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03 May 2012

No Grumpiness From Me On An Overcast Day at Mts. Stanton and Pickering

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 photo).
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! :)

6 comments:

  1. My wife and I did a similar bushwhack up Pickering in mid-February, starting directly behind the Stillings farm house, angling to the right up the steep east ridge, then up a gully that brought us out near the summit of Pickering. An account of our adventure was published in the Feb 23 Mt. Ear in my The Great Outdoors column. Next time I'll head for the Crippies.

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    1. Hi Peter,

      I just accessed your article in the archived edition of the 23-Feb-2012 of the Mount Ear at the link below:
      http://www.newhampshirelakesandmountains.com/118968.113119body.lasso?publication=MTN

      Wow! What a wonderful winter whack you and Sally did! It makes my short foray look like child's-play by comparison! That area of the WMNF certainly provides opportunity for a variety of adventures.

      Thank you for posting a response, and especially thank you for drawing my attention to your article in the Mountain Ear. As a result of reading your article, my memory was tweaked about Stillings Rd following the old rail bed of the logging railroad known as the Rocky Branch Railroad. I've inserted an addendum within the body of my report to reflect this.

      John

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  2. First of all, I love the idea of The Great American Grump Out Day! I had never heard of it before but it's a good reminder to take it easy and lay off the complaining for a day or two (and that's not an easy thing to do for those of us who care about the fate of the natural world).

    Second, you managed to get a lot of pretty pictures for such an overcast day. You could sell copies of the "spring green leaves" picture—it would look great hanging over a living room mantle every spring.

    Finally, Stillings Road (minus the mud hole) looks like a great place from which to launch future fair weather treks.

    Next year I'll have to do something special to celebrate Great American Grump Out day!

    Rita

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    1. Rita, thank you so much for taking time to post another of your terrific set of comments relative to my Blog posting.

      Regarding that “spring-green leaves” photo, those particular woods are one of my wife’s favorite. She became enamored with that part of the forest when we did a Springtime hike there several years ago. She was unable to accompany me on this hike, and so the least I could do was bring a photo home to her!

      Regarding The Great American Grump Out Day, I also think it’s a terrific idea. It is nice to have a day set aside to remind us to “grump-out”! :)

      John

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  3. Hello John

    From the Stanton / Pickering Tr I’ve been exploring the Crippies a bit, poking around on some of the ledge(s) viewpoint(s).

    In between the 2nd and 3rd Crippie I stumbled on an unmarked trail descending off of the ridge towards the Saco! Wasn’t on my map! I followed it down about a mile; there are trail cuttings and huge cairns. (some of these have large stones that would not be possible to lift with a single person). I was a little nervous to keep going because I would have eventually left WMNF land.

    Any idea where this unmarked trail goes?

    (Also, as a side point I noticed there has been some cutting at the 3rd Crippie clearing the view towards Washington)

    Best
    Charlie Sielicki
    Merrimac, MA

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    1. Hmmm! Interesting! I've checked a few old maps and didn't see any old trails in the area you described. There is a large rectangular piece of private land that runs northward from the Saco, and its northern edge nearly touches the trail corridor in the vicinity of Mt. Pickering. Possibly the corridor that you stumbled upon was either the western or eastern boundary of this rectangular piece of property. However, it's merely a guess.

      Regarding your comment: "cutting at the 3rd Crippie clearing the view towards Washington"; I don't know if it's at the same place you're talking about, but a few years ago I was at the Mt. Langdon end of the Crippies and noticed a view toward the Presidential Range that seemed to have been "improved".

      John

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