Vose Spur (3774′) is a sub-peak of Mt Carrigan, located in Carrigan Notch at the southern end of the Pemigewasset Wilderness. Densely wooded and trail-less, it is a bushwhack peak on the New England Hundred Highest peakbagging list.
I bushwhacked Vose Spur last weekend with my friends Pam, Trey, Matt, Ian, Anne, and Randy. In addition to bagging the peak, we were on hand to celebrate Randy’s 100th NEHH peak. Including mountains in Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont, it is no mean feat to finish hiking all of the trail hikes and bushwhacks on this peakbagging list.
Despite being a bushwhack, there is a fairly standard route to the summit of this peak. We started the hike at the Sawyer River Road lot and hiked up to Carrigan Notch via the Signal Ridge and Carrigan Notch Trails, diverging from the trail at a large rock which signifies the start of the bushwhack. You really can’t miss it. It’s in a level area in the Notch across from Mt Lowell, where people have obviously camped before.
We hiked past the rock about 50 yards before turning left and entering the woods. Randy led, hiking up an increasingly steep slope through woods, which grew denser the farther uphill we got. Skirting blow downs and rock cliffs, we eventually found a rock cairn which marked the beginning of a very faint herd path which we followed to the large talus field on the west side of the Vose Spur.
Out of the woods and exposed, we all bundled up for warmth, donning hats, gloves, and hard shells during this stage of the ascent. After climbing through the talus field, we re-entered the woods above it, climbing steeply climb to the summit herd path, passing through a narrow band of spruce below the summit.
Once atop the peak, Pam broke out the red wine and we toasted Randy on his achievement while munching on cheese, bread, olives, and summit cookies. But getting into the canister to sign the log book proved to be rather difficult. Randy finally prevailed on loosening the top with a rock – the cap was jammed on – so we could sign the log book and beat feet. The temperature felt like it had dropped significantly during out ascent and we wanted to get moving again to warm up.
At that point Matt and Ian, split off from the group and continued up to Mount Carrigan, bushwhacking from Vose Spur to an unnamed peak on Signal Ridge and to the new firetower on Mt Carrigan. Matt reported this second bushwhack was 1 mile long and passes through a second smaller talus field. It took he and Ian 2 hours to hike the extension, following a very faint herd path for half the distance and skirting the worst blow downs.
The rest of us descended in the general direction we came from, back through the Talus field and eventually back to the Carrigan Notch trail. About half-way down we found a different herd path which we followed until it vanished in the thick scrub. I was leading during this section of the hike, weaving through the brush trying to find the clearest path while avoiding the cliffs we’d bypassed on the way up.
I didn’t need a compass for this section of the hike because we were descending into Carrigan Notch, a narrow valley with a trail running up the middle. I knew I’d run into the trail sooner or later simply by descending and we came out of the woods just 50 yards beyond our starting point.
From there, it was just a 4 mile walk back out to our cars on a chilly evening in November. A great hike. Vose Spur is a peak worth coming back for in warmer weather.
Total distance: about 9 miles in 7 hours with 2300 feet of elevation gain
Recommended Guidebooks and Maps:
- Appalachian Mountain Club White Mountain Guide, 30th ed.
- AMC White Mountain National Forest Map Set
- White Mountains Map: New Hampshire and Maine
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