Sunday, August 28, 2011

The Nubble (Haystack Mtn) & The Peak Above...8/27/11

After a brief hiatus from the 3K list, I got back into it on Saturday. With the pending storm we wanted to do something fairly short and easy as to be out of the woods by the 6 PM emergency closing time of the White Mountain national Forest due to hurricane Irene. Mike mentioned in the middle of the week PatN so that ended up being the plan. For further reference PatN, is Peak above the Nubble. He also knew how he wanted to do the bushwhack to PatN. Which was going to be up the slide on the north slope. YAY! We headed out and were at the end of Gale River Road a around 7:45 AM. The hike starts from the gate, closing corridor 11 a snowmobile trail, to vehicles in non-winter.
The trail passes what I believe are some logging cuts which will afford you some views Northeast. 
It continues on the snowmobile trail at easy grades. At around the half-mile mark you diverge off the trail to a fairly easy to follow herd path.
It starts out at easy grades that eventually starts a steady climb. It passed a pretty small brook on the way. Which I imagine after Sunday will flowing a bit stronger than this.
This herd path skirted Haystack Brook for a ways then started to climb a bit steeper to the col between The Nubble and PatN. At at the col the obvious herd path headed up to Haystack Mountain. We stopped here and said we should do this now not knowing first, what the weather would be like later, and how we might feel. So we headed up and were almost immediately treated to views.
Once up there we had 360° views from this nice little 2700 foot mountain. It was fairly cloudy, and hazy but definitely worth the detour.
As always on our hikes there is as much levity as possible so I asked Mike if he'd mind standing at the edge of the ledge to give me a height perspective. Being ham that he is, he obliged.
We did not do much more than take some photos and enjoy the views from those nice little mountain. We did not want to hang around too long as there was some weather expected to arrive around 1 PM. So we headed off to do PatN. Which is in the photo below.
Once down off a Haystack Mountain we were into the actual bushwhacking. But fear not, these were some of the most beautiful birch glades I've seen. 
I was in the lead at this point and doing what I usually do, just going up. I had, noticed that I was headed to high it would miss a good chunk of the slide and was slowly correcting. But not fast enough for my good friend Mike who is always at the ready to, ORDER, my course correction. ;-) And before we knew it we were at the slide. Which had a fair amount of vegetation in it and running water at this elevation.
We were concerned from the start that this might be difficult if it was still pretty wet from the last rain which was Thursday. Down low the slide had some tricky scrambles over some damp and even wet slab.
The higher we got on the slide the more open it was. And slowly the trickling water eventually stopped. But even so every slab we had to cross and ascend had some slick area that you had to be careful of. But still this was quite fun.
Not to mention how fun it is to climb one of the slides, they almost always will give you some great views. This one was no different.
There would end up being 2, but it was here that we had the first very scary moment. When Mike was trying to get up on the ledge that he is standing on in the photo below, he dislodged a few rocks. A couple baseball sized ones and one about the diameter of a basketball but sort of flat. Best way to describe it, a small, rock, wheel. These all were headed for Greg. The big one missed him but I believe he was hit by one of the smaller ones. But as the large one passed him it was now headed for me. Something at the last second diverted it. Which was a good thing because there was no way I would've had time to to move.
I believe we learned a valuable lesson here which we would use on our descent later in the day. And that is when climbing or descending a slide with loose boulders space yourselves as to be able to avoid any falling rocks that may get dislodged by your hiking partners. We didn't have much further to go on the slide but we were at its steepest point which was loose gravel and rocks which was a bit unnerving.
Once past that we could see the top of the slide and where we would have to reenter the woods.
From there it was just another 10th of a mile bushwhack through some pretty decent woods.
And at around 10:30 or 11 AM we made the summit. 
Just a few feet below the summit there was a small lookout with views primarily to the north.
We did not spend much time on the summit at all as we were expecting some rain to be moving in any time. So we signed in and headed back the way we came. But this time when descending the slide through the steep and loose sections we gave ourselves a bout a 75 yard buffer zone between us. 
Near the end of the slide, which pretty much turns into Haystack Brook, I had my second scary situation. And this was probably the closest I've ever come to some serious injury. At this point of the slide/Haystack Brook there was a gorge. Not too deep, I'd say about 15 feet. Anyway, again in the photo below where Mike is standing I slipped and almost went into the gorge. I have no idea what stopped me from going over other than sheer luck.
Once I composed myself, and changed my underwear ;-), it was back into the woods for the final trek through those gorgeous birch glades.
The hike was roughly 5 1/2 miles, and took us about four hours. Despite a few slips, two of which were fairly dangerous, hiking the slide was a lot of fun. And the views from the trail less summit of Haystack Mountain were fantastic.

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