January 1, 2015.
Since the AMC White Mountain Guide includes the entire AT in NH, even though it is not on their included maps, it is time to take it on. I have completed a section from Mt Wolf to Mt Cube so today I will work my way from the Vermont border towards Mt Cube. The biggest issue is where to park as there will not be any loops just a series of out and backs. The plan is to park off of Trescott Road in Hanover and hiking across on the Velvet Rocks Trail to the Connecticut River then back and if time and mileage permits a piece of Hanover Center Trail.
A different route up here as I take I-89 instead of I-93. Nice change for once and stopping in Warner for my Dunkins breakfast I wonder how weird it would be to run into Mike while here. Getting to the trailhead parking, which is just north of the trail, is no problem but there is a bit of a snow banking to the entrance. Thankfully it is hard packed and there is a spot easy enough to get in and out of straight in. The snow cover is real light and I don't even bother putting on the microspikes as I start out just after 7:15. The trail is well used which surprises me. Being the Appalachian Trail and January I figured there would be very little traffic until spring/summer.
Up the trail I stop to admire this multi-trunked pine tree when Something out of the corner of my eye catches my attention. It happened so quickly all I got was a blurred image of a deer. He must of been laying there when I woke him and spooked him.
Through this whole area there are signs of turkeys everywhere with the snow dug up looking for food in the leaves. The trail drops down and crosses the edge of a bog with Velvet Rocks in the background. An hour after starting and I am at one of the high points of Velvet Rock. Looks like a nice spot to hang out as it is a flat area surrounded by pine trees.
The trail winds through the woods and then drops down into a valley where the junction for the Velvet Rocks Shelter trail is. I take that first as it loops back to the trail further up. Up the embankment and ten minutes later the shelter comes into sight.
This is the first shelter I've seen with this type of roof. It is the corrugated plastic sheets that let tons of light in. Much brighter and cheerier than the standard shelters.
Down the trail and to the western junction with Velvet Rocks Trail and this is a great area of woods. So peaceful and quiet yet so close to civilization. Twenty minutes from leaving the shelter and I am walking pass the athletic fields of Dartmouth College. From here it is all street walking all the way to the bridge over the Connecticut River.
The trail turns right on Lebanon St passing the football stadium and reaches Main St. Turning right on Main St (not left like I originally did) and heads up towards The Green before turning left onto West Wheelock St which leads down to the bridge and the Connecticut River which separates Vermont and NH.
Down the hill and the bridge comes into view. And just like that I am at the border.
Back up the hill and a picture of the college at The Green.
Back pass the athletic field and into the woods for the return trip to Trescott St. I pick up the portion of trail I missed when I went to the shelter and then stop at the car to get some food and water. Its chilly out today as I sit and eat. The temps started out in the high teens and would max out in the high twenties. Stopping probably was not the best idea as I sit there and cool off. No matter how cold it is I always seem to sweat. As I take off back down the road to Hanover Center Trail I can feel the cold as my core has chilled down and the sweat in the cold air makes it seem colder. I turn left onto the new trail and try to get moving to warm up. Of course the trail has to cross the upper edge of a field and I have to stop trying to get a picture or two. Off in the distance is Mt Ascutney in Vermont down by Claremont.
Back into the woods and the trail hits a high point before it dips down and off to the right are some houses hidden through the trees. For a while the trail parallels a stone wall and then for a brief period merges with an old woods road before veering off to the right.
Down the hill and the trail comes to a brook at the edge of a field, which thankfully has a plank bridge, and then meanders behind a cemetery before crossing another brook and out onto Hanover Center Road.
The road is the end for today and across the street is the continuing section of trail for next week. Back to the car and a better shot of Ascutney as I am much warmer this time passing through the field.
Final numbers: 13.4 miles, 6 hours and 45 minutes.
Redline Miles: 5.6, Total to Date: 670.7