Kilkenny Ridge Traverse
Date: Sept. 26-28, 1999
Trails: Kilkenny Ridge/Starr King
Length: Approx. 25 miles
Sunday 11:00 AM: Departed from South Pond off Rte. 110 in Stark, NH. After 30 minutes took a side trail to visit wild and eerie Devil’s Hopyard over moss covered boulders. Continued on Kilkenny Ridge to summit of Rogers Ledge. Nice view of Kilkenny Range and area to be hiked. Departed Rogers Ledge @ 4:00 PM to find campsite. There is a USFS backcountry site at the base of Rogers Ledge but I opted to continue on and see where I would end up.
6:00 PM: Arrived at Unknown Pond as the sun started to disappear. Set up camp, cooked meal, and prepared for sleep. Established tentsite is right along side of the trail which as I was to find out is also used by the resident moose population. I was awakened numerous times during the night as moose ran up and down the trail right by my tent. Even with a full moon illuminating the night, I was never able to see them because each time I would wake and focus, they would already be gone by. Slept fairly well and got up at 6:00 AM. After washing up and eating breakfast it was time to break camp and get going.
Monday 7:00 AM: Departed Unknown Pond on way to The Horn. Finally saw moose. A large bull with a huge rack came face to face with me 10 yards away on the trail. As soon as he noticed me, he turned and departed. Never saw him again. Arrived at The Horn and remained for 30 minutes to enjoy the 360 degree view from the open rocky summit. After this stop, it was over The Bulge, and on to the summit of Mt. Cabot.
12:00 PM: Arrived at the site of the former fire watch tower on Mt. Cabot and had lunch here. Made a brief visit to the USFS cabin and refilled water bottle from a rain barrel there.
1:00 PM: Departed Mt. Cabot and hiked through Bunnell Notch, up and over Terrace Mtn. and down into Willard Notch. Found a great campsite with a nearby water source (brook) in the notch.
6:00 PM: Set up camp, had supper, read a short story (Call of the Wild) from a book called “Mountain Madness” and went to sleep at 8:00 PM. Slept very well through the night. Arose at 7:00 AM, ate oatmeal, broke camp and began what was to become my roughest day.
Tuesday 8:00 AM: Left campsite and headed up Mt. Weeks. Flushed 6 ruffed grouse on the north summit and continued on over the middle and south summits then descended into the col between Mts. Weeks and Waumbek. Ascended the north end of Mt. Waumbek to the crest. Minor pain in right knee started here. From this point on, the trail became a disaster area of blowdowns caused by Hurricane Floyd. There were many huge fir trees obliterating the trail requiring scrambling over, under, and around (very difficult with full 60 lb. pack). This required careful navigation to stay on the trail. Finally reached the summit of Mt. Waumbek (southern terminus of the Kilkenny Ridge Trail) at noon time and had lunch there. I had planned to stay out one more night but now decided to finish up and head out. Continued on the Starr King Trail over the summit of Mt. Starr King and down to Rte. 2 in Jefferson.
Overall, this was a nice trip with great weather. I only saw 6 other hikers since beginning so it was pretty lonely. Great area if you like solitude and the feeling of wild country. Highly recommend this hike to others.
Submitted by Michael Gentili
New Bedford, Massachusetts
Mon, 18 Oct 1999