Cardigan and Firescrew 6/13/09
We were supposed to be spending the weekend camping at Cardigan but at the last minute our daughter decided she didn't want to go. The weather forecast was sounding iffy as well so we shifted our plans to a dayhike instead. Turned out to be a good decision...
Got up at 4:30 to have time to walk the dog, get ready and on the road by 6:30. No traffic (except for the about 1000 motorcycles on their way to the first day of Bike Week in Laconia). Made great time and were pulling into Cardigan at 9:45. Weather was absolutely beautiful - high 60s and sunny when we started. We'd never hiked Cardigan when it wasn't covered with snow (which is also great) and were really looking forward to this.
Decided to take the counterclockwise loop up Manning to Firescrew and then Mowglis to Cardigan and down Clark and Holt. We would up being glad we went that direction. The ledges on Firescrew were definitely better to be going up than down. Trails were all in great shape. A little muddy from all the rain lately but no big deal. Very few bugs (a pleasant surprise) other than a friendly group of black flies that decided to join us for lunch (or should I say have us for lunch) on Cardigan. Was getting pretty warm in the woods but once we reached the ledges below Firescrew we had a beautiful breeze the rest of the way. The view from the top was a little hazy but spectacular. The mountains to the north were laid out in green, blue and purple layers through the haze. We really love open ridge walking and this has to be one of the nicest places in New Hampshire for the effort. Being on top sort of has the feel of the mountains in Acadia (except without the ocean views).
The wildflowers were all in bloom. The walk from the beginning of the ledges below Firescrew all the way to Cardigan were just covered with flowers. There were also some interesting fauna (see pictures below).
On the way between Firescrew and Cardigan we met several people who were trying to find the Grotto Cave. I followed the cairns and make-shift blazes down with them from the sign but we never did find the cave. Anyone been there and have any hints for next time?
After a nice lunch and what seemed like way too short a stay on top we headed back down via the Clark and Holt Trails. Nice easy descent which happily didn't do my knees in (always an issue with the first few hikes of the season). We took the Nature Trail at the bottom which was a lovely way to end the hike. Wanting to check out the campsites we wandered around for a while and fond the one we want when we get back (sorry, can't give out the number - don't want any competition). The meadow and gardens around the lodge were beautiful and we got a couple of final treats with more flora and fauna. The thunderstorms that had been predicted never materialized and it was a beautiful drive back home. In the pool with a frost Sierra Nevada in hand at 6:30. Couldn't have found a better way to spend the day!!!
Heading up the Manning Trail
First views of Cardigan from the ledges below Firescrew
Nat surveys the views from Firescrew
Enjoying the view
Layers of mountains
Great day to be on a mountain
Heading down the Clark Trail from Cardigan
Blue Bead Lily
Help - can't identify these - they were everywhere!
More of the mystery flower on Cardigan summit
Lupines near the lodge
Bear print on the Manning Trail
Milk Snake (right before he disappeared into the rock)
Pretty good camouflage (almost got him stepped on)
A final farewall in the meadow by the lodge
Rest of the pictures are here: http://picasaweb.google.com/mtruman42/Cardigan61309#
Looks like a nice hike...but a long drive for one day!! Thanks for sharing the pictures.
Excellent pictures and nice TR. I really, really love your pix, Mark. So clear! I especially like the last one of the butterfly on the flower.
Great trip report and pictures Mark. Looks like the weather held out for you guys. Thanks for sharing.
Thanks for the comments everyone. It was a great day.
A long drive for a day, yes - but given the option of that or not hiking in the mountains it's an easy decision! I used to get aggravated when I couldn't work out all the logistics for more frequent long weekends up north due to all the family scheduling stuff. Last year I realized that dealing with the one day trips like this means a lot more hiking and a lot less aggravation about being at home instead of on the trail...
Originally Posted by mahony
I usually leave my house about 3:00 am and head north and do a day hike and then return home that evening. It takes me roughly 3-3-1/2 hours to pretty much anywhere I want to hike. The traffic is pretty much 0 in the am. I would rather do that if I have to (most of the time) then not hiking at all. To me the only long part is the drive home because I am revved up in the morning just to be going.
Looks like you got some decent sun and blue skies in amongst the clouds! The snake is very cool, as is the swallowtail. I originally thought you caught him in flight, but he's actually hanging upside down.
As for your mystery flower, I won't be any help today!
So glad you had a good hike!
Cardigan and Firescrew
We need to put this hike on our list after reading your report and seeing your pictures. Shades of Acadia.....with the long ascents on the granite slabs.
You're so right Donna. Not the Acadia mountain/ocean views, but a pretty awesome views never the less. If you go make sure you find the Grotto Cave. Got a description from someone on VFTT and it sounds pretty cool. They said they'd post some better directions and pictures next time they're up there. I'll share them here if I get them.
Originally Posted by Jimmy Legs and Little d
A also got a response on VFTT about the "mystery flowers" saying that they are Black Chokeberry.
I'm curious if anyone here can agree or disagree with the identification of the plant that I labeled Blueberry. Is it a blueberry or perhaps a bilberry (or something else)?
From my guide, it could be either. It *appears* that we can see some pink/white stripes on some of the lower flowers. That looks like Low Bush Blueberry to me. The Bilberries also seem to have rounder flowers rather than oblong.
Originally Posted by mtruman
I'm just looking at one picture of each, so certainly not enough to change a judgment.