Saturday, November 29, 2014

Black and Sugarloaf Mtns. Benton, NH 11/15/14

A couple Saturdays ago, with a favorable forecast, I decided to return to Black and Sugarloaf Mtns. in Benton. My first visit to these two, on separate occasions, were less than ideal. Lousy to no views.
The plan was to hike Black Mtn. via the Chippewa Trail and bushwhack to Sugarloaf from there. I'd continue past the summit of Black on the ridge, to the col between it and Howe Hill. Then drop down to open woods and head for Sugarloaf. I knew the woods between the two were wide open from this shot I took last March. It shows the col I mentioned and the woods heading to Sugarloaf from there. I marked the col and my intended route.

I headed out on the Chippewa Trail with snow showers, (that were not forecast), passing over.

After about a mile, I headed off trail a bit to a lower ledge.

You can see the snow showers. Some approaching and some over Sugarloaf.

The next set of ledges on trail shows the same. Continuous snow showers coming from the west. :(

Heading higher and more of the same.

Now climbing to first large ledge just below the summit of Black Mtn.

It didn't look as bad over on Sugarloaf, but Moosilauke was getting hit hard.

Looking up to the summit of Black Mtn., the skies to the NE did not look promising for views.

Heading up some more....

I reached the junction of the 2 trails to Black Mtn., and the last little bit of up to the top.

At the top, The SW view and still seeing signs of snow showers.

Moosilauke still engulfed.

But the NE view is looking pretty good.  :)

The Kinsmans and lower Franconia Ridge over Howe Hill.

It was only around 11AM but I decided to take an extended lunch break. The snow showers seemed to be passing overhead pretty quickly now. At this point I wasn't sure I'd make the trek to Sugarloaf. I didn't want to head over if I was going to be stuck in a snow cloud. But things slowly seemed to improve.

This is a good look at the woods I'd be walking in.

After hanging around on the summit for about an hour, I decided to move on, along the ridge, past the summit. As you can see the spruce were covered with snow. It was here I made my classic bushwhacking in winter mistake. Not remembering to put my hood on until I got snow down my back. :(

Some more ledge and views on the ridge past the summit.

I didn't quite make it to the col before I decided to drop down off the ridge. It was pretty thick with snow covered spruce which was getting my legs fairly wet. I was not wearing waterproof pants. Once I did, it was fairly thick woods.

But after the short but steep descent, it started opening up a bit.

Then just like that, the woods were, gone?  :D

Normally, I'd say this was by design after studying the area on Google Earth. But I didn't need to know much about this hike so I didn't look at it on G.E. So this huge clear-cut was a pleasant surprise.

A close-up of The Moose and Tunnel Ravine.

From here I figured on just heading straight for Sugarloaf which was easy as it was visible through these wide open woods.

I did not study the map very well, not especially smart. I didn't realize I'd need to cross Titus Brook. Luckily it was pretty narrow, and shallow enough to rock-hop.

Shortly after crossing I came upon this logging road. Which I decided to follow.

It led me to this clearing. 

I followed the herd path in the clearing, which turned into this. Which was heavily flagged by logging companies I assume.

I had been heading SSW straight towards Sugarloaf. If I used this road I'd be heading SE, away from Sugarloaf. But looking at the map, this would ease the grades and loop me around a ridge, then ravine I'd have to deal with. So easy walking was the choice.

I stayed on the road for a quarter mile or so then went back to heading SSW. I believe this road goes all the way to Long Pond Rd. More great woods with more logging markings.

Another clear-cut.

More great woods, and do I see yet another clear-cut with views? 

Yes, I do.  :)  Sugarloaf and Vermont views.

Knox, Butterfield, Burnt, Signal, and Spruce to name a few of the peaks in VT.

This is forming a pattern now. Great woods.

I liked this lone spruce. It just needed some lights.  8)

And a view. Black Mtn.

Now the final ascent up Sugarloaf from the east.

A sneak peek.

Then the SE ledges. Just a couple pix, here. All the zooms in the album.
The Moose.

A SE view. Smarts, Cube, and Piermont in the middle.

I then made my way to the north side. A nondescript view into VT.
Black Mtn.

I was going to, for the second time, try to find a view from some ledge on the west side. But, for the second time, decided I'd seen enough. My first trip to Sugarloaf was an out and back from the Chippewa Trail. This meant descending into, then ascending out of the Titus Brook valley. Twice on that trip. I wanted to avoid that this time so I headed more east. In the same great woods as I'd had all day.

After about a mile I came across this road.

I wondered if it might be part of the same road that the Chippewa Trail is part of for a short distance. Either way, it was heading down and generally in the right direction. Again, I chose easy walking.

This brought  me to another crossing of Titus Brook. Which again, was easy.

And the road continued. 

A short time after crossing Titus Brook, I came across this old structure just off trail. It had 2 rooms. One room looked like it may have been a bunk-room. A larger room, which I took a picture of, possibly a dinning/gathering area. Something to do with all the logging in the area perhaps. Then, maybe it was just a barn. :)

Then I came upon this structure that was newer and far more primitive.

More road.

I was pretty sure, but not possitive, this was the same road the trail was on. But I finally came to the point that the Chippewa Trail heads off the road. That's it on the right.

Close to finishing now. This road worked out perfectly. Completely avoided any extra climbing on the way out.

A last look.

And out.

I had never been on Lime Kiln Rd. on a clear day so I never saw this cool view of Sugarloaf and Hogsback before.

It didn't look like it would at first, but it turned out to be a fine day.  :D

Tracks on my Garmin map. You can see a host of old trails trails. One major one is a continuation of the Black Mtn Tr. Which looks like it went all the way to North/South Rd. Which I believe was taken over by that road I was on. This is just speculation on my part.

And the tracks in G.E.