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There were 6 snippets of trails that I wanted to do today:

Fire Road Trail, 3 sections of the Round Pond Trail, a section of the Mack Ridge Trail, a section of the Round Pond-Mack Trail, and a section of the Round Pond-Piper Link trail.

Uh ... oops ... 7 snippets Smile

Gallery / slide show

Anyway, I've put these off waiting for cold weather because I mistakenly thought the Fire Rd Trail was an overgrown logging road I saw on a previous hike. I figured if I had to wade thru weeds I wanted to wait for the ticks to be sleeping in the cold.

Today was certainly cold enough, 31 degrees, after 50 degree weather all week, complete with clouds and spitting snow!


But like I said,  I was mistaken. The Fire Rd Trail is a continuation of the gravel road from the trailhead, and becomes a very nice ( read: weed-free) wide trail all the way to the junction with the Round Pond Trail. The Fire Rd trail was unblazed as far as I could see all the way from its initial split from the Round Pond Trail just after the gate to its rejoin with the Round Pond Trail. But other than reassurance, there is no need for blazes. The trail is very easy to follow.

The junction with the Round Pond Trail, as all the junctions between maintained trails, was very well blazed and clearly signed. Navigation was no problem on the maintained trails. From here to the far side of Round Pond, the trail was very full of unpacked leaves, particularly the section between this junction and the pond.  At the North end of the pond the trail passed thru a very active beaver area ... hikers should beware standing still too long lest they be mistaken for a tree and gnawed!

Surviving the forest of the Rodents of Unusual Appetite the Dread Hiker Scooter continued on his quest and decided to storm Castle Mack ...  err ... uh .. that is, after daydreaming a bit about rodents I continued on around Round Pond toward the Mt Mack Trails. I hustled a little past the pond; the wind was actually driving white caps on the pond, which is not very big. Quite cold!

I decided to go a little off-plan, the lure of the outlook I knew was just a short way up the trail was too strong. Worth it !

A little extra premium was charged by the mountain ... on the way up I banged my thumb up just a bit. Maybe the blaze was a hint that blood is required on this trail?

At first I just ignored it, but every time I reached in a pocket or whatever, the split would bleed again. I did eventually bandage it.

 I headed down quickly though; there was some ice on the trail and it was very cold on the exposed ledge with pretty strong wind. The little snippet of the Round Pd - Mt Mack trail I followed eventually spilled out on a gravel rd. A little head scratching followed until I spotted a trail sign 100 ft or so Southward on the road.

From here I headed back to the junction of the Round Pond/Piper Link trail with the Round Pond Trail. I took the link trail over to the Boulder Trail junction.  From here I had a little bit of a dilemma; I didn't really want to backtrack to the Round Pd Trail. There is an unmaintained trail that links the Link to the Round Pond Trail near the end of the Fire Rd Trail. But .. no way to know just how "unmaintained" it was. I didnt want to get into a bushwhack at this point .... oh well, eventually I decided to take the unmaintained trail.

This worked out pretty well. The trail junction is marked with some flag tape and there was enough of a treadway to follow, with more tape markers along the way. This part of the trail eventually spilled out on an old logging road, and here all tape stopped. There is a spur trail and notation on the map that there is a sawmill site on the spur. I hoped that was where I was and not in a maze of old roads.  I wasn't interested in the sawmill, so I didnt explore the spur, just headed left ( northwest) and hoped for the best.

That worked out. The road was easy to follow although a foot of leaves covering an eroded roadbed required some care. The road is high enough up the slope of Mt Belknap to be well above a fair sized bog. I was happy to have a road around the bog!

So I eventually reached the Round Pond Trail again and finished off the two short snippets I had left of the Round Pond Trail.

And yes, thank you Girl Scouts, my feet stayed dry :)

These were also the last trail snippets I had to redline the Belknaps :)

 The Finish Line:


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