Sunday, July 22, 2012

Wapack Trail-Mount Watatic to Windblown

My trail running buddy Tom and I decided to get in a hike yesterday and do a portion of the Wapack trail that's been on my bucket list for a while now.  This particular portion of the Wapack was one I discovered a couple years back when I Trail Ran and hiked the first half of the portion which was Mount Watatic to Pratt Mountain and back.  It would be then I'd fall in love with the Wapack and would find out there was an official trail race for that portion so went there to get a flavor for it.  This is where I'd meet Tom and we'd hit it off immediately and I told him right then and there that this was my goal for 2011. Of course that would never happen and I realize now it probably never will but have discovered I love hiking as much as I do trail running and am much better at it so off we went.

The hike toward the summit of Watatic was nice with no bugs and surprisingly enough no Blackburnian Warblers which was surprising considering I heard so many of them on my way up a couple of weeks ago.  Another thing that would be different was the sun was out for nice views and the many people who were already at that summit enjoying the morning.

We'd decide to head over to that area given that's the best place for views on the summit.

And would not be disappointed as you could see everything including Mount Wachusett and the ski slopes.

So that would be one summit down and 3 to go so we got a move on despite how tempting it was to stay.  I'd even get my bins out of my bag because there were scores of Barn and Tree Swallows here and I could have stayed longer to watch them fly but realized for the interest of time it was time to go.

We'd finally make our way to the Wapack detour due to logging and the alternate unblazed trail looked like tick country!

It wouldn't be that long to get out of the tall grass and onto a dirt road that reminded me very much of Coldbrook Road.  There'd be scores of birds in this area including some House Finch's and Chipping Sparrows.  I'd get out my bins and do some pishing as I really wanted one to be a Pine Siskin but no such luck.

Picture of the logging near the area where you once again re meet up with the Wapack trail.

After a very steep and buggy climb we'd finally make it to the outlook near Pratt which is my second favorite part of the Wapack as it gives you an awesome view of the surrounding landscape and Binney Pond pictured above.

So we'd stop for a snack and some much needed water.

And some light birding as I really wanted a Great-blue Heron considering I don't have one for NH yet, but wouldn't you now there wouldn't be any that I could see.

So section two of the hike would be close to being done as the summit to Pratt is not that much further away from the outlook and thought this backdrop would be much more scenic than the summit which really isn't much compared to Watatic in particular.

Cute little rock cairn on the summit of Pratt

And then would come the section I was looking forward to the most as it was an area I'd never explored before.  The trails around here are overgrown and narrow but beautiful non the less.

And this is what we'd be rewarded with.  One of the reason why I love hiking mountains and higher elevations is because it's a nice way to destination hike and the rewards are the views once you get to your spot.

This area would make for the best views of Mount Monadnock which looked beautiful with the green trees and blue skies.

So summit number three New Ipswich would be done.  Notice my new, fancy daypack (which I fondly refer to as daybag).  It's almost the size of me but I was able to hold a gallon of water, food and tons of other stuff easily.  Plus hit has a nifty frame which does wonders for putting the weight of the bag on your hips vs shoulders so hiking with it was nice.  It also has a cool built in emergency safety whistle should I ever get lost and with me, that's a good thing!  ;-)

Tom getting in some hill sprints as to train for the Vermont 100 relay race which includes lots of hill running.  Was I jealous?  A tad, but my legs still felt fabulous so that's my trade off.

And then finally we'd make our way to summit number four Barrett Mountain.  We'd decide to stop for our record shot here considering Barrett's summit is in the middle of a wooded trail and if Tom didn't point it out to me I wouldn't have even known it existed!

The last leg of the hike over toward the Windblow ski area.  This part of the trail has ferns and a lot of continuous downhill hiking.  It would be here that I'd be in even more awe over those who trail run that Wapack race as this is enough to kill you running wise as it's a constant, long incline on the way up and it's less than 2 miles from that start!

 Frog seen along the way.  So sad to see them without water and I'm really hoping it rains soon.  Sure this will be good for shorebirds at Sterling Peat, but when I see pictures like this I'd really like some rain for all the wild life who depends on it.

A quick detour to Beaver Pond.  After hiking close to 10 miles at this point, it looked awful tempting just to jump in!

And one of my favorite parts of this part of Wapack with scores of birds

Including many Prairie Warblers (one of my faves)

And many blueberries.  It would be here that I'd make a promise to myself to get out here next year to pick enough blueberries along the wapack so I can make some blueberry jam so I can have a taste of Wapack all year by just opening a jar.

And then finally we'd make it to the end but also the beginning of the last section of Wapack I'll be doing which is from here to Kidder and Temple mountain.

And a mapped view of our hike with other stats as you all know my fascination with number crunching!

After hiking close to 11 miles in the heat we decided we needed some much deserved fuel so went to the Gardner Ale House for dinner.

The beer list!  Seriously, this place is awesome, especially for those who like beer, but it's also a family restaurant and is obviously popular as it was packed!

Tom would have the Naked Stout which was really good with hints of chocolate and espresso.

And I'd have the Summer's End which was refreshing and delicious.

Tom's dinner which was the pulled pork sandwich with fries.

And my dinner which was an entire large pizza! ;-).  I'd only eat 3 pieces and the rest would be wrapped up for leftovers but it was delicious.  Seriously if you are ever in the Gardner area looking for a place to eat, go here.  Not only excellent beer but food as well.

Take care all.


Dan said...

Nice report and photos. Wapack is an awesome trail. I hope to hike it this fall if I get healthy by then. Fingers crossed.

Kim said...

Dan, let me know if you want company! Maybe we can get a group of us out there and go to the Gardner Ale house afterwards for dinner! Hope you heal as I know how frustrating it is!


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