The Crooked Canes Journal


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Nun-da-ga-o Ridge ~ Feb 28, 2012

Journal entry by Wanderer



Wanderer says Hi and Happy Leap Day!

What a difference a week makes! Last week Ray and I hiked Baxter Mt. in Keene and except for some ice on the trail there wasn’t any snow. From the summit we could see that many of the hills and peaks were nearly bare – except for the highest ones. Having extra time after the hike we were able to scout a few trailheads for access which included Crow Clearing – the parking area for the trailheads to the Crows, Hurricane, Lost Pond and the Nun-da-ga-o Ridge and Weston Mt. Being able to drive to the trailhead was good news since the parking lot is ¼ mile past where the town’s snow plow makes its turn-around – normally blocked this time of year. Knowing that the Keene area received snow over the weekend I called the highway garage and found out that while the valley didn’t get much, as you gained elevation, the snow got deeper - I was still optimistic and stayed with my original plans.

Ray had graciously offered to drive his van which allowed everyone to visit and keep him awake. It was just after 10:00 when the six of us reached the turn-around area and saw that there was 6” of new snow in the woods and the road to the trailhead parking lot was blocked with a mound of snow– oh well just another ½ mile added to the round-trip distance – wouldn’t be the first time. I had already decided that we would attempt an 6 mile, counter-clockwise loop going past Lost Pond, over Weston Mt., along the ridge to Big Crow and back to the parking lot – but even the best laid plans will go astray! We were on the way by 10:30 with Joanne and Lenore leading the way on the broken trail on an abandoned logging road to our first stop - the Gulf Brook lean-to at just over 1 mile. We stopped for a short break and some of Lenore’s homemade Oat Cakes and enjoyed the abundant sunshine and blue skies and were soon back on the trail. The trail rose steadily, gaining over 600’ in the next ¾ of a mile, to Lost Pond which we skirted the western shore with some nice views of the pond. The trail flattened out for the next ¼ mile to the Walter Biesemeyer Memorial lean-to where we stopped for our official lunch with everyone upbeat. The trail wasn’t broken from this point on so I decided to go ahead, break trail and try to get to the summit of Weston Mountain. The trail soon began to rise steadily with one short breather and then rose very steeply as it approached the summit area – unfortunately the snow was nearly 2’ deep in some places and every rock was coated with a thick layer of ice. I don’t know if any of you know the song “One Step Forward (and Two Steps Back)” by the Desert Road Band but that is how this section was and it wasn’t fun. Don had caught up to me and he agreed that this was some of the worst ice and snow that he had seen in recent years and we both knew that the followers were going to have problems.

With much effort Don and I reached the top and were rewarded with some of the best views of the High Peaks that can be seen from a peak only 3,182’ high. Rocky Peak, Hurricane, Dix, Noonmark, Dial, Nippletop, Sawteeth, the complete Range, Marcy, Big Slide, Algonquin, Porter, Cascade, Whiteface, and more – all were in clear view under blue skies, highlighted by both gray and white clouds. It wasn’t long before we heard the voices of the rest of our group with Joanne and Lenore arriving next, explaining that Linda was having a great deal of trouble but had found a guardian angel in Ray. He convinced her to first try Microspikes and when that didn’t work let her use his 10pt crampons which allowed her to get thru all the ice sections. Finally, we were all on the summit and rewarded with the outstanding panoramic views.

It was now 1:30 and we estimated that we were half-way – unfortunately, despite the efforts of Don, Lenore and Ray we couldn’t locate a safe way to continue on the rocky ridge and only a couple of trail markers could be seen. Although an official vote wasn’t taken we somehow all came to the same conclusion that we had to return the same way we arrived. Down the chute we went using gravity and the seat of our pants to navigate between trees, roots, rocks and ice till we all safely reached flatter terrain. Conversation was abundant and primarily focused on the hike up the steep section and the glissade down, but also about the incredible views that we enjoyed while on top. Surprisingly, everyone talked about coming back, albeit in a different season and try again, perhaps this time in the opposite direction to see what we missed.

It was a long day, arriving back at the WCMC at 5:45, but a most memorable one – thank you Joanne, Lenore, Don, Ray for driving and being Linda’s guardian angel, and to Linda who has survived another one of my adventures.

Peter

2/29/12 - Wanderer . added 5 photos.

12 photos



Gulf Brook Lean-to with Lenore trying to tell us just how tasty her Oat Cakes are.



Lost Pond From Trail



Joanne - "You Really Didn't Take a Picture of Me - Did You?"



Don Taking in the View



Whiteface Mt.



Cascade (L) and Pitchoff Ridge (R)



Hurricane Mt.



Hurricane, Dix, Dial, Nippletop, Sawteeth, Great Range and Mt. Marcy with Lost Pond in foreground - by Wanderer



Johns Brook Valley with Mt. Marcy dominating - by Wanderer



More of the John's Brook Valley with Algonquin to the far right - by Wanderer



Summit Pic - L to R - Don, Lenore, Linda, Joanne and Ray - by Wanderer



Ray explaining to everyone why his daypack weighs 50 pounds! - by Wanderer



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