Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Belknap Range Loop via Mt. Major - 11/18/2012

On November 18th, we had a chance at doing something we've been wanting to do for a long while now - hike the Belknap Range peaks in the Lakes Region. I would like to start by by thanking the good folks at the Gilford Public Library who mailed me the Belknap Range and Ossipee Mountain maps very quickly for me. They even called me to confirm my request, which was nice. We most definitely had in mind bagging all 12 in the day, and we headed up the Main Trail to Mt. Major. As we started out, we were basically racing against the sunrise getting up to Mt. Major. It was a nice warm-up. The weather was great. The rising sun was giving us a show, and as we made it to the summit of Mt. Major, peak one, we were ready for the rest of the day after a nice sunrise summit.
Climbing Mt. Major for sunrise

From Mt. Major, we took the Major/Straightback Link Trail, which starts a good distance down off the summit's backside and the Brook Trail way down. The sign says .7 to Straightback Mountain, but before Straightback Mountain is the junction for the Quarry Trail, which was our route for today. 
First junction after leaving Mt. Major (looks like a summit here, but its not)
Our planned route was a loop over the Quarry's, Rand, Klem, Mack, Anna, and Straightback back to Major. The Quarry Trail was an interesting trail.  It had some up and downs that weren't as anticipated, but as anticipated, we lost the trail once on this section. You can see in the map at the bottom of the post, the loop which is where we had to circle back) On this section of Trail, we zig-zagged up and down the beautiful terrain as we bagged East Quarry Mountain, West Quarry Mountain, Mt. Rand, and Mt. Klem.
Steep sections on Quarry Trail
Quarry Trail sign
Bones of a deceased animal (deer likely)
East Quarry Mountain summit
Along the way, a rouge tree fell on my brother Bill. No, jk, he was pretending that this tree fell on him. After joking around and having some fun, we pushed it off to the side as our offering of a little trail magic for the Belknap Range - what an awesome place to hike, and we were only halfway done.
Havin' some fun in the Belknap Range
A little trail maintenance on the Quarry Trail
If you do get the Dave Robert's maps of the Belknap Range from the library, one will come double-sided with a full list of unique and interesting places and things throughout the Belknap Range. One of those things is an old Quarry Site. I would love to come back and see many of the other items listed throughout the range.
Old Quarry Site with artifcats (more at the top of photo) 
Lovely terrain
Even though, in our opinion, the trails were very well marked, there were random missing blazes, and a couple of huge blow downs that blocked the markers, so watch out for that. Not only that, you may question whether you're on a summit or not, but after about 5 minutes of investigation, we realized we were at the summit, due to small writing and faded arrow pointing to such on a rock. Not quite the summit I'm used to, but, hey, it was another off the list, and we were having a good time.
Mt. Klem summit
After we left Mt. Klem, we had a really nice walk with some views on the way to Mt. Mack (1945'). After Mt. Mack, we passed a really pretty stream that pulled us for a break.

Stream crossing in the Belknap Range 
Mt. Anna summit 
On the summit of Mt. Anna, there was this GPS print-out nailed to a tree. This map might actually be one of the most helpful ones out there for those seeking these peaks.

With Anna in the bag, out next objective was Straightback Mountain. To our delight, Straightback had really nice views, and a ledgy-exposed feel which was nice.
A nice little steep section making our way up toward the ledges
Heading towards Straightback Mountain and back to Mt. Major 
Ledge near Straightback Mountain on Belknap Range 
Straightback Mountain summit (1890')
On the summit of Straightback, we encountered a group of hikers, and one of them was so kind to offer us a homemade pecan cookie of hers. We shared it among the three of us. It was a great treat! After a nice rest on the summit, it was getting a little chilly and we head off on our way back to Major. By the time we reached the Brook Trail on Mt. Major, we were pretty tired, and it was around 1:00pm, so our chance of getting all 12 was out of the picture, but all the way down and home we talked about how it was such a great day hike. We will be coming back very soon for a traverse from Rowe to Whiteface to wrap up the last  five peaks for a Belknap Hiker's Patch.

Hike Stats
Trails: Main Trail, Major-Straighback Link, Quarry Trail, Red Trail, Anna-Straighback Link, Major-Straighback link, Brook Trail
Distance: 12 miles
Actual Book Time: 7hrs

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