Late June NH, VT etc

2:02 p.m. on April 23, 2016 (EDT)
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My son is going to go to Boston area for the last week of June. Rather than paying for a plane ticket, it sounds like an opportunity for me to drop him off, have about 5 or 6 days clear and pick him back up on July 2. Any suggestions to help guide my search...I was thinking the White Mountains but am open to other ideas. A few parameters:

  • A loop would be the most efficient for me to keep flexibility in schedule
  • Probably 5 nights, 6 days max but slightly shorter would be OK so I wouldn't be in a rush to get back to MA
  • Prefer a moderate pace that gives me the flexibility to hang around a beautiful camp or explore an interesting side valley without cutting into the itinerary
  • I usually stay in or canoe during the mid summer to avoid the heat, so something with elevation and cooler temps would be preferred.
  • While I am an avid bushwacker, I am fine with trails especially in a new area where I want to see some of the highlights etc and am not as familiar with typical vegetation and ground conditions that affect off trail routes
  • That said, I am not a fan of crowds and prefer to leave dayhikers behind after the first few miles. If there is a way to avoid most everyone that would be even better.
  • I don't like established camp areas and Really don't like mandatory designated ones.  Personal quirk I guess...takes the freedom and flexibility out of it for me

Any thoughts from you folks in the Northeast would be appreciated. If nothing fits my list of parameters I am flexible on some of the items. I am shopping for a map of the Whites so suggestions there would be welcome as well. Thanks.

6:41 p.m. on April 24, 2016 (EDT)
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It sounds funny but it's pretty cool.....it's called the Vermont Triangle.....you should see some old buildings I belive, the base of the mountain was holy land for the indians so stone tools are found along with other old old structures too. Give it a Google it's really neat and not very explored, also if you do carry a firearm VT allows anyone who can own a firearm to open carry or do concealed carry with no permit even if your out of state it also extends to knives.

..

9:38 a.m. on April 25, 2016 (EDT)
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Hey Phil,

That sounds like a great opportunity to see some awesome places!

Here is a Trip Report that I did from when I went to that area, which might have some ideas for you. I highly recommend the Franconia Ridge Trail if you have the opportunity. It is gorgeous!

Have fun!

10:40 a.m. on April 25, 2016 (EDT)
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If you are willing to compromise on the other people issue for at least part of the trip I agree with Ashleigh that the Pemi ridge walk is something to consider. There will be people and unless you are willing to give up a lot of elevation to make camp down below the ridges, it pretty much requires staying at established camps. Still even an avowed loner such as myself would say it is worth putting up with the people for the time you spend up there between them.

Since you have the time you could do a few days up there above tree line and then head down into the wet valleys for some time alone in the wilderness. If you want less people spend less time on the ridge and more time down below. The wilderness there is not blazed and trails aren't really maintained so be sure to have a good map and navigation tools. You can't get lost on the ridges unless the clouds roll in heh, but in the trees it could easily be done. Hard to guess a bug bloom this early, but I'd be prepared for black flies and skeeters.

I have a bunch of trip reports from the valleys in my profile and on my web site. This one from last year Two Fall NH Trips  has some maps, profiles and a few pics. There are links to my site with more detailed reports as well with lots more pics. This area has a lot of options for putting together loops and lollipops so don't feel forced to do the loop that "everyone" goes there to do. Despite it being pretty it offers less solitude which it sounds like you are looking for. You should be able to put something together in there that works for you.

10:41 a.m. on April 25, 2016 (EDT)
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FYI, end of June can be black fly season.  They are like black mosquitoes, but way, way more persistent.  In addition to normal bug spray, bring long sleeves, and a headnet, just in case.   They definitely keeps down the crowds, though. 

Even though you don't want crowds you might enjoy a day at Franconia Notch State park.  Otherwise, it sounds like what you want is the national forest.  

Found this website:

http://hikethewhites.com/faq.html

7:26 p.m. on April 25, 2016 (EDT)
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Ashleigh - looks like your trip report was before my time on TS and I missed it. I'll definitely re-read that nice report and cover some of the same ground.

LoneStranger - thanks for the advice. I think I'll put up with folks so I can hit the higlight areas in combination with some quiet time. I am looking forward to digging into your reports and site, as well as some maps. If you say the big trails are worth it I am in. As long as I can get a couple of quiet nights and days it will balance everything and give me that mental reset that I crave sometimes. Sounds like the less maintained trails are right up my alley. The Two fall trips report has some great info I'll use in planning. I am looking forward to the scouring over maps almost as much as going...ok not quite but still love it.

I haven't dealt with black flies a lot, just a couple of times that gave me a taste (literally). I have dealt with massive mosquito swarms working in the swamps of eastern NC, so have pretreated clothes, concentrated Deet, and a headnet and long sleeves. Hopefully they won't be too bad, and all part of the experience...good and bad.

9:05 p.m. on April 25, 2016 (EDT)
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Can I offer a completely different option? 

The hut to hut hiking through the whites is spectacular. It's kinda a modified, very scaled down version of a thru hike in that you'll be hiking (and leap frogging) with the same people throughout the days. The upside is they are all likeminded and it has a similar camaraderie, no annoying "touristy" type people. The food is prepared for you, as is the shelter so you carry very little weight- sleep system, clothing and some essentials. The best part? The caretakers at the huts wake you up by singing, its one of the most relaxing wake ups ever- being in the mountains, you can smell the breakfast being prepared and the singing! Highly recommended! I know it meets almost none of your criteria but I just wanted to throw you some alternative options. 

1:32 a.m. on April 26, 2016 (EDT)
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I talked to a friend of mine in VT today and got some info....turkey hunting maybe going on so wear something bright, they didn't have a bad winter and so far not much rain (may cut down on black flys?), the Vernon triangle is worth going into, beyond the old town it's nothing but wilderness and takes you to the base of some really cool mountain. You should see no people if you do they are gonna be rare. I forgot to ask if there were lakes and streams for water and fishing but I can check on that.

10:41 a.m. on April 26, 2016 (EDT)
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Phil,

I live on the edge of the White Mountains in New Hampshire and always like to plug them to people who are visiting. I wrote a trip report a few years ago about a loop I like to do in the pemi wilderness. 

There is a lot to do up in this area. keep us all posted as you get closer to your trip if you need more help refining your plans.

-Jim 

7:59 p.m. on April 29, 2016 (EDT)
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Jake...I'll save the hut option for when the better half is with me. I would miss the old rituals of setting up camp and cooking etc...falling back into my old habits is mentally relaxing, and work is so busy I will be in desperate need for solitude by then.

Thanks all for the suggestions. I am looking forward to reading through your trip reports with my new White Mtns map beside me over the next couple of weeks.

10:48 a.m. on June 12, 2016 (EDT)
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So I have a rough plan to guide me and would love input from those familiar with the White Mountains.  Looks like I will have 6 nights free from June 25 to July 2.  I am thinking of doing two loops (out of 3 I like the look of) and one day hike if time permits.  Planning on taking it relatively easy most days and leaving time to chill around camp, bushwack where it can be done, or just soak in the area.  I will use this as a framework and then veer off plan as needed depending on weather and time.

Franconia Ridge:  Day hike to get the classic views on the ridge (combined with the Pemi loop below).  Do this if I have an extra day but focus on two of the three trips below first.

  • Falling Waters to FRT to Old Bridle Path - before, between, or after two loops to take advantage of the best weather day.

Pemi Loop: Part classic ridge with campsites down below - one day on the ridge itself.  Three nights with a short day to start and end.

  • Lincoln Woods to Fr Brook Trail (short day getting in the woods)
  • FBT to Lincoln Brook (possible side trip to Owls Head) to FBT and camp somewhere below treeline on the way to Garfield Ridge
  • FBT to Garfield Ridge to Galehead, South Twin, Guyot, Bonds, and camp somewhere down Bondcliff
  • Bondcliff to Lincoln Woods and out

Desolation Loop:  Option for a quieter loop still hitting a couple of the mtns.  Three nights with a short start/end day.

  • Hancock Notch to Cedar Brook (side trip to Mt Hancock)
  • Cedar Brook to Wilderness Tr to Carrigain Notch Tr at Desolation
  • Desolation to Signal Ridge to Sawyer R Rd/Tr to Hancock
  • Hancock and out

Wild River Loop:  This one intrigues me as much quieter I hope and more my style combined with one of the above.

  • Nineteen Mile to Carter Dome
  • Carter Dome to Mt Hight to Black Angel to Wild River/Highwater (depends on stream flow for crossing)
  • Wild River/Highwater to Moriah Brook and camp short of Carter Moriah Tr
  • Carter Moriah to Carter Dome to Nineteen Mile and out

I am drawn to the idea of doing one of the first two and the Wild River but not tied to any one in particular.  Any thoughts appreciated.  Thanks.

4:25 p.m. on June 12, 2016 (EDT)
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On the Pemi Loop, how late in the day do you expect to start out? Those are really easy miles on an old railroad grade so unless you are getting there really late I'd tweak that plan a bit by heading up the Lincoln Brook trail and either camping on top of Owls Head or along the trail headed that way and going up in the morning. It would be a dry camp at the top of a slide climb if you wanted to camp up top, but can be a great sunrise I'm told.

I'd also suggest considering skipping Garfield Ridge in favor of going up Twin Brook directly to Gale Head. There is little in the way of views and lots in the way of effort to make those miles across that ridge. You can camp off of the Twin Brook trail if you want wilderness, but the AMC 13 Falls site is there where Lincoln Brook Trail hits Franconia Brook Trail again. They can attract bears at times so I'd camp higher up if possible to avoid any such traffic.

For your third night you may want to bite the bullet and stay at the Guyot site despite your wish to avoid crowds. The sunset from West Bond and/or the sunrise from Bond Summit are possible if you stay there. If you really are averse to dealing with that inconvenience send me a PM and I'll make another suggestion I'd rather not share with the entire internet, but my experience has been that staying there to enjoy the area is worth the trouble.

On your Desolation Loop that Cedar Brook trail is lightly used so expect some challenging trail with blowdowns and other lack of use issues at the top and getting much better once you pass the huge eroded area of the brook. That area also has a pretty high bear content so camp safe. These bears fear people, but don't tempt them with biscuits and gravy right before bed.

For your second night you'll be hitting the turn off for the Desolation Trail which goes up to Carrigain a bit less than a mile before the turn off for the Carrigain Notch trail which goes around the mountain. There are lots of visible camps along the trail through the Stillwater area, but most of them are technically illegal being too close to the water, trail or both. It is pretty easy to go a bit deeper into the woods here to camp in privacy, just make sure you remember which way you left the trail heh.

If your plan is to up Desolation, down Signal Ridge road walking to Sawyer River Tr and then up to Hancock notch you are looking at a pretty long day. You may want to camp along that river trail if your legs are feeling it. Carrigain is the sort of mountain that takes the starch out of my legs for the day usually.

I'll let someone else give you thoughts on that last loop as it is outside my area of experience. If you have questions on what I've said let me know quick as I'll be gone soon and not back until your trip is over :p

8:12 p.m. on June 12, 2016 (EDT)
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LS. Thanks for the great advice. I will be getting in pretty late the first night which led to the really short first days...at least for the first loop just to get me in the woods as soon as possible. The area I was thinking of camping night two is above the trail junction as far as possible so that sounds like it will work if the terrain allows.

I think you have convinced me to stay on the ridge at Guyot. I'll have enough solo days hopefully to chill out. The Sawyer River trail camp was something I had as a plan depending on the legs etc and how long I dawdle.

I am used to, and really enjoy, rough and off trail work so Cedar Brook sounds like my type of walking...will be bringing my BV450 and setting up a bear triangle campsite....cook clean and sleep in different points. I used to be averse to the cannister but after several trips this year in required areas it is a part of the kit for convenience and a kitchen stool...working on a back rest that fits on it...tbd.

Thanks again and good luck on your extended trip.

November 19, 2019
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