November 9, 2014.
Trying to maximize the day as I've got some big miles planned for today. The original plan was an out and back via Gordon Pond Trail to Kinsman Ridge Trail to the junction of Reel Brook Trail. Obviously that did not happen as you can see by the GPS track map.
I am off and going at seven and the temps are comfortable in the low thirties. Parked down at the lower end of Route 112 at the Gordon Pond Trail head. The snow free trail goes up by some houses then follows old woods road/snowmobile trail. Within a few minutes I pass by a maple tree grove and sap collection station.
Reaching the power lines the trail follows under them and then swings right back into the woods. The next section is a guessing came as I come upon a few intersections with a myriad of trail signs. Easy you think with the signs. Not really as the signage is geared towards the snowmobile crowd.
The only thing I have to go on is the description from the guidebook and I know Bog Pond is beyond Gordon Pond so I keep following that sign. At one point the trail splits and I go right which leads down to Gordon Pond Brook. I know It is the wrong spot because I am not supposed to cross the brook this early. Turning around and back up to the trail and from here on out there are no more issues following the correct trail. Passing back under the power lines again and a few minutes later I am at the first crossing of Gordon Pond Brook.
There are traces of snow at this elevation and on the other side of the brook a steel cable wrapped high up in a tree. Has to be leftover from some logging operation years ago.
Within a matter of fifteen minutes the traces of snow change to fully covered snowy trail. I was not expecting this today nor am I prepared for it. I do not have my microspikes or my winter boots.
Gaining elevation moderately I soon cross Gordon Brook Trail again and come to Gordon Falls. The trail crosses over the top of the falls and thank goodness it is not really flowing hard or high because I do not think I would attempt a crossing. Combined with the snow it is a little sketchy but doable.
There is no option for slipping here as it is a long way down to the bottom. Beyond this point the trail turns into a wet flooded mess. Sometimes the trail is completely under water and there are a lot of diversions to skirt around the wet sections. Within thirty minutes of crossing the falls I have reached Gordon Pond by a side path with an open view up to Mt Wolf.
And the complimentary pano shot of the whole pond.
It takes three hours from the start to reach Kinsman Ridge Trail which is also the AT. The snow is deeper up here and I am seriously doubting my whole plan. I continue pushing on to Mt Wolf and will reevaluate my plan when I get there.
It takes another hour hiking along the ridge to reach the outlook spur and on a better day this would be a great spot. It is cold out here in the open and the clouds have rolled in keeping the temps down. Across the way is Franconia Ridge but Lafayette and Lincoln are hidden in the clouds. Cannon is just poking out over a shoulder of South Kinsman to the north.
Maneuvering a little and there are views to the east with Carrigain and Hancock behind a scarred Whaleback. Further to the right are Kancamagus and the Osceolas behind Scar Ridge.
The fingers start to get numb so picture time is over and time to move on. It is just after eleven and with being unprepared an out and back to the Reel Brook Trail junction does not make good sense. That and I do not want to head back over the very wet upper part of Gordon Pond Trail with the sketchy falls crossing. In order to salvage something from this day I am going to head back out on Kinsman Ridge Trail and get the section between Gordon Pond Trail and Route 112. The only problem is a long, and I mean long, road walk back to the car. But that is the lesser of two evils as the road walk is all downhill and I do get extra red-lining miles. Going back the way I came I see an opening on my right and knew that the actual highpoint was not the knob by the outlook. I take a chance to see if this leads to it and wind my way through the tight trees. The only tracks through here are some old bear tracks and I find it amusing that he too has been peakbagging. Soon I see an opening and then a fabled jar marking the summit.
So what is a jar doing on a summit you might ask. Well it is just a thing and besides I get to read notes left by my brother.
There, another bonus for the day an unexpected very small bushwhack to a 3000' peak. Not that I am doing that list but hey I was so close so might as well do it. Heading down on Kinsman Ridge Trail and remember the old bear tracks I saw on Mt Wolf? Well he has definitely not hibernated yet because there were fresh tracks on top off my tracks from when I came up Kinsman Ridge Trail. I went through this section less than an hour ago. Nice bear, nice bear.
It takes a little longer to get back to the junction with Gordon Pond Trail as I take my time with the snow. It is always easier to head up a trail when it comes to slipping but down is a different story. I pass by the junction and down a ways get a through the trees view of the Osceolas with Middle and South Tripyramid. And below that a parting shot at the Franconia Ridge.
The rest of the trail was fairly mild with the typical rocks covered in snow so made slow going. I reached the last junction with Dilly Trail which I did a few summers ago while Lisa and I were at Lost River. I had always thought that this side of Kinsman Ridge Trail was steep and ugly but until just before it drops down to the road I was pleasantly surprised.
The last pitch is somewhat steep but thankfully the snow cover was much thinner through that section and before I knew it I could hear the cars on Route 112 and then it came into view.
Reaching the road and there is a poster tacked to the trail sign post about a missing person.
Across the road I go as I need the very small section of Beaver Brook Trail between the road and the parking lot for Beaver Brook Trail heading up to Moosilauke. From here on out it is a long but downhill walk back to the car. Only 4.4 miles down and I do mean down, if only I had thought ahead and brought a bike!
Final numbers: 15.5 miles, 9 hours and 25 minutes.
Redline Miles: 9.6, Total to Date: 644.7