November 30, 2013.
A return to the Randolph area and a much better day for views even though most of the day will be in the woods. No summits just lots of trails that crisscross each other with junctions galore. So let the fun begin in this great little section of the woods.
Parking right next to the site of the now gone Ravine House and it is already a bright and sunny day at 8:00 AM. A much different day than just a week ago.
Two photos of how the Ravine House evolved from about 1890 to the 1920's.
Across the street are Madison and Adams which were shrouded in clouds last Saturday.
First trail for the day is Ledge Trail and then a return to Lookout Ledge for some redemption. A little bit more snow compared to last week but manageable. I did bring my microspikes with me but start off not wearing them. It is a quick climb and through some great woods all nice and open to the cold blue winter sky.
It doesn't take long to reach the junction with the Notchway but first I have to continue up Ledge Trail for the section between here and Pasture Path. A short diversion up the hill to the right of the junction as the woods look to open up on top. It is not what I had hoped for but I do get a peek at Mt Crescent from this spot.
Back down to Ledge Trail and arriving at the junction with Pasture Path and I remember this section kicking my butt past week. It is short but steep and I was at the tail end of my hike but today it is much easier as I slip on my microspikes for traction as the ice is more prevalent. The first path down to the viewpoint is icy.
So I make my way to the other side and it is also icy but a much safer way out onto the ledge. The short repeat of this trail is well worth it looking across the valley to the Northern Presis and beyond.
Also across the way a good view of King Ravine, another area on my radar in the near future (right Kevin?).
Back down to the junction with Notchway and a left turn making my way up to the next junction with Pasture Path. Along the way is one of nature's little artistic canvases.
Reaching a spot where there is two crossings of Carlton Brook and the first one looks a little bit suspect.
Taking a chance I decide to cross here and the first few steps are solid after that though forget it. The next step is a well camouflaged half frozen slushy spot. I step on it and my right leg sinks in up to the calf and in a panic to get out the left goes in above the ankle. Quickly back out to the banking and the right foot is soaked pretty good especially since I wasn't wearing gaiters due to the lack of snow depth. I really dislike this time of year when streams are never quite frozen enough. I head downstream and find another spot that is rock hoppable and make my way up through the woods to the trail on the other side. Back down to the first crossing and even though my foot is wet I don't stop to change the sock. Wearing wool socks I hoped it would dry out fairly quickly as my feet usually run hot while hiking. Just up ahead and a return to the busy signed junction of Pasture Path and Four Soldiers Path with a right turn on Pasture Path heading on new territory.
Not far in and I am sure glad I didn't run into the fella that left this mark on a tree. Bear, big big bear.
A quick twenty minutes to the junction with Grassy Lane and a left turn brings me up to Randolph Hill Road.
Coming back down Grassy Lane and a short diversion onto an open field by a seasonal house. This person has some of the best views I have come across, quite jealous and envious of whomever owns it. Madison and Adams in the first picture and King Ravine in the other.
At Pasture Path again and a left turn and the next junction is with Bee Line. Turning onto this trail which heads back down towards Durand Road. Pasture Path first comes out onto Glover Spring Road and then a right turn onto a private driveway to the north terminus of Bee Line.
Heading down Bee Line along a gentle descent and then a right turn onto Burnbrae Path. A short ways down and next up is a very busy section of the Randolph Mountain Club with a bunch of trails located in a small section known as Glen Moss. Trying to knock off those trails, in fact all of the trails for today, in an efficient manner is quite the undertaking. Making decisions on the fly was the mode for the day. So the plan was to continue down Burnbrae Path to Durand Road.
Walking up Durand Road and I meet the first person of the day, a local resident walking a dog down a driveway. Turns out he was looking for the owner and wanted to know if I had seen anyone looking for it. Walking ahead of me and I stop at an open field for some more shots across the way of Moriah to Adams.
Back on the road and just before reaching Wood Path and the local is walking by himself back towards me and I figured he must have found the owner of the dog. Across the street from the trailhead is a farm house with a barn. The barn has a ramp up to it and looks very suspect in regards to how much of a load it could handle.
By the way that is Mt Moriah in the background, a beautiful hike when heading up Carter-Moriah Trail via Stony Brook Trail. As I head into the woods on Wood Path across the street from the farm comes the dog, the damn dog! Wouldn't you know it he is going to follow me and put an end to my solitude. In and out of the woods he goes following me up Wood Path for what seems like forever. Wood Path is a great stretch as all the trails in this area are.
In reality only fifteen minutes passed from picking up my friend and just before the next junction I meet up with the only other person I would see for the day. She is a local resident that lives just off the trail and is coming towards me. We stop to chat and I comment on the great trails in this area and it is my second foray into this area in as many weeks. She asks if I had thought of red-lining the Randolph Mountain Clubs trails and I tell her I had actually just read about them during the past week (add another project to my lists of lists). She also asked if I had done the Ice Gulch yet and I let her know I had not but was waiting for a better time, preferably summer, to do it. Ice Gulch is a mile long section through a boulder field that is so protected from the sun there is ice in the nooks and crannies 365 day of the year. The subject of the dog came up and I mentioned it was not mine and has been tagging along since Durand Road. She (thank you thank you) held onto the dog so I could head on alone and would make the attempt to find the owner being a local. Yeah, back to my solitude! A right turn at the junction with the Diagonal and through a neat pine lined section of trail.
Heading up the Diagonal and passing a house that is tucked back in the woods which might be the house of the woman I just met up with. Further up and a sharp left turn as the trail heads up towards Pasture Path. Just before the junction and the trail pops out into an open field and at the top is a view back towards Madison and Adams.
Pass the junction with Pasture Path and a left turn onto another short trail called appropriately, Short Circuit. It comes out on Randolph Hill Road with a good view of Mt Crescent from the road.
Back down Short Circuit and onto Pasture Path and turning left when I get to the junction with Wood Path. Keeping up so far? There will be a quiz at the end so pay attention! Heading down Wood Path, another lovely little section of trail, until I am back at the previous junction with Diagonal where I turned over the dog to the local. Turning right on Diagonal and very quickly another very piney area of trail.
Going through various types of woods on this section as I make my way to the next junction with EZ Way. The trail traverses through the young pine enclosed section in the picture above to wet little bogs and open hardwoods. A right turn onto EZ Way and taking this trail all the way up to the end where again I am on Randolph Hill Road. This time there is a view towards Mt Randolph.
Again back down EZ Way and at the junction with Pasture Path I make a left turn for a quick out and back on this section between Wood Path. Pasture Path is about as easy of a trail as they come. Flat all the way but a fun trail to see plenty on.
Heading back from the Wood Path junction and then pass EZ Way continuing on until I make it to Bee Line. Two and half hours ago I was in this same spot. Back the way I came on Pasture Path and turning back down onto EZ Way across the junction with Diagonal. This leads me back to Durand Road with a road walk over to Groveway.
Pass the town library and turning up a driveway where the Groveway enters the woods. Not far up the trail and an odd and unexpected little area is next to Carlton Brook. This is the area known as Mossy Glen.
It is an amphitheater where the local hiking club holds gatherings and puts on skits/plays. There are wooden stumps for seats with the hillside being used also like a natural stadium. Next to the path and an even odder site, seashells from the seashore that perhaps she sells. Seriously, seashells, quite a ways removed from any ocean.
Down the hill and the path leads across Carlton Brook via a Nepal replica log bridge.
This little area, known as Mossy Glen, has quite a little array of trails as can be seen below. Another area that proves quite challenging to red-line.
So over the bridge and carefully down the steps on the other side, one of the supports for the steps is cracked.
At the bottom the partially frozen brook is a slippery rock step over to land. Then a decision, one of many in this small area, go left or right? Deciding on left onto Glenside and the trail parallels Carlton Brook up to where there is a small pool with natural embankments of rock.
There are signs indicating this is a public drinking water supply so caution is advised. Looking at the half frozen brook and the frozen partially exposed rocks and I contemplate how to cross this spot. Venturing down onto the first ice covered slab and I have visions of my earlier foot dunking. Very slowly and one step at a time balancing myself with the poles and I pick my way across uneventfully, phew! The picture above is taken from the other side after crossing. Up the hill to the junction with Bluffway. Another decision and I decide to go right and second guessing which way I want to go and looking at the map I turn around, get ready for this one, and head down on Bluffway back to Groveway right above the amphitheater. Turning around heading back on Bluffway and this time continuing to the junction with Diagonal and a not frozen Carlton Brook crossing. I chose not to cross here and took the lesser of two evils and instead head back down Bluffway for the third time and recross the brook at the bridge and turn right this time onto Glenside.
Tramping down Glenside and this trail is supposed to bring me back to Burnbrae Path. Instead I end up popping out of the woods where there are two cabins and another view of, guess, Madison and Adams!
Wandering around this spot as I am confused as to where the trail is from here I end up heading back up the trail I came on and wouldn't you know it I missed a left turn. On the map the path that let to the cabins is labeled "Camp Trail". Back on Burnbrae Path and heading up to make a right turn onto Diagonal to pick up the less than four-tenths of a mile section of trail. Reaching the junction with EZ Way and an about face heading back the way I came all the way back to Carlton Brook and this time no other choice but to icy rock hop the stream.
Hang in there I am almost done with this area. Making my way across the brook was uneventful and continuing on the Diagonal up to the junction with Bee Line and a right turn onto this trail for a very short one-tenth mile section before turning around. Heading up Bee line and back towards another crossing of Carlton Brook but this time it is bridged.
Back at the junction of Bee Line and Burnbrae Path and time to get out of these woods. Back down Bee Line and pass Diagonal and just another half mile to Durand Road. On the way down a pretty sun setting picture from the trail.
Finally reaching Durand Road and rather than calling it a day I might as well finish (Bee Line) this trail and head across the street for the section between Durand Road and Route 2. Ducking into the woods and across Moose River and the trail comes out into an open area right next to Durand Lake, a man-made lake.
Heading around the west end of the lake and the trail leads up to Route 2 just across from the Appalachia parking lot. Heading back and almost done for the day I hear a helicopter off in the distance heading over towards Pinkham Notch. A zoom in an it looks like a Black Hawk copter, the one usually used for search and rescue.
Checking news reports later on would confirm it was indeed on a search for a missing hiker. Article is located here. One last shot for the day across Durand Lake with the sun setting behind me.
Finally five minutes before 4:00 PM and I am back at the car and a fantastic day spent in the Randolph area on some truly enjoyable trails. The next time back in this area won't be so complicated with hitting these trails. Then again across the street on the Northern Presis there is a myriad of trails there also so stay tuned!
Final numbers: 13 miles, 7 hours and 45 minutes.
Redline Miles: 9.1, Total to Date: 463.4