Peak: Caribou Mountain
Trails: Caribou Trail, Mud Brook Trail
Mileage/time: 6 miles, 2021' of gain, book time of 4:00, actual time of 4:37
Following the minor debacle in Mahoosuc Notch a few weeks ago, and Mt. Washington with my parents, Shanna was calling the shots! She decided on Caribou, and indulging my redlining fixation, said it would be alright to take the back way (see: the way I hadn't been before). Planning for the rest of the day was up to her, I wasn't allowed to be involved. A struggle for a planner like myself.
Saturday morning dawned, and after the usual not getting enough sleep thing, I didn't want to get out of bed when she woke me up. We definitely ended up getting a late start, but were soon breakfast sandwiched, coffee'd, and on the road. Reaching the trailhead at the end of Bog Road (off of Rt. 2 just outside of West Bethel), we were the only ones there. It definitely pays to take the path less traveled on Saturdays!
The Frankenshoes, much to Shanna's chagrin, are still in use. I really, REALLY, need to get a new pair. Starting up on the grassy continuation of Bog Road, a couple turns are made in fairly quick succession, marked with arrow signs on the trees. Turning into the woods for good, the trail starts to climb moderately. Open woods were the rule, and they were pretty gorgeous in the late morning light. It was hot though, the forest canopy only serving to trap the heat, and there was barely a breath of wind. Only near the top was the trail steep, and never overly so. Some huge old trees lined the trail up near the height-of-land, apparent survivors of the areas logging history.
At the Mud Brook Trail junction, we turned left, and started the brief climb to the summit ledges. On our way, we ran into the first people of the day, a group of seven, all with lollipops (the lollipop guild?). Reaching the top, we had the summit all to ourselves for a bit. Moody clouds hung all around, though it didn't look like rain was threatening. Working our way over to the more southerly ledges, a few errant drops turned into a few minutes of sustained rain. We met a couple who had been married on the summit, nine years earlier, and they identified a rare plant in a crevice that I wouldn't have otherwise noticed. The rain subsided, and we basked in the sun, taking in the great views all around.
|Moriahs, Carters, and Presidentials|
|West toward the Crescent and Pilot/Pliny ranges|
|North to the Mahoosucs over Peabody Mountain|
|Silverling (Paronychia argyrocoma)|
|South through Evans Notch|
|The shower that sprinkled upon us|
As much as loops are preferred, this was destined to be an out and back... unless you want to add another 4 miles and 1700' of climbing! We made great time down, and back on the road section, just before the gate, we came upon an odd sight. Two guys, pulling a two-wheeled cart, with a plastic 55 gallon drum in it, filled with what appeared to be wood chips. Passing by, we exchanged greetings. The rest of the way to the car, there was a sweet smell lingering in the air. We found the culprit in the back of their truck trailer, a plastic lined box full of old broken cookies. Inquiry after the fact led to the determination that they were baiting bears, which I find to be unsportsmanlike (though I'm not a hunter).
Leaving the trailhead, we tried to figure out what the rest of the afternoon would have in store. Shanna started to direct me to some falls, which she referred to as Snows Falls (I don't know what they're actually called), on the West Branch of the Pleasant River. Chatting with a local resident, he directed us to the falls, which he's always referred to as "The Falls". A nice cascade greeted us as we got down along the river, though she was sure this wasn't the right spot. This lead to us driving around a bit more, until she saw the correct place. Walking down to the river, we popped out at the same falls, just on the other side of the river!
|Downstream from the falls|
Heading back to Portland, we took the scenic route through Evans Notch, and stopped at the Stow Corner Store for ice cream. Of course, I pulled over a couple of times for pictures.
|South from Evans Notch|
|Corn field along 113|
After dinner in Portland, the sun was setting, and Shanna indulged me one last time. Sunsets are awesome. Thanks for another great hiking day!