October 23, 2015.
A return to the Caribou-Speckled Region to pick up a couple of the remaining trails in that area. I have three trails in this region to do and today I am going to put Miles Notch Trail and Red Rock Trail to rest.
On the drive up a short diversion to see the early morning light on Chocorua. A long three hour drive to the trailhead and I am off at 8:45. A late start but it should go by pretty quick hopefully.
First up is an out and back along Miles Notch Trail, a seldom used trail. The woods are quiet as they usually are in this part of the Whites. It is always so peaceful and if not for the long drive to get here I would spend more time in this neck of the woods. There is still color in the trees as I make my way up with the occasional oddities along the way.
The woods are a mix of young and new growth. Not sure when the last time this was timbered as it is hard to see any evidence along the way. Approaching the notch and there are glimpses of the very cliffy Miles Knob which is one side of the notch.
An hour and a half after starting and I have reached the height of land in Miles Notch. Looking south and I wonder why they didn't choose that spot for the trail as it looks like a natural spot for it.
It doesn't take long to reach the junction with Red Rock Trail as I pass by it continuing down Miles Notch Trail. The upper part is a little rougher before one of the crossings of Miles Brook and follows an old logging/woods road. This helps to speed up the descent down as the footing is much better.
Several more brook crossings along the way none of which none are big enough to be a concern. Another logging road crosses the one I am on as the trip down goes quick reaching a more recent logging road where the trail merges onto. It follows this all the way to the northern terminus.
The curiosity of the day are some planks on the side of the trail tied together. They are randomly out here and I have no idea what they are for and why they are left there. Further down I discover there purpose as another set is across a small gully on the trail.
Funny thing is there was no erosion ditch at that location where the other set was lying. Passing a couple of very old apple trees and I can see the trail sign at the other end of the field. It is just a few minutes and I have reached the junction with Haystack Notch Trail marking the end of Miles Notch Trail.
From the field I can see Caribou Mt to the west. The skies look gloomy over there. Looking back and Miles Notch is quite evident and the skies in that direction much friendlier looking.
Heading back across the field and just before the apple trees is evidence of other creatures are in the area, bear. Looks like acorns are part of his diet right now. An hour to get down the trail and an hour to return back up to the junction this time turning right onto Red Rock Trail.
The trail angles up the slope reaching the ridge. Along the way it goes through some storm damaged areas where the tops of the birch trees have been snapped off. The woods along the ridge varies as I make my way across. One section of open spruce trees lining the trail like sentinels.
Ahead is Red Rock Mt but first I must drop down into a col before the final climb.
A great beech tree section and then another blowdown section as I make my way up.
Then the first viewpoint off to the left. There is still color in the Red Rock Brook Valley down below.
The pano shot from the ledge with Pleasant Mt on the left and Kearsarge North right of center.
Moving along and there is another ledge with pretty much the same views. Crossing over several suspected high points and eventually I make it to the highest point of Red Rock Mt.
One last destination before the final descent down, Butters (hold the popcorn please) Mt. A short open ledge ridgewalk as Butters is visible ahead. Just like Red Rock Mt there is a drop into a col but this one is interesting looking.
At the bottom of the col it looks like trails head off in both directions.
Wishing I had time to investigate what lays beyond but I'll just add it to my future wish list I am building. There is also an old forest service sign attached to a yellow birch. Finding the trail is actually a bit of a challenge in this col as I look at the inviting north and south "trails" tempted that one of them is the trail. On the other side of the col I find the trail which is just beyond the downed tree in the upper right of the picture.
Up through some more varying terrain complete with a grassy area and another spruce lined section.
This high point was a little more challenging to identify as the trail crosses over several bumps before finally calling this spot the high point. It is nothing special as you would pass over it without giving it a second thought.
Heading down there is a parting shot of Caribou and through the trees a look at Speckled Mt.
Reaching the bottom and off to the right is a very grassy section that looks inviting enough to lay down and take a snooze. Up ahead is the junction with Great Brook Trail, my return path to complete today's hike.
It's been over three months since I was up here last when I descended the Great Brook Trail. The upper section is steep and I slipped on one part back in July. Now here I am again but in leaf season which increases the slip factor exponentially. Fortunately I know the terrain better and this time I make it down with no incidents. The rest of the trip goes by as quick as a descent can only stopping at the same spot along the brook that I did last time to refuel and hydrate. I make it all the way to the gate on Hut Road before seeing the first sole all day. He is from Vermont and has been in the woods setting up game cameras. A couple of minutes slower and I would have never run into him as he was getting ready to leave. One more trail left for this region, Haystack Notch Trail. Guess where I'll be hiking tomorrow?
Final numbers: 15.1 miles, 7 hours and 55 minutes.
Redline Miles: 8.9, Total to Date: 957.0