A Quick Afternoon Hike Up Mt. Pemigewasset
Yesterday was one of those days where you’re laying comfortably in bed looking out the window and you say to yourself, “it’s such a shame I’m not outside taking advantage of the gorgeous weather.” I was just planning on driving back to Boston, but when I saw how nice it was I couldn’t help squeezing in a quick hike. It was 50 degrees outside with bluebird skies and a light breeze. I thought about hiking Mt. Liberty since the trailhead was on my way home and it wasn’t too long, but by the time I got my life together it was too late in the day. I probably would have had time if I didn’t discover a flat tire on my car right as I was leaving, but by the time I got that fixed it was already 12:30.
I decided on a quick hike up Mt. Pemigewasset (Indian Head). Mt. Pemi is a short little gem of a hike right off I-93 in Franconia Notch. I remember doing this hike with my dad when I was younger, and it’s perfect for really anyone who wants a short outing with a really rewarding view. This was a great hike because Lucy and I were still a little tired from Pierce the day before, and I didn’t want to carry all of my winter equipment with me.
When we got to the trailhead, I decided that for the first time in months I was going to leave my snowshoes and emergency bivvy sack in the car. I always bring the bivvy on winter hikes in the event that an unforeseen complication leads to me staying out in the cold overnight. For winter 4,000 footers I also pack a -15 degree sleeping bag, a stove, and enough food for 24 hours just in case. But today I got the luxury of carrying a lightweight pack ready for shoulder season conditions.
The trail started with a very unstable monorail which dissipated after the tunnels under the highway. From there it was a pretty dry trail for the first half of a mile. It really looked like summer conditions with not a patch of snow and very dry ground. There were a couple of easy little stream crossings, the only major one with a wooden bridge on top of it. We saw a few other hikers, some of whom were nicely prepared for the spring conditions, but others who were wearing sneakers without any gear.
As we gained elevation the trail got increasingly more muddy. The trail was at a very gentle incline, with no huffing and puffing necessary even at a pretty brisk pace. About a half a mile from the summit an unstable monorail started to form. I could tell that it had been quickly melting away and it was easily avoidable at the beginning, but slowly started to take up the whole trail. Soon walking on the narrow monorail was unavoidable. To each side of it were deep postholes which would surely cause a broken leg if you weren’t careful. Microspikes were necessary to avoid sliding off with the granular snow.
When we reached the lookout close to the summit, snow disappeared and large slabs of rock took its place. The expansive view was really nice looking over the valley. Lucy and I went out to the edge of the rock face, but Lucy was still so excited from the hike that I was worried she would fall off! A quick 100 yards later we were at the true summit. We went back to the lookout to sit and enjoy a snack.
It was a beautiful, sunny day and as I sat there I remembered the joy of summer outings where I could stay at the summit for as long as I wanted. In the past few months, all of my hikes have been in such cold weather that there hasn’t been much time to hang around. Sitting and relaxing was a refreshing reminder of what I love about summer. I also just finished finals last week, so I haven’t had anything school related on my mind all weekend. It’s been great to have some time to myself to truly relax.
On our way back to the car I took Lucy off of her leash as I often do for the descent. She was pretty good for about five minutes, but quickly realized that with the wide, gently sloping trail in fairly open woods she could run around much more than she’s been able to on other hikes. Usually the forest is so dense and the trails are so narrow that she has a hard time getting around me if I’m in front of her. At this lower elevation she had all sorts of freedom and she definitely utilized it running ahead of me and everywhere she wanted to.
She came back to me every time I offered her a treat, but after about 20 minutes of this I put her back on a leash. Had it been a weekend with more people on the trail, I would have stopped her behavior much sooner, but since it was a weekday I figured as long as she was within sight and earshot with her bear bell it was okay for her to explore a little more than usual. I could see far enough that I would have seen any other hikers in front of us to call her back before she greeted them. This hike was also considerably shorter than our usual outing, so I think she had some extra energy to get out of her system before we got back to the car. So in short, I think she had more energy and less barriers to keep her in check which was why Lucy was less in control for this part of the hike.
Afterwards we went to Granite State Candy Shoppe for ice cream as part of the Scoops and Loops hiking patch. Lucy and I enjoyed our coconut ice cream immensely! Mt. Pemi was a great little afternoon hike on our way back to the city, with beautiful views for relatively little effort. I think this would be a great introductory hike for new hikers or for children. I bet that the views at sunset would be even better although I didn’t look to see which way the lookout faced. I believe it was south west(ish), but I’ll probably go up there for sometime this summer so I’ll post an update when I do!
Mt. Pemigewasset (2,557 ft) via. Mt. Pemigewasset Trail [3.45 mi, 1340 ft, 2:15]