My friend Kris and I headed into Northern New Hampshire to bushwhack some mountains on the New Hampshire 200 highest list. This area is way off the grid, largely owned by lumber companies, but accessible to outdoors folk who want to push their skills and preparedness to the limit.
Stub Hill (3627′) and North Stub Hill (3422′)
Stub Hill was an easy bushwhack. We followed a herd path from height-of-land part way up the peak and then vectored off to the summit, bushwhacking through fern and hobblebush. The herd path continues up to a pond, probably good fishing here.
Coming back down we decided to check out the pond, which had several monuments next to it. An excellent way to remember fallen comrades and good times.
We crossed the saddle and headed up to North Stub which was a shorter climb, but much steeper. The summit is large and flat and covered with blow downs, so it took a while to find the canister, which is at the northeastern end of the peak.
The log book contained entries going back to 1977, with only one other ascent this year. Other recent entries included the usual suspects: Zach Porter, Bryan Cuddihee, and Jeremy Clark – all people I know or know of.
Diamond Ridge (3230′)
Climbing Diamond Ridge was also a relatively easy hike, since Kris was able to follow a logging road most of the way up the ridge. That was a piece of good luck.
It was very wet though and dashed my hope of dry socks for the night. Wet underfoot from a high elevation bog and wet from above from rain. “Luckily,” it was hot as hell so we didn’t have to worry about getting chilled.
We entered the woods along a logging cut and followed some game trails to the summit. There are a lot of moose trails in these parts, and it seems that the moose like to climb high points enroute from one valley to another. A curious habit if you think about it. Do all moose have an urge to climb mountains? It sure seems so.
Three down on Day 1, we retired to our campsite at the nearby Deer Mountain Campground, ate dinner, and sipped Jameson Black Barrel by the fire.
Salmon Mountain (3390′)
With heavy thunderstorms predicted for the afternoon, we got an early start the following morning. Our destination was Salmon Mountain, whose summit is about 50 yards from the border swath between the United States and Canada.
Kris was able to get us pretty close to height-of-land again in his SUV, but this was a much harder and longer bushwhack than the previous day’s hikes. The first half of the hike required some quite steep climbing, several high level bog crossings, and a long stretch of side hilling through waist-high fern and hobblebush.
We switched our bearing at 3100′ and I came across a game trail or maybe it was a hunters path which led us straight to the summit. We’d been feeling the heat and the bugs, so this was a lucky break. We checked the canister and like our previous climbs, we were only the second party to reach the summit this year. What a difference from the peakbagging crowds down south!
We decided to have a look at the border swath since it was so close to the summit and hiked down a bit. The US border patrol, which is now part of Homeland Security, flies drones along the swath to detect illegal activity. They probably saw us coming a mile away.
We saw a hunter’s cabin just over the border on the Canadian side, complete with rendering stations for cleaning game. Not exactly the most fashionable dwelling, although the metal awnings are pretty swanky, I thought.
I must say, I am hooked on bushwhacking in the North Country and I feel like all of the navigation and self sufficiency skills I’ve been developing these past years can put to the test here, just slightly removed from the comfortable embrace of the White Mountains. There’s an onion waiting to be peeled up in Northern New Hampshire and I look forward to future trips where we can dive deeper under its skin.