Sunday, October 26, 2014

*ALMOST* Belknap Traverse: 10/11/2014

Mileage: 16.55
Elevation gain: 4276'
Trails used: XC ski trail, Ridge Trail, White Trail, Old Piper Trail, Boulder Trail, Round Pond-Piper Link, Round Pond, Mt. Klem-Mt. Mack Loop, Red Trail, Anna-Straightback Link, Quarry Trail, Major-Straightback Link, Main Trail.


So, I don't think Brian understood what I wanted to do in the Belknap Range but he seemed to go along with my plan anyways.  It seemed like the perfect time to try and hit all 12 Belknap Range peaks in one day as it was going to be cooler to start and a pleasant cloud-free day in the afternoon.  

The Belknap Range is located in several different towns due to its massive size:  Gilford, Gilmanton and Alton, New Hampshire.  There are 12 main peaks that comprise the Belknaps; Mount Rowe, Gunstock Mountain, Belknap Mountain, Piper Mountain, Whiteface, Mount Klem, Mount Mack, Mount Anna, Rand, Straightback Mountain, Quarry and Mount Major. There are alot of trails in this area so it would be easy to get lost so before you plan something like this, please do your homework.  Here are a few good sites to get information from: http://belknaprange.org/ and http://belknaprangetrails.org/


There is even incentive to get the little ones out hiking.  The Belknap County Sportmen's Association offers a hiking patch if one hikes all 12 peaks (you do not have to do them all in one day).  For more infomation http://www.belknapsportsmensclub.com/hiking.html


Greg getting ready with Mount Rowe behind him.  Taken from the spot right off of Area Road where we parked Greg's car to start the traverse.


Ice? What ice? It is a bit early, but this ain't so funny because of how close we are to it.  Yes that is some frost on the grass as it was a bit chilly when we started.


The moon was still out for out viewing pleasure.  Mixed with the foliage colors, it made for a scenic trip heading up the ski trails.


The summit of Mount Rowe (elevation 1680') however, is not so scenic with its communication/tv tower on its summit.


From here we picked up the Belknap Range Trail (BRT), which we would take for a majority of the hike on all the peaks we hiked to.


Continuing on our way to Gunstock, we cross this nice area on the other side of the summit with some nice views towards Gunstock Mountain(right) and Belknap Mountain(left).


This  interesting GPS tracking system was on the other side of Mount Rowe heading towards Gunstock Mountain.


This is looking down to the parking area for Gunstock Mountain from some ledges on the other side of Mount Rowe as we head towards Gunstock.


A side trail takes you to the top of a ski trail offering a small view.



Greg on the summit of Gunstock Mountain (elevation 2250'), which is a popular ski area in New Hampshire in winter.


Greg pondering why they call it the Panorama Pub.


Panorama from the Panorama Pub's Panorama...say that ten times fast!


Hmmm, which way to Belknap, I wonder.


Greg doing his best Forest Gump impression. Mama always said "life is like a box of chocolates.  You never know what you're gonna get."


The firetower on the summit of Belknap Mountain (elevation 2382').


You have to climb the tower on Belknap Mountain to get any views.  These are looking towards Mount Cardigan and Mount Moosilaukee.


The Ossipee Range, and peaks in the Waterville Valley area as well as Lake Winnipesaukee.


Hazy views into Vermont today.  You can barely see the ledges on Mount Rowe peaking out.


Even with all the signs and blazes, we still had to break out the map several times.


Looking back to the fire tower on Belknap Mountain.


Time to keep on truckin' on our way to Piper Mountain.


The trail is still easy to follow with all the cairns and blazing.


The Belknap range does offer tons of view points, like this one from the junction of the Boulder Trail and White Trail.



At the junction for Piper Mountain and to head back down to the Belknap Mountain auto road area, Greg tweaked his ankle thus ending our bid for a complete Belknap Traverse.  We waited for a bit to let the pain subside and while he tested it several times, it was a bit dicey.  Duct tape worked wonders though.  He used some to take his ankle up and we headed back the way we came; if his ankle still bothered him, we would bail the way we came up and road walk back.  If not, we would continue on.


Greg now sports a magic staff I found for him.  To show his gratitude he subsequently lost it around Mount Klem.


You just got to love those views!  Another panorama as Greg enjoys the sights.


The aptly named Boulder Trail.  Not sure why it's called that though.


A reverse view looking back the way we came.  It was slow going through this section.


Once down from the Boulder Trail, we were back on solid ground until we would hit Round Pond.  This section of trail was probably the least exciting part of the hike.


Either the tree is blazed in bright green or Kermit the frog exploded on his way to Round Pond.


It was bound to happen sooner or later; we find ourselves a Round Pond.  


You can barely see the communications tower from Belknap Mountain above the trees.


Once we made our way aROUND the pond, we would head for Mount Klem.


And what do we find?  Another view of course!


We bushwhacked to Mount Klem's summit (elevation 2001'), even though there is a trail there now. From Mount Klem it was off to Mount Mack.


On Mount Mack (elevation 1945') we find an old broken down wind generator and a tower.


Now it is time to tenderly hike our way up Mount Anna.  We found this to be another ho-hum section of the hike.


After Anna, it was off to Straightback.   Before going to the actual summit we make our way toward East Quarry by turning at this junction.



On the way to East Quarry we happen upon a view that gives us a sneak preview of what is to come on Mount Major!  The hiker ant horde scurrying around on the summit.


Views towards Red Hill, too.


Guess what?  Another view!  This one just before E. Quarry.  See, this hike has tons of views so if only you were to do one or two peaks you should have a good time on a nice day.


There is one steep section between Quarry and Straightback (this wasn't it).  


Back to Straighback we get yet another view and then we move onto Mount Major.


 The zoo on Mount Major, which is ill represented in this photo.


 The views are definitely worth it from Mount Major's summit.


Heading down the ledges to get back to the car.


The main trail up Major is so heavily used parts are seriously eroded, like this section of trail near the parking area and start of the trail.


THE END!


We fell a few peaks and about 5 miles short of our goal of doing all twelve peaks in one day because of the minor injury, but we still managed to get quite a few miles in to add to the overall tally.  It is definitely doable, barring injury, though.  Maybe we will try again sometime in the future.

It was a very nice day; cool to start and warming up as the day went by.  It stayed clear and we didn't run across too many people (maybe 10 total) on the way across until we got to Mount Major where it was the usual mixture of hiker/vacationer.  There are a lot of trails for this hike so you could have fun for some time.  Plus, it is very family/child friendly to boot.


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