June 11, 2016.
An overnighter at Andy's house resulting in a shorter drive (for me) to the trailhead. A return up into the Carter/Baldface Region as today's target is Mt Eastman via Slippery Brook Trail. It was just two weeks ago I headed up Town Hall Road but this time after the rebuilt washed out section we headed to the right at the fork to the end of Slippery Brook Trail at the gate.
At the gate the road continues which is also the trail. It's easy walking as we make our way up the valley of Slippery Brook which can be heard off to our left but never in view.
Fifty minutes and 1.8 miles into our hike and we come to our first "junction" as the myriad of old logging roads begins. The trail turns left here and another logging road veers to the right. This portion is more grown in and in a quick minutes we are turning right into the woods for some real trail hiking.
In another fifteen minutes there is an opening on our left and the first clear view of South Baldface, a peak I have been saving for a great day. It looks tempting from here but this is not the day. The trail is overgrown in spots but never difficult to follow as I play a game of "Where's Andy?" along the way.
Beside the trail is a spruce tree with deep scratches through the bark. It is hard to determine if it is antler scratches from deer or moose or claws from a bear. At a fallen log we stop for a break and as we get up to move along I notice this monster ready to attack.
We reach a small opening in the canopy and the reason becomes evident quickly as the surrounding birch trees have suffered from some ice damage.
Ahead the game of "Where's Andy?" game continues. Just under two hours from starting and we reach the junction for Eastman Mt Trail.
Slippery Brook Trail continues down to Baldface Circle Trail but I will not be redlining the whole trail today. Eastman Mt Trail is at first a gentle climb as we basically backtrack paralleling our path we just took. Soon the trail begins the climb first easily and then steeper as we get closer. Not far from the summit and this small scramble presents itself.
A few minutes later and we break out of the trees to the summit of Eastman Mt. For such a short mountain (in comparison to its neighbors) there are great views to be had from here. To the south Kearsarge North dominates the skyline.
Just to the right are the Moats with Chocorua standing tall behind them. Behind the shoulder of North Doublehead are the Tripyramids.
The once trailed peaks of Chandler and Sable are across the Slippery Brook Valley. A look at the old topo maps shows a plethora of trails that once graced this area but like most I suppose they were "lost" due to the heavy logging practices of a hundred years ago. Carter Dome and Mt Hight are visible through a sag just below South Baldface.
Beyond the ridge that connects Sable with South Baldface is Washington flirting in and out of a low wispy cloud.
Just a short hop away and still tempting is South Baldface. If only there were time today but showers are due in at some point. Looking up through the Evans Notch area is my nemesis from a few weeks ago, The Royce's. Simple looking on a map but so rough in reality.
A few feet away is an outcropping of rock with more unobscured views and Andy finds a Garter snake just below. Who knew snakes like it up here at almost 3000 feet. Taking a break on the summit and the raw weather is chilling especially with the sweaty shirt. We both add another layer as we sit and have some food enjoying the views. When it is time to go I try to figure out what the peaks are sitting in the distance between Chandler and Sable. I'm completely thrown off as this is a new perspective for me. On one side of Chandler are the Osceolas but these shapes just don't look familiar. A quick check on Google Earth with some draw lines and it turns out they are Flume, Liberty, Bondcliff and Bond.
While waiting for Andy I keep snapping pictures as the ridgeline heading up South Baldface is intriguing. I wonder if that is where the trail is and a zoom in confirms it as I can make out some hikers and cairns.
Finally we make our way back down to the junction and along the way come across the first hikers for the day. At the junction we stop for the quick delayering and continue on down the Slippery Brook Trail. Where Slippery Brook comes near the trail Andy gets the idea of going down the embankment to check out the brook. I find this out of character for him but follow him down for the adventure kind of like when we were growing up with the woods in our back yard. Reaching the brookbed and it is an interesting find as there is a small sandy beach spot and on the other side is an old brook bed that was diverted by a debris dam.
Downstream Andy saw something he wanted to check out so a rock hopping we went. Reaching another spot where the brook has been diverted I headed over to the old brook bed and stepping on a rock I took a dive onto my back. No injuries but it was a challenge trying to get up off my back with all the rocks. Now I know how a turtle feels when it is on its back! With the low water levels it was tempting to continue down the brook just because. Maybe on a return trip someday as that is something I would like to do knowing not many have probably done this.
Recrossing the brook and we both took separate paths to head back up to the trail. I ended up on a game path and was surprised how far the trail had pulled away from the brook when we finally returned to it. Back at the point where the trail left the logging road I decided to take a right and head down to the crossing with Slippery Brook. It was just a hundred feet down to the brook and the old road is very walkable. As I rounded the corner I stopped and made the sign for Andy to stop also. At first I thought the big boulders blocking any vehicle access were a couple of moose lying down but better yet there was a lonely deer peering at me. Quietly and quickly I pulled my camera out and got the money shot. Across the brook is an opening in the trees where the old logging road continues and I wonder what type of bridge spanned this back in the day. Something else to look into in the future as this road is on some maps.
Having explored enough little spots it was time to head out and get back to the car before the rain comes in. As luck would have it the rain did arrive early but thankfully we were in the car and heading back along Town Hall Road. I nice medium hike with Andy and a fun time exploring off trail with some future prospects to look into.
Final numbers: 9.6 miles, 5 hours and 55 minutes.
Redline Miles: 4.8, Total to Date: 1131.3