It’s June 16th. “Stay at Home” orders began March 15 and my last hike was May 14th, which was a “low and local” hike. Yesterday stay at home was mostly lifted. However, that doesn’t mean I’m in hiking shape. My gym closed March 15th as well. While I was great working out at home the first few weeks, I’ve done nothing the last few weeks. So time to rebuild my hiking strength. I’ve decided to take 5 Tuesdays off to hike. Starting low (less elevation) and short (less mileage) and local-ish (less than two hours away). Enter the Belknaps. There is a patch for hiking 12 of the peaks and I already hiked Mt Major back in December 2018. 11 to go, and most can be combined into two or three peaks per hike. PERFECT for five Tuesdays.
So today was Piper and Whiteface. Alarm set for 5:30 AM. Left the house at 6:20, and partway through town I saw an auspicious omen, a fox crossed the road. Everything was fine until I got to the last bit of “road” before the trailhead. A very steep, winding, unpaved road. I always panic a tiny bit that if I don’t have enough momentum my car will just start sliding backward. A bit panicky, but I arrived at the trailhead by 8:20 (I had stopped near home for gas and Starbucks).
A lovely little hike and we come to the north peak of Piper Mountain. Someone has created a throne of rocks overlooking the view.
The view was nice, here’s a bit of trail (see the blaze?) and part of the view.
Hike a little bit more and you come to the south peak of Piper Mountain, what looks to “count” as the official Piper Mountain, with no view and I believe marked by this cairn.
Oh, and I took ALL THE PICTURES OF ALL THE FLOWERS.
Descending Piper on the other side, there are some granite slabs. Not my favorite, and I probably would have noped out if they were wet. But I was very cautious, possibly overly cautious. And invented “underly cautious” as a thing. aka I’d rather be overly cautious than underly cautious.
Some more of the lovely view…
Then a flat bit while heading over to Whiteface. La la la, hiking along minding my own business when SNAKE. No picture of the actual snake, but he’s hiding in this grass. We both startled each other. Also apparently I jump back and say “MAMACITA” when faced with a snake.
Not long after this, I needed to pee. The foliage wasn’t very dense here, meaning if someone came along even though I was well off the trail, someone would see me. So I was focused on the trail and not so much where I was going when… ANOTHER SNAKE. So now I’m peeing and worried a snake is gonna come at me, when A FRIGGING HELICOPTER STARTS CIRCLING OVERHEAD. While I’m peeing.
Anyway, another ascent, and Whiteface! Whiteface is somewhat lacking in views, but it’s a nice, open, flat summit. Grassy, with some rocks perfect for sitting and having a snack. And watching a hawk (or hawk-like bird circling).
This was an out and back, so back the way I came, just shy of the Whiteface summit is actually the nicest view…
Then it was time to ascend those granite slabs. As I guessed, they were easier to ascend than to descend. Though I did say to myself, “Don’t get cocky, kid” just in case.
So yeah, out and backs are stooooopid when you’re hitting multiple peaks as I had to ascend and descend Piper twice, and it was starting to get really hot and sunny and nearly noon. I definitely needed to stay hydrated.
Back down Piper again and a small part of the trail looked like this,
And I thought, I could hike this forever. Sadly for me, this is only 5-10% of New Hampshire trails. The rest is rocks, rock steps, murderous tree roots, mud pits, and granite slabs. I love it, but it ain’t easy.
And lastly, the most perfect photo of a Lady Slipper of ALL the photos of Lady Slippers that I took (and believe me, I took a lot).
1,215 feet of elevation gain
4 hours, 13 minutes total time
3 hours, 29 minutes moving time
Snake AND helicopter?? Your lucky day.
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