October 26, 2015.
Kearsarge North, one of those mountains I just put off forever for varying reasons. The Kearsarge Trail is short so it wouldn't take a full day to do but there is another trail that traverses down the backside of the mountain, Weeks Brook Trail. Combining the two is possible but it involves a five mile roadwalk between the two trails. Not bad but it does mean going up and over Hurricane Mt Road which on paper is very doable compared to some of my other roadwalks.
Dragging to get on the road and passing through North Conway I stop to catch the early morning sun hitting the top of Kearsarge North. Finally arriving at the trailhead located on Hurricane Mt Road in Intervale and on the trail just before eight.
It's a chilly 32° at the trailhead as I start out but it doesn't take long to get warmed up. It's a mild start heading up between some residential areas on both sides of the trail. Most of the leaves are down with the exception of the beech trees as the trail starts the gentle climb up through different terrain.
Approaching one section and I am greeted by the familiar chattering of a red squirrel. He is pretty annoyed at me being in his woods as I get closer he gets louder and more defensive of his territory.
It only takes an hour before I start to see the sky which typically means there is a chance for views. The sky is a deep blue and not a cloud to be seen so the views up top should be excellent. Looking back and the Ossipee Range is the first to be seen. I have yet to step foot in that area as it is not on the redlining list. But it is an intriguing area as it is the remains of a volcanic ring dike much like Pawtuckaway but larger. Check it out on a topo map sometime to see how distinctive looking it is.
Across the ledges and even more views open up along the way. Back into the trees and then back onto some ledges as I go higher.
The trail enters the woods for the rest of the way and the terrain changes abruptly becoming a rocky and rooty mess.
Less than two hours and I am approaching the top. One final turn around and I spy Ole George between two trees. This is truly a perfect viewing day!
A few minutes later and the historic fire tower is right there. Not a tall one by once inside you can understand why height is not important. First a walk around the summit as the sign intrigues me. The bottom one says toilet.
A toilet on top of a summit? Now that is different. I know this is a popular mountain as it is only 3.1 miles to the summit and an easy one at that but a toilet. Well sure enough there is one here and modesty should not be an issue if one finds the need to use it. I suppose this is leftover from when this fire tower was once manned. The "reward" is it does come with a limited view of Chandler Mt to help inspire you while doing your business.
Back up to the fire tower and the views are phenomenal as the picture taking in abundance begins. The view to the west includes Chocorua, Paugus, Whiteface, Passaconaway, the Sleepers and the Tripyramids all behind the Moats and Big Attitash Mt. To the north are the Presi's and a very visible Carter Notch.
It's a virtual who's who of mountains I have been to and still need to climb. 360° of unobstructed crystal clear views. For the first time I can see the Atlantic Ocean shimmering on the horizon. It is a bright sliver in between where the land ends and the sky begins. I have heard it can be seen from Mt Hight and Mt Washington but this is the first time I have witnessed it. Even some outlines of Portland's buildings can be seen in the picture.
Looking down below and I can just make out Shingle Pond (along the way of my exit route) in the evergreen forest looking insignificant compared to the lakes in the background. To the south the peaks I spent a day on back in May...Black Cap, Cranmore, Peaked and Middle Mts.
Thanks to someone leaving a printout I can even see some faint outlines of Kearsarge, the other Kearsarge in Warner. Even further away is Monadnock which is always a treat to locate for me.
Of course my visit would not be complete without a pano shot. This one stretches over 180° from Maine to the Ossipees.
I spend almost an hour at the summit soaking in the views before it is time to make my way down via Weeks Brook Trail. It is a bit hard to follow off the exposed ledges but eventually I make it to the tree line where the path is much easier to discern.
I didn't expect to meet anyone on this trail but within ten to fifteen minutes I hear voices coming up the trail. Just like a week ago while doing the Albany Mt hike we all look surprised to see someone else on the trail. Again they are redlining and are about as completed as I am. We spend a few minutes comparing notes and then move along in opposite directions. After the steep section the trail is quite pleasant as I make my way down.
Along the way I come across this yellow birch with an extraordinary root system. I am becoming more fascinated with this species of tree and how it adapts to its environment and attaches to anything to survive and grow. Not far beyond is the approaching shore of Shingle Pond.
Making my way around the shore and I look for a spot where I can hopefully get a look back up to Kearsarge North. At the far end I get the shot I was looking for with the fire tower visible also.
Leaving the pond behind the trail becomes a great walk through the woods on pretty good terrain. It is quiet and peaceful out here as I make my out to an old logging landing area. Here in the tall grass it is hard to figure out which way the trail goes.
I head right at the questionable section and it dead ends at the tree line. Darn moose trails as I make my way back and can see where they have bedded in the matted tall grass. Taking the left route and it opens out onto a logging road and there are some steel cables in the weeds left behind. Walking along the logging road and I see a path on the right and go by it then a few feet later stop and head back to see where it leads. Good thing I turned around as it is the trail marked by a very inconspicuous sign.
The sign is about eight feet in and on a post. See it in the first picture? Neither did I when I immediately looked. It took a minute before I saw the post and got reassurance I was heading in the right direction.
The rest of the way out went uneventful through some more great woods. Although there were quite a few trees tagged and I hope they aren't indicators of future logging endeavors. I have no problem with logging but I just wish they would leave a decent buffer between them and the trails.
Reaching the trailhead for Weeks Brook Trail and now time for the roadwalk back to Kearsarge Trail. It's a short walk to Green Hill Road as I turn right onto it. About a half mile up is another right turn onto Hurricane Mountain Road. As I stop to try and get a picture of the sign at the end of the road, Steep Winding Road, a small pick-up truck is coming towards me slowing down and I get a funny feeling about it as it approaches. Turing off my camera an older woman rolls down the window and asks where I am going. I tell her back up to the Kearsarge Trail via the road. She laughs at me and tells me to get in to give me a ride back. Twice in the last week and I get saved a laborious walk back. She had just finished climbing Mt Crawford and gave another person a helping hand and was just on her way home to Chatham when she stopped for me. Riding along and I was so glad she offered to give me a lift as this would have been a long walk due to the elevation gain, 1500 feet. Something I did not think about when I was putting this plan together. I thanked her profusely as she saved me a ton of time and energy. Enough time that I could go and do another hike before heading home.
Final numbers: 8.7 miles, 5 hours and 55 minutes.
Redline Miles: 8.2, Total to Date: 970.7