Last Saturday turned out to be the nice day of the weekend, and as usual my son and I found a hill to climb- Mt. Cube. It’s located near Orford, New Hampshire, and we’ve had it on our to-do list for a while this summer. It’s another one on the 52 With A View list. We met a bit after 9AM at the Orford Town Hall, and proceeded over to the trailhead in the Jeep.
We’d decided upon going up the Cross Rivendell Trail, and there’s a small parking lot near the trailhead off Baker Road. There were two other cars there when we arrived. We loaded up water and lunch, donned our packs and off we went, picking up the trailhead on the left a few yards down the road.
This is but a small section of the Cross Rivendell Trail, which is 36 miles long, passing through towns in both New Hampshire and across the river in Vermont. It’s maintained by the Rivendell Trail Association, and if the small stretch of it we traveled is any indicator, maintained and marked very well. Check out the above link to the RTA for more information. Their website tells the story.
Cube is an interesting, if not weird name for a mountain. Nothing about it resembles a cube. The best (and only) explanation for the name that I could find was an unsubstantiated story in a guidebook that someone named the mountain after a dog named Cuba killed by a bear in the mid-nineteenth century. I guess that’s as good an explanation as any.
The Cross Rivendell Trail heading up was a nice trail, comfortable and easy to walk. Primarily compressed earth with some scatterings of pine duff, early on it’s sprinkled with rocks here and there, and plenty of trees rooted solidly on and about those rocks. While steep, the trail didn’t seem strenuous, even though we were steadily ascending.
I commend the work-saving option of cutting a notch in the birch tree that came down across the trail not too long ago. The rest of the tree will rot away sooner than you think.
As we gained elevation the rock became more prevalent, and it’s not granite we’re used to seeing in the White Mountains. It’s more quartzite than anything else, and some of the larger crystalline outcroppings we walked across as we came upon the first overlook were interesting.
After enjoying the vistas to the west, we continued along the trail, once again heading down across the col towards the summit of Mt. Cube to the northeast. This part of the trail was muddy in spots, but completely passable. It wasn’t long before we cleared the trees and clambered up and over the rock face to the summit. Here the Cross Rivendell junctions with the Appalachian Trail.
Close to this junction marker we came upon a young lady reclining upon her backpack, enjoying the late morning sun. She was a though-hiker on the AT, taking a midday break. We talked a bit, and she said she’d heard that it snowed on Mt. Washington recently. I related that I’d heard that as well, not having the heart to show her this photo that was on my phone from two days earlier. Ahead of her lay not only the Presidential Range, but the 100-Mile Wilderness in Maine, followed by Katahdin. This is some of the toughest terrain on the Appalachian Trail. And some of the worst weather.
I forgot to ask her what her trail name was- I hope she has enough good weather left to make it.
Son and I moved off the summit to enjoy yet another lunch of Awesome Trail Sandwiches. This time there was a twist. Canceled the mortadella and mozzarella, but added sopressata and provolone. Served on a pretzel roll. Seal of approval was granted by the consumers. Here’s a video of our lunchtime scenery.
Lunch finished, we began thinking about heading down. More folks were starting to show up topside; it was getting crowded.
We retraced our steps along the Cross Rivendell, and met more than a few folks on their way up. Met a few good dogs, too. The trip down was faster than up, and we arrived back at the trailhead around 1PM. We covered about 5 miles, out and back, and gained 1555 feet in elevation reaching Mt. Cube’s summit at 2864 feet. Elapsed time, not including the lunch break was 2 hours 50 minutes. I’m getting pretty quick for an old guy.
Son and I have at least two more mountains targeted before the snow flies, and I may have an additional one or two solo walks. I think Tumbledown over in Maine will be next.
Stay tuned, and thanks for stopping by today!
Looks a nice hike. the Downs are lovely, but I always enjoyed trekking up a mountain and being rewarded with a view.
That lady did the AT backward! October is no time to be hiking into Maine.
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