View Full Version : Seek the Peak 2011 7/19-23/11

KD Talbot
07-26-2011, 08:51 PM
Emma on Boott Spur

We spent the best part of a week in the mountains, camping at Moose Brook State Park in Gorham. We took our usual site at the Shelter, away from the main part of the campground. This trip was in conjunction with our annual pilgrimage to Mount Washington to join the Mount Washington Observatory in their annual fundraiser, the Seek the Peak Hike-a-thon. I'd like to thank everyone who donates to the cause by sponsoring our hike. This was Emma's tenth Seek the Peak!

The Shelter at Moosebrook State Park

When we arrived on Tuesday temperatures were perfect and skies were blue, but that was about to change. We busied ourselves with setting up camp and then visited the swimming pond to cool off before driving over to the Peabody River swimming hole to further enjoy the fine weather. That night we had a great supper cooked on the camp stove and we were reminded that food cooked and eaten outdoors always tastes better! Cool temps made sleeping easy and we even needed to pull out a sleeping bag in the middle of the night it was so cool.

Hot Summer Days at Moosebrook

Next morning everything changed, except our plans to hike. After cooking a big breakfast we were off to the Mahoosucs. The plan started out as an eleven mile loop, up Peabody Brook Trail to Dream Lake, then along the Mahoosuc Trail to Gentian Pond, down to Dryad Falls and back along the Peabody Brook again. After starting out we realized the heat and humidity were not our only foes as we watched the personal clouds of midges gathering around our heads. The head-nets went on which made the humidity even more disgusting. We soon realized that maybe we would be changing our planned hike.

Great Spangled Fritillary Speyeria cybel on Heal-all Prunella vulgaris

Along the trail were dozens of butterflies, Great Spangled Fritillarys, which were flitting about, stopping at the Heal-all flowers which grew at our feet, then flitting off to the next. It was a nice surprise to be joined by these beauties, but it did not relieve the heat or improve the air quality. We made a stop at Giant Falls where it was apparent that the area was in dire need of a good, soaking rain as the falls barely trickled. Returning to the main trail we soon came to a spot where a rock-slide crossed the trail and there were views southwest. The views however, were poor due to the thick haze, and it was here I became aware of an underlying smoky smell that reeked at times of burnt plastic. Wildfires in Canada again!

Dream Lake

Eventually the trail topped out and there was a long, relatively flat section through boggy terrain where many puncheons were carefully placed over the muddy spots. This took us along the south shore of Dream Lake and to the junction with the Dryad Falls Trail. By this time the combined heat, humidity, poor air quality and relentless bugs had made our minds up for us that the hike we had planned had best be saved for a nice cool fall day. We sat near Dream Lake and thought of the misery the Thru-hikers were experiencing out here in this weather. We decided to cut it off short, so instead of the intended route, we headed south on the Mahoosuc Trail to a point called Wocket Ledge, and had our lunch there. Visibility was only a few miles through the thick haze. We returned to the car by the same route and headed straight for the swimmin' pond at Moosebrook.

Swimmin' Hole on Dry River

The humidity Wednesday night gave way somewhat in the wee hours before dawn, so after tossing and turning most of the night, we were able to catch a few Z's before the sun broke over the hazy horizon and the day began a repeat of its predecessor. With the increasing heat and humidity we decided to keep activity at a minimum. We headed south towards Crawford Notch and down to the Dry River where there was another favorite swimmin' hole. We did hike about four miles of buggy trail to get to and from this spot, but enjoyed it immensely while we were there. There were quite a few butterflies of different species flitting about here as well and I went about trying to capture them with the camera. On the way back we stopped at Trail's End Ice Cream where I highly suggest you try a couple of scoops of your favorite flavor in an Almond Bowl!

A butterflies gotta' get salt and enzymes somewhere! Eastern Comma Polygonia comma

Mourning Cloak Nymphalis antiopa

Thursday night was the worst. I finally got up around midnight, mad with the heat, and dashed down to the pond where I sat in the cool water for about a half an hour trying to cool down. Friday morning brought more of the same, so we laid low. I made the trip down to North Conway to the Weather Discovery Center to register us for the next day's hike and to pick up what has lovingly come to be known as the "Swag Bags" that are donated by sponsors to the Observatory and given out to the registered hikers. We now each have new EMS day bags emblazoned with the STP logo, along with a lot of other cool goodies including wool socks, sunscreen, and other cool stuff. Linda and Blue arrived while I was gone and when I got back we all headed for the river to cool off again. As luck would have it, as we left the river the car we crossed in front of was our friends the Truman's who we hadn't seen in months, so we stopped to talk for a bit.

Tuckerman Ravine from Harvard Rock

On the Boott Spur Trail

Friday night cooled down just enough to allow some sleep, but the 5am alarm seemed exceptionally early. We were up and after coffee and a quick brush we were on our way to Pinkham where we were early enough to get a decent parking spot and see a moose wallow in the pond across from the lodge. Off on the Tuckerman Ravine Trail we went under overcast skies and a light drizzle. We soon left the crowds behind as we turned onto the Boott Spur Trail and began one of our favorite hikes. The plan was to hike up Boott Spur and decide at that point what we would do from there . The drizzle stopped and the overcast worked in the dogs favor to keep them from the blazing sun.

Linda and Blue on the Boott Spur Trail

Meadow Sweet Spiraea alba var. latifolia

We were soon up to the lookout at Harvard Rock and took in the fantastic views into Tuckerman Ravine and across to Lion Head and beyond to Nelson Crag. The sky was beginning to clear now and glimpses of blue sky were appearing here and there. By the time we made it to the junction with Boott Spur Link the sun was making its presence known, and the heat of the day was rising. The clouds still offered some relief from the direct inferno overhead, but the dogs were starting to pant and began to seek shade when it offered itself behind and under the boulders along the trail. The last mile or so push from the junction became increasingly hot and we sought shade at the summit of Boott Spur as soon as we arrived.


KD Talbot
07-26-2011, 08:52 PM
Shade Seekers

Still Heading Up

We had our lunch, the dogs eating all they had and turning to us to share ours. It was obvious that in this heat we would not attempt the summit although it was probably cooler up there. For Emma, the problem is the direct sun. It soaks into her black coat and makes her exceedingly hot. The best thing to do with her is to get her down to where she can cool off in a nice mountain stream, so it was decided we would start down using the Davis Path and Glen Boulder Trails. Problem was, it is like a desert up there. Super dry terrain, no water or shade and the sun blazing down. I would like to interject at this point that anybody considering a trip above timberline to take this into consideration before taking their dog up there. Although we humans were comfortable as we were afforded some good stiff breezes to cool us down, the breeze had little cooling effect on dogs who hike in heavy fur jackets. Another consideration is the make-up of the Presidential Range. Besides being above timberline, the rocks are a mix of quartzite and mica-schist, very abrasive and very tough on dogs soft pads. Emma and Blue ask that you please consider all these things before you bring your best friend up there.

On Boott Spur

From the Davis Path

Both Emma and Blue were quite uncomfortable before we got them back down out of the blazing sun and to some nice, cool water where they were able to cool themselves down. The cloud cover did not work in our favor on this trip to protect the dogs from the heat of the direct sun and even in the shaded wooded parts the heat and humidity were still very high so as to not offer much relief. As a dog owner I seriously doubt that I will take Emma for any extended hiking above timberline in July again, just not worth it when other months are so much cooler.

Lenticular Clouds from Boott Spur

Along the Davis Path

All in all it was a great hike, and the dogs quickly recovered from the heat as soon as they could get to water. We were done in plenty of time to ride back to Moosebrook, clean up then return to the base of the Auto Road where the best part of the hike awaited: A turkey dinner done right by Hart's Turkey Farm! We all ate our fill of turkey, potatoes, salad, squash, gravy, cranberry sauce and awesome desserts. Yes, it's like Thanksgiving in July! A great way to cap off a day of hiking on Mount Washington, but the best part was getting together with friends old and new we have made over the years at this event. At the dinner there are literally hundreds of donated prizes given away, and most of it is pretty good stuff. If you have thought about doing this or wondered what it was all about, then I highly suggest you give it a try, it is a great way to help out the non-profit Observatory that most hikers rely heavily upon for weather forecasting in the mountains. And who knows? Maybe you'll be lucky like our friend Charlie and walk away with a prize like a one-year lease on a new Subaru!

Lenticular Clouds from the Glen Boulder Trail

Along the Glen Boulder Trail

Epilogue: Many of our friends joined us back at the Shelter at Moosebrook after the dinner for a few beers, some wine and some of Val's delicious pastries. It was a good time to reflect on the day's hike, and other hikes, past and future. The week had culminated into a great day of hiking and the aftermath of a gathering with friends to share stories, hopes, dreams and aspirations, what could be better?

A Stiff Breeze

Black Bear Ursus americanusOn Our Way Back to Camp

Complete set of pics HERE: (http://ghostflowers.smugmug.com/White-Mountain-Hikes/Seek-the-Peak/Seek-the-Peak-719-2311/18210953_fsxpRp#1399799009_gQ292g6)


Snow Miser
07-27-2011, 06:57 AM
Fabulous pictures and story of your week camping and hiking Kevin! I love this last photo of the bear most of us saw upon exiting the After Dinner. Thanks for sharing with us. :)

07-27-2011, 07:15 AM
Just awesome Kevin! For a week of oppressive weather you guys managed to get the most out of it. So glad we got a chance to hang out with you guys for a bit this weekend. Sorry we didn't get to hike together, but we'll just have to remedy that soon! Thanks again for the hospitality Saturday night. Always fun seeing folks at the "after party". Oh, by the way - did I mention that your photos are amazing? Guess I forgot since that is just a given ;) See you soon.

07-27-2011, 07:18 AM
Great report Kevin. As usual your pictures are amazing.

07-27-2011, 09:30 AM
Great trip report Kevin. Good job making the best out of a very hot and humid week! Looks like your route for Seek the Peak, although altered halfway through, was a great one! Up there, you certainly don't have to summit to get spectacular views. I watched those same Lecticular Clouds form over Wildcat, as I'm sure many did...pretty cool stuff! How did you menage to get the flower shot with the bee on it with the breeze? I had such a hard time focusing in on flowers that day because the wind kept moving them! Again, wonderful pictures and a great report as usual!


07-27-2011, 09:30 AM
Great TR Kevin, your hike report as well as the pictures are fantastic. I can sympathized with your hike as I too hiked Boot Spur during STP, and many thanks for your Saturday night hospitality it was a pleasure meeting your family as well as Emma & Blue.