Monday, June 14, 2010

Weekend Peaks

I started the weekend with a very early drive up to Thetford Hill Vermont. I was hoping to reach the county prominence point. The trip reports had stated that Houghton Hill road was drive-able up to the height of land. I made it about 1 mile short of that point and was turned back by a washout. I was on a tight schedule (meeting Eric further north) but thought I’d take a shot at another approach. I looped around to “Five Corners” but was again turned back on Turnpike road about a mile shy of where I would have started the hike. With no time left on the clock I completed a 20 point turn and was on my way.

I headed up to Groton VT and met Eric, we continued to the trailhead for Owls head Mountain in Peacham VT. There had been a fire tower on the summit at one time and now there was a viewing platform. We did a
nice easy 5m loop; it was mostly a steady climb on the mountain trail. We decided to descend via the dirt road and finished the run with a nice climb on a grassy (wet) ATV trail. Total time was 49:58 plus about 10 minutes on the summit. I’d like to go back and hit some of the other mountains in the Groton State Forest. It is only an hour drive for Eric, so we’ll have to hit some of the trails later in the year. Maybe when it isn’t rainy and we could get some views. Eric pointed out that the sign on the summit which shows the peaks you can see in the distance used a picture that was taken on a cloudy day and you couldn’t see much of anything.

Next up was the drive further north to Burke Mountain. My plan was to drive the toll road to the summit. Unfortunately the toll road was closed. There was a sign which had the hours listed as 8-8, but maybe this is still “off season”. I parked a half mile lower down the road and changed into Loco’s for the road run up. This is a pretty grueling 2.5 mile climb with steep grades between 12%-16%. I took it pretty easy and was at the top in 31 minutes for the 1,745’ climb. The firetower was very cool, but there wasn’t much of a view as the peak was pretty much socked in. I did some exploring and found the summit benchmark, then headed over to West Peak. I had the summit to myself, the few mountain bikers I’d seen earlier were all barreling down the hill. After taking a gel and some water I hit the road for the slog down the hill. There were a couple of bikers coming up as I descended. Boy, it looks much harder to bike than to run. I was back at the car in just over 22 minutes.
The next peak I bagged was East Mountain in East Haven VT. This is the county high point for Essex VT. After a 4.6 drive up Radar Road I parked at a turnout near a gate blocking further passage. The run up was long (4.2 miles) and steady (climbed 1,611’). I took a short break about half-way up at the abandoned army base. The towers on the top of the mountain could be seen from that point. The road is in pretty good shape but the pavement was a bit slick in spots with the high humidity of the day. I reached the top in 45 minutes and kicked around the ruined buildings trying to find the highest point. After about 20 minutes I started the descent. I tried to take it easy and save my quads which was not hard to do on the mostly gentle slope. I was back to the car in 37 minutes.,-71.7699646832737&z=15&t=T

The final climb of the weekend was Ragged Mountain in Andover, NH. I thought about taking the most direct route up the ski slope but decided that would make the run too short. I parked on New Canada road and ran 2.7 miles to the summit via the Mountain trail. The trail was a bit overgrown and the drizzle had me completely soaked by ½ mile into the trek. There were some nice viewing spots along the way but everything was again totally fogged in. The open areas of bare rock were a bit trick, they were very slick. I should have worn my orienteering shoes with the metal spikes! I was on top of the ski slope in 38 minutes and followed an access road down in 12 minutes. I should have checked the map a little closer because I thought the run back New Canada road would be a gentle downhill. It was a long mostly uphill slog. I covered a bit more than 3 miles in 28 minutes and was back to the car with a great weekend of bagging behind me.
Totals for the weekend:
26+ miles of running
5,326’ of climb/descent
1 county high point
1 fire tower
1 observation platform

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