August 15, 2015.
Heading out to where I was planning on going three weeks ago when I abruptly changed my mind and hiked Madison instead. I would not be making that same mistake today. The weather is iffy for the high peaks so with no other distractions on the long drive up it is the Roost and Caribou Mt today. First up as I head south down Route 113 is the Roost, a small peak right off the road and a good warm up hike.
The trail starts climbing immediately though nothing too steep. About five minutes up the trail and there is a large white pine.
Approaching the top of the Roost and the sun is beginning to filter in through the trees.
Reaching the Roost which is just a wooded ledgey high point and the views are located down a side trail..
Reaching the view ledge and across the way is the Carter/Baldface Region where I still have 142 miles of trails to do. I have only touched 24% of the trails in that area, my poorest completion rate of the twelve regions.
I snap some more pictures as there is nothing to be seen beyond the Carters with the cloud deck on the horizon. Back to the Roost and down the other side. This is also a fairly mild trail as it leads down eventually crossing a brook.
On the other side of the brook the trail turns right onto an old road. To the left the old road continues as I make a mental note for future exploration.
The trail is flat and good walking through here so I made a video of the trail which is something I have not done in a while.
Another stream crossing but this one is dry but must be a spring or rain drain off as it is still damp. Close to the road there is one last stream crossing and remnants of some structure along the bank with old bricks and some granite blocks.
The walk back along Route 113 is pretty uneventful as I stop a few times for some fresh raspberries along the road. The new foot bridge that crosses the Wild River can be seen from the road. The prior bridge was destroyed by Hurricane Irene back in 2011. I don't believe the height of the bridge has changed so you can imagine how high the water and debris must have been to take out the old bridge. Down in the river and a large group of ducks are making there way downstream.
Around the corner is the car and time to head further south to the lot for Caribou Mt.
Final numbers: 2.2 miles, 1 hours and 15 minutes.
Redline Miles: 1.3, Total to Date: 885.5
About fifteen minutes down the road is the parking lot for two trails that lead to Caribou Mt, Mud Pond Trail and Caribou Trail. I'll be heading up Mud Brook Trail first and then returning on the Caribou Trail.
Heading up Mud Brook Trail which is a great trail in the quiet woods. I love this part of the White Mountains as the crowds are almost non-existent. Almost immediately the trail begins to follow its namesake, Mud Brook. With easy grades along the way it is a pleasurable trek.
Within an hour and I reach the Wilderness boundary and shortly after that the trail begins to change as it ascends towards Caribou. I reach a spot where off to my right are the first ledges of the day and I head over to check it out.
Across the way is my new nemesis, Miles Knob, Red Rock and Butters Mts. I have tried twice so far unsuccessfully to get the ridge redlined. To the right of those is Speckled Mt where both attempts I have visited. Not a bad thing as it is a great spot to sit down and take in the fantastic views.
Up ahead are more ledges and I think to myself that it would be great if the trail went across them instead of hanging out in the woods. Returning to the trail and it coincidentally does not continue straight but does turn right onto the ledge I was just on and over to the others. Ten minutes later the trail reaches the southern ledges where the summit is visible and the views would be grandiose if not for the clouds in the distance.
I know there are blue skies over the summit but over in NH by the Presis they are swallowed in the clouds. The Carters are in the clouds but their neighbor the Moriahs are cloud free. Looking south and the Baldfaces are also cloud free with Chandler and Sable sitting behind them the last visible peaks.
Moving on and just over two hours from starting I am standing on the summit of Caribou Mt. I meet up with a solo hiker and a group of three here as they are the first people I have seen this morning. The threesome leave just after my arrival and the other solo hiker goes off in a different spot to take a break. I relax by the summit and have some snacks and water enjoying the solitude. Swapping out my wet shirt for a dry one hanging the sweat soaked shirt over a bush helping it to dry out in the sun and breeze. Looking towards the north I can follow the AT along the peaks that lead from Hayes all the way to the Baldplates. I still have a big chunk of that ridge to do for my redlining. A couple of them are Mt Success and Mt Carlo.
Next up would be Goose Eye and all its unnamed peaks. The last peak is Old Speck which I did do this past winter but there are more trails leading up from different points along the Mahoosuc Trail that will be a real coordination conundrum.
Down in the valley that I'll be coming back on the trees are starting to show there changing colors even though it is only mid August.
After a good half hour it is time to get moving as I change back into my damp shirt and head down the rest of Mud Brook Trail. It doesn't take long to reach the junction and up first is an out and back to get the northern section of Caribou Trail. It leads all the way out to Bog Road 2.5 miles away. The grade is gentle as it slowly leads down off the mountain.
Through a small blowdown patch and then past the other end of the Wilderness boundary. The trip goes by fairly quickly and then the trail pops out onto Forest Road 6. A left turn onto the grass covered road and reaching a tee section I'm not sure which way to go as there are no blazes or signs here. I go left for a short bit and not feeling it head back continuing down the right hand side. A short ten minutes on the Forest Road and I have reached the gate for the northern terminus of Caribou Trail.
It takes ten minutes longer to get back up to the junction with Mud Brook Trail as the days miles are beginning to take their affect. At least from here on out it is down hill and the trails up here are in pretty good shape.
Morrison Brook parallels the trail all the way down and there are quite a few crossings along it. Luckily with the dry summer we have been having the crossings are nothing to be concerned about.
At one of the crossings, unbeknownst to me at the time, I am at the top of Kees Falls. As I am heading down the trail I can hear it to my right wishing there was a view of it. Nothing looks safe to explore so I continue on. Reading the trail description in the book afterwards and turns out there is a side path on the other side of the brook before crossing it. Just another reason to return someday when I am done with my current list. Leaving the Wilderness area again and the trail becomes a great treadway as I make some good time through the woods.
Just before the last crossing where there once was a bridge as the abutments are still there I come across one of the largest burls I have seen so far.
The trail now turns left and makes it way parallel to Route 113 back to the parking lot. It's the end of the day and of course the trail does some mentally painful little up and downs through this section. But it only lasts ten minutes and I have made it back knocking off three trails today. On the ride home I go through Fryeburg rather than Gorham as I love this section with all the farmland. Passing the potato fields there is a complete rainbow to the east from a brief shower that passed through.
What a fitting end to another great day out in the woods. Really love this part of Maine.
Final numbers: 11.9 miles, 7 hours and 15 minutes.
Redline Miles: 9.4, Total to Date: 894.9