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Some people never bushwhack, others only do so on trail-less peaks. More adventuresome souls will bushwhack to save distance and/or elevation (Bonds), or to avoid stream crossings (Owlshead, Twins). The real bushwhackers bushwhack because they enjoy it, and Roy Schweiker is a prime example of that group. He was kind enough to send me the following notes. You may also want to see other contributions on the Peakbagger's Forum. Please feel free to add your own experiences there. Perhaps some of these will later be included in this (or another) page.

The text that follows is from Roy, and "I" refers to him.

Why Bushwhack When There Are Trails?

As to why people bushwhack to peaks that have trails, some do it because it may be easier than the trail under certain conditions, some do it for variety after they have done all the trails enough times, and some do it as a spirit of adventure. There is little doubt that the most ambitious 4000-footer bushwhackers were the late Guy Waterman and his cronies, as Guy climbed each 4000-footer in winter from each of the 4 directions which a glance at a map shows probably involved about 100 bushwhack routes. If anyone has a description of the routes he used, we'd be delighted to see it.

In some cases, the Forest Service has paid the ultimate compliment to former bushwhack routes as trails now follow them, such as the first .8 mile of the Garfield Trail relocated to avoid a brook crossing and the new Kilkenny Ridge Trail from Bunnell Notch over Cabot to Unknown Pond.

People climbing 4000-footers in winter in the 1970's were bushwhackers by necessity. There were almost no paint blazes then and many trails were not well cleared, and with weeks or months between ascents of the less popular peaks there might be no hint of a broken trail. It was almost expected that the leader of a winter trip would preview the route the previous fall and memorize its twists and turns, along with taping orange survey flags on overhanging spruce branches. Even so, when the day came and the trail was not broken out, it was often quicker to bushwhack straight toward the ultimate destination or an obvious waypoint rather than waste time hunting for a trail that was no easier once you found it. Of course, winter bushwhacking has the advantage over summer bushwhacking that much of the debris on the ground is buried and you just find a route one way and can follow your tracks back.

Bushwhacking is a particular advantage to large groups of varied abilities. The Black Pond bushwhack to Owls Head is quite easy to find and in a group only one person has to find it and the others just tag along. Doing the brook crossings has an increased chance of someone falling in as group size increases, which depending on group dynamics means some or all must turn back. Many of the routes listed below were done with A.M.C. groups of up to 20 people; without attempting to list all the leaders and co-leaders involved some of the most prominent were Bob Wagner, Dick Stevens, Gene Daniell, and Frank Pilar.

Bushwhacks in the Pemi and Along its Rim

I think the most-often-bushwhacked 4000-footer is OWLS HEAD. Only on my first trip before the beavers flooded out Camp 9 did I use only trails. The bushwhack by Black Pond or Franconia Falls is so common that I wonder when they will build a trail.

For a comparison of the time involved with these bushwhack routes to OWLS HEAD without snow, one day I left the parking lot a few minutes after a group of 3 and I did the Black Pond bushwhack while they used the trail. I reached the base of the slide first as they removed boots for one crossing. I hiked with them up and down the slide, but did the Franconia Falls bushwhack while they again used the trail, and reached the parking lot just ahead of them.

I have bushwhacked down beside the slide and up near the Owls Head in winter. The most underused route is up from Franconia Brook near Redrock Brook, this is actually about a mile shorter each way than Black Pond as you will discover if you measure it. One winter a woman followed our tracks up and was on the summit in 4 hours from the road, at the speed she skied by going out she might have done the round trip in 6 hours. (She was rushing back for a date that evening, I hope it was hot-tubbing not dancing.) Another winter a large group went up the slide and some went back that way and some down to Franconia Brook. The Franconia Brook group got to the parking lot first, but I rode up with somebody from the other group and got chilly waiting so walked back in to meet them, met them at Black Pond Trail junction. Yet one more bushwhack route is Beth Ruskai's all-ski ascent from the col to the NW, which took 2 days.

I have never bushwhacked CARRIGAIN but descents via Vose Spur or The Captain are routine.

I have done the Arrow Slide up HANCOCKS and someday hope to go up from the notch by Huntington. Other people have gone down via NW Hancock, a peak strangely omitted from the Trailwrights list.

I have bushwhacked N TWIN from Peak above the Nubble but not S TWIN.

I have bushwhacked GALEHEAD from Garfield Ridge/Gale River junction, the trail is twice as long but faster.

Gene Daniell led a hike to GARFIELD using the abandoned trail by Hawthorne Falls.

A lot of people used to reach Owls Head by going down the slide from LINCOLN-LAFAYETTE col. Guy Waterman led a winter school trip up LAFAYETTE via Lafayette Brook. Richard Clark & I descended LINCOLN via the W ridge in winter, the pesky scrub at the top was buried then open woods to the brook where we found a logging road.

I have bushwhacked to LIBERTY-FLUME col from near the Flume, someday will try slide up face of Flume.

Bushwhacked ZEALAND from Little River to Guyot col (including one winter hike starting & finishing in daylight), Hal Graham has done NW ridge.

Have done HALE via abandoned fire warden's trail, all 3 times I couldn't find the beginning and had to bushwhack and hit it higher up. Also bushwhacked HALE over East Hale once.

Never bushwhacked on FIELD & WILLEY, climbed TOM from Zealand side via Mt Field & Mt Tom snowmobile trails.

BOND as stated I have done only twice all trail, once including Twins and both times ending at Zealand Road. I went up to the W BOND-BOND col once from the N, and up twice and down 3 times to the S. I have done the W ridge of W BOND up and down, the SW side of BONDCLIFF up and down, and down from the BOND-BONDCLIFF col. Last summer I finally got up BOND from the E. Guy Waterman has done W BOND up one of the slides to the S.

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