October 30, 2015.
After finishing Sugarloaf Mt I headed over to Stark to get the rest of the trails on the eastern side of the Percy's by Christine Lake. I wanted to park at the trailhead for Bald Mtn Notch Trail which is located on the other side of the road from the old Stark Landfill. The only issue is the parking is on the landfill side and there were some town workers parked there already. So I headed up the road to Christine Lake where the Old Summer Club Trail is located.
Parking is next to the beach and after spending a few minutes trying to figure out my best route I was ready to go with first a look at Lake Christine and South Percy and Victor Head sitting behind it. I checked my redlining spreadsheet because there was a trail on the map that is not in the guide book. Old Summer Club Connector is not in the spreadsheet so I could avoid doing that small piece. There seems to be quite a few instances of this and unfortunately it is at the discretion of the person who created the spreadsheet. It has cost me in the past for doing trails that aren't on the spreadsheet but do show on the map. Sometimes there is just a mention of a certain trail and they are included for redlining other times...well you can see the problem...no consistency. Knowing I didn't need to do that one trail off I went heading up Old Summer Club Trail which is first part of the drive for Percy Summer Club and then an old logging road.
Turning off the paved drive onto the old logging road which was a guess on my part because as usual I didn't take the time to read the description for the trail or bring a copy of the guide book. Passing a pile of old concrete culverts and then a few logging piles I come to an intersection with a snowmobile corridor. The signs had nothing to do with hiking and I started to wonder if I was on the correct trail. I took the time to verify the trails with the spreadsheet but not the time to read the trail guide. I'll just go with my gut feelings and keep heading in the general direction I need to go. Just ahead is a "Y" split in the trail with the left one having a sign for the snowmobilers so I went right figuring the trail wouldn't follow a snowmobile track all the way. Besides this trail is not as wide and looks more trail like than the main corridor I was on.
To compound the problem my wonderful GPS that is made by a company in Maine does not show these trails even though they have been around for quite some time. This is also nothing new to me as it has happened before but it does frustrate me at times like this. At the time I thought I was on the right trail because I planned to take the Old Summer Club Trail all the way up to South Percy and then back hitting Victor Head on the return. Then up Rowell Link and finally down Bald Mtn Notch Trail with a roadwalk back to the parking lot. An occasional check on the GPS and it looked like I was heading towards South Percy so I wasn't too concerned. Also the trail was heading towards Rowell Brook which I knew I had to cross at some point. With Rowell Brook in sight and sound an oddity as right in the middle of the woods on the other side of the brook is a house. Basically a camp as there is no power up here but it's big as a house. Here the trail started parallelling Rowell Brook and I started to really question if I had taken the one trail I did not need to take. It started to narrow down also and climb more steadily as it turned towards the northwest.
Fifteen minutes after passing the camp and I arrive at a junction and the truth becomes apparent. The junction is signed and I am at the intersection of Rowell Link and Bald Mtn Notch Trail. I did take the wrong trail and definitely that was the Old Summer Club Connector...damn! Bonus points for taking a trail on the map and not on the spreadsheet please? Note to self...read the dang book! At the junction there is a pretty good clearing that has the looks of a logging camp site. At the very least it might have been a logging landing site.
I poked around for a short bit to see if there was any artifacts left behind but all there was is this one round hollow cylinder next to the trail. Not sure if it is a wood stove or a big muffler. The trail I was on continues straight ahead so at the very least I might come back and explore where it goes someday. Also there was red flagging leading across the open field so something is going on in this area. Knowing my plan was blown with the short days I resigned that Bald Mtn Notch Trail would have to wait for another day. So down Rowell Link I head which quickly turns onto an old logging road.
Almost as quick it turns off the road and crosses Rowell Brook and heads into the woods on a great section of trail that winds through the woods. It is nicely laid out, well blazed and doesn't take a straight shot through the woods. At an unnamed brook there is a sign on a tree simply stating "WATER" which I can't help but to chuckle at. I know why it is there, for the Cohos Trail thru hikers, but it still amuses me.
Reaching an old woods road, I can see a lot of future exploring in this area, the trail turns right following it until it meets up with Jimmy Cole Brook Road, another old logging road. At the junction there is an abundant patch of recent spruce trees taking over the once open area.
To the right Jimmy Cole Brook Road continues on to who knows where. Rowell Link continues in the opposite direction down the hillside. It is a very wide open road that has not succumbed to the forest yet. Heading downhill all the way to the junction with Old Summer Club Trail. At the junction I stop and contemplate what I am going to do. It is after 2:30 and another two miles to the upper end of Old Summer Club Trail with a 0.8 mile out and back to Victor Head. Add on 1.7 miles back to the car from this point and that's a total of 4.5 miles with less than two hours of daylight left. Possibly doable but pushing the limits considering how I've messed up so far. Since I still have to come back and get Bald Mtn Notch Trail I'll play it safe and get the rest of Old Summer Club Trail at the same time. So it's a left turn onto Old Summer Club Trail to head back and see where I messed up even though I have my suspicions of where it was.
Heading down the wide old logging road and the time passes quickly on the easy terrain. Littered with rocks and boulders on both sides of the trail I come across one that looks like it came out of the Flintstones cartoon. Crossing the bridge for Rowell Brook and just on the other side are some old trail markers on a tree. This is not on the map nor does it show up on an old AMC map. Maybe it has something to do with the summer camp but it will definitely be added to my list as it still is quite pronounced in both directions.
Continuing down and I see my ride home is going to be a little difficult. Someone or someone's has vandalized my vehicle stripping it clean of tires, engine and bed plus smashing the windows out. SOB's!
Not far down the trail and I reach the spot I where I messed up and sure enough it was where the snowmobile sign pointed to the left and I went straight up the connector trail. Oh well the damage is done and this is such a great and quiet spot I don't mind coming back to finish up. Back at the Lake and heading down Christine Lake Road and there is a bridge over the outlet for Christine Lake which is quite impressive. The better part is on the lake side of the bridge which is obviously the first photo.
Well I didn't accomplish what I set out to do but in a great twist of fate I will be back to enjoy this northern section of woods. Best part of the whole day is I saw no one on both hikes and it all started out with the moose on Nash Stream Road.
Final numbers: 4.6 miles, 2 hours.
Redline Miles: 3, Total to Date: 994.6