July 9, 2016.
It's a rainy day and I am determined to go out to get over the 80% done on my redlining. I have a couple of easy hikes saved for a "rainy day" and armed with an umbrella off I go.
First up is another trip up Town Hall Road to Mountain Pond Loop Trail. I am (not surprisingly) the only person here as I leave the pack and take off with only an umbrella. It's not pouring but a light rain and a lot dripping off the trees. Oddly the wet forest is actually one of my favorite times in the woods as the colors seem to pop out more and the smells are enhanced. The trail is pretty much a straight shot up to the split.
I head left at the split for a clockwise loop where the trail narrows and makes its way through the woods with the shore of Mountain Pond off to my right but not visible yet.
Bog bridges help through some of the wetter sections. First neatly aligned and then some disjointed ones making the crossing perilous and challenging when they are wet and tilted.
A side path leads down to the first views of the shore where there is an illegal fire ring. One of the drawbacks of a day like this is...well the picture explains it best.
A short ways up and the shelter is right next to the trail where I stop for a short break. While sitting there the rain picks up and I enjoy the pattering on the aluminum roof bringing back memories of when I was a kid sitting on our porch and listening to the same sound. The view from the shelter on a good day would be picturesque but today it is nothing but the lake water melting into the clouds.
A short trip down to the shore and the opposite shoreline is just visible through the hanging mist. Moving along and beyond the shelter the trail slowly becomes narrower. I make it to the east end of the lake and I guess I'll have to come back here on another day to really enjoy the view.
On the opposite shore the trail becomes rockier as well as narrower. The umbrella keeps the rain off of me but my pants quickly become soaked as the vegetation rubbing up against me is unavoidable. Skirting a boggy section the west end of the trail dramatically changes at one point becoming a boulder path through a very wet section.
Back at the split and then a return to the parking lot to figure out where to head to next.
A drive north up to Crawford Notch and I park at the same spot where the AT crosses Route 302 where the Webster Cliff Trail begins. There are a couple of trails in this area I need to do that I neglected last fall when I did Webster Cliff Trail, Saco River and Sam Willey Trails.
Again I head out with just my umbrella and a short trip up Webster Cliff Trail and the first section of Saco River Trail leads off to the right heading south. But first I need to head back because I forgot my GPS. It's not that I need it for navigation but it is how I create my maps for these reports. So a fast track back down and then return to the junction. The rain has let up so I end up just carrying the umbrella for the rest of the hike.
The trail is pretty mellow with very mild ups and downs but a great walk through the woods. About ten minutes down the trail and there is an area that looks like it saw some flooding at one time as there is a lot of washout perpendicular to the trail.
Up ahead is a more devastated area as all vegetation has been stripped away.
The trail continues the meandering through the woods passing by a new trail that I suspect will be in the next guidebook, Maggie's Run Trail. It leads down to Route 302 and continues, I believe, on the other side of the road. Ten more minutes on the trail and I reach the southern end where it junctions with the Dry River Trail. A right turn on it and it leads back down to the road where I walk back up to where I parked.
Rather than walk back up to the northern section of Saco Lake Trail I drive up the road to the historic site of the Willey House to finish the rest of my day. This time I leave the umbrella behind as the rain has pretty much stopped. Across the dam and a right onto the Sam Willey Trail which leads to the northern end of Saco River Trail. The junction is just a few minutes up the trail and turning onto it I am shortly at the edge of Saco River. It is a mild little river up here not far from its beginning up at the top of Crawford Notch in comparison to the wide river down in Conway.
Pulling away from the river and the trail heads through an area of large boulders that were either deposited during the ice age retreat or the many fractured pieces that fell off of Webster Cliff on my left.
Next is a boggy section and then back into the woods where I meet up with Webster Cliff Trail again marking the end of this trail.
A retreat back to where the Sam Willey Trail continues the lollipop loop and the trail offers a couple of views of Saco River. At one spot a view of Crawford Notch visible through the low cloud bank.
Back at the parking lot and a quick visit across the street to the rocks that sit uphill and saved the Willey House but unfortunately did not save the Willey family. An account of that fateful night can be read here.
Despite the early rain I accomplished my mission to reach 80%. It's taken most of the year to get the needed 7-8% that I needed to reach this milestone. Mileage and trail wise this has not been one of my better years but I'll get there, one mile at a time.
Final numbers: 8.1 miles, 4 hours and 15 minutes.
Redline Miles: 5.7, Total to Date: 1153.7