Mt Rowe Trail ( upper section of Blue Trail ) , Ridge Trail snippet, North Spur Trail, GES Nature Trail
Ahh! An early stick season hike on a muggy (!) November day in NH.
The nice thing about stick season is all the leaves are down and the woods seem so much more open.
The down side to stick season hiking is all the leaves are down and everything looks pretty meh after the brilliant foliage.
And on trails that don't get much traffic, with no rain, the leaves are deep and unpacked ... hiding rocks, roots, slippery spots ...
This backpack might have been more useful today than my usual one:
But I managed to shuffle thru the leaves without the blower and without serious incident :)
Not a lot of views on these trails, and low clouds didnt help much, but I did take a few pics ...
Gallery / slide show
The trailheads for these trails are widely separated; I parked in the Gilfored Elementary School lot and set out on the Mt Rowe trail in the southeast corner, away from the school.
The Mt Rowe trail crosses a conservation area via a nice bridge over a marsh/meadow, and splits almost immediately away from the GES nature trail. It's well maintained, wide and has good footing all the way to its junction with the Ridge Trail - except for the leaves, anyway. There are several junctions and branches along the way; one with the Weeks Trail, then the Yellow Trail ( which has a very steep start) , then a merge with the upper part of the Weeks Trail, then a split from the Weeks Trail. Fortunately, all these are well blazed. Could be pretty confusing without a map though!
The Blue Trail does have a couple of outlooks, small openings in the woods, a distinct advantage over the Yellow Trail.
Even though the Belknaps are not as high as the Whites, they are high enough to have low clouds roll over them. Watching this cloud roll over Gunstock made me a little glad the day was so unseasonably warm. On the other hand ... seriously, muggy in November? Not normal at all ...
Reaching the Ridge Trail I headed downhill into the col between Rowe & Gunstock, heading toward Gunstock. There is a very attractive little partially open area as the trail begins to ascend out of the col.
Back into the woods and a little further along I reached the Ridge Trail junction with the Weeks Trail. I decided to step over onto the Gunstock ski trails. The junction is just below the top of a chairlift; with everything stopped and no people anywhere in sight, it was a little eerie but the view was the best of the day.
I descended and took the Weeks Trail to the North Spur, then the Blue Trail down. I walked the GES Nature Trail. This is an odd trail. The map says 'Red/Green' ... I expected red&green blazes together ( like the Italian Trail in the Ossippees), and there were a few blazes like that. There were also stretches of oddly shaped green blazes ) no red in sight), ordinary green blazes, alternating red and green blazes, and red only blazes. There was also one section of green-only that looped around. Weird. Other than a bridge and this bit of whimsy, there wasn't anything that interested me on this trail.
Sunset Lake - Goat Pasture trail , Scout Camp-Sunset Lake
From the GES, I decided I had enough time to do the drive to Hidden Valley and try to walk the Red Trail out to the Goat Hill junction.
Arriving at the scout camp parking lot below Mt Shannon, I immediately decided to handicap my hike by taking a wrong turn and not finding the trail.
The thing that made it a little challenging is that the trailhead is between the big conference building and what I think is a maintenance building, and it passes thru a large campground area.
As with the ski trail, the camp was (almost) deserted. There were some people around doing some maintenance, but never within hailing distance. Once onto the trail thru the campground, I saw no other people at all.
Reaching Sunset Lake, it was no problem finding the trail, and from here to the junction with the Goat Hill Trail it was well blazed. And very leafy. In some places shuffling thru the leaves was the only thing to do. It was pretty late in the day so I hustled along.
I soon reached a stream crossing and faced an ethical dillemma - I could see the junction sign, just 100 ft or so away ...
across the stream. Rock hopping mossy rocks, alone on a lonely trail, late in the day ... then doing it back again .... maybe I should just count this hike as 'done' and go home ...
after a short argument my better self won ...
I'm glad :)
Got back without having to break out the headlamp, and headed home.
On the way by Crystal Lake I noticed an interesting ledge ... and out on the lake something odd. The odd things on the water turned out to be the largest goose flock I've ever seen.
Down the road a short way a walker was stopped to watch the geese, and the entire flock flew over to the shore near her. Do you think maybe somebody on the lake has been feeding them?
Watched them for a little while, then continued homeward.
The ledge? That's a story for another day ...