52 With a View

Are you perhaps new to hiking in the glorious state of New Hampshire?.. Or maybe you are looking for a different type of adventure – something with a slight twist from the typical “New Hampshire 48”, the 4000-foot summits?

While lists and “peak bagging” is not for everyone, I found it can be a charming way – or even a guide as to what to hike next, Summit of Doublehead Mtor where to adventure next!

There have certainly been many weekends where I’ll sit by the fire with coffee nearby and ponder my options – and really, the options for good trekking in New Hampshire really are endless, so how could a person simply ‘run out’ of options for fun mountains and places to adventure in this massive state?

There are days when I have absolutely tossed twenty or more peak-names around in my head, plotting my would-be adventures on topographic maps only to sit back and think aloud, out of near frustration: “but nothing really.. calls to me.

There are many out there who would scoff at the idea of having a list of mountains to “check off”; pick a mountain, climb it, picnic on its summit, which-ever-way you want to enjoy new trails – and that’s it, check it off the list, done.

While I can honestly say, yes I use lists as more of a ‘guideline’ of what is available to me locally or wherever I may be traveling to on any given weekend – I am definitely not one of those folks who will conquer a trail just to remark: “never again!” – there are always different seasons, varying times of the day – such as a sunrise or sunset hike; trails can absolutely be hiked any time of the year.. but with proper gear for winter travel, of course!

The options for a good, satisfying trek are truly endless with a good imagination and desire to get outdoors!

So, where might I be going with all of this?

To a list that most have probably heard of – if you have stepped foot on any trails in NH already, or found yourself striking up a hiking-related conversation with other hikers’ – most have certainly heard of it!

52 With A View.. or better seen in print as: 52 WAV

This was a sort of challenge created by a few hiking folks that absolutely took off – these are not your typical ‘high peaks’ as they all fall under the four-thousand foot mark, so you won’t find the Mount Washington massifs on here!

Obviously, as the name implies, at least at the time that the list was mustered up – in 1979 (revamped in 1990), there were views on all of these mountain tops. Well, naturally, shrubs grow thicker, trees often times grow taller – but I have found most of the views that once made these place names a hikers’ destination still provide incredible panoramic views.

Why hike off the 52 WAV list?

For really any number of reasons! As in my case, there are weekends where I’ll ruminate over contour lines of a map and for a moment become somewhat depressed that no trail really beckons to my soul – these are typically shorter, easier hikes to trek than some others found in the White Mountain National Forest.

But what is really captivating for many folks (myself included at one time or another!) is that upon completion of all fifty-two summits, the kind organizers offer a finishers patch to spice up your pack, tack into a frame with your favorite summit photo, or just hang onto and collect ‘memories’!

In an effort to make this a ‘one stop shop’, and of course a ‘thank you‘ for reading along – I’ll kindly include a bit of info as to where you can get your own 52WAV patch.. later on in this post, below!

At the time of writing this, I cannot claim to have hiked all of the mountains on this list, but I have either solo’d or trekked with friends along many of these routes – so, of course you can comment on here or shoot me a note on any social media platform with any questions – if I don’t have the answer – I will gladly find it for you!

Where can I find these 52 With a View?

Just do a search on your favorite web-browser and you will find a plethora of trail reviews, maps you can print (always have a hard copy of your planned hike.. and of course, know how to read your map!!).

One site that I have become familiar with that even offers hikers’ a spectacular App for any smart phone to track your progress or even use to simply pinpoint where these hikes are located is Peak-Bagger (I threw a link in there for you, just click the text!). I enjoy this page/app because it is super easy to add dates, elevation gain or any special notes about each hike that you would like to have all in one convenient spot to quickly refer back to and jog your memory!

Plus, one epic feature is that you can select a tab to view the lists that your ascended peaks fall under, select which list you want to view; the map that is generated contains way points signifying each peak to signify where they are located with green dots for climbed or red dots for ‘to-still-do’, I love it!

Do I need any special gear to tackle these magical mountains?

 

No way! Well.. maybe some binoculars or good snacks if you think you may want to relax and observe nature during some of the time not spent trekking17 miles to a secluded 4000-footer in the middle of the National Forest!

While the trails are generally easier jaunts in the forest, they still provide steep trails – after all, this is still New Hampshire, and most of these trails are still located next to their taller cousins.

Just be aware of what season you are hiking in: if you naturally feel you can articulate your feet and ankles on our east coast trails with simple grippy trail runners or approach shoes, that should do you just fine in three of our seasons!

Of course, be mindful that these trails are no different: they get steep, they get wet, they get massively eroded down to rocks and roots, you absolutely can still twist ankles – these are still hiking trails into the forest – don’t ever assume that you The author on Smarts Mt - fire towerwill have cell phone service anywhere on any hiking trail in New Hampshire!

What are the peaks?

I’ll include a list of names and elevations as a starter for you (also below), if I wrote about my hikes to these destinations I’ll graciously link those pages to the names, so just click away, read and enjoy! However, if you don’t find a link to a hike that you are interested in.. there is a good chance that I just have not written about my adventure yet.. these things take time! 😉

Please feel free to reach out to me about any one of these hikes – if I haven’t yet climbed it, I’ve likely put in a bunch of time researching the peaks, so please do reach out if you would like any additional info here!

..52 With A View..

 

  1. Sandwich Mountain – 3,960′
  2. Mount Webster – 3,910′
  3. The Horn – 3,905′
  4. Mount Starr King – 3,898′
  5. Shelburne Moriah Mountain – 3,735′
  6. Sugarloaf – 3,700′
  7. North Baldface – 3,600′
  8. Mount Success – 3,565′
  9. South Baldface – 3,560′
  10. Cherry Mountain – 3,554′
  11. Mount Chocorua – 3,480′
  12. Stairs Mountain – 3,468′
  13. Mount Avalon – 3,440′
  14. Jennings Peak – 3,440′PeakBagger.com - 52WAV map
  15. Percy Peaks (North Peak) – 3,420′
  16. Mount Resolution – 3,415′
  17. Magalloway Mountain – 3,383′
  18. Mount Tremont – 3,371′
  19. Three Sisters (Middle Sister) – 3,354′
  20. Kearsarge North – 3,268′
  21. Smarts Mountain – 3,238′
  22. West Royce Mountain – 3,200′
  23. North Moat Mountain – 3,196′
  24. Imp Face – 3,165′
  25. Mount Monadnock – 3,150′
  26. Mount Cardigan – 3,123′
  27. Mount Crawford – 3,119′
  28. Mount Paugus (South Peak) – 3,080′
  29. North Doublehead – 3,053′
  30. Eagle Crag – 3,020′
  31. Mount Parker – 3,004′
  32. Mount Shaw – 2,990′
  33. Eastman Mountain – 2,939′
  34. Mount Hibbard – 2,920′
  35. Mount Kearsarge – 2.920′
  36. Mount Cube – 2,909′
  37. Mount Willard – 2,865′
  38. Stinson Mountain – 2,840′
  39. Black Mountain – 2,820′
  40. South Moat Mountain – 2,760′
  41. Black Mountain (Middle Peak) – 2,757′
  42. Dickey Mountain – 2,734′
  43. Iron Mountain – 2,726′
  44. Potash Mountain – 2,680′
  45. Blueberry Mountain – 2,662′
  46. Mount Israel – 2,620′
  47. Square Ledge – 2,600′
  48. Mount Roberts – 2,582′
  49. Mount Pemigewasset – 2,557′USGS marker atop Mt Cube
  50. Mount Hayes – 2,555′
  51. Middle Sugarloaf – 2,539′
  52. Hedgehog Mountain – 2,532′

For information about receiving a patch for your determination and love of adventuring.. I have been told to direct you to:

  • Mark Tuckerman
  • PO Box 718
  • Center Harbor, New Hampshire 03226

Also, be sure to check out a few of these resources for a bit of further reading and research bliss!

Mount Cube – A New Years Day Celebration!

Hiking on New Years Day was originally not how I intended to spend my day off; Just off Highway 25A, the trail begins on the Southbound AT

the weather looked crummy, but that didn’t stop me from checking the weather in the typical grid pattern that I do around the White Mountains of NH and into Eastern VT to get an idea of what peaks would appeal to Ciara and I and simply be tolerated by our doggies Boone and Crockett (they don’t like the winds in their ears!).

I had it stuck in my mind from the second that I swiped my badge at work Monday afternoon that I would be running some considerable distance Tuesday again, low and slow distance. I had my sights set (had I decided as a ‘back-up plan’ to hike a mountain) on Waterville Valley, the target slowly drifted from the 4003′ peak of Mount Tecumseh (the top is in tree-line so the wind wouldn’t affect as atrociously) to somewhere I had never been: The Sandwich Range. I honestly just like the name and the fact that it traversed a ridge, knowing that the water would still be high from the recent rain and oddly unseasonably high temperatures.

Over some New Years Eve kombucha I began thinking of a back-up to the first back-up hiking plan –

what if I did not what to drive over an hour and a half on a sheet of ice while being blown around by 60+mph winds? I wasn’t really in the market of crashing my Subaru on my day off – and the first day of 2019!

Remembering that I didn’t have super high expectations for Smarts Mountain from a few weekends ago (I really, really went into that hike knowing next to nothing other than the trail map glued to my brain cells and that there is a fire tower on the summit), turns out that was one of the most fun days of hiking that I have had in forever! And this peak actually connects to Smarts Mountain, should one have the time to make the 8-9 mile journey from one peak to the next (they are actually both the first “real” mountains that Northbound hikers on the Appalachian Trail will encounter as they head toward Maine!).

Ciara did not see me checking the weather for a more local hike as Along the Appalachian Trail headed to Mount Cube New Years Dayshe piped up from her crocheting:

“have you thought at all about Mt Cube? It’s more local and really nice!”, what had just occured was some kind of omen! It just so happens that I had also thought of Cube, well that settles that – Mount Cube it was!

As morning came.. fruit got cut, smoothies were made, celery stalks juiced; she got ready for work, I got ready for a hike. The weather, when I checked had deminished to mostly wind, left over snow from the prior night, but not really calling for new accumulation – I could deal with that for sure!

I had decided to wear my Salomon running vest for this 6.6mi (from Alltrails) trek southbound along the Appalachian Trail. I assumed the trails would be wet, despite the dry roads where I was driving from, so I opted for the good ol’ Asolo boots instead of the meshy trail runners that I would be guaranteed to have soaked toes in! I brought my 21″ snowshoes which hung out in my trunk for the hike, Hillsound spikes did just fine for this one! Because of the chance of heavy rains – and especially the 50+mph wind threats once the elevation was gained, I broke out the Gore-Tex Marmot jacket to throw over my North Face fleece when needed. Thick water-proof gloves and my warmest beanie were pulled out for this excursion, I knew the temps would be hovering around the 40’s but in the back of my mind, all I could think of, to prep for – were the forceful winds that cut through any fabric once I stood on the summit.

A short drive while munching on my morning carrots and celery juice later, Just prior to the final ascent to the open summit of Mount Cube

I arrived at the “parking lot” on Highway 25A, which I backed into – I was the only vehicle in what appeared to be an extra-wide shoulder (thanks to the friendly village snowplow), ready to stuff 2-3 cars right in that lot! From the lot I did not see any signs, admittedly I really did next to no research other than the map direction once I got rolling (sounding ironically similar to Smarts Mountain?) so I began my journey down a one lane road, which quickly ended at warning signs of Trapping in the area. Shoot, this was definitely not the path I needed to take, back to the car for a better look – I mean, this was the Appalachian Trail.. how could it be hard to find?

Once back at my car I saw right where to head, okay.. first problem solved! The sign read 3.4 miles to the summit of my destination, I was set to follow the infamous White Blazes all the way up – how hard can this be now? Fair enough, I made it half a mile before my easy to follow trail crossed a logging road, still no problem, began to walk up the road because I saw signs for “such and such forest” with other signs that gave mileages. 0.1mi into my side road there was a fork, “gotta go up, I guess”, so up hill in the general direction I began. Checked Gaia GPS on my phone (works great in airplane mode to save the battery), I was off my trail “Shit, you have to be kidding me with this!” – pretty sure that actually came out of my mouth with no one around.

My trail was through the woods, so into the woods I began.

I knew the direction that I needed to travel to intersect that pesky AT, to my luck the bushwhack through the forest was not through knee deep snow, it was still packed and crispy ice, easy to travel – and the best part of winter bushwhacking? If you need to turn around, just follow your boot prints and you’ll get back to where you started – especially today – I was the only one out in the forest with no other prints for miles to be confused over!

I was off my path for the better part of a mile, mostly running right along side of the AT and eventually I merged right back up with Brackett Brook after I had crossed on the thick snow-bridgeswhere trail maps would suggest I should be. Being back on the wide and well-marked Appalachian Trail, my pace now easily hastened considerably.

The one main water crossing was easily do-able,

Brackett Brook showed evidence of being high recently, but not today. Still incredibly careful while stepping on the snow-bridges that spanned the brook because if I crunched through – that would be my knee probably hyper-extending and plunging into some super chilled water! What works for me is to aim for where the snow and ice span looks the thickest, if the snow connects all the way down to a rock, that’s where I’ll be putting my foot!

Not long after crossing Brackett Brook, I turned to face the ominous, dark clouds with the wind whipping all around. A few drops of rain, not worth digging my jacket out yet; a few minutes later those drippy drops had turned into sheets of opaque freezing rain blowing nearly sideways! I was still feeling toasty from ascending, so deferred the Gore-Tex layer for now. Luckily the super-chilled rain really did not last long and I continued climbing. Most of the rocks that may have been exposed during the summer months were smoothed right over with ice underneath the 3-4 inches of granular pellets of rain drops.

The Hillsounds dug in perfectly and before long I was cutting up the switchbacks and found myself at the next trail sign, my destination was not far now! I swung left, continuing my trek along the southbound AT and within about one tenth of a mileWaiting for a glimpse of a view on the summit of Cube - North Peak I could see the summit – socked in with winds blowing. There is something incredibly remarkable about being in deafening wind gusts and being able to actually see water droplets cruising through the air – I have heard about the wonderous views from the summit of Cube (hence why it made the cut for the “52 With A View”), but –

the glazed over quartzite summit cone at 2909′ made this an unforgettable experience!

I was even fortunate enough to spot the USGS marker, it was frozen over just the same as the rest of the summit rocks, so I opted to not try to chip at it (I secretly cringe inside when I see someone stabbing at a frozen Geological Marker with an ice ax just for a photograph).

Heading back down I went straight at the junction that I had arrived at earlier in my journey and proceeded to what Ciara included in her brief trail report to me as a “must see”, over on the North Peak of Mount Cube – which is clearly marked and appeared well traveled! It’s a short and quick 0.4mi spur trail to reach another gem of a summit – North Peak’s open rock USGS marker on the high point of Mount Cubesummit, enough trees to gladly cut the wind, but after seeing photos online of the views, I see why folks made the quick trip over to this side of the mountain!

I found the pile of rocks announcing “You have arrived at the 2nd summit!”,

snapped a couple of GoPro – wide angle shots, and turned back to waste some time over on the open rocks watching and listening, just breaking and breathing up there away from life’s noise (some may call this ‘meditation’?).

Just as put my gloves back on and turned to follow my foot prints out of that beautiful white-out, I glanced back to see the cloud cover lightening up just enough to make out several landmarks down below – what a truely pleasant surprise this mountain had in-store for me!

Once I had soaked up as much of the unexpected view as humanly possible, At the junction there are several paths for hikers to take

I officially packed it up and booked it back down, still following my tracks back – I had a mysterious burst of energy now, and felt incredibly light on my toes despite the solid construction of the Asolo boots. I ran back to the intersection. I made my turn left to head back to 25A and kept running, it felt as if I was flying – sure there was ice underfoot and I slid with literally every step, splashing up a wave of freshly fallen rain pellets that I faught to gain traction through on my ascent. Of course I slowed for the minor stream crossings but my path was smooth sailing right down and in about 45 minutes, I covered the same terrain that took about 2hr 15minutes to climb.

A day in the mountains that I will surely never forget.

A mountain that I cannot wait to sit on with Ciara, Boone and Crockett as soon as the temps increase and the snow melts. Another gem in our backyard for sure!!

I hope you enjoyed the New Years Day write up of my experience with Mount Cube along the Appalachian Trail in winter. Of course, there will be many more reports of my veggie-fueled hiking and running excursions – so don’t forget to subscribe over there on the right and you’ll receive updates right to your email box!

Everyone have a stellar 2019 and I look forward to seeing you out on the trails!

Cheers and Happy Trails!!

Erik


Overall stats for the day:GPS track of Mount Cube

Recorded with my Coros Pace watch

  • 7.52mi
  • 3hr 7min (~2hr 20min ascent/ ~45min  descent)
  • 2418′ total ascent