• Laura Ventresco

Mt. Israel: A Solo Hike in Sandwich

Updated: Feb 1, 2018

Peaks: Israel

Miles: 4 (Plus a little extra)

Hike Date: 01/28/2018

Summit Beverage: A shot of fireball, that I forgot to drink

If you are seeking some peace and quiet, and a non-crowded trail, you need to sneak away to Sandwich. No, Silly, not to eat a sandwich! (But definitely bring one of those too.) Sandwich, NH is a hidden gem. Even the drive here I find to be enchanting and woodsy. Depending on the direction you come from- you will pass lakes, many other trail heads, hidden roads and farm fields. Every time I visit I discover a new little piece of the town. One time a huge fox crossed the road right in front of us after a hike. I really appreciate these towns where the wildlife is undisturbed and free to roam. Quiet places. Lots of dirt roads and friendly people; everyone waved to me as I passed.

I probably shouldn't give all these secrets away, but who is going to take my advice anyways? :)

The trail head is off the beaten path, which is part of the fun. You'll drive down some dirt roads that are not maintained in winter. 4 Wheel drive helped! Head all the way to the end of Diamond Ledge Rd, and there you will see a white building, parking is just in front of that, and the trail is to the left of the building. Now, I have done this hike before so I had a rough idea on how to get here. A rare Sunday all to myself, I decided to bring the dogs for a hike. It was 46 degrees outside, in January! It's unheard of, so obviously we had to get on a mountain.

What I choose to hike solo depends on my level of bravery for the day. We'll make it a 1-10 scale system:

The Solo Hiking Bravery Scale:

  • 1 being I want to hike but am feeling anxious or worried about going solo. Feeling like a weak little b*tch today.

  • 10 being I am a freaking unstoppable warrior bada$$ today, and I feel like conquering a 5000 ft presidential. Solo. (Stay tuned for my blog post about Mt. Jefferson)

Considering its winter and I was feeling a little lazy, I decided to stay on the lower end of the scale. Besides, its sometimes better to be less brave in Winter if you are going solo. Hiking a mountain you've already done before will make you feel more at ease. You already know where its located, and what to expect. & Thus our Sunday funday on Mt. Israel was born.

Luna being a happy little nugget at the river

Even though a warm day, there is still lots of ice and snow, and muddy sections. Micro spikes were used and super helpful. Which by the way guys- I ordered my new spikes, they were supposed to come on Saturday in time for this hike AND DIDN'T. How dare they. So we stuck with the older, more dull ones, which worked just fine for this. The trail was seriously the quietest. I periodically would stop for a moment to just bask in the moment, and take the forest in. (AKA listen for noises like a weirdo because I'm slightly a little paranoid when solo, and super aware of all things. A twig snaps and I am fully prepared to face a Sasquatch and fight him to the death. But we are going to call it forest bathing and pretend that I'm a graceful lady not a paranoid mountain creep.)

We "forest bathed", we stopped for snacks, and we made tremendous time hiking. It was nice to move completely at my own pace, on my own schedule. My phone had died in the cold, so I had no sense of the time. I consider this a blessing because we are often so restricted in life by the clock. Having to wake up on time, and be some place (gah, work). To have a day where time is irrelevant? Pure bliss. I will say, I missed all my hiking friends! You all are such great company and conversation, that even though I appreciated this day, it would have been that much better with my people there to share it with me.

I attempted to use my new mini ultralight tripod for pictures... epic fail. Self timer, and tripods just does not work as great as having another human around to snap your picture.

The entire time on trail, we passed a total of 4 hikers, and 1 dog. Unheard of! It's like I rented the mountain out for myself. Winter hiking has these perks that I've grown to love. In the summer, I've hiked trails that are so crowded you can't even find a free minute to use the forest facilities. So we ate it up, and enjoyed the solitude to the fullest.

You should know if you hike this that there is a false summit. You will come out to a clearing that looks like the top, but keep on going. The true summit has some more views and a cairn to mark it. This is also why I mentioned the mileage is incorrect- there is a sign that says 2 miles back to trailhead.. but the summit is another maybe .2 from that sign.

Hiking down we made great time. No Sasquatches were spotted, thankfully. A hiker I passed mentioned he has seen moose on this trail, but we had no such visitors today. Probably due to my wolf pack body guard squad- Blaze and Luna.

A great day outside. We left happy, and tired and hungry. I had been dreaming about some leftover Pad Thai in my fridge for about 90% of the trail.

Back at home I had time to get some Netflix in before John (the boyfriend) returned from his day spent at a Fishing expo. & He brought me back a gift! A new fishing rod, since mine has a broken tip. He's the sweetest.

Hopefully I have motivated you guys to check out a new town, a new hike, and get some solo time in. You deserve it! Doesn't have to be hiking. It can be a drive somewhere, a lunch, or a visit to the beach. But this 'You' time is not only necessary but beneficial. I always come back refreshed, and at ease.

Happy Hiking Friends,

- Laura the Explorer

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