Here I will share my travels throughout the majestic White Mountains of NH and also delve into some of the area's rich history and forgotten places. I do this in hopes of getting others excited about exploring these wonderful places.

Friday, September 4, 2009

Sandwich, with a side of Noon and Jennings - 8/25/09

I’ve been toying with the idea of working on another list of peaks. The New Hampshire Hundred Highest (NHHH) includes the 48 4000 Footers, and some other lower mountains, many of which are without trails. This list is similar to the New England Hundred Highest (NEHH), but includes some slightly more obscure peaks, since it only list mountains in the state of New Hampshire. This list is also NOT officially recorded by the AMC, while the NEHH is an official list. I’m not sure if I’ll actually make an attempt at finishing it or not (still new to bushwhacking, and not sure I have an affinity for it), but it will inspire me to get to some interesting places. That much I am sure of.

This past week, I went to a place that I’ve been wanting to visit for quite a while. It just so turns out that this spot is the highest peak on the list outside of the 4Kers, Sandwich Mountain (AKA Sandwich Dome). When I traversed over the ridge of Mt. Tripyramid last July, one of the most interesting features I spotted was not Sandwich Dome itself, but the tiny summit of Jennings Peak to the right (North) of it. This summit rises abruptly from the ridge, and from some angles almost looks as sharp as Owl’s Head (Cherry Mt.) does from 115. For whatever reason, these “sharp” peaks seem to beckon me to visit them. I think it’s the thought of standing at the pinnacle, with the world falling away steeply on all sides. Whatever it is, I’m more than happy to oblige the call.

Jennings Peak (center), and Sandwich Dome to the left, seen from Mt. Tripyramid

Since I wanted to visit Jennings Peak, I decided on using the Sandwich Mountain Trail. This trail leaves the East side of Rt. 49 just before the Waterville Campground. The trail passes a power substation just before crossing Drakes Brook and beginning the moderate climb. The trail was a little wet on a couple of the early sections, but was relatively dry compared to a lot of the other trails I’ve been on this summer. The steepest part of the hike is probably the first part, before you reach the first outlook on the shoulder of Noon Peak, at about a mile and a half from the trailhead.

One of the steeper sections of the Sandwich Mountain Trail

This outlook took me a little by surprise. I didn’t expect to see such a sweeping view from the first and lowest outlook of the hike. On this particular day I was treated to beautiful blue skies, without the view-ruining haze of humidity. Already I could see the Osceolas, Carrigain, the Tripyramids, Mt. Washington, and a host of other peaks I couldn‘t quite identify.

The view from the outlook on Noon Peak

I was re-energized and set off for the day’s star attraction, Jennings Peak. The hike along this section of trail is fairly level and passes over ledges with a couple more outlooks, with views to the peaks ahead and out into the Sandwich Wilderness.

Jennings Peak up ahead

From the junction with the spur trail it only a couple tenths of a mile up to the summit of Jennings Peak. At the top, the wooded true summit is easily discerned, but the real highlight is the ledge just below the summit on the South side. The view here sweeps from Mt. Carrigain on the left all the way around to the town of Campton on the far right, with Sandwich Dome dead center.

Part of the view from Jennings Peak

A most interesting little knob presents itself just to the Southwest along the Acteon Ridge, known as Sachem Peak. This little peak is trailless, but I imagine the view from the ledges at it’s summit are worth the effort. I would very much like to visit it one of these days.

Sachem Peak

After soaking in the sights for a while and a short rest, I hoisted my pack and was on my back down to the Sandwich Mountain Trail. One back on this trail it’s only a little over a mile to the summit of Sandwich Mountain. Here I passed a small group of hikers who had just come down and they assured me the view was great. After exchanging pleasantries I began the fairly easy climb up to the top. Once there I was again taken by surprise.

Summit of Sandwich Dome

While the view from the top is restricted, it is one of the best (And slightly lesser-known) I’ve seen in my travels. I spent about an hour here, eating my lunch standing up and picking out as many peaks as I could. Moosilauke could be seen on the far left, then the Kinsmans, Tecumseh, Cannon, and the Franconia Ridge just to name a few. It was truly an All-Star view, and it is now placed among my favorites.

View from Sandwich Dome