|Hiking Trail Conditions Report|
||The Captain, Mount Carrigain, Vose Spur , NH|
||Livermore Road, herd paths, bushwhacks, Signal Ridge Trail, Carrigain Notch Trail|
|Date of Hike:
||Friday, July 23, 2021|
|Parking/Access Road Notes:
||We spotted one car at the Signal Ridge lot shortly last 8am and there were already several cars there. Still plenty of room though. There’s room for at least a couple dozen cars there before it begins to overflow. We then drove down to the end of the road and parked a car at the Sawyer Pond/Sawyer River Trailhead. I think we were the fourth or fifth car there. Room for probably about a dozen. |
||Dry Trail, Wet Trail, Wet/Slippery Rock, Mud - Minor/Avoidable, Mud - Significant |
|Water Crossing Notes:
||Some of the crossings of drainages off the Captain were a bit difficult to cross without getting wet feet; but we managed okay. Same goes for the crossing on Signal Ridge Trail at the end of the day. |
|Trail Maintenance Notes:
||There were many blowdowns on the bushwhacks but I don’t think it’s useful to complain about those haha ;) That said, there has been some real blowdown devastation on the herd path to Vose Spur right near the summit. It makes the final bit to the summit pretty miserable. We came out from our bushwhack onto it shortly before the summit and that last little bit almost felt tougher than the bushwhack to get there!! My friend was very kind and actually took out a couple of the very small blowdowns at one place which made it more doable. You probably won’t notice due to all the other blowdowns in the immediate vicinity but he actually made it much easier for me to pass through. I realize this is a herd path and not a trail but if the next person up there wanted to bring a small folding saw, a lot of good could be done. There may have been blowdowns elsewhere but that one spot is so seared into my mind I’ve forgotten about any others. Signal Ridge is blazed in yellow but really only down low. I don’t believe Carrigain Notch Trail was blazed. |
||We didn’t see any. In fact, I’m surprised to say that we didn’t see anyone the whole day other than in the parking lots!! Unless your dog can handle some pretty crazy bushwhacking I wouldn’t recommend it. |
||I wasn’t expecting the bugs to be bad as they hadn’t been my last past several hikes but they were. The mosquitos were pretty bad down low on Livermore Rd and the black flies were bad up high. |
|Lost and Found:
||Not a bad day to grid out Carrigian with a friend :) This was my 24th grid peak this month out of 26 needed. This was my first time doing The Captain and by second time doing Vose Spur. There was a relatively brief and mild shower when as we started down from The Captain and then a downpour that turned into steady rain that lasted longer later in the day. We felt it started to sprinkle as we were most of the way down the herd path from Vose Spur and then it really started once we were a short ways down Carrigain Notch Trail. Rain coats were necessary. I didn’t put on my rain pants and thought I’d live to regret it but I was surprised to find that they didn’t get too wet. It seems that pants get much more wet from vegetation than they do the rain as that lands more on your upper body I guess?? We also heard some nearby thunder during this time and some fat off thunder during and shortly after the brief shower earlier in the day around the time we visited Carrigain Pond. The wind was stronger than I expected it to be on the summit if carrigian and temps were cool enough that it had a little bite. Beyond that, a nice mix of sun and clouds throughout the day and the humidity was low enough and clouds high enough that we had good views. |
We followed Livermore Rd in. It still looks like a road even if it’s overgrown most of the way. Not sure at what point it turned to more of a herd path but I’m guessing that it was around 2000ft; where ever the 911 clearing is. Just go to the far side of the clearing and what was a road continues as a herd path. At roughly just above 2200ft the herd path seemed to come to an abrupt stop. It seemed like it might take a sharp left and just become more obscure but it seemed more likely that it continued over this rise right in front of us. We checked Gaia and saw that this is where the trail ended. We went left to see if the herd path continued that way as it almost looked like it did and sure enough it became clearer again very quickly and it turned out that the herd path continues well beyond where the old road ends. It quickly came to a drainage/brook. Afraid we were crossing to the wrong side of the major drainage we saw on Gaia we checked but this we were still to the right (northeast) of it and this one just wasn’t shown on the map. We crossed over and continued to follow it through several other small stream crossings. It also followed a dry brook/drainage a couple times. It could be genuinely difficult to follow the herd path through here but, if you’re successful, it’ll lead you to the last clearing before the hard work really begins and you have a restricted view through the trees where you can see The Captain and some cliff bands to avoid around the col. The space between the cliffs seemed pretty narrow so we decided to aim to the left (west) of them and end up in the west side of the col. Note that there are several small clearnings in addition to this one and the 911 one mentioned above along the way. Unfortunately, they seem to have become more overgrown since other reports we’d read and there’s not much a view from them now. Only one where you can have sort of an expansive view if you’re looking the right way but even that’s restricted and then this one which is very restricted but allowed you to set a bearing and now what precisely you wanted to aim for. There were also some cool views of Carrigain from Livermore Rd along the way. This final clearing with the restricted view was at roughly 2360ft.
From here, herd paths become harder to follow. We went to the right as it looked open but quickly realized there was no herd path here. We came back and tried something else and roughly stayed on a herd path that took us over a brook and eventually just seemed to peeter out. Hard to say exactly where but I don’t think we got much more than 100 or 200ft of gain out of it, tops. It took us in the right direction though. Unfortunately, as it peetered out and I began doing my own thing, by the time I checked Gaia to see our progress I had drifted a couple hundred feet to the right (East-northeast) is our track. Didn’t seem like a huge deal (we might just have to avoid some cliffs later) but we tried to correct and move to our left while still gaining elevation. It was a pain but we did so. We ended up having to cross another drainage though. My friend hypothesized that this was the one navychik and crew reported having to cross in their trail report from a year or two ago.
We never made it back on the track I’d set for us but we continued to make progress aiming for the col, continuing to gain elevation at a very steep grade and through some real nasty woods with poor, rotten footing. We did come to a point where we saw a nice big wet slab of rock on our right, then another but rock to our left. We thought we might have to go to our left to circumvent them but we found a steep and narrow way to get up between them. From there, it was less than a half mile to the col. The col was not open by any means but the woods weren’t as nasty and we had a moment or two where we weren’t going up a 30 degree incline which was nice. We then headed up toward The Captain. There’s definitely evidence of traffic in there. There’s a few faint herd paths you could follow. Where it began to get real steep (which was very quickly) we could’ve decided to follow one right which seemed to go around, possibly to avoid a cliff band, or go straight up. We went straight up. Sure enough, we soon can’t to two rock faces on each side of us. I thought we’d have to circumvent but my friend found a way up between the two. From there, we were nearly halfway. We continued up, my friend finding a nice little view shortly after the scramble to the top of the rock face. Finding the summit jar and high point isn’t too hard had others have noted. There’s still some bottles there and a flag and kids eye patches that won’t fit you inside.
From the summit we aimed for the cliffs to try and get a view. We did but there wasn’t a good cliff to sit on. Then again, we didn’t look hard. It was between the summit and here that the rain shower occurred. We then headed north almost back toward the summit, then East-northeast to the northeast corner of the col before heading due north to the pond. I found the woods worse on the ascent to the col and to the Captain than I did around the pond although the pond’s woods weren’t exactly nice either. The pond was beautiful but we didn’t stay too long as we had a long day ahead of us. We aimed southeast, then East to pick up the southwest spine of Carrigain which we followed to the summit. It seemed pretty easy to follow though we did stay just slightly on the western side of it. My friend thought there’d be better woods there as the thickest tends to be on the south side. Not sure whether or not it proved fruitful. This section of the hike is long and consistently steep but nothing crazy. It’s just going to take you awhile. The woods are sometimes worse than others but it’s not as steep or as thick as the ascent to the col between the captain and Carrigain. It’s just long. The false summits were a welcome sight as that meant we were getting close. Some cool “peek-a-boo” views through the trees here. I kept thinking we were nearly on top of the tent site but it just kept going. The ridge narrows as you get closer and closer. When you’re really close, there’s a herd path, and you’ll finally come out on top of the campsite. From there, you’ll pop out on Singapore a Ridge Trail all of a hundred feet from the summit.
Although I’d heard voices while bushwhacking to the campsite, we didn’t see anyone at the summit. We had to it ourselves and took a long break there. We then headed down the other side toward Vose Spur. There’s unestablished campsites and herd paths in here too. We even saw an old bed frame haha. We followed this along the northeast ridge of Carrigian. My friend said it was thicker than he remembers but I didn’t find it too bad. Cool to go through some scrub and even have some views. I enjoyed it! Back into the woods and then a little ascent toward the northernmost bump on the ridge before then starting the steep descent into the col. The herd path slowly fiddles out. Hard to say exactly where but let’s say somewhere around here. We now headed more east than north although not quite East enough as we were a little off course and were going to miss the boulder field and col. My friend corrected a little and we hit the talus field. The woods through here were generally thick but doable. They were best along the ridge of Carrigain as you were generally able to follow a herd path. Then, dropping down to the col, they got worse. Talus fields are definitely more sketchy while bushwhacking; much more unstable than the ones on trail. We had to be careful not to kick down boulders on each other and make sure we weren’t in each other’s “fall zones”. This is a cool little spot :) We went back into the woods, ascending for a hot minute, before very quickly descending the rest of the way into the col. Hit some nasty thick stuff in there but it may be avoidable elsewhere. The ascent from there to Vose Spur wasn’t too bad. I’d made a last minute decision when on VS two year ago to try this and quickly turned around due to hellishly thick spruce but didn’t hit anything nearly that bad this time.
We came out from our bushwhack on the herd path, a short distance from the summit. As mentioned above, there’s been some real blowdown devastation here. We signed into the canister on VS finding novelty I in the different labeled books (“Historic Book 1”, “Historic Book 2”, etc.) before heading down. The blowdown devastation went on a short ways past where we intersected the herd path but didn’t go on too long. We began the steep descent. Just like the first time I came down this way, I got all messed up at that big jumble of rocks. Descending, there’s a very clear path to the right. I took it, just like last time only to have the path peeter out on us. We retraced our steps and found another way but it still didn’t seem right. It was really bugging me as last time I was there I made the same mistake but was able to correct it; this time I just sort of muddled through. There were some logs down seeming to say “don’t go this way!” but only after you’d gone the wrong way for a distance. My friend added some more logs to this pile in protest haha. If you’re not an experienced navigator and it’s your first time doing an OAB to VS via the herd path, I’d recommend keeping a track so that you don’t lose your way on your way down. Much harder to follow on the descent. Anyway, we found our way again. Didn’t seem like there was quite as much surveyor’s tape as the first time I was here. We went down the talus field which was unstable similar to the one coming into the col between Carrigain and VS and then made the rest of our way down. Note there’s some orange surveyors tape at the base of the talus field meant to guide you back into the woods. There’s also a cairn on the field that will take you out of the talus field much sooner than where we descended to it. I believe I’ve gone that way before and it easily reconvene the with the main herd path. More herd paths seem to appear as you get closer to Carrigain Notch Trail but nothing too hard to follow.
We were happy to get back to the trail and quickly make it back to our car even if it was raining most of the way back. Thank you Chris for a great day :) Please don’t hesitate to email me if you’d like my track or any other info.
||Liam Cooney |
Disclaimer: Reports are not verified - conditions may vary. Use at own risk. Always be prepared when hiking. Observe all signs. Trail conditions reports are not substitutes for weather reports or common sense.