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29 May 2017

Cutting Mt. Davis Down to Size


During the past several weeks, I haven't done any hikes that I consider to be "blog-worthy".   And so, I've opted to post a report about a New Hampshire hiking adventure that I did nearly a decade ago in the Summer of 2008.  My destination was Mt. Davis (3,819 ft) which is a remote peak located along the Montalban Ridge in the Presidential Range-Dry River Wilderness.
I've never developed a fondness for overnight hiking.   Instead, I’m a devout day-trip hiker who relishes a hot shower and sleeping in my own bed after a day of hiking in the mountains.  And so, every time I thought about going to Mt. Davis, the round-trip mileage of at least 15 miles had always dissuaded me from attempting it as a day-trip.
However, when looking at trail maps, I noticed that "as the crow flies", Mt. Davis is a very short distance due east of the Dry River Trail.  This prompted me to consider the possibility of cutting the mileage to Mt. Davis down to size by bushwhacking from the Dry River Trail to a point on the Davis Path just a bit south of the spur trail to Mt. Davis.  The bushwhack, plus the on-trail hiking distance worked out to a round-trip journey of just over 10 miles . . . a very doable day-hike!
Besides studying maps of the area, I also consulted with a fellow-hiker (Steve Smith) who had done something similar to what I was contemplating.   He indicated that the bushwhack was very doable.  So, I laid out a route and then eagerly awaited for a day when I felt that conditions would be right for this adventure.
Shown below are two maps.  The first one shows the route of the overall trek as highlighted in orange.  The second map shows a bit more detail of the bushwhack segment of the hike, as highlighted in blue. 
Route of the overall trek is highlighted in orange
Map shows detail of the bushwhack segment of the hike, as highlighted in blue
This trek of about 10 miles (round-trip) consisted of about 8 miles of on-trail hiking, and just a tad over 2 miles of bushwhacking off-trail.
The bushwhack portion of my journey began from a point along the Dry River Trail about 0.6 miles north of the Mt. Clinton Trail junction.  The bushwhacking distance between the Dry River Trail and the Davis Path was about 1.1 miles, with an elevation gain of about 1,500 ft.
This wasn't a particularly difficult bushwhack, but some portions were relatively steep, and there were sporadic patches of thick vegetation which made for slow-going.   The outbound bushwhacking segment took just under 2 hours, whereas the return segment only took about 1.5 hours.
When all was said and done, I was sitting atop Mt. Davis in just a tad under 4 hours from leaving the trailhead on Rt. 302!!  Take that Mt. Davis . . . you’ve been cut down to size!!

Shown below are a few snapshots taken on this adventure.  These photos are nearly a decade old, and are a bit faded and grainy.

About a half-hour from trailhead is this "peek-a-boo" view from the Dry River Trail.  It is looking up the Dry River Valley toward Mt. Washington.   There was still a bit of morning cloud-cover, which fortunately burned off as the day progressed.
After about 4 hours of hiking and bushwhacking, I arrived at the spur trail leading to Mt. Davis.
The cairn atop Mt. Davis with Mt. Washington and Mt. Monroe in background
This view from Mt. Davis includes (L to R) Mt. Monroe; Oakes Gulf; Mt. Washington; Boott Spur
Highly-zoomed view of Mt. Washington (smoke from cog railway's coal-fired steam-engine is seen rising from the summit)

This scene reminded me of "purple mountain majesties" from America the Beautiful
Easily recognizable features of this southward view include the pointy peak of Mt. Chocorua (just right of top/center), and ski slopes on Attitash Mountain (at left).
Included in this eastward view are the Doublehead Mountains (just right of center)
Perhaps the most readily recognized feature in this WSW view is the sharply-sloped end of Mt. Willey at top right of photo.  Many other mountains are present in this vista, including such notables as Mt. Carrigain, and tops of peaks in the Bond Range, and Franconia Range.

This was a marvelous adventure which I'll fondly remember for the rest of my life.  As to whether I'd do it again . . . perhaps!  However, sometimes it's better to simply take a stroll down "Memory Lane",  rather than attempting to re-create an experience as delightful and gratifying as it was the first time around.


Rita Wechter said...

I enjoyed this blast-from-the-past post, John.
I admire your ability to look at a hike and "rearrange" it to make it manageable. The bushwhack through thick vegetation might have deterred me! Looks like the summit was a worthy goal on that day back in the summer of '08.
And, I whole-heartedly agree with your final statement. Sometimes when attempting to recreate an experience, the "re-creation" falls short of the memory. Better to take that stroll down memory lane!

1HappyHiker said...

Memory can be a deceptive thing. So, if you have a pleasant memory about something, then perhaps it’s best to leave it alone and not mess with it by trying to re-create it. :-)