Ascent of Mount Bemis on 2019-05-25

Climber: Map Man

Date:Saturday, May 25, 2019
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Mount Bemis
    Location:USA-New Hampshire
    Elevation:3725 ft / 1135 m

Ascent Trip Report

#83 on the NH Fire Tower list. We took the usual route to Bemis, starting out on the Nancy Pond Trail. Water was high, but able to be crossed without too much difficulty. At the other side of the first Nancy Brook crossing, we looked for the entrance to the abandoned Bemis Ridge Trail and found it without too much difficulty. Just go straight after crossing the water to the edge of the trail, then turn right. You should see the grade of the trail heading across the slope and some birch logs across it. We also found one orange flag at the entrance. The trail is overgrown at first, but becomes much more obvious after you pass the warning sign. After 0.3 miles, the trail makes a sweeping turn to ascend along the northeast side of the ridge. We had to stop to find the path here, as it was less obvious in the open hardwoods. If you can't find it, just head straight up the ridge until you see some small boulder cliffs. The trail is directly below these on the right side. It's a straight, steep 0.8 miles to the next turn. We encountered lots of blowdowns, but most were easily avoidable. They increased as we approached the plateau.

Once we hit the left turn onto the plateau, everything changed. It was immediately difficult to find the trail; we had to stop a lot more to decide which way to go. Some sections became so overgrown with spruce that the only way to find it was to look beneath the branches or feel your way as you walk. There is at least one section of the trail in this area that is completely gone - you just have to find it again in extremely dense spruce. Past this nasty spot, it was a bit easier to follow as it descended off the knob. We encountered some patches of snow here, which was NOT a good sign at all, so we put on our gaiters. We soon reached "The Meadow", which had nice wide views, but there was nowhere to stop and enjoy them, other than to just stand in the middle of the bushes. The trail descends a bit again after The Meadow into a sheltered area where we found more snow. The already obscure trail was covered with snow and it didn't take long for us to lose it. We soon found ourselves bushwhacking uphill through miserable terrain to reach the ridge. It was 0.3 miles of steep slopes with rocks, thick spruce, and deep, soft snow, so it felt like 3 miles.

The forest opened up more once we hit the ridge and the terrain flattened out. There was still a lot of snow up here. We headed up the ridge, soon rejoining the trail, although we didn't realize it at the time. We got off the trail again and pushed through a final very thick section before reaching the top of the trail just before the fire tower. We took some photos of the collapsed tower, then made our way down a herd path to a good viewpoint over the Saco River valley just below Crawford Notch. We had lunch and admired the Presidentials and Montalban Ridge. Before heading down, we made a quick side trip to the true summit to sign the register and claim it for the NH hundred while we were there. The reputedly horrible bushwhack of 320 feet from the tower was honestly not bad at all compared to what we came up through. The last entry in the summit log was from October 2018. On the way down, we were able to follow the trail for much longer (passing an old telephone pole), but it did eventually dead-end and we had to bushwhack down through terrain that was just as bad as or worse than what we came up in. It was a relief to finally get back on the trail before The Meadow again, but it still wasn't easy going until we made the turn to head back down the long southeast ridge. The scenery was cool on this one, but that did not save it from being put on our 'never-return' list.
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:2865 ft / 873 m
    Total Elevation Loss:2865 ft / 873 m
    Round-Trip Distance:8.1 mi / 13 km
    Quality:6 (on a subjective 1-10 scale)
    Route Conditions:
Maintained Trail, Unmaintained Trail, Bushwhack, Snow on Ground
    Weather:Pleasant, Calm, Partly Cloudy
Ascent Statistics
    Gain on way in:2825 ft / 861 m
        Gain Breakdown:Net: 2785 ft / 849 m; Extra: 40 ft / 12m
    Loss on way in:40 ft / 12 m
    Distance:4.1 mi / 6.6 km
    Route:Nancy Pond Tr/Bemis Ridge Tr/bushwhack
    Start Trailhead:Nancy Pond Trailhead  940 ft / 286 m
Descent Statistics
    Loss on way out:2825 ft / 861 m
        Loss Breakdown:Net: 2785 ft / 849 m; Extra: 40 ft / 12m
    Gain on way out:40 ft / 12 m
    Distance:4 mi / 6.4 km
    Route:Bemis Ridge Tr/bushwhack/Nancy Pond Tr
    End Trailhead:Nancy Pond Trailhead  940 ft / 286 m
GPS Data for Ascent/Trip

 GPS Waypoints - Hover or click to see name and lat/long
Peaks:  climbed and  unclimbed by Map Man
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Note: GPS Tracks may not be accurate, and may not show the best route. Do not follow this route blindly. Conditions change frequently. Use of a GPS unit in the outdoors, even with a pre-loaded track, is no substitute for experience and good judgment. accepts NO responsibility or liability from use of this data.

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