April 25, 2015.
Right back at it with a return to Black Mt but this time from the northern side heading up Black Mt Trail today. Black Mt Trail is located off Route 116 at the end of Howe Hill Road in Benton NH. There is a small lot to park further up on a unmaintained dirt road but looked to risky to drive up. So I parked at the end of Howe Hill Road where there is room for a few cars in front of a fence next to the "Last House on the Left" (who remembers that 1972 movie?).
Getting off at the Lincoln exit it sure is a different world from last week. I head west on Route 112 and all the rain we got down south the last week was snow up here. The day is not looking promising either as I approach Kinsman Notch and the north shoulder of Mt Blue is frosted and smothered in the clouds. Arriving at the parking spot and heading up the freshly snow coated unmaintained road to the beginning of Black Mt Trail at 8:30. I purposely arrived late because of some inclement weather that was supposed to linger around this morning.
A few minutes later I pass the beginning of the trail and I made the correct call to walk up here rather than drive. The ground is soft from the spring thaw and a few mucky spots that might have been tricky to get through. For the most part the trail is an old road and then veers off to the left on a old logging road. It is pretty wet in spots especially right before the boundary of the White Mountain Forest.
There are fresh deer tracks in the snow and who knows they might have been here until they heard me coming. Crossing a few spring melting streams that spill across the trail and the climbing is fairly moderate. It never gets super steep like the Chippewa Trail but just becomes a steady climb before a hairpin turn to the right. The snow is more of an annoyance and quite surprising since last week it was pretty much bare until just below the summit. That is the difference between a north and south facing trail plus the additional inch to four inches of new snow.
Up higher the snow is still quite deep and for the most part I can walk in someone's frozen postholes from not too long ago. Where I do break through it is still knee deep. Just a little over an hour and a half from starting I reach the junction with Chippewa Trail. A very short trip up to the summit on the spur path and I am back on top of Black Mt but this time minus the rain and thunder of last week.
The conditions are not perfect as the clouds are hanging around but there are some views to be had. Plus I have the luxury of time to poke around as there are an abundance of ledges to explore. Across the valley to the south is Jeffers Mt and right behind it Blueberry Mt, the other peak I did last week, and Sugarloaf Mt to the right. Off in the distance is Mt Cardigan, a mountain I have not visited yet due in part to not being in the White Mountains, which I should do sometime.
I make my way over to another ledge on the south side of Black and it has views to the west into Vermont and also to the south. It is surprising how close the Connecticut River Valley is from here only 6 miles from the summit to the river.
A pano shot into Vermont.
Off in the distance to the southwest Killington is visible plain as day.
Now somewhere on this peak is a large boulder called Tipping Rock that at one time you were able to rock it. I start looking around to the north as there are no more ledges to the south at least on the summit. I poke around looking for it and the closest I come to a boulder is this one but just does not seem as large as described and definitely not a tipper at one time.
I've looked everywhere in the vicinity of the summit ledges and find nothing else. I begin to wonder where else it could be and just about give up when I pull out the description of where it is located. There is supposed to a path through some scrub and I can not see one. It doesn't help that the snow hides things that normally would be obvious. I look around the edges of the ledges by the scrubby trees and see a slight opening. With nothing to lose I go through and find another slab. Again there is no large boulder so I keep heading north through some more scrub and pop out onto another slab. Dang if this rock exists as it is not here either. Then off to my right I see a bit of a boulder just sticking out over the low trees.
There just on the other side is the elusive Tipping Rock!
There is not much to see to the east as the clouds are hanging over the four thousand footers today. Normally the Kinsmans would be visible just behind Howe Hill. Even Moosilauke is completely enveloped in the clouds.
Finally satisfied I head back to the open ledge I just came out on and in the granite slab is an awesome swirl pattern that mother nature created eons ago.
From this vantage point looking to the south I can follow the peaks I have hiked this past winter while doing the AT between Glencliff and Hanover, Webster Slide Mt, Mt Mist, Mt Cube and Smarts Mt.
On a better and warmer day I would have sat down and enjoyed the silence up here. So resigned to leave I know I'll be back as this is a great little spot and I had the whole trip to myself not seeing another person either way. Back down I go following my footsteps the entire way and right at noontime I am back and ready to head off for the second hike of the day not far away, Cobble Hill.
Final numbers: 5.4 miles, 3 hours and 30 minutes.
Redline Miles: 2.4, Total to Date: 754.6