South and North Baldface

October 7, 2016.

Supposed to be a perfect day but I had limited time to hike as I had to be home by a certain time. I've been wanting to do the Baldfaces for the longest time yet saving it for the fall. Checking the mileage I figured I could pull it off as long as I got to the trailhead nice and early. The trailhead is located north of Conway on the Maine border so up and at em before the sun as I get to the trail and head out at 6:30.

With the sun not quite up over the horizon the woods had a dark look to them which the camera has a hard time capturing. It took a few shots to to get the trailhead sign picture where I finally had to resign to using the flash. Once the sun started to light up the woods the pictures got a bit better as the beginning of the trail is an easy trek.

 

Trying to keep a pretty good pace due to the time constraints I reached the first intersection of the day where the Baldface Circle Trail splits. Straight ahead is the trail that leads around counter clockwise. To my left the other trail which will bring me to Slippery Brook Trail a short ways up. Me being me and I was in a hurry I follow the arrows on the sign and start up the new trail. Off to my right looks like an old campsite as I make my way up. All of a sudden at a blowdown the trail disappears and I look all around for the trail on the other side. Finding nothing defined I continue on hoping I'll intersect the trail at some point. This has happened many times before when a blowdown is blocking the trail. But not today as I find no sign of it and return to the blowdown spot to review the terrain. Coming up empty handed I did the only practical thing and that is to return to the junction and regroup there. At the trail sign I saw what I did wrong as the right trail can be seen behind the sign in the first picture. The trail I took is to the far left with the downed tree limb in the second picture. Not sure how I never saw this trail the first time.

 

A few minutes up the trail and I reach the junction with Slippery Brook Trail which leads straight ahead. Up through some gorgeous woods and then a little drop down to cross a pretty dry stone filled brook bed.

 

Not far up the trail and I turn around to see the sun rising up casting the long morning shadows in the woods. Down low the forests are still decked out in green and I can only hope that a show is waiting for me up higher.

 

After crossing the small tributary near where it begins the show indeed presents itself. I bring you a NH fall all decked out in its glory! A little further up and the birches lighten up the surroundings with their bright yellow leaves.

 

Reaching the junction where Andy and I were this past summer when we did Eastman Mt and it has taken me just two hours to get here. A right turn onto the Baldface Knob Trail and the beautiful reds of a maple tree brings a big smile to my face.

 

The easy wood walk ends as I start heading up some broken ledge and then sections of exposed ledge. The sky above is as blue as I could ask for with not a cloud to be seen.

 

I couldn't have planned this any better with the weather. A few minutes later and I am rewarded with putting this hike off for so long as I get a look back towards Eastman Mt with the fall colors fully exposed. Breaking out of the trees and my target, South Baldface, is seen for the first time today.

 

Just ahead is the exposed summit of Baldface Knob, a worthy destination all by itself. But today I have other plans as I pause to take in the 360° views from the Knob. Across the valley are the Doubleheads and Sable is close by all decorated in the fall colors.

 

Looking north are West and East Royce as I reflect on the day those two kicked my butt. To the right of the Royce's is Speckled Mt located in the Caribou-Speckled Region of the White Mountains. That area is definitely one of the most fun regions I redlined.

 

To the far north is the Mahoosuc Range with Success, Carlo, Goose Eye and Old Speck. I've got nothing but respect for that range and some great recent memories from just last month. To the east is Pleasant Mt in Maine and the valley fog adds to the view.

 

It is time to move on as the trail dips briefly into the woods before breaking back out onto the open ledges lined with the deep reds of fall blueberry bushes. Off to my right the ledges continue on and I take off to check out the views. I spy a broken off piece of ledge that is perfectly placed as a viewing seat and cannot resist the temptation to sit for a few minutes to take it all in.

 

Below me is where I parked and hiked up through Slippery Brook Trail. Coming back to the trail and I see the first person of the day as he came up the same way I did. A short trip on the ledges and I reach the junction with Baldface Circle Trail. At the edge of the ledges where the Baldface Circle Trail comes up is one of the largest cairns I have seen with Speckled Mt in the background.

 

Ahead is South Baldface as I start the climb up from here. Partway up and a look over to North Baldface.

 

Twenty minutes from the junction and for the first time I am standing on South Baldface. I know I had my reasons for waiting to come here but I wish I had made it a higher priority earlier. Nevertheless it is worth the wait and I got the most perfect fall day for it. Looking over towards Black Mt and into the East Branch Valley the colors are ablaze.

 

Across the Wild River basin is Mt Washington with Carter Dome and Mt Hight in front. Old George is free from clouds also which just adds to this already perfect day.

 

In the Wild River Valley the colors are brimming with Carter Dome and Mt Hight serving as the backdrop. Across the way is my next target for the day, North Baldface.

 

I sit down for a break to enjoy the perfect views on this fall colored day. In front of me is Sable and a look down into where a trail once connected South Baldface with Sable. Perhaps one day I can bring my brother out of semi-retirement to go looking for the old abandoned trail!

 

One last look before leaving and this time to the east towards the ocean. A zoom in and past the fogged drop Sebago Lake is the Atlantic Ocean on the horizon with the buildings of Portland jutting out like tiny sentries.

It is time to get my butt going as I drop down off of South heading to North Baldface. It looks easy from South Baldface but in fact is an up and down in and out of the woods trip.

 

It slowly gets closer as I stop on one open ledge and look back at South Baldface and the minor bumps are better visible. Ahead is another knob I need to go over before the summit push to North Baldface.

 

Once over the bump and it is less than ten minutes before I pop up onto the summit for my second Baldface of the day. The views are pretty much the same but a better look into the Wild River Valley towards the three Moriahs, Moriah, Middle Moriah and Shelburne Moriah.

 

Ahead is the path I need to take to head down towards Meader Ridge to Bicknell Ridge Trail. It is another up and down affair to make my way over to the junction some of it rough and some on ledges.

 

On one such exposed ledge I see something I have never seen before. It is three dikes crossing each other making an almost perfect intersection of equal angles. It takes just thirty minutes from leaving the summit to reach the junction where if I had more time I'd do a quick out and back down the Eagle Link Trail. But it will have to wait and give me another excuse to get back up here some other day.

 

Down the Bicknell Ridge Trail I go as another oddity I have never seen. Along this ledge is a squiggly zigzag dike. I have always seen straight ones but today I have seen two rarities. This trail turns out to be another great trail as I head down along some open ledges and then back into the woods.

 

Out onto some open ledges again with a pretty good view of where the section of Baldface Circle Trail I need to finish heads up the shoulder of South Baldface. Back into the woods and then out onto the ledges once again where the Eagle Cascade Link comes up from the left. No time for that one either today as I continue down. This time it is back into the woods for good.

 

I make it to the junction with the north end of Baldface Circle Trail in pretty quick order and the rest of the trip out is on an old logging road that is now the trail. A fifteen minute trip between the two junctions and I am back where I messed up earlier this morning.

 

A quick exit out of the woods and one of my most memorable hikes is over. A perfect day on two great peaks with perfect fall coloring. It will be hard to top this one and was definitely worth the wait!


Final numbers: 10.9 miles, 6 hours and 50 minutes.

Redline Miles: 10, Total to Date: 1224.6