October 17, 2015.
A return to Maine to get some of the remaining trails I have left in the Caribou-Speckled Region. One of the longer drives as I plan to do an out and back on Albany Mt Trail and it is on the eastern end of the aforementioned region.
Heading across Route 2 and a quick shot of some color along the Randolph hills. Heading into one of the remote regions of the White Mts and I am ready to start the hike just before 8:30. The old trail sign for Albany Notch Trail is still up. This trail has been abandoned a bit further up due to flooding but they have yet to replace the sign with Albany Mt Trail.
The trail is an easy trek with one relocation bypassing an eroded section and another one at a beaver swamp. Across the swamp is Farwell Mt and it's fall colors. The trail actually makes use of the beaver dam as a pathway.
This is one of the better trails as it has been maintained quite well. The time and trip go by quickly passing an old stone wall and a meandering brook along the way.
In forty-five minutes I am at the junction for the trip up to the summit of Albany Mt. The trail up to the summit is very reminiscent of a lot of the mountains in the Caribou-Speckled Region, it becomes mostly ledge walking. Shortly I reach an open ledge with views to the east and the fall colors all mixed in.
The summit itself is not too far away as I follow the trail to it. Beyond the path continues and makes its way to an open ledge with limited views. The last mountain I climbed in this region is visible, Caribou.
Disappointed with this viewpoint I make my way back down and I remember seeing a side path at the first open ledge area on the way up. I head over and this one is much better than the one up at the summit.
The views are expansive all the way from Kearsarge North down in Conway to Speckled Mt just across the way. Right next to where I am standing are the cliffs of Peter Mt and the valley down below where I'll be hiking next to complete Albany Mt Trail.
Back to the junction and a turn left to continue the rest of Albany Mt Trail. The trail on this side of Albany Mt is a little rougher as I start descending down after passing through another open ledge area. Just as I was taking this next picture of the fall colors I heard a rustling noise down below me and thought it might be a moose.
Instead it was another hiker heading up and we both looked at each other with surprise as we didn't expect to see another hiker out here. Stopping to talk we comment that we are both redlining. He mentions he only has three trails left and I kind of know who he might be as I've seen some posts on New England Trail Conditions mentioning he is almost done. I ask his name and sure enough it is who I thought it might be, Bill Robichaud. We talk for a bit and then head in our separate ways. I reach the sharp turn in the trail where the old Albany Notch Trail is still quite visible and make a note to check it out someday. Down further the trail merges onto an old logging road and it is one soggy mess.
Towards the end it passes by some camps and one spot where there are two campers and a truck from NY. All three look abandoned and not used in quite some time. I reach the end of the trail by some houses and stop to have some snacks and water before heading back up and over.
Refueled I head back up the road and stop to take pictures of the campers and truck. While I am taking the last picture Bill is coming back down the trail and graciously offers me a ride back to the other end rather than hiking back. This is the first time I have ever had someone offer me ride and I accepted the offer. A huge Thank You to Bill as it saved me a lot of time and changed my plans for the rest of the day. A great ride back and some good conversation along the way as the ride back was greatly appreciated.
Final numbers: 5.9 miles, 3 hours 30 minutes.
Redline Miles: 4.8, Total to Date: 940.2
The second hike for today is just down the road, Albany Brook Trail, a short one mile (two miles out and back) hike from Crocker Pond to Round Pond.
A short walk to the shore of Crocker Pond before starting and off to the right is a large and I mean large granite boulder in the pond.
Back up to the trail head and I am off but not before reading the warning about fishing in Round Pond.
Pretty dire way of reintroducing trout as I have never heard of that approach before. The beginning of the trail skirts around Crocker Pond before pulling away and up the banking.
It is a short and uneventful trip over to Round Pond and that is where the clouds started spitting rain. I was hoping this wouldn't last as thanks to Bill's ride I had plans to get one more hike in. Round Pond is a peaceful little spot and on another day I might have stopped to relax for a bit but I had a new agenda now.
A quick trip back to the trail head and off I go to the next trail in this region. A small milestone after this hike as I have less than 500 miles to go on my redlining!
Final numbers: 2.0 miles, 50 minutes.
Redline Miles: 1.0, Total to Date: 941.2
Heading back up the road to Route 2 and then towards Gorham reaching Wheeler Brook Trail which is located just off Route 2. On the way in this morning I noticed some signs and gates about a training site. On the way back I noticed the same ones and they are just before the trail head. It looked militaryish but I didn't have time to stop and check.
Parking off the side of Route 2 and I am off at 2:10 which should leave me enough time to get back before it gets dark. This will be another out and back hike with some elevation gain. It starts out on an old logging road intersecting an active dirt road. Just where the trail turns left I see some soldiers up ahead in a field. Guess that answers the training site signs. Turns out this is Bog Brook Training Site for the Maine National Guard.
The trail begins the steady but mild climb up paralleling Wheeler Brook for quite a ways. There are some falls down the embankment but I don't have time to head down to check them out. If I have time on the way back I'll make the effort. Just above the falls is a cool sluice carved into the bedrock by the brook. The trail makes four crossings of Wheeler Brook and then pulls away up the ridge.
A great walk through the woods and the trail is a carpet of colors from the fallen leaves. The never steep climb continues until it crests just below Peabody Mt.
A short relief of flat trail and then the descent begins down the other side.
Merging onto an overgrown brushy logging road and I make it down to the next junction point. I glance at the sign and continue to the right like the last merge.
You'll notice the bottom sign is pointing left. Well I didn't and one of those times I wish I had read the book and taken the trail description with me. Following the logging road and it started to seem longer to reach the gate than it should have been. I followed it for a good quarter mile and it never came to a gate or parking area. Checking the GPS and this is one of those trails not on the system so hard to tell if I was heading in the right direction or not. Scanning the area on the GPS and The Roost was not that far away. It's already four in the afternoon and two hours of daylight to go. Do I make my way to The Roost and then then roadwalk up 113 to 2? According to the GPS the logging road I am on ends a little bit further up so that would mean a bushwhack through unknown woods. Head back and hope the trail is in the other direction is the smart choice so turnaround and beat it back to the sign is what I did. Of course reaching it and I see the mistake plain as day. Another tenth of a mile beyond and there is the gate and the end of Wheeler Brook Trail.
It's now 4:20 and I have to make really good time getting back up to the crest and then down to the road in order to get out before dark. That is just what I did as I pushed all the way uphill making real good time and with enough daylight left to make the detour down to Wheeler Brook.
Just past the open field and coming up towards me is a squadron of soldiers as they are still out practicing. After I pass them I snap a picture but they would not hold still for the camera!
Out of the woods just before six and three hikes done with again many thanks to my fellow redliner who helped make it possible.
Final numbers: 8 miles, 3 hours 40 minutes.
Redline Miles: 3.5, Total to Date: 944.7