Thursday, March 8, 2012

A Bushwhack to Bald Knob on Acteon Ridge... Sandwich Range 3/7/2012

Wednesday I had taken the day off to do some hiking in the northern Presi's but high winds kept me from that. I was going to jsut use the day for R&R but decided to head out to do something short. Last summer I did a buchwhack to Sachem Peak and had intended to hit Bald Knob but ran out of time. I thought today I'd do the reverse but did not make it to Sachem Peak this time. I'm saying that this is a part of Acteon Ridge only because it appears to be a continuance of it. I'm not sure of this fact.
Bald Knob in middle distance.
I started from the Smarts Brook Tr. lot. I started out on the Pine Flat Ski Tr. to the Yellow Jacket Ski Tr. I started the bushwhack at the red dot.         
The first section of woods was pretty open pines. Then I entered the hardwoods. The area was thick with saplings but very easy to get though. I love the visibility in the woods this time of year, i.e. no leaves.
My plan was skirt around to the south and head up to the col between Bald Knob and the bump to the north. But I was having such a great time in some beautiful woods in 50* temps that I went too far north. The woods were open but I was in one of the largest boulder fields I've seen. And very steep.
The going was excruciatingly slow. I had switched to crampons because snowshoes just would not have worked here. I had to continually stop to look for my next move. Sometimes, only to be stopped by a ledge I could not negotiate.  Something like this.
I was treated to views along this ascent route though. 
This was steep but at no point would a slip have sent me down anymore than a few feet. What I was starting worry more about as I reached higher elevation and deeper snow was a snow bridge hiding a large crevasse between these huge rocks. This slowed me down even more as each step had to be carefully tested. I did find myself in one spot that a fall would not have been good and quickly retreated. After a photo of course. :)
After about an hour of weaving my way through this boulder / ledge laden area, I reached much easier grades. And more open views.
The ledges continue for some distance to the summit. It was quite something to be here alone. I found a rock that had no snow on it, took my shirt off and sun bathed for 15 minutes. Fantastic. Views were nice too. :)
Once moving again I reached the summit around 1:00PM. I could see Sachem Peak in the distance and I knew I didn't have the time or willingness to go any further. But I had nothing to complain about.
Bald Knob Summit
After I was certain I'd found every view this peak had to offer I headed down. No, not the way I ascended but the way I had planned to. This was through great woods and I was back on trail in short order.
Once back on the Flat Pine Trail I dropped down into the gorge on Smarts Brook to check out the ice.
I don't usually like making the drive I have from Mass. for such short hikes (4.5 mile for this one), but it was worth it this time. :-)



  1. Joe . . . what a wonderful report! I wouldn't fret about the fact that this was a short hike (mileage-wise). There is quantity (like miles and elevation gain), and then there is quality, which I consider to be more important than quantity. I've bushwhacked to peaks on the Acteon Ridge on three occasions and enjoyed each one.

    And also, aren't the ice formations there in the Smart's Brook Gorge simply awesome! On the way back from a trip to Concord last year, I made a short side trip there just to see this remarkable work of Mother Nature.

    I know it's almost heresy to say this, but I feel that your trip to the Acteon Ridge was on par with a trek to the Prezis!


  2. Thanks so much for the kind words John. I will admit that I am attracted to some of the hiking lists out there so not getting to the big boys was a slight disappointment. But this was one hell of a runner-up. And what makes this type of hike really great is, you're almost guaranteed to be the only one there.

  3. Great report, Joe! That's some rugged terrain you went up through. Going through big rocks like that with deep snow between can be a bit nerve-wracking! Acteon Ridge is a cool area for whacking. Thanks for sharing.


  4. Thanks Steve. Yes, that was very rugged terrain. Didn't realize how rugged 'til I was half way into it. No choice but to continue up at that point. Still had a great day. You can't beat a hike that's 55* and sunny with snow on the ground.