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28 August 2016

Abbreviated Version of Hike Along the Caps Ridge Trail


The Caps Ridge Trail is a quick drive from my home in Bethlehem, NH, thus making it handy for repeat visits.  I love the full-body workout this trail provides with its scrambles over steep outcroppings of rocks and ledges that are known as the "Caps".

Sometimes when time is limited, I'll just climb over all the Caps and then simply make the Cornice Trail junction as my final destination, rather than continuing onward to Mt. Jefferson.   And, such was the case when I did this abbreviated trek on an overcast day in mid-August 2016.
Map showing route for my trek in mid-August 2016 using the Cornice Trail junction as a turnaround point.  This abbreviated version is about 4.2 miles (round-trip).

Typical segment of trail during first mile of hike
The view from "Pothole Rock" at 1-mile into the hike.
(Depressions were formed by erosive action of circular currents of glacial meltwater mixed with small pebbles.)
Looking upward from "Pothole Rock"
(Caps Ridge Trail goes up and over the rocky outcroppings along ridgeline at TOP CENTER of photo.)
A typical segment of trail that runs for only a short distance AFTER leaving "Pothole Rock" and BEFORE starting the climb up the Caps.

Shortly after leaving "Pothole Rock" you begin a series of vertical scrambles such as shown here.
(There are plenty of hand and footholds, but these scrambles are treacherous during wet and/or icy conditions.)
View from the first Cap looking southward along southern Presidential Range
A trailside view looking upward toward a higher Cap from one of the lower Caps
When scrambling over the Caps, there is this neat rock formation with a 'peek-a-boo' view.  You can't clearly recognize it from this snapshot, but it's the Castellated Ridge that is seen through the opening between the boulders.   (The "Castellated Ridge" is named for the rock formations along the ridgeline that resemble the ruins of castles.)

Rather than the 'peek-a-boo' view shown in the preceding photo, this snapshot shows the Castellated Ridge as it's normally viewed from the Caps Ridge Trail.
My turnaround point for this particular trek along the Caps Ridge Trail
On my descent back down the Caps ridge, the sky began to brighten considerably . . . of course! :-) 

*** FOOTNOTE: ***

My abbreviated trek in mid-August was also done to reassure myself that the Caps would be doable for an upcoming visit by a family member with boys ages 10 and 13.  I was reassured about recommending this route, and about a week later, I led them on an enjoyable hike over the Caps and onward to the top of Mt. Jefferson.



Karl said...

Hi John,

As always, great photos and report. It must be great to live close enough to this trail to frequent it. I think an abbreviated hike over the caps is a great way to spend a few hours.

I must say that the picture you took from the first cap looking southward with the old, dead tree in it is quite impressive. It reminds me of something Ansel Adams would have published. He'd be proud and jealous of this shot! It's truly calendar worth!

Also, your younger family members must have been excited on the later trek. At that age, being able to use hand and foot holds to pull yourself up makes you really feel like you're "climbing" a mountain and not just walking up a big hill!


1HappyHiker said...

Karl . . . I feel unworthy of your generous comments about my photos and report, but I’m most appreciative, and I thank you!

Your speculation is “spot on” regarding the reaction of the two youngsters who hiked the Caps Ridge Trail with me about a week after my abbreviated trek. They did indeed take great pleasure in doing the series of scrambles over the Caps’ many rocks and ledges. They actually were somewhat bored with the final segment of trail between the last Cap and the top of Mt. Jefferson. And truth be known, I also find that segment to be boring, which is another reason that I will sometimes skip it and just turn around at the Cornice Trail.

Although it might have been interesting to do a blog report about my trek with the youngsters, their parent was apprehensive about having their adventure posted on the Internet. In today’s world, I suppose there are many parents who have similar reservations.


One Day in America said...

What fun! I can see why you would take boys of ages 10 and 13 on this hike. I'll bet they had a blast on the rocks!
Actually we've been taking nieces and nephews (when they visit) to a state park near here called Goblin Valley; it's full of rock formations for climbing.

Your photos do a great job of telling the story of this hike. The glacial erratic rock—and the view from there—is very dramatic.

Another great post, John!

1HappyHiker said...

Thanks Rita for your comments, which are always very much appreciated!

It sounds like we both have terrific venues near to our respective homes that can be used to entertain our younger relatives with the wonders of the ‘great outdoors’!

And further regarding the glacial erratic rock that you mentioned, there are some hikers who make that spot as their destination, and not proceed onward to the Caps. And that is perfectly okay. A ‘destination’ can be any place you so choose. It’s not ‘obligatory’ to hike the entire length of a trail. :-)