glad to hear you've moved past "hiking for checkmarks" and are now onto "hiking for fun"

(flame shield up)

sounds like a real fun day to be out and about, and oh how I wish I could have joined ya!

G

On Wed, Jul 14, 2010 at 2:25 PM, Matthew Kulas <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
Having finished working on the 116 4,000 footers in the Northeast last August, I am now working on another list, one that I've been eagerly anticipating for the last several years.  It is called simply, the "To-do List," and it currently occupies one side of a sheet from a yellow legal pad, though it is threatening to expand to a second page.  On it are the names mountains, notches, trails and locales, from all over the Northeast, that have struck my fancy over the years, since I first came down with my peak-bagging affliction.  Some of the goals include: Percy Peaks, the Adam's Slide Trail, Sawtooths 1 & 2, Whitewall Mountain, the Great Slide on Grace, Klondike Notch, completing the Triangle Trail, the Traveler Loop, Hawthorne Falls, and a Pemi back-pack.

* * *

At 10:30 p.m. on Saturday evening, Jeff S. returned my call, saying that he was game for a hike.  I threw out a couple of suggestions and asked if he had anything in mind.  It turned out that he did.  There is a cluster of 3,000 footers in the southeast end of the Presidential Range, that make up the southern end of the Montalban Ridge, including Mts. Crawford, Stairs, Resolution, and Parker.  All but Parker are just off the Davis Path, one of the items on my To-do List, so I was vaguely familiar with them and game.

I pulled in late to the Davis Path trailhead, at 9:30 AM, on Sunday morning, Jeff already there and ready to hike.  First, we dropped my car down in Bartlett, at the trailhead for the Mt. Langdon Trail, then we headed back to the Davis Path.  Along the way, Jeff informed me not only were four 3,000 footers the objective today, but there was also a bushwhack to a NH 200 Highest peak that he hoped to do, too.  That sounded good to me.

Sunday was sunny and warm, and with the Davis Path's steep initial climb out of Notchland, we were soon breaking a good sweat.  Shortly after gaining the ridge extending between Crawford and Hope, we reached the unmarked spur to Crawford's summit, which starts up a steep, open slab of rock.  The summit isn't far off of the Davis Path.  Ledgey, it is almost entirely open and it afford us astounding views of the Rockpile, the Dry River Wilderness, the Southern Presidentials, Crawford Notch, the Sandwich Range, and the Pemi--including mighty Carrigain, the Bonds, Guyot, the Twins, Zealand, Zeacliff, Hale, Willey, Nancy, Bemis, Lowell, and even far-off Lincoln.  It is quite simply one of the more stunning viewpoints in the East.

Astounding as it was, we eventually had to move on, so we made our way up the Davis Path on towards Stairs Mountain, stopping along the way to visit the soon-to-be removed Resolution Shelter and top off our water from the small trickle that was Sleeper Brook.

Stairs Mountain, so called be cause it's eastern ledges look like a giant's stairs, was off on another unmarked spur from the Davis Path.  Again, we feasted on remarkable views from the east lookout, careful not to get too close to the precipitous edge.  On our way back to the trail we used up some time trying making sure that we stood exactly on the very highest point.  Like I said, peak bagging is an affliction, it makes us do rather odd things.

Back on the Path, we backtracked South to Stairs Col and descended the Stairs Col Trail.  Near the base of one particularly big cliff, we began our bushwhack over to East Stairs, which at 2,967', is one of the 200 highest peaks in New Hampshire.  I like to think that I'm no slouch at bushwhacking, but Jeff is a master of the art and compass-in-hand, he led the way.

Once in the saddle between Stairs and East Stairs, we discovered a nice, small meadow and a ridiculous abundance of moose shit, some of it rather recent and some already covered moss.  The moose had opened some spots up, others were on the thick side.  Somewhere around 4 PM, I think, we reached the summit, and after some searching, we found the canister.  The previous two visits were by the same fellow from Quebec, the first  of which--from early last fall--said that he was just scoping it out for a winter bid, which gave us a good chuckle.  He returned in January.  The summit was wooded, and though some one had cut out a small clearing, there were virtually no views.

Rolls of thunder chased us off the summit and we took a more direct, but steeper route down back to the Stairs Col Trail, which meant that we had a bigger climb back up to the Davis Path.  Fortunately, while we still heard thunder, it didn't seem to be approaching us, and by the time we were back at the Path, it had dissipated.

Across the Davis Path from the spur to the Resolution Shelter was the junction with the Mt. Parker Trail, which we headed South on towards Mt. Resolution.  Upon reaching the bare ledges on the western edge of the summit plateau, we ventured off trail again, for the short, but thick bushwhack over to the true summit.  Again we found the canister and were treated to marvelous views.  By the time we'd returned to the trail, it must have been around 6 or 7 PM and it was apparent that we would be returning to our spotted car a little later than we'd expected.  Still, Jeff guessed that we'd finish without having to use our headlamps.

Onward to Mt. Parker!  The Mt. Parker trail south of Resolution sees very little use and has a delightfully soft and unscarred treadway.  We reached the summit of Mt. Parker just before sunset, and as with all the other summits but East Sleeper, were treated with extraordinary sights.  Not only could we see peaks as far of as Lincoln, Liberty, & Flume, but we had an outstanding perspective of the Carter Range and the Baldplates, both of which basked in alpenglow.  It was a special gift to be there at that moment.

Following the steep descent off the south-side of Parker, we eventually reached the Mt. Langdon Trail and began the final descent back to the car in the quickly fading light.  By the time we reached the old logging road section, it was all but pitch black, still the lights remained in our pack.  At 9:30 PM, we finally reached my car, parked at the small trailhead, bringing to a close another outstanding day in the mountains.  And, Jeff was right, we finished before needing headlamps.

--Matt K.
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