On an overcast day, I purposely hiked to Mts. Stanton and Pickering. My hike occurred on May 2 which was the date for the 11th Annual Great American Grump Out (Click HERE). Grumpiness was not allowed, despite the dreary conditions!
Although the hike involved Mts. Stanton and Pickering in
New Hampshire, the photos would have been similar from many locations on a
gloomy day. These misty conditions
produced scenes which had qualities somewhat akin to Tolkien's
"middle-earth". Shown below
are two such scenes.
Besides these Tolkien-like scenes, a few flowering plants
were seen along the route which always seems to brighten things, even when
conditions are dull.
You might ask why I purposely went hiking on such a dismal
day? I did have a reason! Over the
years, I've heard and read occasional reference to Stillings Road (near Glen,
NH) as a place to XC-ski, and to mountain-bike.
Since I'd never set foot on this road, it had been on my list of places
to check out. However, not knowing what
I'd find, I didn't want to "waste" a sunny day exploring this area.
From the outset, my plan was to somehow incorporate
Stillings Road into a loop-hike that would involve the road itself, plus a
bushwhack, plus a segment of the Mt. Stanton Trail. However, my plans were imprecise since I had
no idea what I'd find on Stillings Road.
I had only sketchy details about how far I could drive along this road,
and about the parking.
The map below shows a number of things which might be
helpful as you read through this report.
First, the turn-off from Rt. 302 is
named Allen Road, and then this eventually becomes Stillings Road. And secondly, the yellow highlighting shows
the route that I hiked. (Click on map to enlarge.)
As shown on the map, I was able to launch my trek from
Stillings Road. Fortunately, as I was
driving along Allen Road, I met a homeowner who was walking his dog. He pointed out a spot where I could park. If I'd been unable to begin from Stillings
Road, then I was prepared to drive to the trailhead for the Mt. Stanton Trail. Under that scenario, I would have hiked the trail to a point where
it turns sharply westward and then launched a bushwhack to Stillings Road.
Regarding driving down Stillings Road . . . hmmm! There were tire tracks that were perhaps a
few days old. And so, people must drive
down it. Actually, I even started to drive
down it myself until I encountered conditions such as shown in the next
photo. Fortunately, I came upon this
situation just a short distance from Allen Road, and was able to back out.
There are several spots along Stillings Road where the
road is in very rough shape, such as shown in the above photo. But in stark contrast, there are long
stretches of the road that are very nice and quite scenic (see next
Addendum to my original report: The next photo not only shows a nice stretch of road, but it also shows the old rail bed for the Rocky Branch Railroad (RBRR) which was used for logging operations (1908 to 1914). Thanks to Peter Minnich for tweaking my memory of the fact that most of Stillings Road follows the corridor of the old RBRR.
In addition to long stretches of pleasant road-walking,
there are also many spots where you can stroll a few paces off the road and enjoy
the views of the Rocky Branch River (next photo).
Eventually, I left
Stillings Road to begin my bushwhack to the col between Mt. Stanton and
Pickering. Along my bushwhack route, I
encountered a honeycombed network of old logging roads. Sometimes I was able to follow an old
roadway for some distance before it started to head off in a direction that
was different from my route of travel.
Shown below is one of the logging roads that I followed.
As indicated at the outset of this report, the overcast weather
pretty much excluded views of the Presidential Range and other distant vistas. However, there were some misty views of nearby
places such as the Attitash Ski Area (next photo).
And, there were the very pleasant views of vibrant
spring-green leaves just beginning to burst forth in the forest.
To sum it up,
now that I have a much better feel for Stillings Road, I can foresee returning
here for other adventures ranging from more aggressive bushwhacks from the far
end of the road, to using the road for mountain-biking, XC-skiing, or just as a
pathway for a pleasant stroll along the Rocky Branch River.
It was a very worthwhile and
enjoyable use of my time to explore this place that was new to me. And, it was a terrific way to celebrate the 11th
Annual Great American Grump Out Day! :)