Strafford County Highpoint Trip Report

Date: January 16, 2005
Author: Dave Covill

I hate to add more reports to a lengthy list, but I hope you find this to be an interesting report. I met Stony and Jason at 9AM at Gonic, near Rochester NH, at a Dunkin Donuts by Stony’s house. We headed up to the South Wolfesboro approach from the SW, Fred Lobdell’s original route. I want to point out that most others after Freddie came via public access from the E side. We simply drove into the Copple Crown community area, up the road past the older sign stating it was private, and simply drove to the top of the old ski lift. End of story, almost. There were residents about, but none seemed to mind us, and the highest homeowner, 100’ from the TH, was aware of our presence, and waved on the way out. I believe they are used to hikers.

We followed Fred’s directions for his NW-side Copple Crown community approach. We could not find a trail leading directly up from the parking area, even though we knew it was supposed to exist, and looked for it in both directions for about 200’. Once we were up in the woods, bushwhacking steeply uphill a hundred feet, we found that we were on the red trail, and it soon intersected a much better blue trail coming from the NE somewhere. Looking back, as Fred said, we did indeed see that our red trail was only blazed on the uphill sides of the trees. We followed Fred’s directions to the summit of Copple Crown (CC), and then the fun began.

It took us all about 2 hours in the field to comprehend all 7 reports, and after reading them thoroughly, we realized that it is highly likely that the line on the map does indeed MATCH the red-blazed line in the woods. It does not appear to be uphill from it. It is possible that some people have been confused because their GPS readings put them 50 yards+ W and downslope. My belief is that if the topography and map says you’re there, and the blazes say you’re there, your GPS may be hosed up by readings in the trees, or the map may have bad coordinates. I believe you should read all the trip reports, then temporarily set aside in your mind the GPS problem in 5 of them. Rely on your orienteering skills instead. If you are a GPS-aholic, well, take readings, but do not rely completely on them.

From the summit, we walked down the SW flank, and went well beyond where we should have found the line. We walked back due N under the summit of CC, and Stony walked back up twice to re-calibrate his altimeter. The summit is about 1,870’, b-t-w. We walked down again to the area, and FINALLY found the line of dark red blazes. It did indeed match up when I took a compass bearing on it. We followed it S uphill, and came to a tree we had noticed before, with 2 orange flagging tapes tied around it. This must be Fred’s tree. We looked in both directions, and noticed more blazes. It is difficult to see these blazes. They can be on the uphill or downhill sides of the trees. We saw the two small cairns near the flagged tree. Stony's altimeter was dead on once we figured out where we were. Stony re-set his altimeter 3 times. 4, if you count getting out of the car at 1,500' and pre-setting it in the morning. In the end, we agreed that, when standing on the red blazed line, we were very close to 1,700' in elevation. This doesn't PROVE anything, except that it tells us that the red blazed line, on the gentle crest, near the flagged tree, is pretty close to the 1,700' it is supposed to be at, per the line on the topo map.

In addition to the altimeter readings, we of course felt our way across the topography illustrated by the map. When we finally located the red blazed line, and followed it in both directions, we felt it was VERY close to where the topo map said it should be found. We felt it was above the slightly steeper terrain shown by the close-together contours, delineated by contours 1,640', 1,660', and 1,680'.

When we felt we had everything under control at that area, we set off to visit Gene Daniell's pit-rock down slope. We went down a steeper section than where we were standing at the flagging tree & cairns, and after 50±' of downhill, found ourselves out on the flatter terrain below, but alas could see no such rock, although it may have been snow covered. Woods were dense in some spots, open in flat areas, and swampy too, with a great deal of ice hindering us.

We walked out on a due N line, passing beneath the CC summit. We intercepted and then followed the blue trail down, past the two forks mentioned by others, and then headed straight downhill on the red blazed line mentioned by Fred, which we had NOT seen the blazes of on the way up. It is steep, and not much of a trail, although the blue one is nicer. About halfway down it, the red blazes veered off from where we had come up from the parking area earlier. We followed our footprints straight down the last 100' vertical to the car.

From the parking area, you want to walk to the solo phone pole, and bushwhack STEEPLY uphill about 100’, and notice that you are on a pseudo-trail, with red blazes facing down. It may be the case that it is more well-defined when the ground is clear, although we looked hard to find where the faint red trail came out on the road, and could find nothing.

After I returned to CO, I made some phone calls to try to verify what I had seen. I started with the numbers observed by Roy Schweiker in Report #6. I spoke with the Lakes Region Survey Service people, and they indicated the red blazes were "probably" on the county line, but needed to do research before verifying that. They made noises about wanting to be paid for their research efforts. ($100/hr...) I am still in negotiations on this.

I phoned the Copple Crown District, whose # Roy S gave but did not call. There was no answer, and no voice machine. I will try again.

I phoned the New Durham Town Hall (603-859-2091), and had an excellent conversation with Vicki, the Asst. Assessor, William, the Town Administrator, and then Kathleen, the Town Land Use Mgr. They indicated there had been quite a controversy over the years as to the exact location of the town/county line. They thought the town line was marked somehow, as it needed to be walked each 7 years by "someone" (perambulated). Kathleen mentioned that a surveyor was working for the town right now, and would be able to answer any questions. She had me call Paul Zugo of Anderson Livingston Surveyors. This is a ME # (207-363-4414), but he lives in New Durham, and has 2 offices, one there, one near Sanford NE.

I phoned him on 1/24/05. Paul Zugo, a very nice guy, talked with me for ~10 minutes. He was headed up there that very week with a crew to, get this!, determine the exact town/county line on the Copple Crown development area..... Hah! Sometimes, life works in strange ways!!! For some reason, he was aware of our group, and of the website, and of the controversy. I suspect someone had been asking around, and it had been brought to his attention. He invited me to call back in a week, and I did so today, Tuesday February 1st. He confirmed his suspicions of a week ago, and reiterated that the town and county line follows the red blazes closely in the vicinity of the Copple Crown Community. Of importance, he said he did not leave any new markers last week, as he was simply investigating the line, and not actually re-surveying it. He said he saw a few LRCT surveying placards on trees that were also coincident with the red blazed line. I asked about the status of several of the homes at the upper end of the development, and were they in New Durham or Brookfield in Belknap County. He said there was something funny going on there, and that there were "legal issues" and he wasn't going to touch that subject. He said he had heard that a few of the highest houses were in question as to which side they lay on. He parted with the comment that an actual physical, observable line should always take precedence over a theoretical line. Roy Schweiker has kindly provided me with images of a town plat map, and two plat surveys. After considerable discussion with Roy and others, my sense is that Gene Daniells took GPS coordinates from the USGS topo map, and that it placed him well downslope of the red blazed line. This then drew attention to the plat map, which purports to show the town (and county) line being above certain roads and houses, instead of below them. This discrepancy was affirmed by the surveyor, and the folks in the town hall, all of whom stated that the precise boundary has been in dispute for decades, ever since the Copple Crown community was built in the ‘70’s. I can not explain why others have used a GPS with better luck than Gene, it doesn’t make any sense. I refer again to the fact that, while standing on the red blazed line, we felt that the topography matched up pretty well with what we thought it should from the topo map and the line drawn upon it, and Stony’s altimeter, which seemed pretty accurate, indicated that we were standing within 10’ of 1,700’, as the line on the topo map said we should be. I suspect that the town plat map may be more correct than the topo map, at least with respect to the roads and houses, but that somehow the coordinates derivable from the topo map must somehow be skewed. The plat map does not have any way to derive GPS coordinates from it. It dates to the ’70’s.

Bottom line, absolutely read all of the existing trip reports, and digest them before you set out. Once you are on location, from whichever direction you arrive, find the flagging, and look around for other blazes, orient to the county line, and decide for yourself where the highest spot of this liner is. Take a GPS reading, and report back to the group your findings, including datum and altitude, and satellite coverage. Note the amount of tree coverage, and amount of sky that is open in each direction. Good luck.