The original plan for this Saturday was to do a large group hike up to Mt. Moosilauke, with members of a Facebook group. Each group would ascend a different route, and we'd all end up meeting on the summit. The weather forecast (Tropical Storm Andrea, or the remnants thereof) called for a rainy Saturday, so it was moved off to Sunday. Well, I work every Sunday, so I wasn't about to let a little rain get in the way. Instead of hitting any major peaks, I decided to get some redlining done (including some waterfalls), and my friend Brenda decided to come with me!
It poured all night in Portland, and was still raining when I woke up at 6. I had errands to run, so I planned to meet up with Brenda at 8:45, this was also a good excuse to let the rain clear off. The rain turned to drizzle as I left the house, and it was still coming down when we met up. On the way north, the drizzle stopped, and the sky lightened. Things boded well for the day
Hike #1: Winniweta Falls
Trails: Winniweta Falls Trail, cross-country ski trail, bushwhack
Mileage/time: 2.6 miles, 805 feet of gain, book time of 1:40, actual time of 1:31
I can't tell you how many times I've driven by this trailhead on the side of Rt. 16, and wondered what was up there. Now that I know, it's pretty spectacular, but I'll get to that. I knew that the crossing of the Ellis River at the start could be tricky, and I almost didn't expect to do this hike today, due to all the rain from the night and previous day. The river was running high, and we decided to give wading across a go. We both left our shoes on for traction on the underwater rocks, but they still proved to be slippery. I nearly bit it, and went in, but managed to hold myself upright, and get to the opposite bank. The thigh deep water on me, was waist deep for Brenda, but she powered through, and made the other side.
The trail then passes through an open field, with a large piece of old, rusted equipment of some kind, almost on display in the middle of it.
Beyond the clearing, the trail became wetter, as expected... there were no dry trails today. It also began to climb steadily, as it came alongside Miles Brook. The sun even came out! We were both prepared for wet weather, but it apparently wasn't going to materialize. There were lady slippers in bloom, and some nice scenes along the brook.
We soon reached a T-junction with the Hall Ski Trail, and realized we'd gone too far. Turning around and descending the way we came, we soon realized that we'd blown right past the falls! We never did find the spur path that's purported to exist, and ended up bushwhacking down the steep slope to the falls. Totally worth it.
Hike #2: Square Ledge
Trails: Lost Pond Trail, Square Ledge Trail
Mileage/time: 1.1 miles, 458 feet of gain, book time of 0:45, actual time of 0:38
During our northward push, we noticed the clouds hovering low over the Presidentials, but the Wildcat Ridge was mostly in the clear. A quick hike up to Square Ledge was in order. Lost Pond Trail was familiar territory for me, and shortly, the Square Ledge Trail appeared... so we took it! The trail starts out innocuous enough, and passes by a neat overhanging rock.
Beyond this, the trail gains that good old elevation, as it swings alongside the main thrust of the ledge itself. The rock walls towered above us, and I can see why it's a popular spot for climbers.
The views were decent, but not as good as they're supposed to be. We lorded over the Pinkham Notch Visitors Center down below, and we could see Crystal Cascade through the trees above it. The rest of the scene in front of us was obscured in a veil of cloud. There was blue sky poking through to the south, and dark clouds gathered to the north.
I took a nice little slip near the edge, and puckered a bit. Stupid wet rocks. Also, stupid me not paying attention to said wet rocks. Descending, there was a nice flake on the wall that caught my eye.
We ran into several people on their way up, and I would have been dying in the clothing they were wearing. We were carrying packs though, and were both wearing shorts and short-sleeved (or sleeveless in Brenda's case) shirts. Some people. Back at the car, we shuttled ourselves down to Wildcat for the next installment.
Hike #3: Thompson Falls
Trail: Thompson Falls Trail
Mileage/time: 1.4 miles, 373 feet of gain, book time of 0:55, actual time of 0:56
After we finally figured out where to access the trail (way to do your research Bill!), feeling like tourists, we sheepishly set out down the trail. There were plenty of white lady slippers blooming on the trail.
Before long, we crossed old Rt. 16, and soon found ourselves at the base of Thompson Falls. There's a large pool under the fall, and Brenda decided she wanted to get under the fall (since there was room, and she's small). That ended with her taking a seemingly innocuous step, and going in up to her waist. Chuckles.
Above the main fall is a series of cascades, ending at a sign that states, in no uncertain terms, that you've reached the end of the trail. At this point, I managed to slide into a pool at the base of the last cascade, with onlookers nonetheless. Stay classy Bill.
Along the trail, there is an open viewpoint up to Lion Head and the Ravine of Raymond Cascade, which looked to be roaring!
Descending back to the ski area, we ran into several other groups on their way up. I managed to bite it near the crossing, again with an audience. Some blood was drawn, but I laughed it off, and continued on. We regrouped at the car, and decided to go for the biggest of the hikes for the day. It helps that it was next in line along the road!
Hike #4: Imp Face
Trails: Imp Trail (North), Imp Trail (South), roadwalk
Mileage/time: 6.6 miles, 2358 feet of gain, book time of 4:30, actual time of 4:26
Now it was time for a 52 With A View "peak". It's really less of a peak than it is a view ledge, but who am I to argue. There were half a dozen cars parked along the roadside at the northern trailhead, several of which had New Jersey plates. On that invasive note (no offense if you're from New Jersey), we headed up. The first part of the Imp Trail is pretty moderate, with soft footing. Once near the crossing, we ran into a guy and his two dogs, who told us of a possible bear cub in a tree, 10 to 15 minutes from the crossing. We never saw it, but that doesn't mean it wasn't real. After some huffing, puffing, and some seemingly false summits, we came out on the ledge, and were greeted by a group of 18, commemorating a hike they'd done years before. It was also one of their birthdays, so happy 26 to you, girl who's name I didn't quite catch! The views from here were fantastic, even with the Presidentials in the clouds.
After enjoying the views, and the company of 18 others, we started off on our loop. The trail climbed wetly, as was the condition of the day, and after passing over many small streams, descended to the junction of North Carter Trail and the southern branch of the Imp. I've only ever done this section of trail in winter conditions, and I didn't realize how rocky it was. Near the bottom, before the Camp Dodge Cut-off (which they should just make into a maintained trail), I bit it again, slipping on a wet rock. I figure I was only allowed two falls for the day, and that the third might be a doozy. We wound our way back to the road, and walked along it back to the car. The Jersey crew was hanging out next their cars, and we gave them a wave as we headed towards our final target!
Hike #5: Triple Falls
Trail: Town Line Brook Trail
Mileage/time: 0.4 miles, 254 feet of gain, book time of 0:20, actual time of 0:22
The view north on the road looked grim, dark, and just generally not nice. Still, we pulled on to Pinkham B Road, and wound our way to the Town Line Brook trailhead. It's not the most well marked place in the world, but I seem to have an eye for these kind of things (I wonder why?). The trail doesn't look like it's used too much, as the entrance to it is pretty well brushed in. Once on the trail, it's pretty easy to follow, and brings you steeply up to three falls. The first two, Proteus Fall, and Erebus Fall (I had to look that one up), were pretty spectacular. The final one, Evans Fall was less than spectacular, with a nice tree down in front of it. Such is life.
We made our way back into Conway, and hit the Moat (my favorite) for some eats and adult beverages (beer for me, vodka drinks for Brenda). The weather seemed to want to cooperate in Conway, and stayed dry, and we were treated to a fantastic sunset on our way out of New Hampshire. In a last ditch effort to capture it, I swung onto Rt. 113 out of Fryeburg, knowing there was a field that would offer me a view. This is what I got.
Stats for the day:
Total mileage: 12.1 mi.
Total elevation gain: 4248'
Thanks for joining me Brenda, for this series of uncommonly traveled trails, in an uncommonly traveled order!