Saturday, October 15, 2011

Mt. Major - 10-15-11

No big hike this weekend, but there was still room for a short one, and like any hike, you never know what you're going to get until its all said and done. After doing some outside work at the camp to help close up, we decided to go for a quick hike, and the choice was Mt. Major, a peak of the Belknap Range in Alton, NH.

We started up the trail at 3:30 and the parking lot was jam packed. We opted for the Brook Trail up, assuming it was a little less steep the Mt. Major trail. There were two surprising brook crossings that got the soles of boots wet. The trail is wide, rocky in places, with some loose rocks, so some care is needed in places. There is a nice flat section on this trail though too. Along the way, there were a couple of trail side waterfalls to add to the scenery. Off to the right on the lower portion of the trail there are many large boulders, likely dropped there by glaciers long ago. They make great climbing material and photo ops.
Bill and Kiara on a large rock
Pretty trail
As we ascended, the trail got a bit steeper. Overall most parts of the trail were wet and muddy. I bet its this way quite often, as it looks like water frequently flows down the trails, so I would always be prepared for that on Mt. Major. We passed a sign indicating .4 miles to the summit. Here, the trail breaks from the trees and traverses an open section with the first views of Lake Winnipesaukee. We could see the rain coming down across the lake which was really cool. We continued on going back into the trees once more, and then back out for the final summit push.
Brook Trail near the top
As we climbed up to the high point of the summit, we were greeted with a double rainbow, and a third was seen to the south, by the very end of Alton Bay. It was incredible. Not only that, but the M/S Mt. Washington was in the right place at the right time, cruising into Alton Bay.
Bill, Kiara, and I on the summit with a beautiful rainbow
Looking into Alton Bay
The wind was blowing pretty hard, but for the first few minutes we were focused on the tremendous views. With the sun going down, we hung out for a little bit in the house, out of the wind, waiting for it to do so, and had some snacks and Powerade. Unfortunately, it was a little disapointing to see a bit of trash and wrappers around the summit. I picked up a few wrappers which I could put in my pocket, and Kiara said whoever left them there was a litterbug. Kiara had asked to try a night-time hike, so when the sun was just near the top of the trees, we started back down the same way. We each donned our headlamps at the top of trail and started our descent.
Bill and Kiara with the sunset on Mt. Major
About half way down, the sun was gone for good. The entire way down, we didn't see any other hikers, which was cool. We also did fine heading down, and Kiara got her little night hiking experience. She was a little nervous here and there, but otherwise did great handling the trail in the dark. When we popped out at the parking lot, our car was the only one there, and as we looked up, we could see the milky way and millions of stars in a lucky pocket of clear sky among the mediocre weather we're having this weekend.

Hike Stats:
Trails: Brook Trail, Major-Straightback Link Trail
Distance: 4.8 miles
Elevation Gain: 1,271 ft
Book Time: 3hrs 45min

To view the full album from this hike, view or click on the slide show below. 

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