Peak: Mt. Hayes
Trails: Centennial Trail, Mahoosuc Trail, herd path, Mascot Pond Spur, roadwalk (Hogan Road)
Mileage/time: 10.5 miles, ~2250' of gain, book time of 6:25, actual time of 5:29
New red-lining miles: 5.9
A chaotic week, where high rivers on Thursday led me back to the comfort of my bed, and plans Friday, led to a multi-faceted hike for Saturday. Not only would this be the first hike for me (in a long time) on all new trails, it would also be the first hike with my lady Shanna! The day dawned cool and decent in Portland, and after breakfast with some of her family (who were up for a wedding), we eventually got on the road, heading north. I had originally planned to just do an out and back to Hayes, but she convinced me to make it a loop, and just walk back on the road. Just what every obsessed hiker needs, someone to indulge them!
Nearing 1 o'clock, the trailhead appeared. Packs on, we started up the Centennial Trail, a link in the Appalachian Trail. Most of this trail lies in predominantly mixed forest, which I enjoy very much, and the grades were pretty decent throughout. Some steeper areas presented themselves, along with a couple of false summit knobs, peekaboo views, and some ledge. Most of the trail was dry, though I can't say the same for ourselves. We definitely worked up a sweat in the warmth of the afternoon, and when stopped, the bugs were merciless.
|Southeast view just off trail|
More ledges, and the transition towards a spruce forest, meant our climb was nearing an end, as we soon ended up at the junction with the Mahoosuc Trail. This would be the end of our journey on the A.T. today, as we took a left, and the blazes turned blue. While formerly a link in the A.T., the southernmost section of the Mahoosuc Trail doesn't get nearly as much traffic. Traversing some open ledges, we ducked in and out of the trees a couple of times, before reaching a small cairn at the highpoint of Mt. Hayes... where there really aren't any views of note. 52 with a what?!
|Looking toward the Presidentials|
|West toward the Crescent and Pilot/Pliny ranges|
|A lonely young tree near the summit of Mt. Hayes|
Now for the main event... and a break! We descended along the trail, which became muddy in spots, and after what felt like too long, the trees gave way to ledge. A sweeping southeast to west view lay before us, from the Moriah and Carter ranges to the Presidentials, and on to the Crescent and Pilot/Pliny ranges. What passed for a breeze made the bugs a bit less vicious, and we sat enjoying the views, snacking and resting.
|Carters and Presidentials over Gorham|
|West toward the Crescent and Pilot/Pliny ranges|
|East toward the Moriahs|
|Looking into the cleft of Ice Gulch on the flanks of the Crescent Range|
|Blooms on the ledge|
|The views improved as we sat!|
|Washington and Madison loom over Pine Mountain|
A solid break had, we started our descent. The trail was sometimes steep, sometimes soft, most times muddy. Many of the muddy area bore flagging with instructions for repairs written on them. Good to see that they'll be repaired soon, because the trail is quite attractive! We checked out Popsy Spring, just off the trail, but it was barely trickling. Sooner than either of us expected, we reached the spur for Mascot Pond.
Down the spur we went, and shortly popped out on the shore of the pond. A lower elevation view of the Carters and Presidentials over the trees presented itself. Behind us, up a large tailing pile, lay the former Mascot Mine. The mine itself was only in operation for a handful of years in the late 1800's, mining lead and silver, and is now more famous for its bat population than anything else. This is one of the few places in the state of New Hampshire that bats are known to hibernate. We climbed up the tailings to the mine entrance, which is barricaded for not only the safety of people, but the safety of the bat population that resides within. A cool breeze issued forth from the darkness, a bit of welcome relief in the heat of the afternoon.
|The entrance to Mascot Mine|
|Carters and Presidentials over Mascot Pond|
Down the tailings, and back to the Mahoosuc Trail, we soon emerged onto Hogan Road. I'd seen a picture of the sign at the end of the trail, but had to see it for myself. Some creative souls had conveniently removed a letter from the sign, making me chuckle. I didn't realize how long the roadwalk was going to be, but it ended up being a long one! The bugs made it pretty miserable, as we swatted our way along, though there were some nice little scenes that popped up, as the road wound its way eastward, hugging the river.
|A nice little stream along the Mahoosuc Trail|
|Washington and Madison over the Androscoggin River|
|Gnarled old tree on Hogan Road|
Back at the car, hunger struck. We had planned on staying in Bethel with friends/family of Shanna's, so we headed that way, stopping at Suds Pub for pizza and beer. Along the way to our overnight stop, we took a detour on a road she referred to as Paradise. It brings you up on a ridge, and the view just after sunset was fantastic.
A great night's sleep, and some visiting with her friends/family in the morning, led us to try and find breakfast. An accident (we assume) on Route 2, led us to take the scenic route. I'd read good things about the Stow Corner Store, and since we were taking 113 back down to Fryeburg, this was as good a time as any to stop in and try it. There was no breakfast (as it was definitely lunchtime), but long story short, if you're out in the Evans Notch area, stop in, the place is excellent!
Thanks to Shanna (and her friends and family) for a great weekend!