November 21, 2015.
Heading north to do some trails in the York Pond area and a change at the last minute as I was heading up Route 2. I didn't feel like driving the extra half hour to get there so instead pulled into the Bowman parking lot to do some trails on the slopes of the Northern Presi's. With 132 miles of trails to do on this side of the range and only about half done today would be a good day to pick some of these trails off.
Pulling into the lot at 7:30 and after having my morning fuel of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches I got ready. Poles...check...shoes...check...backpack...check...coat...crap! Haven't had that happen since March of 2014 when I forgot my boots. Oh well, the temps are in the mid 20's and there is absolutely no wind so I'll see how I do with just my shirts. Fifteen minutes after arriving and I am heading down the Presidential Range Rail Trail as I am just going to put this hike together on the fly. This railbed was opened in 1851, by 1996 abandoned and then purchased by the State. Today it is used as a recreational path between Waumbek Junction and Berlin. Passing by a pond/bog and Adams and Madison are visible and now I wish I had my jacket.
The first junction for the day is Lowe's Path and I make a left turn onto it to head down to the trailhead located off Route 2. It's a short section and only takes a few minutes and then it's a quick trip back up to the Rail Trail. Staying on Lowe's Path I start the gradual ascent up through the woods. There is not even a whisper of a breeze as I have warmed up enough that the cool temps don't bother me. Up ahead I can see the morning sun coming up over the ridge through the trees.
The only steep section is just below the junction with The Link, a trail that starts off of Appalachia and continues all the way past Jefferson. I decide to take a right onto it and get as much of it as I can. I have heard horror stories about this trail but mostly I think the bad section is the one that skirts around Jefferson. While the terrain is pretty good and the grade follows the contour it is littered with a lot of debris from the trees. Reaching the crossing of The Mystic and there is a small pool and cascade right at the trail crossing. Down below it looks a little steeper and I venture down to see if there is anything worth the sidebar. The reward isn't huge but not a bad little multi tiered waterfall.
The good terrain continues until the point where a view of Castellated Ridge is visible. From here on out it is a big difference become quite a bit rougher and rocky. Nothing like I have heard so I feel pretty lucky along this section.
I make it to the junction with Israel Ridge Path and continue on The Link to see Cascade Brook and a cascade I missed back when I was in this area in June. It is a real short jaunt down the trail to the brook as I stand on the slabs at the top of the cascade. Will have to see about getting to the bottom for a better view on the next trip out here.
Back up to the Israel Ridge Path and a very short distance is the left turn on to Cabin Cascades Trail. This was a pleasant climb up on a lightly used trail. For a stretch the trail runs along the edge of a steep drop off. It must have been quite the challenge in the day to find the right spot to lay out this trail.
For such a short trail, one mile in length, it offers quite a variety. A great mossy section along the way. Then recrossing the upper end of The Mystic where not far above me is the beginning of the brook.
There is no hurry in my step as I slow down to enjoy the day and solitude and eventually make it to The Log Cabin at the junction with Lowe's Path. At one time it was an actual log cabin first built in 1889 and lasted until 1985 when the new shelter replaced it but the name stayed. A picture and more info on the Randolph Mountain Club's other camps can be found here. Beyond the cabin is a short section of trail between here and Randolph Path called Log Cabin Cutoff. It is a ten minute meander down and then another ten minutes back up to Lowe's Path where I turn right to head down returning to the junction from earlier this morning with The Link. Steeper than the lower section of Lowe's Path I pick my way down still not seeing anyone in my solitude day.
The trail begins to mellow out and not soon after passing the junction for King Ravine Trail I am back at the junction for The Link. This time I turn heading east which will bring me down to the Appalachia parking lot. Cutting diagonally across the slope makes the traveling down pretty easy. A stop for some food and water next to an old Yellow Birch that fell some time ago and I notice the wavy patterns of the slowly rotting tree. It's a crisp late fall day in the leafless woods and I really wished I had my jacket today. The winds are non-existent and would have been a perfect day to go above treeline. But I did not want to take the chance of the weather being differently up there and put myself at risk. Besides I am enjoying this day like no other even without the views. The woods are quiet and the trails in great shape as I make my way down.
Towards the bottom are some bog bridges through a wet section and then another junction this time with the Amphibrach Trail. I can here rushing water and notice a sign where the map shows no trail. Curious I head over and it is a short path that leads down to Cold Brook Fall. What a great little spot that is inviting enough to just sit and enjoy the sound of falling water and reflect back on the day. Back onto the trail and across Cold Brook on the Memorial Bridge so named to honor the earlier path builders of all these great trails.
The Link passes through a maple sugaring operation where the sap lines are left out and all lead down to a collection house located just off the trail.
Reaching Appalachia and all that is left is to return to where I parked on the rest of the Presidential Range Rail Trail that I need for my redlining. At first it seems like it is going to be a boring trip back on an abandoned railroad bed until I spy the first telegraph pole from a time when dots and dashes were the way to communicate. Hard to believe they are still standing after all these years. Then I spy some wire still dangling from the tops where the glass insulators used to be. Watching carefully as I walk along the bed and I see down the embankment the wire laying on the ground that used to be strung between the poles.
While poking through the leaves I find an old Schlitz can. Not the aluminum kind but the steel variety that has to be at least 60 years old as this style is dated to the 1950's. Down here below the railroad bed the old overgrown corridor that once was cleared for the telegraph lines is visible from pole to pole.
Also from this vantage point I see one of the old stone culverts built under the rail bed. Even after all these years it still in remarkable condition. Further down and finally I spy some glass insulators still somewhat intact. Beyond that it is pretty much the same reaching the parking at Bowman and having not seen another soul all day. Pretty remarkable for such a busy area.
A small dent into a very intersecting and jumbled array of trails but a fantastic time in the woods with some deep history. It is going to take some time to redline this area but I have a feeling I am going to enjoy every trip into it.
Final numbers: 12.3 miles, 7 hours and 10 minutes.
Redline Miles: 10.8, Total to Date: 1016.3