November 15, 2014.
I just recently discovered that I need to do all of the AT in NH for my red-lining project. The spreadsheet is broken up into regions and the western part of the White Mountains is contained within the Moosilauke region. While perusing it one day I noticed a bunch of trails that were not on the AMC maps. Looking into them it turns out that the last trail on the maps is Atwell Trail located off of Route 25A in Orford, NH. Everything below that to the border of Vermont is not on the map but is in the AMC Guide. Since the conditions have been pretty decent lately now is a good time to start picking off these trails. Today I'll be getting a section of trail between Route 25C and Glencliff, Wachipauka Pond Trail and Town Line Trail.
Now the "fun" part of all this is most of these trips will be an out and back so the miles will be double for each segment. In essence I'll be hiking these trails twice. One of the pitfalls to hiking solo and unable to do a car spot. It is still hunting season and I am reminded of that when I get to the trailhead which is right next to the power lines. For some reason hunters like power lines and even though I am on the trail at 6:30 a few have already got here before me. These same power lines used to be the AT at one time from here to Webster Slide Trail. First trail is Wachipauka Pond Trail which is an easy climb and there is just a dusting of snow in the woods.
The grades are very gentle and as I slowly gain elevation the trail becomes covered in snow. I occasionally see fresh prints crossing paths with the trail of a hunter out here somewhere. I stop to get some water and as I am perusing the woods I notice a sign nailed to a tree. Hadn't expected this but I am on top of Mt Mist and I am only forty-five minutes into this hike. This has got to be one of the easiest peaks I have been on.
Heading down, and I use that term loosely, the trail and I can soon see Webster Slide Mt ahead through the trees. Just beyond is a short side path to a ledge outlook.
It's only 7:30 at the eastern facing ledges and the sun is still low in the sky. South Moosilauke is hard to distinguish with the low cloud cover and lighting. Even Carr Mt is just barely escaping the clouds.
The descent down to the junction is a little more inclined and within minutes I am at the four way with Webster Slide Trail and the path down to Wachipauka Pond. Wanting to get the climb done first I head left to Webster Slide Mt. Right when the trail turns to head up Webster Slide Mt there is a visible trail leading straight and I am curious as to where it goes. There is also an old AT marker embedded in a tree. I later find out this is where the AT used to go out to the power lines and then down to Route 25C. The trail up and over Mt Mist is a fairly recent reroute of the AT finished in 1976.
The climb up is quite steep before it levels out along the top and takes twenty minutes from the base. But the reward is well worth it as I arrive at the site of the old Dartmouth Outing Club Shelter.
I make my way down the embankment towards the open ledges for some unobstructed views. My nemesis across the pond, Mt Carr, and to the left South Moosilauke slowly revealing itself from the early morning clouds.
Heading back down and I wonder if there is a spot on the south facing ledges. I did not see a path leading that way but after returning home I discover there is and I also missed the summit sign just before the old shelter site. Ah just another reason to go back some day and revisit. Back down in the col and I walk between two stone walls that are just beside the trail. Typically this is evidence of a road from long ago.
At the four way junction I head down to Wachipauka Pond. It is on my red-lining spreadsheet so down I go while following the old tracks of some animal. Reaching the pond and there is a primitive campsite set up complete with a sheet of plywood. Not sure who would take the time to carry that in but guessing maybe snowmobilers during the winter season.
Just before the pond I was treated with the rat-a-tat sound of a Pileated Woodpecker right above me. They appear to be not very shy as he ignores me the whole time I am there taking pictures.
The path along the pond continues beyond what I think is the two tenths listed in the spreadsheet and after a while I decide to turn back. It appears to continue back up to the trail so satisfied that I have done what is required I backtrack my way up to the four way junction. I'll keep my eye open for the other end and take it on the return trip just for a change in scenery and to make double sure I did the whole spur trail. Back on Wachipauka Pond Trail and continuing to head North the trail winds around the base of Webster Slide Mt. It is rocky and rough through this section and I think I saw the entrance to the pond spur along the way. Beyond the rough section the trail is a breeze and relatively flat. Skirting Wyatt Hill on my right and just as the trail starts descending down to Route 25 a large ledge outcropping is on my left. No time to check it out now but maybe if I have the time on the return I will.
The trail descends down all the way to the road and reminds me of the descent back in North Carolina going into Hot Springs that morning back in May. It reaches a large pullover parking lot on Route 25 and across the road is the beginning of the short 1.1 mile Town Line Trail. But first is the crossing of Oliverian Brook. There are signs posted for the AT hikers that during high water they should use the roads (south on Route 25 to High St which brings you to Glencliff) rather than risk crossing here. Straight ahead there is just no combination of rocks and the water is swift and deep in a few spots. I go upstream and see nothing to my liking either. Back downstream and there is still nothing I am comfortable with. I did notice a downed tree upstream and figure that is the best and only option. The only issue is it has a thin layer of snow and I am not a beam walking gymnast. So I sit on the log and slowly scootch myself across. Reaching the other side and I must now get off the log and climb the steep eroded banking. Fortunately I make it without incident and make my way back down to the trail. A view of the log after I crossed to the other side.
Heading up Town Line Trail and it parallels the brook through some great open woods until it veers away and starts to climb rather steeply for a short bit. Thirty minutes after the crossing and I reach a short side path that leads down to Jeffers Brook.
Just beyond is the spur trail on the left to Jeffers Brook Shelter. It is a short trip down and I stop to have some snacks and a drink.
Refreshed and I head back to the trail and very shortly reach the end of Town Line Trail on Long Pond Road. This is the spot I passed back on my July trip up to Moosilauke via Tunnel Brook Trail which is just up the road from here. Turning around and the return is uneventful until I reach Oliverian Brook. No I didn't fall in! I reach the spot where the trail comes to the brook and start zig zagging my way across and reach a spot just six feet from the other side and come to a dead stop. Too risky to continue and while standing there looking at my options I spy something to my right I had not noticed earlier this morning.
A freaking bridge just downstream! Now why didn't the sign offer that option. I make my way through the woods towards it and see why it is not an option as it is posted with "No Trespassing" signs. Sorry but safety over rules in this case so I cross the "border" and make my way up to the bridge which looks like it leads into a logging area. Looking at Google Earth now and it leads into a private residence quite a ways in. On the other side of the bridge is a chain link fence and I hop over to the road. Now me being a hiker friendly person, and trying to accommodate the community of hikers, if I owned that land I would put the fence on the other side and allow the thru hikers to use that bridge during the high water times. But that is me and sorry if I overstepped the trespassing line. Back up Wachipauka Trail and reaching the ledge outcropping I passed on the way down I make the detour to check it out. But not before seeing this amazing tree that survived some catastrophic event. Downed but determined to live!
As you can see the top of the ledge was nothing spectacular but you just never know unless you explore. I did get an obstructed shot of Moosilauke and on the way back down to the trail came across this fire pit.
I also found the path that led down to Wachipauka Pond and it was not at the spot I had found earlier. The skies were a lot clearer now in the early afternoon sun and across the pond is Mt Carr.
Reaching the viewpoint after climbing out of the col between Webster Slide Mt and Mt Mist the cloudy views of this morning are completely gone. With a little maneuvering I get both Moosilauke and South Moosilauke in frame.
The rest of the trip is an easy out as I pass by the summit of Mt Mist and the trek back to the road with a quick road walk under the power lines to take a picture of the next section of the AT, Ore Hill Trail.
Oh yeah, and the number of people I saw today is zero, two hikes in a row with NPD!
Final numbers: 14.5 miles, 7 hours and 50 minutes.
Redline Miles: 6.9, Total to Date: 651.6