February 14, 2015.
Finishing the last trail around Mt Cube is the goal for today. After today I'll have at minimum four more trips to finish the Moosilauke region of my redlining project. The objective for today, before another major snowstorm, is Sunday Mt located in Orford. It is the last of the areas that is not on the AMC Moosilauke Region Map. I have heard that it is a relatively easy trail to follow as it has good blazing and it is only 1823 feet tall.
Arriving later than normal due to the frigid temps, 1° at the house when I left, I get to the unplowed parking lot and start the short roadwalk to the trailhead at 8:00. I park on the side of Dame Hill Road in front of the snowed in parking spot for this trail. There is a sign at the trailhead that requests people park here rather than at the trailhead. I had scoped this out last week when I was across the way hiking Mt Cube. The trailhead has a plowed out area but I didn't want to offend anyone by parking there.
It is already snowing as I stop to put on the snowshoes. Thankfully the winds of yesterday are non-existent as I start out across the field. There are tracks from possibly last week so that helps. I notice a sign about twenty feet up from the beginning and the trail is supposed to go in this small tree lined strip so I head over even though no one else has. I have this commitment to myself to stay as true to the trails as I can. It is just a short section with the open field on my left and a Christmas tree farm on my right. At the end of this strip the trail heads into the woods and passes by an old Loose Hay Baler. Not sure if it is abandoned or just parked there for the winter. It's a mechanical piece of farm equipment usually attached to a flat bed cart where the hay gets dumped on it as they are pulled along.
The trail turns left in the woods and parallels the backside of the field before turning right and heading towards Sunday Mt. It is nice to have a fairly broken out trail especially after the long slogfest heading up Kodak Trail to Mt Cube last week. The trail leads down into a small col and then turns right on an old woods road by a clearing on the left. Here the broken trail splits into two paths as there must have been two people out here now walking side by side on the wide road. The trail is not so broken now due to this and it slowly ascends as it skirts the base of Sunday Mt.
At the sign in the above right picture the tracks veer off to the right heading down another woods road and the trail makes a hairpin left turn here. From here on out the trail is unbroken and the pace slows down as I plow through a foot of powder. This is the beginning of the switchbacks on this mountain. I thought it strange that such a small mountain would have switchbacks but when you look at the topo map of this mountain it becomes clear.
After going through a small conifer section on the trail there are two good sized trees that have been blown over leaving an opening for a view of, well let's see the best way to describe it, NOTHING!
The trail turns right here and starts heading more directly up towards the summit. Shortly after this turn and I reach a confusing spot. The woods are so open up in this area there looks like any direction could be the path. The very well, sometimes over, blazed trail has decided to become a "Where's the Blaze" game. I continue on the straight path thinking this would be logical as there is a blaze directly behind me. Thirty feet up and I do not see any other blaze and it's starting to lean downhill. Back to the last blaze and there is a tree down to the left of where I just went. Maybe the trail goes up through this area and the tree is blocking the path. I make my over the tree and head up a ways and see no blazes here either. Back down a second time and looking more to the left this looks like a corridor also. I slowly head up and about forty feet up and unseen from the spot down below is a blaze. So much for the double blaze indicating a turn and a blaze within sight of the last blaze. I'm sure in the non-snow season this is not an issue as the path is probably very recognizable but in the winter this is one of the challenges.
Not much farther up and I miss another turn as I continue straight and it doesn't make sense. I turn around looking for blazes and I see one down below from where I came. Scanning the woods and I spy another one up in the woods higher form the other one. The trail took a hairpin turn there and again no double blazes marking it. Skirting just below the summit and the trail leads left uphill and finally I see the cluster of signs notating the summit spur and the trail leading down to Norris Road.
Even this short section to the summit zig zags up and soon I see the top and then the summit itself complete with signage.
Back down to the junction and down the trail leading to Norris Road. No one has been up this side of the mountain either so more trail breaking but at least it is all downhill. A couple of short switchbacks and the trail makes a sharp left turn heading down the spline of a ridge. At the bottom of this section where the trail turns left again there is a sign for a view that heads straight. Not expecting much on a day like today but I still need to check it out. It is a short trip down to this clearing and surprisingly there not buried in the clouds is Moosilauke. Hard to believe the 4800 foot mountain is visible so this is a bonus for the day.
At the junction and a another little confusing spot of where the trail is and I continue heading down at an easy grade descending along the contour of the mountain.
Reaching the first of five logging road crossings and a pair of tracks that came up the road are now on the trail making this part of the trip less strenuous. Both sides of the summit trails are crisscrossed with deer tracks. Sometimes they are even using the trail corridor. I can't recall an area so populated with deer tracks and some of them are really fresh. I spot a few bedding spots along the way also.
At a ledgey outcropping the trail turns right here and the tracks of whomever was out here head straight. I cross a stone wall and not far down reach Norris Road.
Now for the return back up the trail as I can feel it in the thighs as I head back up. It's a small mountain but the lifting of the legs as I break the trail is a lot of hard work. Just a short distance up I notice tracks on top of mine. A deer had come through the trail in the time between I first came through here and returned from Norris Road. I tried a picture but it did not come out well. Further up and there is a large fallen tree suspended in between other trees. Just beyond that and done of the many deer highways that crossed the trail.
Heading up the spline and through the trees is Sunday Mt. Passing the summit spur trail and now it is all downhill for the finish. Pass the very unblazed confusing spot and I get rewarded at the spot before where there were no views earlier. Across the way is Mt Cube, last weeks destination.
The rest of the trip down is uneventful and I arrive back at where I parked and notice fresh footprints around the vehicle. I look where they came from and there are car tracks just behind me. I'm hoping it was just a police officer checking things out as I don't see anything suspicious from the tracks. When I get home Lisa asks me to guess about a phone call she got. I guessed it was the Orford Police and called probably around 1:00 as the tracks were very fresh. Seems they had called the house to see why the vehicle was where it was and she told them I was out hiking in the area. They just wanted to make sure I was alright and had not abandoned the car. First time that has ever happened and glad they showed some concern and checked things out. Nice little hike and I even made it back home before the latest batch of snow really started coming down.
Final numbers: 7.2 miles, 5 hours and 15 minutes.
Redline Miles: 3.6, Total to Date: 710.2