View Full Version : Firescrew/Cardigan/South Peak 4/24/10

KD Talbot
04-26-2010, 05:40 PM
Can a dog be happy?

Small steps. It had been about nine weeks since our last "big" trip, a winter traverse of the Twins and Galehead. We had a failed attempt at Madison partially due to some sluggishness on our part, but also due to an injury Emma sustained slipping on some ice while wrestling with some other dogs on a weekly outing. On Madison she seemed fine, but was nearly lame the next day, so we have taken a necessary hiatus that has seemed to last forever. Over the last week Judy took Emma to Mount Major and Straighback Mountain, then a few days later she went to Rattlesnake (Rumney) with me. After these small outings she seemed no worse for the hike, so we planned something a little longer and higher.

Trout Lily Erythronium americanum

Mount Cardigan is always a good choice at any time, but this seemed like a perfect fit for slowly breaking back into it and to make sure Emma was really ready for it. We got to the lodge about nine and although the weatherman had been wrong several times recently, he nailed it when he forecast a sunny spring day with light winds and temps in the mid to upper sixties. What a perfect spring hiking day, with the best part being that the blackflies that had been becoming increasingly annoying in southeastern New Hampshire had not yet heard that it was spring around Mount Cardigan. A light breeze, warm sun and no flies! My kind of hiking day!

View of Mount Cardigan from Firescrew

In our quest to always cover new ground we decided to make a loop over Firescrew as the approach to Cardigan. Many times in the past we had looked longingly at it's bare summit and said, "We must go there next time." Well, it was one of those things where you're kicking yourself, "Why didn't we do this before?" What a beautiful trail through hardwoods, then rising up into the damp, dark spruce forest and finally out onto open ledges with million dollar views. As we broke out above tree-line we realized that it was truly one of those days without a cloud in the sky, yet not so warm that we were hoping that some would come along and blot out the sun to cool things down.

View northeast from Firescrew
Along the way we found Wake Robin Trillium in all stages of bloom, Bellwort with it's tiny bell-shaped flowers just blossoming, Trout Lily in different stages of opening up, from tiny new buds to wide open flowers, and great patches of Round-leaved Yellow Violets. We found a little bit of mud here and there and an occasional patch of snow, along with a blowdown or two, but all were easily circumnavigated. The views to the north and east were tremendous, with the crown jewel of the White Mountains, Mount Washington, standing proudly at the center, surrounded by its expansive family. We had the trail to ourselves until we actually reached the summit of Cardigan where we found almost as many dogs as people and dubbed it "Dog City".

Emma takes in the view spanning from Mount Moosilauke (L) to Mount Chocorua (R)

On our descent we again tried to cover new ground by descending West Ridge Trail to the junction with Skyland Trail where we followed this east to Rimrock. Then headed northeast again along South Ridge Trail to the great cairn on the nearly bald summit of South Peak. Dropping back down into the spruce, then bearing east again along the Hurricane Gap Trail to the AMC High Cabin. After checking out the locked cabin which we had never visited before we dropped down to PJ Ledge where we heard the now very familiar greeting of "Emma!" Seems people know her wherever we go, which is nice. Here we greeted Happy Hiker and her friend who I'm sorry I can't remember her real name, but who I anointed with the trailname "Long Trail" (Ale) due mainly to what they were sitting there enjoying in the warm spring sun.

View of Cardigan from South Peak

From there we followed the Clark- Holt Clark Cut-off -Holt- and Manning Trails back to the lodge where the parking lot had begun to look like weekend at Pinkham Notch. Along the way we helped remove a blowdown or two. There are some that will need some serious cutting on trailday next weekend. It was a great day and a great hike and reminded us that some of our favorite hikes, indeed, our favorite places, are these smaller, bald knobs like Cardigan, Chocorua and the Baldfaces. The miles of open ledges and walking above tree-line surrounded by distant, beautiful views make these hikes every bit as enjoyable, in fact more so, than many of the 4k hikes we have done.

Complete set of pictures here (http://ghostflowers.smugmug.com/White-Mountain-Hikes/FirescrewCardiganSouth-Peak/11948640_T3Chd#846595102_mbowg).


04-26-2010, 07:13 PM
very nice day for a hike looks good

Snow Miser
04-26-2010, 08:28 PM
Very nice photos and TR. Emma looks happy to be out there on such a nice day.

04-27-2010, 09:13 AM
Kevin, just a quick note to say thanks for sharing a nice set of reports for your recent trips to Rattlesnake (Rumney), and to Firescrew/Cardigan/South Peak!
You do a nice variety of hikes, and I enjoy reading your reports and viewing your photos from each of your adventures.

Anna LeBlanc
04-27-2010, 09:15 PM
Thanks Kevin,Cardigan is one of our favorite hikes and Nigel's too.Here's a couple of pictures from our hike up there last Summer:

Our friend Colleen and Nigel's brother Linus taking a break in the sun almost at the summit:


Follow those cairns to the summit firetower:


Gary and Nigel and Colleen and Linus enjoying the view towards the Whites:


Nigel taking a well deserved rest at the summit:


Can't wait to get hiking again!!!



KD Talbot
04-27-2010, 09:45 PM
OK, where's the cute button? :)


Anna LeBlanc
04-28-2010, 05:03 PM
Thanks Kevin.He definitely is alot cuter then Gary or me.;)


04-28-2010, 05:51 PM
Great stuff Kevin. Glad to see Emma back out on the trail.

Jimmy Legs and Little d
04-29-2010, 02:48 PM
Another terrific report and photos. Cardigan reminds me of hiking in Acadia.

I'll bet that is Nigel's favorite mountain in NH. My aunt had a Welsh Corgi when I was growing up; a sweet dog who lived to the ripe age of 13.


Anna LeBlanc
04-29-2010, 03:37 PM
It probably is his favorite mountain Donna.He's pretty game for anything.Corgi's are alot sturdier then most people think.He just loves to be with the family.



05-04-2010, 08:02 AM
Great pictures and report. I really like the closeup of the Trout Lily. Your dog is My wife and I climbed Cardigan last weekend (just after you) and saw many of the same views. We were stupid though and took the Holt trail all the way to the summit...not smart at all.

How'd you like the Firescrew? Were there good views? As good as the Cardigan summit? We never made it over but thought about it. We may want to do that next time.

Thanks for sharing,

KD Talbot
05-04-2010, 01:27 PM
I like Firescrew BETTER than Cardigan. Loads of ledges to hang around and NO CROWD! Holt's a good climb, if you know what you're getting into.