Thursday, May 23, 2013

Shelburne Redlining 5/23/13

Working title: I went for a peak, and ended up with waterfalls and ledges.

Peak: None

Trails: Austin Brook Trail, Dryad Fall Trail, Dryad Fall Spur, Peabody Brook Trail, Bald Cap Peak Ledges Trail, Giant Falls Spur, roadwalk

Mileage/time: 10.5 miles, ~2500 feet of gain, book time of 6:30, actual time of 5:31

For the second hike in a row, I forgot my camera. It's a problem. I planned on getting up earlier than I did (5:15), but there we have it. I managed to get out of the house quickly enough, but again, in Gorham, the important piece was found to be missing. There was a grimace, and a flash of anger, then I turned around, and fought with traffic on the way back into Portland. Camera retrieved, I set out... again. I made my way up through Evans Notch, for the third week in a row, and my GPS didn't like it. It kept telling me to backtrack, and that I had another 60 miles to go. Idiot technology.

There were a few glimpses of sun on my way up, but the cloud ceiling hung low when I pulled into the trailhead, but it wasn't raining! I was basically ready to go when I arrived at the Austin Brook Trailhead, so I set off through the turnstile, and up the trail at 8:39. There's a dam just off the trail, at the beginning, and the sound was nice to have, right off the bat.

The Austin Brook Trail follows a road for quite a while, before turning off into the woods for a bit. The trails up to this point were fairly dry, but that would soon change. The woodsy portion was nice and soft, but didn't last long, and just after I had a tricky crossing, it merged with another road.

Continuing up the road, I soon came across some cut over areas. While I understand that cutting of the forest is necessary, it's pretty ugly when you see the fairly recent after-effects, up close and personal. Though I will give it one thing, it does allow for some views.

View up to Dryad Fall from Austin Brook Trail
Now the wetness began. After the trail crosses near where a bridge used to be, it turns into the woods for good, and starts climbing. The trail had been damp up to this point, but there was now standing water and mud to deal with. Eventually, it just didn't matter. My trail runners are NOT waterproof, but they thankfully drain and dry quickly. Soon, I reached the junction with Dryad Fall Trail, a sweaty mess, and decision making took place. There was rain forecast for the afternoon, and the cloud ceiling was still hanging low, not exactly ideal conditions for a peak with a fantastic view. I therefore decided to skip it, just doing the planned "descent" loop, instead of going 6 miles out and back to the peak and plane wreck.

Just after making the turn, the sun came out, and stayed out for a while. Curses. I descended the spur to Dryad Fall, for great effect.

Next up, was more wetness. While the next two of pictures might belie dryness, it was not the case. Any non-rock area was saturated, and a stream occasionally ran in the trailbed. I gave up trying to stay on rocks, and found myself in 3-6 inches of water and mud at times.

My next objective was Dream Lake, and I was thankful when Dryad Fall Trail came to an end, and Dream Lake was visible through the trees. I decided to redline out Peabody Brook Trail, to its junction with the Mahoosuc Trail, and was treated to awesome views over the lake to Madison, and then to it and Washington.

Once returning to the junction, things got interesting. There were a bunch of bog bridges, but they were dangerously slippery. My wet shoes didn't help. I ended up with both arms out, shuffling when I was on them, and I slipped around a lot. On one section, still close to the lake, the bog bridges were about an inch above the water level. Until I stepped on them. Once I did that, they sunk in about four inches. It's lovely standing in three inches of water.

Slickery bog bridging
After slipping around for a bit, I came to a junction that wasn't on my map! There was a sign for the Bald Cap Peak Ledges Trail, and I had read about in a report by John "1HappyHiker" Compton. I didn't realize that I was on the trail that accessed it! The trail itself appeared lightly traveled, but was easy to follow with fresh blazing. Views from the various ledges didn't disappoint, looking out over the Androscoggin River Valley, the Carter-Moriah Range, and the Presidential Range.

Leaving the ledges, I returned to Peabody Brook Trail, which started to descend steeply, on slippery rocks. Fun times. Clouds were rolling in as I descended, and I found a nice trailside vista looking towards the Presidentials.

Painted Trillium

An old trail marker

A unique view of Washington and Madison
The grade eased as the trail wended its way into a gully, and the roaring sound of falling water filled the air. I reached the spur for Giant Falls, and again, took it for great effect.

Giant Falls
After returning to Peabody Brook Trail, I descended a bit further, and then some more decision making took place. I could take the Middle Mountain and Yellow trails back to Austin Brook Trail, and my car, at a cost of 3.8 miles and 1000 feet of gain, or finish the remaining 0.8 miles of Peabody Brook Trail, and have a 1.9 mile roadwalk. I decided on the latter, as I had left 1 mile of Austin Brook Trail unhiked today, and I didn't want to leave any more stragglers.

At the junction with Middle Mountain Trail, the Peabody Brook Trail turned into a road, and the sun came back out briefly.

I then reached the road, where the trailhead isn't really well marked, and I don't think you could even see it unless you were traveling east on North Road. Then began my 1.9 mile roadwalk. Only two vehicles passed me, but the second one decided to mess with the hiker, beeping as it went past, the passenger yelling something unintelligible. Constantly harassed.

Reaching my car at 1:10, I had time, and I contemplated more redlining. But with the forecast, and the building clouds, I erred on the side of caution, drove to the Moat, and had a couple of Tripels... delicious. Thus ends my hiking for this week. Next week will be consumed by moving preparations (I leased a new apartment just yesterday!), and on Saturday, I'll be taking a go at a one-day Pemi Loop (excluding North Twin). It's going to be tough, but if the weather is good, it should be an epic day!


  1. Love reading your stuff Bill!

  2. Another terrific Blog report, Bill!

    I'm glad you went back and got your camera, because your photos are terrific. It tough to pick any favorites, but those Dream Lake photos are really nice! The lighting there sometimes makes it tough to capture a good image.

    Thanks for shout-out about my 1HappyHiker Blog report regarding "The Ledges" trail to Bald Cap Peak. Those ledges are really nice, and I'm glad you enjoyed to view from there.


    1. Thanks John! I'm glad I went back too, and I think that when I move into my new apartment, there's going to be a note attached to my door saying, "Are you forgetting something?". I've been pretty happy with my photographs as of late, I'm trying to step up my "game" if you will. You're welcome for the shout-out, if it weren't for your report, and the subsequent ones I've read by you and Steve Smith, I wouldn't have even known about it! I'll definitely be back to explore more of the trails in Shelburne.