Sunday's plan did not follow any of the tentative ideas set in place during the week. Passing through Fryeburg, I still didn't know where we were going to go while the clock crept towards noon. At the turn to depart from Rt 113, I opted to turn right and see what the view was like from the visitor center in North Conway and go from there. I had a lot of factors to consider: the expected wind chills, a new foster pup from Texas, some gear to test, and changing forecasts. In the end, we parked at the Kearsarge Trail on Hurricane Road for Kearsarge North.
The dingo ladies sang me their impatience song so I prepped as quickly as possible. The pups were all stoked to be there and we got started quickly and in great spirits. I couldn't believe the weather - mid 30's (the whole way up) and gorgeous blue skies.
The trail began covered in leaves but rocks were sparse so I wasn't constantly tripping on hidden ankle-twisters. The grade was easy and the dogs continued to be in an extra chipper mood. We passed in and out of pines and the ascent began slowly and easily.
About halfway to the summit, there was what seemed like a vernal pool that didn't know we were in late November - bigger than a puddle but by no means a pond. Though not ideal, it was the only decent source of water along the way for the dogs. They found some puddles in the rocks further up as well.
We then re-entered the woods where the trail switched gears to the root and rock-covered type. Special care with footing was required here and there, especially on the way down, but not too bad, especially in comparison with the higher peaks. A Facebook friend shared photos from Cannon where the trail was quite literally a river of ice. There was a small (several step) drop and then steep ascension of 20 or so feet that really threw me and my stepmom off the first time we did this hike last year. Within a few minutes, we took the first of two telltale turns where I knew we're nearing the summit. The first is a right that goes over a boulder (photo below) and the final, left-handed turn is a giveaway we're about to reach the summit ledges. Something about that left is unmistakable - the way the wind hits us on blustery days (every previous visit we've made!) or how the sun shines down at an angle on sunny days. Today the weather gods blessed us with no wind and stellar blue skies.
|Tango showing Eva how it's done
(not that she needed the hint!)
|The final left turn onto the summit ledges
|Watching the hikers in the tower tapping on the glass
|In the distance and in the clouds (center) is Mt Washington.
I believe the Doubleheads are the two in the foreground.
|Views due north (I think!)
|Eva evaluating the staircase. I carried her :)
trails that go on uniformly for miles wear on me as I wonder where I am in between junctions. The footing is great for the Whites. While I do enjoy a challenge, most of my favorite trails are those that are easiest for Tango and this one is certainly a winner. It was an absolutely perfect first hike for Eva, who rocked it. Two noteworthy comments regarding the pups: the first .3 miles go through a residential area and there is not much in the way of natural water sources. We love the tower at the top, whether it's to escape the wind for a moment or take in the views. Four extremely happy hikers at the end of this one!