November 19, 2016.
A return trip to the Baldface area along the Maine border for today. The Carter and Baldface tab for my redlining is one where I still have a lot of hiking to do. With the weather still looking good I figure I can get the rest of Meader Ridge done and a couple of connecting trails between Route 113 and the ridge. Needing every bit of the shortening days I get up to the trail parking lot for the Baldface Circle Trail before 6:30.
A little prepping for the hike and I am off heading north along 113 to get to Mt Meader Trail. As I am heading up to the trail I get rewarded with my early start thanks to the morning alpenglow of the rising sun. First the ridge I will be hiking along, Meader Ridge. Then a view of South and North Baldface where I was just over a month ago on a glorious fall color day.
The roadwalk is just fifteen minutes to the trail head as I turn left onto it. Just a minute onto the trail and one of the new low maintenance shelters the forest service is experimenting with is on my left.
Mill Brook comes into view shortly as the trail parallels it for little bit. The trail is a gentle climb up as it looks like an old logging road at one time.
An hour into the hike and I reach the split where a spur leads off to the left for Brickett Falls. Not far up and the path leads to the base of the falls. Continuing up the spur trail and there is a tree with a yellow "T" painted on it. Maybe this signifies the top of the trail but since the path continued on so did I, just to make sure I do the whole thing. Up where the spur finally peters out is a small cascade where the falls begins the drop.
A retreat back down to the trail and the easy trek continues. The woods are much more open in this area and the early rising sun casts long shadows in front of me. Angling over to the right and the trail begins the climb up to the ridge via a series of switchbacks.
At first the grade is not that bad but then becomes quite steep. Getting closer to the top and at an opening a cloudless look at the Baldfaces.
A zoomed shot shows how gnarly the ledges are on South Baldface. I still have that section of trail to do someday. Looking into Maine and Pleasant Mt has some early morning fog below it still waiting to burn off.
Heading through an opening in the trees and the trail scrambles up a series of ledges with more great views. A perfect shot over to Gammon Mt, Caribou Mt and Haystack Mt. Just below Haystack Mt is Haystack Notch where I had a bit of a challenge following the trail back in October of 2015.
Just below the junction and a view south along the ridge that I will be hiking later. Up top the Mt Meader Trail ends where it meets up with Meader Ridge Trail. It's taken under three hours to get here but is a perfect spot to stop and have some snacks and water before continuing on north along the ridge. I need to do an out and back to Rim Junction along the Meader Ridge Trail before heading south.
A ten minute break and it is time to head north along the ridge. Back when I did the other portion of this ridge, while doing the Royce's, I was pressed for time to beat the daylight. I didn't get to enjoy it as much as I would have liked. Today I have more time to take it all in as I head down off of Mt Meader. The trail descends a bit steeply as I reach the col between Ragged Jacket. The woods are a tad thick and I see no reason to go and tag Ragged Jacket so I continue along the trail.
Reaching a ledge opening and I can see where I need to head to reach Rim Junction. The shear cliffs that the Basin Trail came down next to are on the left side of the photo. Down below is the tree framed Basin Pond
Not far up the trail and a fairly unobstructed view of The Basin with both surrounding ridges partially visible. Making the short climb up to Rim Junction and a look back at where I just came from with Mt Meader and Ragged Jacket providing the backdrop.
A quick hour from leaving Mt Meader and I have reached Rim Junction for the third time in the last six months. It is a busy little junction with five sections of trails converging on this one spot. No time for dwaddling here as I turn around and start heading back the way I just came. Just a few minutes back up the trail and as I am reclimbing back up towards Ragged Jacket I spy something quite unusual on my right side. At first I think to myself....nah it can't be. Looking closer and pulling on it I confirm it is a decent length of bare copper wire. It goes for a good distance before I lose it in the ground. Sure would like to know the story behind why this is out here.
Passing by the junction with Mt Meader Trail and not far after is the highpoint for Mt Meader off to the right in the woods. The summit is not distinct enough to waste time today to go find it and besides this is all about the trails for now. This part of the ridge is pretty easy with very minor ups and downs as I make my way south. A break in the trees offers a view to Eastman Mt and the shoulder of South Baldface with Kearsarge North flanked in between.
A view down into Mill Brook Basin where I came up from and I can spy Route 113 where I took my first shots from this morning. Reaching the spot where a view spur path leads off to the right and I head out with anticipation. Who can refuse views? Sadly I reach the ledges where the trail end is marked in yellow paint and the views are not that great. Maybe in winter or perhaps at one time but today the trees have pretty much obscured any decent views.
Returning to Meader Ridge Trail and down into a little col there is a pretty brook that is not marked on the maps. I'll have to return someday to follow it to see where and how this little stream begins. Next to it is a nice idyllic spot to set up a camp and the planning in my head is already spinning.
Meader Ridge Trail is just a fantastic trek as I make my way through woods, ledges, open brush and a few bog bridges as I make my over to Eagle Crag.
Just below Eagle Crag and I reach an Alpine Zone sign which is at 3000 feet. It must be one of the lowest Alpine Zones in the Whites. After a short scramble and I am indeed in one of the White's most hardy and fragile plant areas. Turning around and I can see the ridge I just came across. Beyond to the north are the Mahoosucs where I just spent some great hiking days a little over a month ago.
At the next junction is where Eagle Link comes up out of the Wild River Basin. I wished I had more time because I need this trail and will leave behind another in many that I have left out in the middle of nowhere. I also had to stop here for a minute to get re-orientated as I thought this was the intersection I was at a month ago when I did the Baldfaces. But something just didn't feel right so pulling out the map I confirmed this wasn't the spot it was further up the trail. That would have been a disaster heading down now and finding out later I had missed a short portion. A dip down into some woods and then a climb back up to the open ledges.
This looks more familiar as I can see the signs ahead and the views are much clearer from this vantage. From the sign an awesome view across the Wild River Basin to the Carter Moriah Range. There are still a few trails I need to do that come up and out of the valley to the Ridge across the way. Unfortunately it will probably have to wait until next year as the roads will be closing soon and the snow will make it impossible to get through.
The good news is Meader Ridge Trail is officially done. Now a quick return back to Eagle Crag for my descent down off of this ridge via Baldface Circle Trail. At the junction there is just 3.7 miles left for the day to get back to the road. Hopefully I'll have enough energy and time as I need to get one more trail on the way down that runs between this trail and Bicknell Ridge Trail. Heading down and it is immediately steep with one nasty spot that I end up throwing my hiking poles down and use the trees to lower myself.
Once out of the steeps and into the hardwoods the trail eases up and becomes a nice walk down in the woods. Reaching the trail I need, Eagle Cascade Link, it is three o'clock and there is no way I am leaving this 0.7 mile section of trail behind. So I make the right turn onto it and begin the trudge up.
At the cascade it is a series of falls as I climb higher.
Crossing the unnamed brook at the the top of the cascades and the trail continues to climb steeply. I wouldn't mind so much but unfortunately I have to come back down these steep sections.
As all climbs do I make it the end as the trail reaches the ledges where it ends at the Bicknell Ridge Trail. Behind the sign looms South Baldface and its craggy ledges.
A quick retreat as I make it back to Baldface Circle Trail without incident to continue down. The grade becomes less and less as I make my way out crossing one brook and then reaching the spot where the Bicknell Ridge Trail enters from the right.
From here it is familiar territory as I pick up the pace retracing my steps from a month ago. A damn good day of hiking and another favorite has been added to my list. Love this section of the Whites and kind of glad I saved this area towards the end of my quest. I'll be returning to these woods in the near future for certain.
Final numbers: 14.3 miles, 10 hours and 25 minutes.
Redline Miles: 9.8, Total to Date: 1264.8