April 18, 2015.
When I was growing up, actually I was already out of high school but I thought this happened earlier in my life...funny how we misremember things as we get older, Blue Oyster Cult and Black Sabbath got together for their Black and Blue Tour in 1980. Today is my version of the Black and Blue Tour, hiking style, only in reverse. After being thwarted almost two months ago on getting the whole trail by very deep snow today I seek revenge and hope the majority of the snow is gone.
I tried to get up to the trail early due to some incoming weather in the afternoon but it just didn't work out that way. Heading up Route 25 out of Plymouth and I turn onto Flat Iron Road. A bit of a mistake as this is a dirt road and becomes more of a woods road about halfway in. There are a few soft and muddy spots due to the spring thaw in this section but I make it through without incident. Reaching Lime Kiln Road, which is also a dirt road, I arrive at the trail head and the boots are on the ground ten minutes before eight.
Looks like a great day so far as the temps are in the low 40's but the sun is shining and supposed to get warmer as the day goes. So no snowshoes and the coat stays in the backpack as I set off wearing an undershirt and t-shirt. A little brisk but does not take long to warm up. Most of this trail is along old logging roads so the walking is easy as I head up. There are supposed to be quite a few old cellar holes along the way and it doesn't take long to come across the first one for the day. As is usual on these hikes one never knows what you will come across in the woods. This old foundation comes complete with a car. This is a new one for me as the car is inside the cellar hole and crushed.
Behind it is a faint outline of maybe an addition or a fenced in area for livestock. This is what I find so interesting about these places of lost history. What was here and what did it look like. Perhaps somewhere out there someone has pictures of their family homestead and does not know that pieces of their past still survive today. On the 1929 Moosilauke map there is a house shown in this approximate location so who knows maybe this is it. Further up and on the other side of the trail to the left in the woods I spy two stone walls paralleling each other. Most times the double walls are the remnants of an old road but after checking it out there was a stream running down the middle of it. Maybe it was an old road at one time but the runoff has eroded it away to make it look like boundary lines.
Looks like this is going to be one of those days where I am going to be meandering in and out of the woods checking out all of these interesting features. Up the trail a short ways and it turns off to the right onto another logging road or at one time was an actual road since ten minutes up and there is something off to my left again. From the trail it looks like a pile of rocks but heading over to it and it's another cellar hole complete with an indoor pool.
Up at a logging clearing and the trail veers off to the left and soon the first evidence of snow still lagging on the trail. Ugh! Was hoping it would be a while before I ran into this. Luckily it is minimal and does not last very long. Just beyond and the remnants of some recent logging equals a shot at some views into Vermont. I head out into the slash for the highpoint and get some obscure shots towards some peaks in Groton, VT.
Back to the trail and at the upper end of the logging clearing there are better views of the same area. Knox, Butterfield and Signal Mts all together in one shot. Faintly way in the back behind Little Signal Mt is Stowe Ski Area on Mt Mansfield.
Heading back up the trail and after rock hopping across two very overflowing streams back to back the climbing begins as it has been pretty mild up to this point. The snow and ice also become more prevalent and after a while of gingerly making my way up I stop to put on the microspikes for traction. Not too worried about using them on the up but more concerned on the return so better safe than sorry. The higher I get the more consistent the snow becomes and in some spots still knee deep as I sink into the softening spring snow. Reaching the ledges and the namesake for the mountain make an appearance, blueberry bushes.
At one of the ledges I can see to my left the second objective of the day, Black Mt, the peak on the right.
To my right the peaks I have already been on three months ago Mt Cube and Smarts Mt
After the ledges the trail ducks back into scrub and woods and the snow is really taking its time melting through this area as it does not see the sun as much. Across a ledge protrusion then back into the woods, another ledge outcropping complete with a large cairn and back into the woods until I reach the spot I was turned back on due to the wicked deep untracked snow where the spur path to the summit is. A big difference from that day two months ago. That's the spur path heading off to the right.
A few minutes later and I am at the summit of Blueberry Mt yet again. The views are much better this day as the skies are blue and the temps are in the 50's. To the east is Mt Moosilauke and it's South Peak. To the right of Moosilauke is Mt Kineo a trailless peak. There is a trail that goes over it's ridge, which I still have to finish, but nothing to it's summit.
For the first time in a long time I sit down and enjoy the peacefulness up here. I sit on the summit ledge and have some snacks and water as no one else is on the summit nor been up here in a while based upon the snow not being tracked out recently. I take a good thirty minutes just relaxing and basking in the warm sun. I love the seasonal changes we have but there comes a point where enough is enough. It is time for winter, even though the calendar says we are in spring, to move on. I pick up and as I am getting ready to leave I am double checking everything. For some unknown reason I put my keys in my back pocket of my pants rather than in my zippered compartment in my backpack with my wallet like I always do. They are not there and panic sets in big time. I know I had them in my pants because I had to go back to the vehicle to get my hat and sunglasses and put them back in my pants when I left. I check all my pockets and don't find them. I even go through my pack hoping my memory is going but they are not to be found. Not sure what I am going to do I resign myself to having to backtrack every step and hope by some miracle I find them or they are on the ground at the trailhead. I sling on my back pack and start heading back when I hear this slight jingle as I walk. I remember hearing that noise on the way up once in a while and figured it was the spare batteries rattling against the camera in my pocket. Trying to figure out where the noise is coming from I hold my camera and batteries and the noise is still there. I shake my left leg and there is the noise and feel down my pant leg and right above my gaiter there is a bump and damn they are the keys! How the heck did they get down there as I pull them out and check my back pocket and the webbing that makes it up has a huge hole in it where it came away from the pant material. If it weren't for the gaiters I would have definitely lost them somewhere out on the trail or in the woods on my side trips. Someone was looking out for me this day. A major disaster averted by sheer luck.
With a huge sigh of relief back down the trail I go stopping up near the ledges to witness this cool little anomaly. It looks like fish swimming under the ice but in reality it is air bubbles passing through the melting water under the ice.
Continuing down and I make it through the snow and ice without incident. Off to my right I can hear the rushing water and curious due to it's sound I head over to check it out. The melting snow has partially exposed the flowing water over some slabs. Not sure if this is flowing all year as this does not show up on any map so it does not even have a name. But what a nice find even if it is only during the spring melt.
Beyond the snow line and I find more old foundations in the woods. Just before the logging clearing I notice a big round thing ahead off to my left. Turns out I think it is a huge exhaust shroud. Not sure if this is from logging days or if there was a maple sugaring operation here at one time.
On the way out I spy another formation of stone walls and this one looks like an area for livestock perhaps. It is rather expansive and oddly shaped. Beyond is another cellar hole and turns out it is the one I saw earlier with the water in it. Possibly these two were tied together as a farm.
Just before the trailhead and I don't remember seeing this on the way in but off in the woods is an old Dodge dump truck from the early 50's. Losing my keys is nothing compared to what this poor guy has going on to get out of here!
One of my slower hikes when looking at the time but it sure wasn't due to the trail conditions but from the exploring of what the woods are slowly reclaiming. A definite winner of a trail and a return trip is on the to do list for some more discoveries.
Final numbers: 6.2 miles, 5 hours.
Redline Miles: 2.8, Total to Date: 750.4