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 Flatwalking fun on a rainy day! 
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 Flatwalking fun on a rainy day!
For over a week and a half I had made the plans to hit up Bondcliff on this Sunday. However, my agenda itinerary plans must have got lost in the mail, so the weather gods did not know the wiser and sent hurricane Ernesto upon us. I knew we were not going to get a lot of rain, but what bothered me the most was the expected high winds…..well, that and the fact I did not want to walk 18 miles to stare at the inner workings of the clouds. So, as a knee jerk, spur of the moment fall back idea I picked the Osceola’s to do. But when I got a PM from Bob (Hikerfast) last night saying “Osceola’s are a bit redundant…..we will negotiate” I knew it was going to be an interesting thing to come! Well, we did not do the Osceola’s, but we sure came very close…….

We arrived at the Park and Ride off exit 17 to pick up Bob. By now we still had not chosen a destination, so I just angled the car northward and we began to discuss. We threw around ideas before coming down to two. Idea one was to walk out to Carrigain Notch via the Carrigain Notch Tr. The second was mine, Greeley Ponds out to Livermore road and hitting up a few of the trails out there. Well, long story short, my idea won out (basically because I had to pee and my butt was killing me from sitting down, so Greeley ponds trailhead was the closest of the two. :lol: ) At this time the rain had pretty much been non existent or falling so lightly as not to be a problem. We geared up in the empty lot and set out on the trail, bound for two lovely little tarns.

Jen and I had been on the Greeley Pond trail this past winter, but only to the East Osceola split. When we had done the Osceola’s, I looked down from the slide area just below the summit of East Peak at those two lovely ponds and knew I would have to visit them some day. Well, today was that day. We stopped at the junction sign for East Peak to suck down some water and nibble a bit of food. We talked idly as the winds blew gently through the trees dropping the previous nights rainfall in short, sudden dribbles of water. Having had lingered long enough we made of for the first pond of the day.

Walking along, the dim light cast unusual shadows upon the woods. Its always a serene thing to walk around in wet timber. The moss always seems greener, the trees more vibrant. We came upon the first pond fairly quickly. We walked out to the shoreline and took in the breathtaking views. To the left we had Mt. Kancamagus. To our right, the shoulder of East Osceola appeared grim and foreboding with its rugged granite cliffs. The main peak of East Osceola was surrounded by high clouds that danced through the trees in spindly little drifts. It reminded me very much of spindrift in the winter. We lingered for a little bit before making off for the other shoreline.

The other shoreline offered another wonderful and interesting perspective. The emerald color of the pond added to the spectacular panorama. Bob tried to take pictures, but had mechanical difficulties (read that to mean we are techno rejects and could not operate the equipment properly! :oops: ) Now Mt. Kancamagus was being touched by the same spindly clouds that Osceola was. More lingering was done, and we then decided to move along to pond two. We reentered the woods, still as lovely as usual, and headed down at an ever so slightly perceivable decline. After short work, the second pond appeared and offered just as pleasing an experience. Where the Upper pond was wide, yet shorter, the lower pond was thin and long. The smooth granite on Kancamagus was now showing itself through a break in the trees. You could make out the damp water trickling off and adding to the waters we now stood in front of.

Once again, we went back into the trees and moved on down the Greeley Ponds trail, now bound for Livermore road. After the ponds, the woods thickened up and cast an eerie darkness all about. It was here we started to hear the rumblings of the Mad River, now just an infant of a stream. We wound around in spots, hit wide straight shots in others. A number of crude platform bridges offered a pleasant span across small drainages. After a while we came to the first bridge that crosses the Mad River. This bridge is quite pleasant in its simplicity. It sparked an interesting conversation among us about wilderness rules and how bridges are very evil and bad. But we agreed that, especially when as quaint, unassuming, and Spartan as this bridge was, it actually adds to the aura of the trail. We could not but help linger there for quite a few minutes, watching the current form eddies, pools and rapids. It was so lovely and peaceful, calming to say the least.

Eager to move on we continued along, talking and enjoying the day to its extent. We still had not made any real firm plans of what we wanted to do once we got all the way out to Livermore Road. The beautiful thing about this area is that there are so many short trails to all kinds of interesting features. We had thought of visiting Goodrich Rock or the Timber Camp trails, but instead we picked to visit the Giant Pines Trail to be our main attraction. And after looking the map over we thought of making a loop by using the Kettles and Scaur Trails. With plans now more solidified we set off with determination.

It was a bit of a shock entering on to Livermore road. The wide road now bathed us in more light, and a number of people could be seen moving along up and down the road. Turning left we walked up a ways to the Boulder Path. We took a moment to check out this massive erratic, planted firmly in the middle of the stream. The power needed to move such a beast was not lost on me as a stared amazed. A family had biked out there and were loitering near the shore, the kids chucking rocks into the flowing water. Back up to the road it was a very short walk to the Giant Pines Trail, which we took. The trail is very short, .4 miles to be exact. It is easy to tell this trail is used very little by the soft, sponge ground, and lightly trodden footway. Indeed, this trail lives up to its name. At the trails terminus is 5 huge pines of massive girth. I had seen pictures of these trees from Adamiatas finish, the photo of Hockycrew hugging this tree still in my mind. You could take two people and try to have them touch hands around these beasts and it would most likely be impossible. VERY cool!

It was here we decided to break for some lunch. A faint path led a few dozen yards to the shores of the Mad River. Was sat eating and marveling in natures serenity. No sounds of humanity save those from us could be heard anywhere. Lovely, lovely, lovely. After finishing our lunches it was once again time to move along. Back out to Livermore road it was yet another real short walk to our next turn off. The Kettles trail takes you through some more beautiful woods, and would offer us the only real serious elevation gain of the day. Climbing the shoulder of a very small ridge we walked along on yet another hardly used trail. it’s a nice change from some places that sees such heavy use the trails foot bed is sometimes FEET lower than the surrounding terrain. This foot bed had a nice sponginess and fallen leaves from this and previous years added to a faintness that was rather welcomed. I do not know how we did it, but we managed to completely miss the kettles as out of the blue the trail junction with the Scaur appeared through the trees. We decided to skip the .2 mile uphill trek to the Scaur (which would have been viewless anyways) and started down the trail which would take us back to the Greeley Ponds trail. I was actually amazed at the steepness of this trail. Going down was interesting, coming up (I’m sure) would be a very taxing, albeit short, affair!

After carefully negotiating the steep wooden steps, coupled with the wet ground, the trail leveled off. We once again came upon the Mad River, and this time had to cross it without the benefit of bridges. But the river was low and the boulders to hop numerous. Once across the Greeley Pond trail was a scant few yards away. We went right and began our trek home to the car. We resumed our conversation, laughing and walking three abreast on the trail. Now, with the later time of the day, more people could be seen walking around on this and other trails. It was nice to see the rain did not keep everyone locked inside getting lazy in front of the T.V. We once again came to our favorite bridge over the Mad River and stopped for what had to be 15 minutes. We leaned on the railing and just sat looking, exchanging conversation while looking off down stream. I even took a few leaves and tossed them the 6 or so feet to the rushing waters below, watching amused as the rivers current flipped them to and fro. This is one of those spots you could sit for hours and just lose yourself.

After returning back through the pass, now a gentle incline, we stopped once more briefly at both ponds for one last look. On a better day this place must be a nice spot to come watch for moose. One could lay out on the sandy beaches and sun themselves, or dip their toes in the cool waters. Despite the fact it was not 19 miles like the previous week, we were all now starting to feel the miles on our feet. With little haste we made it back to the car, refreshed at having done a substantial hike, yet still getting to leave at a respectable time. We stripped off wet clothes, packed away the gear in the car, and drove off into the damp day.

While this hike fulfilled no list requirements, nor gained any real elevation gain, it was a very rewarding day. We got to see two magnificent ponds, a massive boulder, five giant pines, and we SHOULD have seen a few glacial kettles. It was an EXCELLENT rainy day hike, more than I could have asked for!

Brian


Sun Sep 03, 2006 6:30 pm
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