Mt. Cardigan & Firescrew

Mt. Cardigan & Firescrew, Alexandria, New Hampshire (6/9/2008)

This is hike #8 ("Mount Cardigan: East Side Loop") in the Central & Southern New Hampshire section of the book New Hampshire Hiking (First Edition).

This was the first of six hikes we did over four days in beautiful New Hampshire the week of June 9. Our timing wasn't the best since New Hampshire, like the entire east coast, was experiencing a heat wave which lasted from June 7 to June 11, making hiking even more difficult. There was a pouring rain the previous night, which made the rocks very slippery. A sign near the beginning of the serious climbing warned of danger when the rocks were slippery. But we thought the sun would have dried the rocks on the exposed face. We were wrong! This was by far the toughest, most dangerous hike we ever did! There were several points on the daunting, slippery bare face where we almost decided to turn back, though turning back would have been much more dangerous than climbing forward. There are no photos from those points because the camera went in my backpack; it was a hindrance otherwise.

When we finally reached the summmit, we chatted with Steve who worked in the fire tower. He told us that the path we took was a Class 4 on the scale of rock climbing difficulty (the highest is Class 5). Rock climbing! Wow! We had no idea! (A web source I found, however, indicated that the trail was a Class 3, which is still quite difficult). The descent from Firescrew was much more manageable. And the end of this terrific hike was punctuated by the sighting of a moose drinking water on a pond just as we reached the end.

(Click on the thumbnail to bring up a bigger image in a pop-up window)

AMC lodge at the trailhead

Mushroom on first leg

Bridge over Bailey Brook


Slippery rocks

Dense vegetation on Holt trail

Much steeper than it looks

Enervating climb


And climbing


First views south

Going up on all fours


Look at the view behind her

View of Firescrew


Impossible to stand here

[photo by Laura]


A much needed break

Like tiny mirrors in the rock

Roots and trees were helpful here


Another break with Firescrew in rear

More scrambling

First view of the fire tower

A breather near the top


View of cairns to the west

Our new friend Steve

Hikers ascending from the easier west side

Looking for graffiti

On top of Cardigan [photo by Laura]


Easier descent


Fire tower from below

View northwest

At an intersection [photo by Laura]

Our lunch spot

Modern art

On top of Firescrew [photo by Laura]

Descending Firescrew



Our first moose!


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