April 11, 2015.
The next hike of the day is a pretty straight forward out and back to a spot located off of Route 116 called Cooley Hill.
Not sure what to expect for conditions I put the snowshoes on as it doesn't look like Jericho Road Trail sees a lot of traffic. There is a slight packed down trail in the snow just barely visible, missing it sinks me in knee deep snow. A few minutes up the trail and bare ground is visible in a few spots. I begin to contemplate the decision of wearing the snowshoes as I continue on. But keep them on as the snow is more prevalent the deeper into the woods I get.
Reaching the split where the trail heads to the left and the logging road heads to the right there is a large very recent blowdown across the trail. Not much farther up and some large moose tracks crossing the trail.
The trail is quite wide as it used to be an old horse road and quite mildly ascending as it climbs a knob below Cooley Hill. The track in the snow is easy enough to follow and is packed enough to support me. I still think about taking the shoes off and picking them up on the return. But after last week I keep then on "just in case". Crossing the knob the trail descends into a small col and dramatically changes. Moose tracks are all over the trail and it also looks like the trail is less used beyond here. It's like someone drew a line across the trail and all the previous hikers turned back. Between the moose postholes and trail being less packed the going gets slow and tedious. Now I am thankful for not leaving the snowshoes behind.
I plug away as the trail starts to ascend Cooley Hill and start to feel the effects of the earlier hikes and the trail conditions. A little less than two hours from starting this hike I reach the old fire tower remains which is just below the high point of Cooley Hill. All that is left are the footings and the bottom band of the tower.
I go pass the tower looking for the high point and it is not far. Where the snowmobile tracks come up from the other side is the spot I am looking for. I didn't expect to see these tracks and I follow it for a short ways and get a view towards Gardner Mt through the opening. They are located in Monroe, NH on the border with VT.
Heading back I remember reading about some views on this side of the high point and I thought it was towards the Kinsmans. I see some flagging and leave the trail and start following them. The snow is deep sinking in with every step and laborious looking for that elusive view. I go quite a ways and the flagging continues but the views never open up as I had hoped.
That would be the best for a view from this vantage point. Giving up, I think the flagging might be marking the way over to the adjacent Cole Hill, I make my way back to the fire tower and head back down. Turns out that the views I was looking for do not exist towards the Kinsmans. It was the view I got along the snowmobile trail. Just below is a spur path that leads out to a growing in viewpoint. North and South Kinsman are across the way and to the left of them is Cannon Mt. On a good day Franconia Ridge would be visible also.
To the right is Mt Wolf and further down the trail is a very obstructed shot of the power line cut that leads up and over the col between South Kinsman and Mt Wolf. Along side the power line is Reel Brook Trail, still on the to-do list, which intersects the AT that traverses the ridge between the two peaks.
The return trip is much easier once past the moose section and doesn't take nearly as long to get back to the trail head. Being 4:30 by the time I get back the decision that this is it for the day is an easy call. I had hoped to get Cobble Hill Trail which is located just to the west of here but that would be pushing it. Besides I want to spend some time exploring in that area as there are supposed to be some old cellar holes from days long gone by.
Final numbers: 7.3 miles, 4 hours and 0 minutes.
Redline Miles: 3.2, Total to Date: 747.6