Number in Group: 11
Estimated distance round-trip: 5.9 miles
Weather: 59°F, cloudy, extremely windy at the top
Resources: Mount Cardigan Loop Trail Route, AMC Cardigan Lodge
Highlights of the trip: fun with family, Cathedral Forest Trail, summit in the clouds
Several months ago, I told my sister that for my upcoming "big" birthday, I wanted to return to Mount Cardigan. Our eighth grade classes had camped and hiked on this mountain, and I thought it would be a fun way to celebrate my birthday. Well, it seemed like a great idea back in July. My sister didn't let me forget, and we rounded up the other siblings and their families and went for a hike!
Mount Cardigan, located in the towns of Alexandria and Orange, NH is only 3,155 feet tall, but has spectacular views from its bald summit. A forest fire in 1855 was so intense that the trees on the summit never grew back. I read somewhere that Firescrew, the other peak along the trail, was named for the spiraling motion of the fire and smoke that came off it during the fire.
The route we took started at the AMC's Cardigan Lodge. We did Holt Trail - Cathedral Forest Trail - Clark Trail - Mowglis Trail - Manning Trail - and back to the lodge.
|Heading out on the Holt Trail.|
|Crossing a stream|
|That's right. We took the easiest route.|
|Cathedral Forest Trail.|
The rocks at the top of the mountain were another chance for my son and I to talk about geology and the rock cycle. The top of Cardigan is composed of plutonic igneous rock. Essentially, it had been a large underground magma chamber. Since it was underground, it cooled slowly allowing larger crystals to form. Also, as it cooled, it contracted leaving cracks that allowed other igneous material to flow in. (A better explanation can be found here.)
|Plutonic igneous rock with large crystals crossed by a vein.|
Just before we left the cover of the trees, we met another family coming down. Imagine our surprise when we found it was people we know from our home in Connecticut!
|Near the top.|
|So much for the view.|
|Heading over to Firescrew.|
|One of the little ponds/puddles on the summit.|
|Big boulder on the trail behind us makes me think of Raiders of the Lost Ark.|
|Weird round lichen on boulder.|
|Looking back up the trail at the fall colors.|
Thanks to my siblings and family members for joining me on my birthday hike. And a special thanks to my sister for not letting me back out.