Mt Straightback and the Precipice

It’s been a minute since I’ve hiked with all of my hiking buddies. Quite a few minutes. Several reasons for that, one reason being that Right Turn was recovering from knee surgery. She’s working her way back to full hiking strength, and yesterday we had planned to hike.

Frequently, when we plan to hike, we agree on a summit and I research and plan the route. This time I let Right Turn take charge. Both because she is recovering and I wanted to let her pick what’s best for her knee and also because Ruth has a puppy that she’s gradually building up to bigger hikes. So Right Turn sent the following screenshot from AllTrails.

Now if we zoomed in on this map, we would see the left trail in red is Precipice Path (West) and the red path on the right is Precipice Path (East).

We had the following exchange.

The gaia link I sent was this map…

You can see I did an outer loop, which was the Anna Goat Trail on the left and Blueberry Pasture coming back down on the right. But as I said in the text, I was happy to be doing a new-to-me trail and Right Turn assured me it was do-able.

So the four of us, Right Turn, Rainbow, Ruth, Annie (the adorable golden retriever), and myself all met at the trailhead at 9 and set off into the woods.

I joked at one point that Right Turn was leading us. If you’ll recall, she’s named “Right Turn” for a reason and frequently…finds her own adventures on hikes.

We come to the junction that will either lead us to Precipice Path or Anna Goat trail and Right Turn took a right turn and headed up Precipice Path. Now normally, as I said, I like to research my hikes. This hike is in the Belknaps and while there is a book describing some of these trails, not all of them are detailed the way they are in the Whites. I couldn’t find a decent description of Precipice Path West or East, other than to know that some “reviews” had said they were tricky, and that there was a cliff and a waterfall.

Eventually we came to a lovely waterfall.

Oh yes, I forgot to mention. It’s December 4th in New Hampshire. Parts of the trail had snow, and the waterfall was partially frozen. Just beautiful.

Then I realized the trail goes up along the left of the waterfall. THEN CROSSES IT. Do you see the purple blaze on the rock in the middle of the falls? See the big frozen rock in the foreground? Then above that an upside down V of frozen ice and falling water? Just up and to the left of that in the shade, a purple blaze. Let me zoom in for you.

See it now? How about here?

So yeah. The trail went up along the left of the falls. Then crosses the falls. Then continues up along the right side of the falls, only to cross back at the top.

I will happily tell you that all of us made it across, including puppy and knee surgery, without getting wet or falling to our deaths.

We continued along the trail, which then curved along the top of a cliff. We all had our microspikes and it wasn’t a problem. Somewhere at this point, Right Turn said that she had never been on this trail. She had ascended Anna Goat. The last time she had hiked this hike, she had missed the right turn onto Anna Goat, and so when she turned onto Precipice, she thought she was correctly making THAT turn. She apologized for her mistake. To which I replied, she hadn’t made a mistake, she took us on exactly the trail she had texted to us! As I said, it’s always an adventure with Right Turn. I wouldn’t change a thing!

The rest of the hike was largely uneventful, but quite enjoyable. Rainbow did remark that I didn’t swear or make weird noises once on all those waterfall crossings, which is very unlike me. Maybe I’m getting better at all this hiking stuff.

Of course, I did also face plant twice on completely flat stretches near the summit. We had taken off our spikes after the waterfall and should have put the back on as there were some icy bits. I kept expecting the summit to be clear because it is open and the wind would have blown off any snow. In these “in between” conditions, I often find myself thinking “I should put on my spikes” and then it’s bare ground, so I don’t, and then I hit an icy patch. It’s annoying to put them on and off, so frequently I wait too long to put them on. Well, two faceplants in, I put them on again. (I was fine, I think all those pushups and burpees at the gym are paying off).

  • Distance: 4.8 miles
  • Elevation gain: 1,054 feet
  • Total time: 4 hours, 47 minutes
  • Moving time: 3 hours, 38 minutes

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