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Foliage season. Must get out.

With it being a busy and also soggy week, I rearranged some chores and borrowed my wife's car and headed for South Piper to take advantage of Wednesday's weather opening.

Gallery / slide show

The colors along the road and the sky overhead looked promising ....

The flanks of Gunstock and Belknap made it pretty obvious that the colors weren't all out yet, but that's OK, I needed to get out anyway.

So, up the familiar Whiteface trail/Piper-Whiteface Link and Vista Trails.

Surprised to be the only hiker; no sign of anyone recent either. Maybe the weather.   The spiders had taken advantage of the last couple days of warmth & wet;  I was minded of Indiana Jones in the Raiders of the Lost Ark ... grateful to only encounter lots of silk and no big spiders, though :)

The 'Ark' thought turned out to be unfortunate ... from that point on my brain kept replaying the action theme from the movie. It's a good score, but seriously, listening to it over and over wasn't that much fun. Next thing I knew I was reviewing movie scenes. Especially, for some reason, every scene involving punching Nazis.  Oh well.  As long as a movie had to get stuck in my head, I was glad it was one I liked :)

There were some nice colors along the way to the Vista Trail, but not quite peak.

Reaching the Vista Trail, it was off to South Piper.   A little encouragement along the way ...  someone must have been having a very nice day :)

Reaching South Piper, as expected by this time, the colors were barely visible on surrounding peaks.

But it was no disappointment; the view was a little hazy but spectacular anyway. 

I sat for .. a .. while ... nice light breeze ... mmm... no ...bugs.... warm sunshine ... quiet ...zzzzz...

A couple of airplanes passing overhead broke my little siesta. Interesting planes, have not seen their like before. 

Kind of looked like the belonged in the movie. Maybe I was dreaming?

Nope, real enough.

I read in the paper this morning that a bunch of planes had been flown up from Florida to avoid the hurricane.

These weren't mentioned, but perhaps they were part of that flight.

Thrilled to see the kestrel. Never saw one before. It darted off a couple times. Fast bird.

So after inspecting 3 new ( to me ) stone chairs and hanging out a little more, I headed back down.

I've done this hike enough times that I decided to return by a slight variation and check out the Belknap Mountain Rd Extension.

A short way toward Whiteface there is an intersection with an ATV/4Wheeler trail that according to the map crosses the extension.

I've been curious about it for a while, so decided to explore.

The ATV trail is pretty torn up, unpleasant walking with lots of displaced rocks and loose dirt. On the plus side, there are relatively few mudpits and they were easy to navigate.

The trail  descends quite a lot, and the junction with the extension took longer to reach than I expected; by the time I reached it I was becoming just that little bit concerned ... it was starting to get late, and backtracking would mean some unpleasant elevation gain under headlamp :(

When I reached the junction, it was not quite the relief I expected. The extension was clear, but also clearly untraveled. And it descended more. Onward ...

Continuing downhill, it was reassuring that the trail stayed clear. It was NOT reassuring to see several side-trails.  Hmmm.

Trusting my sense of direction and my GPS, and hoping the trail didnt dead end in a beaver bog, I continued on.

I confess to a certain sense of relief when the trail began to ascend again ... and more when I heard some kids and a dog in the not-too-far distance :)

Breaking out on the road ... it was good to be where I meant to be after navigating the ATV trail maze. Lots of potential to wander in the dark out there !

Glad to be on the way home; enough adventure for one day :)



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