Monday, August 17, 2015

Climbing Mt Gilligan

Sometimes I *need* a hike. It's a matter of attitude adjustment. I'm bummed out, annoyed with the world, too burdened with concern over things I can't change, whatever. A walk in the woods is the best cure. Yesterday I decided it was time even though it was a weekend and every trailhead seemed to be mobbed. The parking areas were full and overflow lined the roadsides so I chose Mt Gilligan (formerly Sunrise Mt) as a hike I thought would be less likely to be crowded.

Bruce Wadsworth's "Day Hikes For all Seasons" guidebook gave directions for finding the trail along Rt 9. It said there was a Public Fishing sign and a small green sign that said "Gilligan" next to a dirt road. There is, but I missed it at first and drove several miles too far. The guidebook might better have said to look for the road sign, "Scriver Rd", which is larger and easier to spot. When I eventually found the turn I arrived in the parking area adjacent to the Boquet River and was amused to see that it was segregated into parking for hikers on one side and parking for anglers on another. There was no indication of penalties for hikers parking on the anglers side or vice versa, but I wondered. Mine was the only car in the lot, a blessing on a warm (82°) summer weekend when *everybody* seemed to be out hiking..

The guidebook described the trail as having "a few short steep sections" which, while accurate, was also something of an understatement. The very first steep section is so steep that at points that if I stretched my arm out in front of me, my fingertips were within about 6-8" from touching the trail. There were 2-3 other steep sections but none as steep as that first one. The photo above is from an overlook just off the trail on that first section.

Most of the 1.3-mile trail is relatively easy hiking, a flat or gradually ascending walk in the woods. I had gone about halfway when I heard voices behind me. Shortly a group of late teen to early twenty-somthing males caught up to me. One asked which way the trail went and I pointed to the trail marker directly in front of him. He asked "How far to the top" and I replied that I didn't know as this was my first time climbing this mountain. They then charged on ahead. A short time later I met them again going back down and I asked "Going down already?" The first three ignored me and the fourth mumbled something I couldn't understand as he went by.

The trail was sufficiently damp that fresh footprints were evident and where there was leaf cover their passing disturbed the otherwise even layer. I hadn't gone too much further before all evidence of their passing disappeared. For whatever reason they had turned back about two-thirds of the way up and I had the mountain to myself after all. Us old guys may be slower, but we don't quit easily.

There are several points as you ascend where you come to ledges that overlook the High Peaks, specifically Rocky Peak Ridge and Giant. The above panorama is about midway up the trail. Giant's summit is lost in the clouds.  The view below looks off in another direction.

The trail between overlooks is a pleasant walk with interesting views of the woods. The following photos were made while going back down.

Just above the last overlook (where I ate my lunch) is a sign "End of Marked Trail". The summit is only a bit higher than the last overlook but it is wooded over with no views. It appears to have been logged in the not too distant past as there are stumps here and there and remains of a logging road as seen in the photo below.

Unless you feel the need to be able to say you went all the way to the top, there is little point to going past the last open ledge shown in the panorama below. The summit is probably no more than 10-15 feet higher (if that) anyway. The Hare Bell and moss photos were found on the last ledge.

Overall, aside from the short steep sections, Gilligan is an easy hike which offers good views and would be especially nice on a crisp autumn day when the leaves were turned. I may go back then.


  1. An apparently lovely climb. Thanks, Jim. I'm not sure I'm still spry/flexible enough to conquer the steep parts, but it looks as though the views and the trail make it worthwhile to try.

    1. At 70 I'm not as spry as I used to was, but I am making a deliberate effort to stay in climbing shape because I plan to repeat my final 46er hike up Whiteface on the 25th anniversary of completing the 46 which will be July 17, 2018. I'll be inviting all my friends to meet me on top. A small group of fellow 46ers will accompany me on the climb, everyone else can drive up the Veterans Memorial Highway and take the elevator. Think positive thoughts. :-)