Mount Shaw 2990' via Sentinel Mountain, Canaan Mountain 2072', Mount Flagg 2800', and descending by Black Snoot 2803' and Big Ball Mountain 2015'
8.5 Miles 3000 +/- Elevation gain
Kevin, Judy and Emma and a host of others!
We seldom plan to do a hike more than a week in advance, and we seldom respond to open calls, but when we saw the plans for this hike posted and saw the line up of folks who were interested in making this hike we knew we wanted to join in. Anticipation grew as the date approached and we kept a close eye on the weather which was threatening to be a wash out for the day in question. For once the weathermen got it right and the hike had to be postponed to the following day. Sunday morning folks began arriving at the designated spot where a bull moose decided to put on a show for the early arrivals. We arrived just in time for him to spook and head off across a meadow and disappear into the forest. Soon a large group had gathered and we began the trip to the carspot and the trailhead. On the way over it rained pretty hard but a quick check of some electronic gadgets showed the squall line passing and little rain coming our way for the rest of the day. We started out on a wet trail on our way to our first outlook on Sentinel Mountain. On the way up it was disappointing to see that there had been recent logging done there, but thats how it goes sometimes. It will add a more diverse habitat for the local wildlife and five years from now will hardly be noticeable. Climbing up to Sentinel was a sort of homecoming for me as it was the first thing outside of Massachusetts I had ever climbed going back over thirty years ago. At the ripe age of eighteen I made the climb with my future first wife. We were well equipped with a pack of cigarettes and a bottle of wine. At least I'm somewhat older and wiser now. Well, at least older. After a few quick group summit shots we were off along the trail towards Cannan mountain which the trail skirts around the south shoulder of, then on to Mount Flagg which has some good views to the north from its ledges before reaching the rampart like summit where a scramble up onto the rock heap affords a 360 degree view. As we had climbed the temperature had dropped about 20 degrees and the wind picked up significantly, although at the same time the sun made its appearance. From Flagg we made a beautiful climb through a lovely birch forest on our way to the high point of our trip, Mount Shaw. Along the way there was a lot of scrambling to do over broken boulders which made the going a bit slow and somewhat difficult, but the rocky sections were broken up by smooth paths through birch forests and some sections of smooth slabs, so the going wasn't always tough. On the summit of Mount Shaw we gathered again for lunch. Many folks had brought along treats to share and my one regret of the day was that I didn't snag a cupcake when I had a chance. I thought I'd get one later, then missed out. Sigh! The usual incredible view to the north was obscured today by a number of snow squalls that moved quickly across the landscape. We had a perfect vantage point to watch these so it was a good consolation prize for missing out on the view. The clouds made for interesting skies all day long and I can't speak for everyone, but days like this are much more fun for me than clear blue skies. From Shaw we made our way along a carriage road over to Black Snoot. (We decided to call this summit Black Snoot so as not to be confused with the other Black Snout further to the north. No one can come up with a good explanation as to why there are two.) The carriage roads had been made all over this section of the mountains to entertain the owners of the famous Castle in the Clouds. It was nice to have some easy terrain to hike for a while. From Black Snoot there is a great view west across Lake Winnepesaukee to the Belknap Range. We watched more squalls drift across the massive lake and the sun found holes in the clouds where it reached down to the surface of the lake and lit it up with brilliant, shimmering patches of iridescence. Descending from Black Snoot we were soon scrambling up to the summit of Big Ball Mountain where we stopped to watch the play of sunlight and dark clouds as snow squalls passed over the great lake. To the east there was a brief, faint rainbow over Dan Hole Pond. Eventually we made our way down the slippery, leaf-strewn trail back to our waiting cars where we piled in and drove back to our starting point. It was great to spend the day talking to all the different folks who were along on this trip. I wish I could have spent more time getting to know everyone, but it was great just to get to meet them all. Trips like these reinforce the belief that the hiking community as a whole is full of great people who are willing to share their time and knowledge to introduce others to all the little slices of heaven that the northeast has to offer. Sometimes we get caught up in hiking lists and forget to go out and explore. The Ossipees are a perfect excuse to put aside the lists and go out and discover another section of the world that we may have overlooked.
Mount Chocorua from Mount Shaw