April 14, 2012. With ten mountains to go the choices of which one to do is getting a little more difficult depending on conditions. The mountains received about six inches of new snow the other day and it is supposed to be windy today. That immediately eliminates Adams, Madison and Jefferson. The Bonds and Zealand are also out due to length and conditions too. So that leaves Moriah, Cabot and Waumbek. The latter two have no views and Moriah could be suspect with the conditions. So the coin toss is Cabot. I really wanted to do this one as a loop that would include The Bulge and The Horn. This will also be the furthest drive for any hike up to this point, going all the way past Berlin.
Set the alarm for 3:30 and did not get up until 4. On the road at 5:15 and after a long drive up north hitting the outskirts of Berlin I arrive at the trailhead at 8:05. The trailhead is located on the Berlin Fish Hatchery site. This has to be the largest fish hatchery sites in the state, don't think I have seen so many holding tanks and hatching pools. I am the only one at the trailhead and this being one of the most northern and remote peaks I am really hoping for a zero people day. The temperature is 44° but with the wind it feels much cooler. So I make adjustments and put on my thermal long johns. Ten minutes after arriving at 8:15 and I am ready to take off. Up the road I can hear a vehicle approaching and immediately there goes my dream of a zero people day. It is another hiker, what are the odds? I quickly take off and the trail is completely void of any snow with some wet and muddy spots here and there.
A little over a half hour after starting and snow starts to appear on the opposite side of the valley where the sun doesn't reach. About thirty minutes after that the trail is now completely covered in snow from the storm that passed through a few days ago.
Thankfully the snow is not very deep and it is soft so that no traction is needed as I did not bring my snowshoes today. Up through Bunnell Notch and past the Junction with Mt Cabot Trail which is supposed to be closed down at the lower end yet there are tracks coming up it. The climb up through this section of the Kilkenny Ridge Trail becomes a steady and steep climb and about two hours from starting there is a little side spur trail off to the right. It is Bunnell Rock, a good size slab of ledge with views to Franconia Ridge.
Two and a half hours from the start and I make it to Cabot Cabin which is located just below the summit. It even comes equipped with it's own outhouse.
Just above the cabin is another ledge where the old fire tower was located. All that remains today are some pins in the ledge. There are some views available here with a clear shot to the east of the Mahoosuc Range in Maine. There also views to the south and southwest including the Twins and Franconia Ridge.
Down at the cabin I came across some fresh moose tracks and they went up to the ledge and continued on towards the summit following the trail. My heart started racing in the hopes that I would finally come across a moose on the trail.
The excitement dies down when I lose the tracks as the moose took off towards the right and disappeared into the woods. Two hours and forty minutes since leaving the fish hatchery and I have made it to another summit. Not much to see up here as it is a wide slightly open area for a summit.
I find the trail marker where the Kilkenny Ridge Trail continues on towards The Bulge and Horn and unfortunately no one has been on this section in quite some time. I opt out on doing that portion of the trail for today and will return someday to do it. Back to the summit sign and off towards the left where there are a lot of blow downs I think I might be able to get some views. Off through the snow and brush I clamber and make it to the edge of the peak. There are blow downs everywhere in this section from the looks of things a few years ago. There are small pine trees growing along the edge of the summit blocking any view to anywhere. But standing on my tip toes I can see glimpses of some promising shots. I find a down tree trunk and climb up on it to gain some height and let me tell you that anyone who says Cabot is viewless just didn't take the extra time to find them. Everything is visible from Adams on the east to Moosilauke on the west. I had to find certain downed trees to stand on and different places to view over the pine trees but the views are certainly there.
I spend a good twenty-five minutes on the summit looking for these views and finally start to head back down. Stopping again at the ledge where the old fire tower was and again at Cabot Cabin. While stopping there for a snack I notice off in the distance a ski area. It is Stowe Ski Area located on Mount Mansfield in Vermont 69 miles away. And just as I am ready to leave I notice a strange plume in the sky. It is dark heading from the ground up to the sky. It's definitely a vapor trail from a plane but I never seen this phenomenon before.
Another stop on Bunnell Rock on the way down and again I can see a ski area off in the distance. This time it is Sugarbush and Mad River Glen located 78 miles away in Vermont.
An easy walk down the rest of the trail just enjoying the woods and not far from the junction with York Pond Trail I again see fresh moose tracks in the mud that were not there this morning when I passed through. Once again the heart races with excitement and once again I would not see the moose. Back at the car shortly afterwards and it is 2:10. I walk over to the holding pools and they are loaded with trout. It is almost wall to wall and they are breaking the surface as if begging for handouts. This pic is for you Dad, for all those times we use to go fishing at Shadow Lake.
Back on the road and some shots from York Pond and then stopping along Route 115 where I took some pictures back when I did Carter Dome on December 24th. I thought it was interesting to see the differences in Mt Washington from December 24, March 17, and April 14.
So enough pictures for a viewless mountain hike and time to really head home for my chinese dinner. Actually thinking about going out again tomorrow, the first time hiking back to back since Thanksgiving.
Final numbers: 9.6 miles, 5 hours and 55 minutes, 1 peak, # of peaks to date - 39.