It was a rather warm dayhike up Smarts mountain on a New Hampshire section of the AT just north of the Dartmouth Skiway with friends KB, BigHort, Ooli and Storm. Just a nice out and back for a few miles to scratch the elevation need and get a few miles of varied terrain in for Shay’s ultra training. Hiked in from the AT parking lot on an old firewarden’s side trail that joined the AT proper just as the climbing got steep. Shy of the summit there’s a nice small tentsite with a ledgy view to the south. Quickly stumbled across one of the biggest privies ever just a bit more up the AT. Always kinda funny how rrrrustic the facilities can get. Apparently assembled of found or excess materials from the fire tower or the cabin or something. Positively palatial here, 10 ft ceiling, room for four, full open gables (skylights!) at both ends and a new steel bucket for… things that go in steel buckets. But best of all a rare feature of a clear view of folks approaching through the wide gaps between the door boards so you can give a welcoming wave while seated. Probably designed in order to provide lots of venting which can have advantages at times.
The treed summit was just a few steps onward to the base of the former kinda shaky firetower with a surprisingly heavy hatch door at the top. Unusually all the glass windows were intact. Nice breeze once we opened the windows and the views were excellent; west to the Greens with Ascutney, Killington, Breadloaf, Ellen, Camel’s Hump, Mansfield and Jay easy to see; southward over Moose mountain on to Sunapee was hazier; East to Cardigan, Kearsarge, Carr were clear and North to Cube, the mass of Moosilauke (Moo-sih-law-key, 4 syllables, okay?!) and all the Whites in the distance.
The AT cabin and privy were both within sight distance from the tower, the water source just down side trail from the cabin was only a skeh-ehtchy muddy trickle, brutal black fly season was in full swing during lunch. Lots of hiker commentary written on the cabin walls, beams, floor, ceiling, door jambs, door, door sill, window frame, shelf (just one), joists and about everywhere I checked. Could be an ideal respite on a winter hike being all enclosed with a high covered porch that could end up above the snow. (Heat tends to make me think longingly of winter.)
The return hike down on the AT had wonderful views. Definitely chose the right way to hike by going down the AT and getting new views with every twist and turn from the many ledgy outcops along Lambert Ridge.
Even had some trail reptile excitement with big ‘ol toad and snake that I haven’t identified yet.
Total trail distance of about 8 miles fit the day.
We paused on the post hike drive back Hanover-ward in Lyme, NH as soon as we could get signal with the intent of doing the restaurant search via cell phone.
Happy coincidence found us directly in front of the Latham House Tavern on the small Lyme common. Farm to table (!), Vegetarian dishes (!!), many craft beers on tap (oooo!!!), shady safe parking for pups (windows open, no sun, easy to check), no waiting (table for four, please!) and friendly engaging folk on the staff. There was no more need to search. Can heartily recommend a visit to the Latham tavern if you ever pass through Lyme, NH. A really wonderful totally accidental find. There’s also an Inn and a shuttle service for the AT hiker who simply must take advantage of plush accommodations whenever possible.
A good hike was had by all.