January 9, 2016.
New territory for today, sort of. In an attempt to knock off some miles in a region, the Carters that I have huge chunk left to do, there is a small range, the southern end of Montalban Range, off of Route 302 in Bartlett. It's not practical as an out and back so after traversing the ridge I'll end up walking back to where I parked via Route 302. Maybe an out and back wouldn't be such a bad idea!
Parking off of Cobb Farm Road and the trail has a few inches of snow just like last week. It's pretty packed down so off I go barebooting it for a while. There is a single grave fenced in cemetery right at the beginning on the right. It takes less than ten minutes to reach the junction with Cave Mt Path and this is a short out and back. The trail leads off to the left and winds through the woods where it is pretty quiet considering the closeness to Route 302.
Getting closer to the destination and the trail begins to steepen to the cave. It is a good size opening in the cliff wall and the term cave is a loose way to describe it. The cliff wall itself is more impressive.
Paralleling the wall and the climb up is a little more suspect with the footing and steepness but I push on. The trail winds around the base of the cliff then to the side reaching the top of the cliff face and there is not much for views as the weather is pretty much socked in. Someone has made a small one person shelter out of dead branches up here. There is no evidence that it was completed to make it weather tight so not sure of the reason for it being built.
Behind the cliff face the terrain still rises and I start to follow it figuring I'll add Cave Mt to the peakbagging list. A couple hundred yards up and I abandon the attempt not because it is far away but I have a lot of miles to cover and limited time to do it in. There will be plenty of time for exploration once I am done with this project. I get asked that question often, "What are you going to hike once you are done redlining?", and the answer is plenty as I have a list going with places I haven't been to and want to return to. Before heading back down I stop to put on the snowshoes for grip as the trail down is rather steep and slick with the thin cover. They'll remain on for the rest of the day until I hit the road. Back down at the junction with Mt Langdon Trail and it is a mild climb along the combination of trail and logging road. The Wilderness boundary is reached right before crossing a brook that feeds into the Saco River.
It is so peaceful out here with the only sound being the crunch of my snowshoes. Another crossing of the same brook and soon I reach the junction with Mt Parker Trail. I stop and contemplate making the out and back to Mt Parker but with the short days I figure I don't have the time to make the 2.8 mile round trip. More reasons to come back to this quiet solitude! To my right the Mt Langdon Trail continues and I begin to hear voices ahead of me. There was a van parked at the trailhead when I arrived and I figure the voices must be the owners and they stayed overnight at the shelter. Either that or I am going crazy. About midway to the shelter and I meet up with the voices and indeed they spent the night at the shelter being a group of about ten. A few minutes later and I am at the Mt Langdon Shelter, your typical three sided shelter.
Finding the Mt Stanton Trail, this is where the Mt Langdon Trail and Mt Stanton Trail both end, out of here was a little bit of a challenge as there are no tracks leading out the way I am going. Plenty of tracks all around the shelter area from the overnight guests which didn't help. Trying a few possibilities and I finally find the way out. There is a faint snow track from someone coming up this way not so long ago but with all the trampling around the gang did at the shelter it was hard to find this. The trail leads up to Mt Langdon and while poking around trying to find the high point I come across this spot where the rabbits like to come out to play.
A few more minutes and I find the high point off the trail just in the woods. Leading down off Mt Langdon and the trail reaches a col before heading back up. There are a series of four humps between Langdon and Pickering that are called the Crippies. What is a Crippie you ask well no one knows where the name came from or the meaning. It might become one of man's bigger mysteries to never be solved. Anyways I make it to the Fourth Crippie which is an open ledge area with some views. On a better day the views are probably pretty spectacular but today not so much. Across the street is the long expanse that makes up Attitash Ski Area.
Poking around and I find a view of all the humps ahead, the other three Crippies and Pickering. The only one missing is Mt Stanton. Making my way down off number four and just a short ways is number three. Just below the high point there is this disgusting section where someone has cut down a substantial number of trees to create a better view. I'm all for views but there is definitely no need to become the "viewscaper" on property you don't own.
The Third Crippie high point is a rock outcropping that looks unattainable from the trail but heading around the side of it and one can get on top from the back side. There is a good view up into the Rocky Branch Brook basin. Coming down off number three and there are some great woods up here lined with red pines. The same ones the vandal cut down on the Third Crippie.
Reaching number two and then number one and both are not very distinct so I do not stay long but continue on to the next peak for the day, Mt Pickering. It's a short climb and Pickering is another wooded summit with a wicked small cairn marking the spot located off the trail. A little steep pitch off Pickering and down into the col between it and Stanton. Another short climb with an unexpected view to the northeast towards Glen and Jackson, NH.
Up and over Mt Stanton and just beyond is the open view from White's Cliff where I can see down in the valley to where the trail ends in an older housing development. Across the way is a better unobscured view of Attitash Mt.
Heading down and a few minutes apart from each other are a large erratic and a very determined red pine that suffered some winter damage at one point.
Mt Stanton Trail meanders down off the ridge before making a sharp right turn and descending more steeply. Leveling out and I start to see houses through the trees and think I am close to the end. Well I was close but not as close as I had hoped to be. The trail winds around the back of this area before finally ending at one of the roads, Covered Bridge Lane.
Other than the group of hikers just before Mt Langdon Shelter I saw no one else on these trails. A nice little hidden gem although I bet I just got lucky today and this part of Montalban Range probably sees more action. While changing out of my snowshoes and refueling a car pulled up and I was hoping they would offer me a ride. Alas all the driver wanted to know was the conditions of the trails. I probably should have asked but that is not my nature so the road walk begins. Reaching Route 302 and the covered bridge that spans the Saco River. Further up the road and the last shot of the day of White's Cliff.
A 5.6 mile walk back to where I parked and not one offer from the many passing cars. It took two hours to do the walk back and the wind whipping down through was the only uncomfortable part of the trip. Just as the sun was setting I made it back to my lonely vehicle and it didn't take long for it to warm me up with the heat on full blast. All in all a great day out especially with no crowds even if the weather was not the greatest for views.
Final numbers: 14.5 miles, 9 hours.
Redline Miles: 8.7, Total to Date: 1056.9