October 24, 2015.
The last trail in the Caribou-Speckled Region. I only started exploring this region this year and have fallen in love with it from the very first day. It is somewhat remote and solitude is super easy to find out here. Can't say it is my last trip on Route 113 for a while as I still have a lot to do across the street in the Carter-Baldface Region. But today it is all about Haystack Notch Trail, a simple out and back.
As early as I can get up to this area and it is 8:15 when I step foot onto the trail. The temp is in the mid 30's and it would stay there for the remainder of the day. Good hiking temps as far as I am concerned. The trail is pretty much a straight shot up to the notch winding just a bit here and there.
Crossing some branches of Evans Brook and they are nothing to be concerned with. A half hour in and the sun creeps over the surrounding ridge and hits the forest floor.
The trail heading up to the notch is littered with rocks and boulders which I assume came off the side of Haystack Mt.
To my left are glimpses of the cliff side face of Haystack Mt.
A little over an hour and I reach the height of land of Haystack Notch. Starting down the other side and the trail becomes harder to follow in this little used path. The leaf dander on the ground does not help either.
For the most part I can follow the trail corridor but every once in awhile it is hard to discern. It doesn't help that the Wilderness rules do not allow blazing but I do get some assurance occasionally by the remnants of the old blazes.
On the other side of the Wilderness Boundary there is a section of neglected bog bridges. Maintenance on this trail is of low priority compared to the other more popular trails.
Reaching an old logging road crossing and I don't know if the trail goes to the left or right. I look around and finally see a blaze on a tree and then an arrow sign on a tree that is not near the intended trail.
Left is the correct way and from here on down the trail is no longer a problem to follow. I make it to the first brook crossing then three crossings of the West Branch Pleasant River. All three crossings are manageable to get across with the last one taking the most effort in finding a rock hop across.
I end up merging into the recently logged area that is next to the open field I was at yesterday when doing Miles Notch Trail. A short trip through the area and I am back at the junction sign. I need to get the last tenth between here and the gate down the road to complete both trails. Something I missed yesterday but discovered after reading the trail description.
Back at the sign and I sit down in the sun to enjoy it's warmth and the blue skies while taking a break. Refueled it is time to head back up the trail. It is uneventful with just two minor diversions along the way. The first at the forest boundary which doesn't make sense. I think it must be the old boundary because according to a map the WMNF boundary is well behind this point. The yellow sign post is more confusing as this is neither a county line nor a town line.
Further up and another look at one of the bog bridges and all that is left are the supports. Just below the summit and a large erratic sitting all by itself to the left of the trail. Note the hiking poles (bottom right) and how they get lost in comparison to the size of the boulder.
Up and over Haystack Notch and back down to Route 113. My third area completed and one I enjoyed thoroughly. There will be some more exploring in this region when I am done with my redlining but for now a sad goodbye.
Final numbers: 11 miles, 6 hours.
Redline Miles: 5.5, Total to Date: 962.5