get to explore the summit ledges I will be back coming up from the other side. Hmmm...the plan for next week is already formulating.


Final numbers: 3.8 miles, 2 hours and 40 minutes.

Redline Miles: 1.8, Total to Date: 752.2