February 21, 2015.
Small plan today and a smaller execution in the end. Hitting one of the mountains left on the Moosilauke region of my redlining project, Blueberry Mt. It is located in Benton just across the way from Mt Moosilauke.
Not in any hurry to get on the trail due to the cold temps as it was -7° when I left the house this morning. The winds are a non issue but there is another snowstorm coming in early this afternoon. Just what we need...more snow. Even with the lackadaisical attitude I still make it to Benton and start moving at 7:25. There is no vehicle access as Long Pond Road is gated in the winter so I have to park on High St and walk up Long Pond Road to the beginning of Blueberry Mt Trail. From where I park I can see where I was four weeks ago, Smarts Mt.
Thankfully there is a faint track in the snow and it looks like someone skied the trail probably sometime last week. We have had more snow since then put the track is visible and as long as I stay on it I only sink in a foot. Stepping off the track and I sink in up to my knees. There is a lot more snow up here than what was down on Sunday Mt last week. It's amazing the difference in depth especially when the two mountains are only 12.4 miles apart. The trail is actually a logging road and follows it before turning off to the right into the woods.
The trail climbs up through the woods and crosses the same logging road I just left down below. I look back and there is a clearing to my right and I cannot resist going over to check it out. It is no mystery what is there as the massive Moosilauke is right there all the way up through the trees. Sinking in the powdery snow to my knees I plow my way over to get an unobstructed view of South Moosilauke. The main peak is still hidden by the lower elevation of where I am at.
The woods are open as I pass through the deciduous trees until I reach a spot where it completely changes to coniferous trees. It is as if someone painted a line in the earth and said only evergreens may grow on this side.
About fifteen minutes after that and I reach the ledges and just beyond some restricted views. Mt Carr, my nemesis, is the first to make an appearance.
Right after taking the picture of Carr and I lose the trail as the snow is windblown up here. I know it is supposed to take a right turn on the ledges up here somewhere but there is no evidence of where it is. I see no cairns covered in snow and any markings on the slab are buried. I fiddle around trying to pick up any evidence of a trail and come up empty. Finally I pick up a faint resemblance of a ski track and follow it until it comes to another set of tracks. They must have lost the trail through here also and found it on the way down. Back on the trail and at the next set of open ledges some more views as Smarts Mt and Mt Cube can be seen. In just five minutes another look at both peaks of Moosilauke.
Ten minutes later I take the spur path to the actual summit of Blueberry Mt and there before me is Moosilauke across the valley.
There is no way to wander around the summit looking for better vantage points with all the snow so I retreat back to the junction with the main trail. The plan was to do a traverse of Blueberry Mt and then head back the way I came. The trail from here leads down to Page Road on the western side. I head down the trail for about ten feet and every step is sinking in up to my knees. No one has been on this section of the trail in a long time. Most likely not at all since the arrival of snow. Knowing it is 2.8 miles down to the road I decide to call it a day. It is twice as deep as last week's hike and that depth was manageable but not this. It's strange that this has been such a snowy cycle the past four weeks and at the same time so cold that the snow has been light and fluffy and unable to compact like it normally would. Another day and another time. Heading down I reach the spot where I came out onto the trail after losing it. The real trail goes straight and I came in from the right. I stay straight and sure enough there is a blaze on the tree and I am officially on the trail. A bit farther down and a better shot of Moosilauke and it's snowy cap and a good shot into Slide Brook Ravine.
A bit further down and four peaks that I have visited in the last few months while doing the AT between here and Hanover. Smarts Mt and Mt Cube behind Mt Mist and Webster Slide Mt. That small sliver of white is the cliffs of Webster Slide Mt. Then a fun shot of how deep the snow is as I bury one hiking pole the full length, a good four feet deep.
Back down to High St and a pretty good side view of Webster Slide Mt and it's sheer rock cliff all covered in snow.
Not what I had planned to accomplish but not a total loss either. And I made it back home before the snow started to fly.
Final numbers: 5.3 miles, 3 hours and 30 minutes.
Redline Miles: 1.8, Total to Date: 712.0