Ascent of Signal Mountain on 2010-10-23

Climber: Dave Dunham

Others in Party:Ed Horse
Date:Saturday, October 23, 2010
Ascent Type:Successful Summit Attained
Peak:Signal Mountain
    Elevation:3360 ft / 1024 m

Ascent Trip Report

Caledonia and Orange County, Vermont
Butterfield and Signal Mountains

The previous reports have all of the information necessary to bag both Butterfield and Signal mountains. Here is my report from this weekend.

My running pal and state high pointer Eric, met up with me at a park and ride off of Route 89 and I piled into his car with all my gear (or so I thought) and maps to get us where we wanted to go. We arrived at the snowmobile trail/dirt road (Gore) off of route 302 by 9 AM and were met with sunny skies and temperatures in the upper 30’s. The wind was pretty strong (20-40 MPH gusts) but otherwise it was a perfect day to be out in the woods. As I started getting the topo maps gathered up I realized that I left my compass back in my car. D’oh! I was only a little worried, I’ve got a fair amount of bushwhacking and orienteering experience, and although a compass would have made me a little more sure of myself I was still confident that I could navigate us safely up and down both mountains. The relative shortness of the bushwhacks (about 2 miles round trip for each) and the fact that the woods were very open and the sun was shining brightly in the east gave me the self-assurance that we would be safe to hike. The prominent saddle between the mountains and the stream and road to catch us if we drifted sealed the deal.

We decided to park right at the junction of 302 and Gore so that we could get some running in both before and after the bushwhacks. Eric had already got an early morning run in and I wanted to get at least 8 miles of running, so off we trotted (slowly) getting warmed-up with a nice gentle climb 2.2 miles of climb to the oft mentioned pull-out where most begin the bushwhack. After 21:02 we reached the pull-out and then quickly checked the map and location of the sun. It looked pretty easy, basically keep the sun on our left and head uphill in a generally south-west direction. The woods were great for bushwhacking, very open and easy to move through. There was only a dusting to 2-3” of snow as we got above 2,500’. We hit the top in 29:47 and quickly signed in. It was chilly when we stopped and the wind was blowing so after 4:35 we were on our way back down. Eric and I are both strong climbers but not the greatest at descending; we went relatively slowly and occasionally would see our footprints from the ascent. As we got to the lower slopes (and lost sight of Signal through the trees) we drifted a bit too far to the west. We hit the stream, but were only off by about 400m. We could see the bridge over the stream about 200m away. After a wobbly crossing of the stream we were back on the road 32:53 after starting our descent.

Next up we slowly jogged up the road looking for the height of land. I misread the trip report and we went a bit beyond the bridge before realizing that the suggestion was to head in BEFORE the bridge. A quick retrace of our steps and 5:28 since getting on the road, we were off into the woods again. This time we kept the sun to our right and sort of behind us as we made our way north and a little northeast up the slope. The woods were a little thicker than on Butterfield but still very enjoyable for a bushwhack. After 34:42 of reasonably easy ascent we were standing at the summit jar for Signal. The wind wasn’t quite as bad, maybe because there was a bit more vegetation, but we again made quick time of it spending just 5:42 on top. We had a little more difficulty on the descent, we ran into quite a bit more evergreens because we drifted toward the west. We hit the flatter parts and again were about 400m off, but had the stream to follow. We popped out on the road about 100m from where we’d entered 38:55 after starting our descent. When we came out we surprised a couple who were about to head into the woods (with cameras) to search for moose. After a couple of minutes chatting we took off down the road and finished up with a little over 18 minutes of running to get back to the car.

In all our two-peak bushwhack (a little over 4 miles) and our run (a little over 5 miles) took us a grand total of 3:14:54…that included a sprint at the end to reach the gate and crack the magic 3 hour and 15 minute barrier ? When I got back to the car I took one of the THREE compasses I had and put it in my backpack for next time.

Distance = 9 miles
Climb/Descent = 2,727
Summary Total Data
    Total Elevation Gain:1260 ft / 384 m
    Round-Trip Distance:2.4 mi / 3.9 km
    Route:road and bw
    Trailhead:saddle  2100 ft / 640 m
    Route Conditions:
Road Hike, Bushwhack

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