Round Pond from Southern Ledges on Belknap Mountain
Gunstock Mtn. 2250'/ Belknap Mtn. 2382'/ Piper Mtn. 2044'
Approx. 4.5 Miles 1400' Elevation gain
Kevin, Emma, Heidi Roberta and Bob
Emma and I got the chance to hike with some new friends and an old one this week. The new friends were Heidi (The Dog) and Roberta her person. The old one was just Bob. Emma got to teach some of her trail zen to the willing student Heidi. They gave each other space and before the hike was over they were trail buds. The deal was sealed when Emma allowed Heidi to kiss her ears. Can't say every dog gets to do that! The interesting note to the day was that Bob and Roberta who had never met shared the same last name, though spelt slightly differently, and shared the same home town. Bob knew one of her brothers.
View to the Ossipees and Mount Shaw from Gunstock
Northeast to the Sandwich Range
We met by the gate at the bottom of the Carriage Road and hiked the White Blaze Trail to the summit of Gunstock. We had a great day for hiking, October thus far had been cold, wet and dreary. Well, it was still cold, my favorite hiking weather, but the sun was shining bright, the clouds were beautiful, there was still plenty of foliage, the views were great and we had good conversation. It seemed like it took about 5 minutes to get to our first stop, Gunstock. We had some lunch on the deck of the sadly, closed for the season Panorama Pub and enjoyed the views. Directly across Lake Winnepesaukee from us was Mount Shaw that Bob, Emma and I had climbed a week or two ago.
Alpine Bilberry and Reindeer Lichen
We headed south from Gunstock towards Belknap Mountain. It's a nice rolling, gentle hike between these two hills and we quickly found ourselves standing at the base of the fire-tower atop Belknap's summit. Bob and I ventured up for the views. Dressed for Autumn and standing in a 20mph icy blast from the northwest made the next season seem much closer than the calendar says. It has already reached the higher elevations of the northern peaks while on the edge of Lake Winnepesaukee where we stand there is still some Autumn left. I hope now that the rain is gone we get a nice warm stretch, an "Indian Summer" before we plunge into winter.
Heidi and Emma
While at the fire-tower we saw some others, some hikers and some not. Two fellows arrived, one with a pack. They were there to begin work on the radio and communications antennae that are positioned on the fire-tower and a nearby communications tower. These will be removed and moved to a new sight just south of the towers where a new, higher tower has been built. As I understand it the fire-tower will remain, but the old communications tower will be dismantled and removed. As we headed south to Piper Mountain we passed the new tower and power building.
Southern Belknaps from Piper Mountain
Heidi Kisses Emma's Ears
Just south of the new tower is an intersection of trails. Instead of heading directly to Piper we took a short side-trip southeast to the southern slabs of Belknap where there are great views to Round Pond and the Southern Belknaps. Also, more to the east there is a good view of the southern end of Winnepesaukee and also of Ratlelsnake Island. Returning the short distance to the trail convergence we headed west towards Piper, sometimes crossing more ledges which revealed views to the south towards Sunset Lake and beyond. We hiked down into the col between Belknap and Piper, then made the gentle climb up to Piper.
New Trail Buds
On Piper are several stone chairs, a table, (or sacrificial alter, maybe) and wind block walls. From the stone seats there are great views east to the Southern Belknaps. We ate what was left in our packs and sat for a good while sheltered from the cool breeze in this spot. The dogs hammed it up good and I had fun taking some candid shots. The trail back down to the Carriage Road and our cars went as quickly as each section of trail seemed to go all day. Sometimes with friends along the trail just seems to flow under your feet!
Full set of pics HERE: