January 10, 2015.
More of the same this week, knocking off more of the AT trails in the western part of the state. This time parking off Goose Pond Road and heading back up to North Peak Moose Mt and then back down to Holts Ledge across the street.
It is another one of those long drives because of the location to access the trail. Parking is down the street just east of the trailheads in a small pullout that is thankfully plowed. Ten minutes before eight and I am walking back up the road to the northern end of Moose Mt Trail. The snowshoes go on for the first time of the year as the trail has not seen any action that I can see. The temps are in the mid teens and no wind to speak off. It looks like it is going to be a great day as the skies are clear and I wouldn't be surprised if I don't see anyone today.
The trail heads up the valley floor and when it reaches the base of the mountain turns right climbing moderately up along the northern contour. The sun is bright casting long early morning shadows on the snowy canvas. Further up is a section where several trees have the same angled bend caused by some weather phenomenon.
The woods are open all the way until the trail turns left to start climbing the ridge. Here it enters a conifer section briefly before returning to the open woods.
It is here that the only tracks on the trail are from a bobcat leading the way up the mountain. They end up going almost all the way to the summit and oddly enough stays on the trail.
Heading up along the northern ridge line the trail is never that steep making quick work of this part of the trail. Ten minutes below the summit and the trail turns to crap from all the downed debris of the Thanksgiving storm. It's just like last week when I was on the other side of the mountain.
The Dartmouth Outing Club has definitely got their work cut out for them this spring cleaning up the trails. Up at the North Peak I head over and past to reach the point I was on last week. I thought I was on North Peak last week but it appears this spot I just passed is higher. On the other end of the summit ridge there is a long ledge with views towards Vermont.
Killington is the most recognizable of the distant peaks while Okemo is a little harder to make out farther south.
Across the way is the spot I was on last week and thought that was North Peak.
The trail dips down as I head over to the "other" peak. Down in the low spot between the two and the trail starts climbing back up through some more tree debris. Finally the trail levels out and a short ridge walk over to the spot I turned around. Returning the way I came and at the real North Peak there is a high spot just beside the trail and I have officially stood on it. Across the trail is a very branchy yellow birch.
Back down the trail and at an opening to the right of the trail I get a clear shot north of what is left between here and Mt Cube. Holts Ledge is the next spot for today. After Holts Ledge is Smarts Mt which has a fire tower on top.
Beyond Smarts is Mt Cube where I left off before starting in Hanover and working my way north.
All the way back down the trail to Goose Pond Road and diagonally across the way is the only opening that looks like a trail. For some reason there is no trail sign for Holts Ledge Trail. But feeling fairly confident I head down and the only sign I see is a warning sign which I've never seen before. Looking up the name on the sign and he has a website and his story is worth looking up, Ben Kilham, pretty amazing actually.
A little further up the trail and I get confirmation I am on the right trail when I see a white blaze. The trail is fairly straight and wide as it makes it down to a wetland created by beavers where there is look at Holts Ledge.
Crossing over the bog bridges that skirt the edge of the wetlands and the trail starts climbing up with glimpses of exposed ledges.
Reaching a level spot and then the trail crosses a snowmobile trail which has yet to see any traffic. Crossing over and the trail begins to climb again for the final push to the top of Holts Ledge.
Along the way and through the trees is a view to the east of Mt Cardigan which also has a fire tower on top.
Thirty minutes later and I reach the high point and time to make a decision.
It's 12:30 and the highlight of Holts Ledge is down the trail about three tenths and the end of Holts Ledge Trail is 1.7 miles down. Plus there is a spur trail to Trapper John Shelter that would add 0.6 miles to the whole trip. The kicker is the Patriots game starts at 4:35 and I still have over a two hour drive to get home. If I were to do all of this trail plus the shelter spur (which is on my redlining list) it would be six more miles of hiking. That would mean at best I'd be back to the car by 3:30 and home well after the game starts. So the only logical choice is to call it a day and head back down. A quick hour and ten minutes down and then home to watch the Pats beat the Ravens, bonus! Double bonus is this did turn out to be a NPD (No People Day) day!
Final numbers: 9.2 miles, 5 hours and 50 minutes.
Redline Miles: 3.7, Total to Date: 682.5