Saturday, July 20, 2024

Mountaineering Boott Spur Mountain and the Bigelow Garden

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The Bigelow Lawn on the southwest face of Mt Washington

Boott Spur is a subpeak on Mt Washington’s south face within the White Mountains and the Bigelow Garden is the grassy tableland between them. It’s not an space frequented by most White Mountain hikers as a result of it isn’t on the official 4000-footer record, though Boott Spur Mountain has an elevation of 5492′. The individuals who make up peak lists don’t “depend” mountains which might be too shut to at least one one other which explains what Mt Washington bought on the 4000-footer record and Boott Spur didn’t. In actual fact, many mountains within the Whites are larger than 4000′ however aren’t on the Appalachian Mountain Membership 4000 footer record.

It is difficult to appreciate the scale of Tuckerman Ravine without standing at the bottom of it. This is the view from the Boot Spur Trail.
It’s tough to understand the dimensions of Tuckerman Ravine with out standing on the backside of it. That is the view from the Boott Spur Path.

Probably the most direct option to climb Boott Spur is up the Boott Spur Path which begins in Pinkham Notch. Each it and the Tuckerman Ravine Path run parallel to one another, climbing up reverse sides of Tuckerman Ravine, an enormous glacial valley on the southeast aspect of Mt Washington.

The Boot Spur Trail climbs 3200’ from Pinkham Notch to the Bigelow Lawn above Tuckerman Ravine
The Boott Spur Path climbs 3200’ from Pinkham Notch to the Bigelow Garden above Tuckerman Ravine

The underside half of the Boott Spur Path climbs by means of the forest earlier than breaking above the treeline at 4000′. It’s a really steep path, climbing 3200′ in 2.9 miles earlier than ending when it reaches the Davis Path, the second oldest constantly maintained path in america. As soon as above the treeline, the path is totally uncovered to wind and climate and never a spot you wish to be in a thunderstorm when lightning is a major hazard.

Mt Monroe, about a mile south, peeks out above the Bigelow Lawn.
Mt Monroe, a few mile south, peeks out above the Bigelow Garden.

The final 1500′ ft of the Boott Spur Path climbs up a path marked by rock cairns earlier than traversing a boulder area to the summit space which is definitely slightly anticlimactic, given the encompassing surroundings. As an alternative of being a well-defined peak like its neighbors, Mt Washington or Mtr Monroe, the summit of Boott Spur is a small bump on the south finish of the Bigelow Garden, not even meriting a summit signal. As an alternative, you’re handled to an internet of cairn-topped trails extending to the horizon, beckoning you to discover the grassland earlier than you.

The trails on the lawn are signed and marked with cairns. The trail surface is all rock though and looks like a stream bed without water.
The paths on the garden are signed and marked with cairns. The path floor is all rock although and appears like a stream mattress with out water.

I proceeded to just do that, mountain climbing down the Camel Path on the east aspect of the Bigelow Garden to the Lake of the Clouds Hut beneath Mt Monroe. I’d misplaced a bottle of water whereas climbing the Boott Spur Path, in all probability once I stopped for a sandwich and wanted to fill my remaining empty bottle and an additional tender bottle I carry once I must hike for prolonged dry stretches with out a water supply. I knew I’d want a minimum of 2 extra liters for the route I’d deliberate, however that I may resupply beneath treeline if I wanted extra. There are a number of pure water sources alongside the higher part of the Tuckerman Ravine Path the place you possibly can filter/deal with consuming water.

The Lakes of the Clouds hut is a crossroads for multiple trails, including the Camel.
The Lakes of the Clouds hut is a crossroads for a number of trails, together with the Camel.

The Camel Path weaves its manner throughout the garden earlier than descending previous the small alpine tarns adjoining to the Lakes of the Clouds Hut run by the Appalachian Mountain Membership. The hut has a potable water spigot on the surface the place hikers can refill their bottles. There are additionally benches exterior the place you possibly can sit to relaxation and chat with different hikers passing by.

The Tuckerman Crossover Trail (left) bisects the Bigelow Lawn
The Tuckerman Crossover Path (left) bisects the Bigelow Garden

My aim for this journey was to hike all the paths on the Bigelow Garden together with the Camel, the Southside Path, the Davis Path, Tuckerman Crossover, and the Garden Cutoff, earlier than heading again down beneath treeline on the Tuckerman Ravine Path again to the Pinkham Notch Guests Heart.

The Davis Path is marked by quartz-topped cairns reaching over the horizon.
The Davis Path is marked by quartz-topped cairns reaching over the horizon.

Why would you wish to do this? I’ve determined to hike all the paths within the White Mountain Information once more, all 650+ trails (1475 miles of trails), one thing I’ve executed twice earlier than this (known as White Mountain Information Redlining). The paths are positioned throughout, from southern New Hampshire to the Canadian Border and from Hanover, NH all the way in which into western Maine. The final time it took me 4 years to complete them, however this time it’ll in all probability take longer as a result of they’re not my sole focus…extra like an informal interest that I pursue slightly bit at a time.

Mt Washington looms above the Bigelow Lawn
Mt Washington looms above the Bigelow Garden

However why? The easy reply is that I’ve actually loved the entire adventures I’ve had previously mountain climbing these trails, and I wish to do it once more. I’ve discovered that I overlook trails after about 6 years and truthfully, there’s no place I’d slightly hike, with the attainable exception of Scotland, than within the White Mountains. It’s that good and it’s proper exterior my entrance door. However I’ve some concepts about learn how to do issues slightly in another way this spherical.

The cairns of the Southside Trail are hard to pick out amongst the boulders at the base of Washington
The cairns of the Southside Path are onerous to select amongst the boulders on the base of Washington

From the hut, I hiked up the Tuckerman Crossover path to the Davis Path Junction after which adopted the Davis Path to its northern finish on the junction with the Crawford Path. I then backtracked alongside the Davis Path to the Southside Path which travels by means of the underside of Washington’s summit cone, which is a boulder area. Once I reached the tip of that path, I hiked up the east aspect of the Tuckerman Crossover Path to the Davis Path once more and headed south to complete the part I’d missed, earlier than turning onto the Garden Cutoff, which I adopted to the massive cairn on the high of the Tuckerman Ravine Path. In different phrases, a typical Redliner path to hike each part of all the paths with as little duplicate effort as attainable.

Tuckerman Ravine drops down from the east side of the Bigelow Lawn.
Tuckerman Ravine drops down from the east aspect of the Bigelow Garden.

Having accomplished my objectives, I headed down the steep Tuckerman Ravine Path to the snow ranger’s hut on the base of the ravine and had a snack whereas chatting with some climbers who’d climbed Pinnacle Gulley that day in Huntington Ravine. I favor the Boott Spur Path for mountain climbing as much as the Bigelow Garden over the Tuckerman Ravine Path as a result of it’s way more scenic and there are far fewer folks on it. Tuckerman Ravine makes for a fast departure down the flanks of Washington again to Pinkham Notch although, however after the ravine, the path down makes for a far much less inspiring exit.

At the base of Tuckerman Ravine.
On the base of Tuckerman Ravine.

Nonetheless, the awe I felt strolling throughout the grassy open Bigelow Garden is what stands out about this hike. I’ve a sense I could also be visiting the Jefferson garden within the not-to-distant future, to expertise extra of the identical in one other chic place within the Presidential Vary.

Really helpful Guidebooks and Maps:

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