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24 July 2017

Glen Boulder: A Destination Can Be Whatever You Want It to Be!


A destination can be whatever you want it to be!  I vividly recall being told this many years ago by an experienced hiker who explained to me that just because a trail leads to a named mountaintop, it doesn't mean you must go to the top of that mountain.  If  you only want to hike a portion of the trail for whatever reason, that's okay.  Hiking is hiking!

And so, with that philosophy in mind, in early July 2017, I decided that a huge rock named Glen Boulder would be my “destination”.   This boulder is just a mere blip along the trail for many hikers who are using the Glen Boulder Trail as a springboard to Mt. Isolation and other distant locations.

Glen Boulder was named for the nearby settlement of Glen, NH which presumably was named for the Gaelic word describing a mountain valley.  It is situated at an elevation of just over 3,700 ft.  The  area in the immediate vicinity of the boulder consists of bare tundra which is normally only found at elevations several hundred feet higher.   One theory is that the bare tundra along the top of this portion of the ridge is caused by the scouring effect of fierce winter winds emanating from the summit of nearby Mt. Washington.

And although Glen Boulder would appear to be a glacial erratic, I'm told that technically it is not since it consists of a rock type that is the same as the rock beneath it.  Apparently, to be a true glacial erratic, it must have been carried for a far distance by a retreating glacier, and thereby have a rock type  that's different from its surroundings.   Perhaps a reader who is versed in geology can correct or confirm this?

As you will see in the photos that follow, Glen Boulder sits precariously perched on the edge of steep slope.  Each time I've visited this location (including this time), I've witnessed folks playfully trying to push over this humongous boulder and send it tumbling downhill.   Fun stuff, but all such attempts will likely be forever unsuccessful . . . thankfully! :-)

The is a fun hike, and it allows you to have an above tree-line experience in a relatively short hiking distance.  However if you've never done this trek, then please be aware that the trail has some prolonged steep segments, and there are a couple of very challenging rock scrambles on the final approach to Glen Boulder.

And so, shown below is a map with my route highlighted in orange.  This was a simple "out and back" hike that began and ended at the Glen Ellis Falls parking area on the west side of Route 16.  The round-trip hike was 3.2 miles, with an elevation gain of 1,750 ft.
Map showing my route highlighted in orange


Trailhead sign at start of hike
First view of Glen Boulder upon breaking out above tree line
Almost there!
Arrival at Glen Boulder!  Wildcat Mountains and Carter-Moriah Range seen on horizon.
Northward view from Glen Boulder.  Peaks and ridges (at left) associated with the Presidential Range dominate the photo.
Southward view look down Pinkham Notch toward peaks in the Jackson, North Conway, Bartlett area.
While en route to Glen Boulder, there are a couple of side paths leading to some small, but picturesque cascades, such as the one shown here.

Perhaps this blog posting can best be summed up with the quote from Alfred D'Souza: "Happiness is a journey, not a destination."  In other words, hike to wherever it is that makes you happy.  Don't be obsessed with map destinations.


One Day in America said...

I like the quote in your summation.
I'm in Colorado right now and, although I have summited two of the 14,000 foot peaks in this area, several times I have started on a long mountain hike only to have stopped along the way in a picturesque aspen grove or a boulder strewn hillside.—much like the one on the way to Glen Boulder.
As usual, John, I love the narrative and the photos in this post. The first view of Glen Boulder is amazing! As is the view from Glen Boulder itself.
Let's hope that all those would-be "boulder topplers" remain forever unsuccessful!

1HappyHiker said...

Hi Rita,

It’s gratifying to know that you apparently are also a “free-spirited” hiker in that you hike to wherever strikes your fancy. One doesn’t need to reach the end of the trail, or climb to the top of the mountain in order to have a very satisfying hiking experience.

Thank you, as always, for taking time to read my blog and post your thoughts.


Anonymous said...

that waterfall picture was really well done. capturing flowing water is hard to do

1HappyHiker said...

Thanks for the compliment on the waterfall photo included in this blog . . . very much appreciated! I do the best I can with my amateurish equipment. Undoubtedly, a more experienced photographer with more sophisticated equipment could have produced an even better photo.


Karl said...

Great photos, John. I've never been up there but look up at the boulder every time I head north on 16. Not sure why it catches my eye heading north, but it does. I admire the fact that you hike to landmarks even though you're not bagging a peak. It really shows the passion for nature you have vs. list bagging. Not that I don't respect peakbaggers, because I do a fair share of it myself, but at the end of the day, the list is a means to an visit really cool spots and features in New Hampshire's wilderness. Nice post and pics.


1HappyHiker said...

Hi Karl,

Thanks for the kind words about my photos, and a special thanks for your excellent comments!

Like you, I have the utmost respect for those dedicated individuals who hike to destinations on the various peak bagging lists. Although, for whatever reason, “lists” have never motivated me. But, all that means is that each individual is different, and as they say “that’s what makes the world go round”. Regardless, I suppose in their own way, everyone follows some sort of a list. For example, in my mind I have an informal list of destinations that I’d like to explore. And so, perhaps it could be said that I too am a “list bagger”!

Happy trails to you, Karl!