Franconia Ridge

Franconia Ridge

Sunday, March 8, 2015

A Hike to Mount Cabot

I set the clocks ahead before going to bed. Just before the alarm went off I woke up. I could already tell it was going to be a rough day, I needed the hour that was lost. Dragging myself out of bed I took my time getting ready for today's hike. The plan for today was to add another winter 4,000 footer to my list. Fortunately the hike to Mount Cabot is the closest trailhead from my house, fifteen minutes. This hike would take me up the Bunnell Notch Trail onto the Kilkenny Ridge Trail and up to the summit of Mount Cabot.

 Sunrise at York Pond

 At the trailhead

 Turning onto the Bunnell Notch Trail

The weather forecast called for snow showers and cold temps but not the frigid, subzero temps that have been common this winter. I was looking at a beautiful sunrise on the drive to the trailhead. The gate to the York Pond Fish Hatchery remains open in the winter and as I drove by there is no evidence that there is even a gate. The snowbank is completely covering it. I was the first one in the trailhead parking area this morning.
 Long shadow

 Kilkenny Ridge Trail junction

I decided to carry my snowshoes for awhile before putting them on. The trail was well-packed and solid but one step too close to the side would create a nice posthole. Shortly after turning onto the Bunnell Notch Trail I stopped and put on the snowshoes. The sun was shining through a thin cloud cover and it was a beautiful early morning walk along the trail.

 The former Mount Cabot Trail - no longer maintained

 View from Mount Cabot

As the trail climbed higher the clouds thickened and the summit of Mount Cabot was covered. When I arrived at the Kilkenny Ridge Trail I noticed the trail south was unbroken, no problem because I was going north and that was a well-broken path. So far I had met two hikers on their way down who had spent the night at the top. They made it a point to tell me not in the cabin but primitive. I don't blame them, not a place I would want to spend the night in unless it was an emergency.

I arrived at Bunnell Rock, a great outlook on a clear day. Today there was a view to neighboring Terrace Mountain but not much beyond that. Got a few photos and continued up the trail. The snow was hanging heavy on the trees from this point onward.

Reaching the cabin I decided to continue to the summit and would take a break here on the way back down. So up I went to the former fire tower site that has good views to the east and west on a clear day, there would be no views today. I arrived at the wooded summit of Mount Cabot and didn't waste any time looking for the two screws in the tree where the summit sign used to be. Got my summit phot and video and began my descent to the cabin.

 Lots of snow up high

Approaching the cabin I could hear voices and knew I wasn't alone. As I got closer the faces looked familiar. It was Jason, Brent and his dog Lucy. I have been following their hiking adventures for a long time and it was great to finally meet them. There was also one other hiker that was solo and they were all on their way to the summit. We spoke for a few minutes then they all took off.

I removed my snowshoes and went into the cabin to eat lunch. It's a rather dingy place but it kept the cool breeze off of me. I've read the stories about the hordes of mice that have taken over this cabin and can't imagine ever sleeping in here. It didn't take long to eat as I was getting chilled from standing around. I went back outside, put on my snowshoes and continued my descent.

 Mount Cabot summit

 Mount Cabot cabin

As I expected it didn't take long for Jason, Brent and Lucy to catch up to me with Lucy in the lead. We spoke for a few more minutes and then they were off. They were actually running down the trail and I thought I would see how long I could keep up until they were out of sight. It was about one minute and I was worn out from the pace of trying to keep up from a distance. Oh well, I only had four more miles to go.

It was a pleasant trip back down with snow showers providing a dusting of snow flurries. I was able to stave off the leg cramps today that have plagued me on previous hikes. On most hikes I usually don't work up much of an appetite and just keep going without much to eat. This time I paid attention to getting enough to eat and drink. It paid off and I'll have to continue that practice on future hikes.

 Lucy leads the way down

 Jason, Brent and Lucy

While I'm in no hurry to complete the winter 48 4,000 footers it was nice to get one more. With only 12 days left of official winter hiking I'm thinking next weekend is going to be very crowded on the hiking trails.

Having Fun in the Great Outdoors


  1. Nice photos. When I visited that cabin, I wanted to clean it out! Well, that day, we eat our lunches outside. It is a very cute cabin, but I don't want to get sick from some kind of mouse virus!

    1. Thanks JoAnne! It would have to be some brutal conditions for me to spend a night in there!