September 11, 2016.
The time has come. I have put this section of the Guide off for as long as I could because this is going to involve a ton of driving for small trail mileage. It is time to head to the Great North Woods and close out this section on my redlining spreadsheet. Doom and gloom is predicted for the day's weather so hopefully I can catch a break. First up is a wicked small trail located right off Route 16 in Wentworth Location.
I left the house at 5:45 and knew the weather was going to be crappy with high winds and rain but was prepared to hike in the rain if I had to. Turning onto Route 16 in Gorham and heading north I drove through Berlin. Not far outside of Berlin, all new territory for me, I saw this huge structure up on a hill to my left and realized it was the old ski jump I had heard about. I just never had a clue as to where it might be.
The last jump was in 1982 and thankfully some group is working on restoration as the surrounding woods has been cleared and the upper stairs have been rebuilt. Just found an article in the Berlin newspaper that there is a possibility of an actual jump happening this coming February, see article here. Looks like I have plans for February if this does come together. Back on the road and my luck has run out as the rains are just ahead.
Three and a half hours after leaving the house and I arrive at the Magalloway River Trail. Unfortunately it is pouring out so what better to do than take a nap while waiting for the rain to subside. Over an hour later and out comes the umbrella for the short hike as the rain has let up some. Seems the trail network has grown since the last Guide came out but as far as my redlining is concerned all I need is the trail marked in red. It doesn't get much easier than this as the trail is a wide cleared corridor amongst the spruce tress.
A couple of lefts and soon I reach the observation blind and there is not much to see today but the off shoot of the Magalloway River.
A return along the Green Trail and back to the road as I have no time to explore the Blue Trail. If I ever come back this way I'll check it out then.
Final numbers: 0.8 miles, 25 minutes.
Redline Miles: 0.4, Total to Date: 1165.1
Off to my next target for the day which is just a short drive up Route 16 right before the Maine border. A left turn onto Dead Diamond Road to the gated land of Dartmouth College's Second College Grant. Some info about the history of the grant is here.
Beyond the gate no vehicle traffic is allowed unless you are in any way connected to Dartmouth College. The only way to get to the trail head is to walk in 2.2 miles. With the rain finally stopped I packed up and headed out along the dirt road. At a bog that is on the left is supposed to be an active osprey nest but I did not see it. Looking at older photos of it I think the dead tree it was using for a nest has since fallen down.
Continuing up the road and at the next clearing are a pile of logs and a few apple trees right next to the road. Past the Gate Camp and then over the Dead Diamond River via the Perley Churchill Bridge. On the other side where the road turns left there is a small clearing on my right. I quickly stop and slowly pull out the camera as I have a stare down contest with two deer. Thankfully they didn't get spooked immediately as they posed for the first picture.
Just beyond is a side road which leads to the Miller-Quinn Landing Strip. It is named in honor of the two Dartmouth doctors who perished in the Pemi Wilderness back in 1959 when their plane crashed. The full story of that incident can be found here. The landing strip is just a flat grassy area originally created after the tragic accident for emergency landings to hopefully avoid the fateful ending that happened to the two doctors. Just up the road a path leads down to the edge of the river and there is a concrete structure that is a gaging station for the USGS. How they work and measure the river height and flow can be found explained here.
Further up and across the road from the Peaks Cabin another path leads to the river again and this time there are cables strung across the river just below where the Swift Diamond and Dead Diamond Rivers converge. It is also something to do with the USGS but I have no idea what.
Another ten minutes up the road and I've reached the trailhead for Diamond Peaks Trail. A 2.2 mile roadwalk to hike a 1.1 mile trail. A cruel little joke but the solitude up here is well worth it as I have seen no one all morning. Into the woods as the trail makes it way up to a spot called Alice Ledge. But reaching the point and I see no ledge or a view. Then I figure it out as a huge tree has fallen across the path and there is no way around it.
No great loss as the view is semi obscured and looks across the way to Mt Dustan. Continuing up and there are view teases along the way as the outlying mountains slowly appear as I gain elevation. The trail also pops in and out of the woods for peekaboo looks at the craggy ledges on this side of the mountain.
It doesn't take long before I reach the end and the summit is just a bump off to the left of the trail. Just below there is an open ledge where an old geo marker is embedded in the rock. Off in the distance the Mahoosuc and Baldplates can be seen. This is where the AT traverses in Maine. Down in the valley the Magalloway River can be seen snaking a path through the wooded terrain.
I stop for a short snack and knowing I have to move along to reach my next objective I start the short trek back down to the road. Reaching the log pile and I can't resist trying one of the apples on the trees. They are still green and small but it hit the spot with how sweet it was. I couldn't resist having another before moving along. Shortly after and I see the first people of the day as they are heading up the road towards me. Guess this isn't as secluded as I thought especially with the suspect weather from this morning. Now if I can just find the magical key and explore this area more efficiently someday.
Final numbers: 6.6 miles, 3 hours and 20 minutes.
Redline Miles: 1.1, Total to Date: 1166.2