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 Idle wanderings on the Wilderness trail 
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I Spend All My Time on This Forum
I Spend All My Time on This Forum
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Joined: Tue Mar 01, 2005 8:52 pm
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 Idle wanderings on the Wilderness trail
January 20th was supposed to be the day a small mass of Rocks On Top hikers gathered on the summit of Moosilauke in the second of a “4 points” hike becoming popular on the site. But Snow Miser finally got fed up with his arch nemesis, and half-brother, Heat Miser and took charge of the situation. With the MWO warning of severe wind chills, incredible wind gusts, and a general warning above treeline travel not recommended, I decided not to bother. But what does one do on such short notice? I floated around I couple of ideas in my head, when one dawned on me that it was so ridiculous I had not thought of it before. I decided to give the Wilderness trail (a.k.a. Lincoln Woods trail) loop a go. I sent out a message to Hiker fast (Bob) to see if wanted in and set off to sleep Friday night ready to go!

I awoke Saturday morning and checked my PM box. Bob had left me a PM, but still no word of yes or no as to being in or not. So to play it safe I decided to stop off at the exit 17 Park and Ride at the time I told him we would, just to make sure. The drive today would prove to be the most harrowing of all, and the only frustrating part. By exit 15 there was an accident with fire crews, State Police and an ambulance slowing traffic to a crawl. A little after exit 16 the windshield washer fluid finally gave out. Of course the road crews had salted the living hell out of the road overnight into this morning, so the windshield was slowly turning a lovely shade of pasty white. We made exit 17 carefully as my visibility slowly faded, and pulled into the parking and ride at about 7:30 as expected. I took this moment to try and clear the window b throwing snow on it, and since no Gas Stations were anywhere’s in sight I decided to take the risk and pour some of the contents of water from a Nalgene into the reservoir as a temporary solution. When Bob had not shown up 15 minutes later it was assumed he was not coming, so we headed off. Of course, eventually, since the cars heating thermostat is not working (meaning NO HEAT AT ALL!!!) the water I had put in the reservoir slowly started freezing. I held the lever down emptying the whole contents and pulled off on exit 23 where I knew there was an Irving station. With fluid bought, in the reservoir, and ready for use we jumped back on the highway to get to Lincoln Woods and get this horrible drive behind us.

We started off from Lin Wood not too long after 8:45. There was only one other car in the lot, and judging from the snow on it I assume it was someone who and stayed out overnight some where’s. With gear ready we moved out to get ourselves warmed up from the chilly drive and the now frigid temps in the parking lot. We crossed the suspension bridge and started off along the Wilderness Trail.

The trail is in pretty decent condition. The snow is not deep, a bit firm and crusty, and I knew there would be a number of cross country skiers today. As of then, only one set of ski tracks could be found, and quite possibly could have belonged to the owner of the car left in the lot overnight. We ambled along, the cool breeze occasionally making the trees crack and moan. Jen and I crunched along in utter silence. It was actually quite nice since it added a sort of aura to the sounds of unadulterated woods, mute of any man made hindrances. The plan had been to go to Black Pond and Franconia Falls before continuing on to make the whole loop. But somehow, in my self contained world of fixated thought, we passed totally by the Black Pond trail turn, and did not realize it until all of a sudden the signs for the old Franconia Tensite appeared before us. Ooops. Oh well, we had been there before, so it was no skin off our backs. We paused, looked around, found not a soul or sound or trace of humanity anywhere’s and just pushed on.

The side trail for Franconia Falls is obviously not hard to miss. How I could have missed Black Pond was embarrassing, but to have missed Franconia Falls trail would have been absurd. Thankfully it was not to be my embarrassment, so we turned and started along down to this popular summer swimming hole. We followed a single set of tracks all the way out to the “End Of Trail” sign, Franconia brook constantly poking itself near then away from the trail. The Brook was flowing heavily, its rustling sound both soothing and pleasing. It was plastered with a lovely crystal jade colored ice, with perfect white snow blanketing the ice shelf’s below. Was stood quite bemused as we languished in the nippy winter air. We were happy, we were content.

Returning back to the Wilderness trail we picked our way across the second bridge on that trail. A gentle spattering of flurry activity added to the vista spread before us as we looked both up and down the Franconia brook, flowing as hard down here as it was just .3 miles up. I actually watched rather pleasingly at a whirlpool dancing just below the bridge, its white caps dancing around the edges of the ice. Winter was here and she was in her glory as she performed her acts of majesty for us. Making our way all the way across we paused for some pictures of the Pemi Wilderness sign. Up to now everything was pretty much wilderness to us, and from here on it would only get more so. We passed the Turn off to go to Owl’s Head and the trail narrowed a bit as we entered some slightly denser woods that meandered around before picking up the wide, old railroad grade. Once again Jen and I each regressed into our own heads, the only existence for us the white footprint that lay in front of us. I would call it mind numbing, but I mean this in a good way. Too often many people turn to useless substances to forget their worries and troubles. For us it was simply a fresh blanket of white, no signs or sounds of humanity save the single set of footprints that came before us, that pushed all thoughts of the outside world from our heads. Tracks from snowshoe hare, squirrels and birds poked their way into our world as they fringed the edge of the trail. A grouse burst from the trees far ahead, unpleased with the disturbance of these biped creatures. The wind made the trees groan and creak as if they were the majestic Ents of Middle Earth sending out the warning of invasion by two insignificant souls in the mass of old woods.

But all could not be so perfect for so long. I did have my moment of confusion which would drastically change the plans for the day. Now, I managed to get some mileage numbers stuck in my head, add to that more confusion of the GPS Odometer numbers, and I became confused on how much farther it was to the loop turn. You see, I had got 8.9 miles stuck in my head. Somehow I thought this the number for the whole loop. But using the trail signs long past to help decipher only led to more confusion. I sat for 5 minutes with map and GPS in hand, and finally came to the conclusion we were at least another mile and a half from the Bondcliff junction, and that the turn off was even further than that I figured we would be doing over 12 or 13 miles that day (at one point I even thought the 8.9 miles might just be to the Cedar Brook trail!!) Jen and I decided we had had our fun for the day, and that we would rather clip off the extra 2 or 3 miles and just return the way we came. In hindsight it appears that we were actually VERY close to the Bondcliff junction (like a quarter mile or so close) and the 8.9 I thought for the loop was actually the number to Stillwater, and that we really would not have had much more in the way of mileage to do had we continued on, rather than turn back.

But such is the way of the mind when it is lost in its tranquility. When you are forced back to reality, you tend to need time to readjust, and so was the case. We plugged along back the way we came, passing the Pemi Sign, crossing the Bridge, and sailing by the Franconia Falls turn. Now things changed a bit from before. It started with a couple out skiing. It was followed by a couple walking with their dogs. Soon a number of people we marching past, either on ski or foot. Gone was the quiet tranquility of the early morning, and returned was the face of humanity once again. It was a sharp contrast from before as now the sun had come upon the world where the gray sky held hold just hours before. The silent woods were filled with the chatter of mankind, and the barking of dogs. It was a fitting example of the world really. The peaceful world without man, quiet and majestic, the world with man loud and boisterous. We clicked off the final miles smiling and saying hello to those who passed, eager to return back to the world we knew and the lives we live.

Back in the car we sipped down some hot Apple Cider and jetted down 112 to visit Steve Smith and procure some guide books from him. Jen and I were more happy just to get into a heated room since the car was proving not much warmer than the air outside. We sat talking with Steve for a while and had the distinct pleasure of meeting J&J (both of them) from the forums. We even got a laugh from a group of young souls from the Tufts Outing Club out on a search and looking for Elbow pond and Potato Hill road (which Steve made warnings of an irate homeowner that got some interesting reactions from the youths!) After spending a good amount of time with everyone I paid my bill to Steve, said goodbye, and enjoyed a rather cold, downright FRIGID, ride home.

This hike started out as a “Plan B” and turned into a lovely jaunt through the woods. We did not accomplish the intended goal, though to be honest it was only a loose goal to begin with. What we got instead was a little solitude from the insane world we live, and who can complain about that!

B.


Sat Jan 20, 2007 10:27 pm
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Peak Bagger
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Fix the Heat :roll:
Sounds like you guys had fun

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Trail stewardship doesn't involve turning hiking trails into paved walkways....


Mon Jan 22, 2007 10:02 pm
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I Spend All My Time on This Forum
I Spend All My Time on This Forum
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Joined: Tue Mar 01, 2005 8:52 pm
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Location: Goffstown Avatar:I love you, you love me!
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Yeah, I have already told my mother its an easy fix and probably 5 bucks at most for the part! Looks like I might have to take things into my own hands :lol: :wink: . When you can see your breath.....its too cold inside! :shock:

Yes we had a great time. I was really happy to get into the Mountain Wanderer. I don't get to do that as much as I like. Been only once before this, and damned if Steve Smith did not surprise me when he remembered me....not only that, he remembered I ordered two books through the mail from him early in December!!!

Nice little jaunt through the woods, nice weather, great day.....Period! :D

B.


Mon Jan 22, 2007 10:13 pm
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