October 19, 2016.
Another day perusing what is left on my list. Where to go...what to do? Looking at my maps and an out and back looked pretty good on Nancy Pond Trail. It's funny to look back and try to figure out why I put off some trails and I really have no outstanding reason for putting it off this long. Maybe it has something to do with the other end being a long ways away from the road, just over seven miles. Maybe it is trying to find an efficient way to complete some of the trails. Or maybe it is just the luck of the draw and now is the time to do it.
Located on Route 302 well below Crawford Notch is the trail head for Nancy Pond trail. A small pullout on the side of the road and I am the only car when I arrive just after 7:00. Twenty minutes later and I am ready to hit the trail as I start heading uphill immediately.
A wicked tough crossing of Halfway Brook and back on a gentle climb along an old logging road which is now the trail. The woods are an odd bright green/yellow as most of the colored leaves have fallen and all that is left are the beeches and birches.
At the White Mountain National Forest that is all adorned of the familiar red paint a trail leads down to Notchland Inn. Reaching Nancy Brook and the trail crosses over the bouldery pretty dry stream. A small diversion on the other side where the trail is punky from being wet. Ahead is a sign where the border for Nancy Brook Research Natural Area begins leading to the Pemigewassett Wilderness up between Nancy Pond and Norcross Pond.
Just a bit higher and I see a large object on the right side of the trail. It is a huge piece of metal, a shape I have never seen before. One side has a collar that looks like for a stove pipe. The other side is a screen mesh.
A few steps up the trail is the furnace from Lucy Mill. There are several supporting walls just below with some concave indents in the top for some type of large tubing or pipe maybe for steam generation. The mill was built just after the Hurricane of 1938 to clean up the trees that were devastated from that storm.
Just above the mill the trail veers off the old logging road to the right and starts a steadier climb. At first it is a normal climb through the woods and then changes dramatically through a craggy bouldery section from what looks like the remnants of an avalanche or rock slide.
I soon re-reach Nancy Brook and it is but a trickle up here as the trail crosses and then climbs up quite steeply. At the base of Nancy Cascade is this large tree growing on top of a large boulder with its tentacle like roots reaching to the ground. I stare at mother natures marvel for a few minutes as this tree has to be at least a hundred years old.
Behind me is Nancy Cascade and unfortunately it is just a trickle today. During the spring melt I bet this would be a perfect destination. Then again it might be hard to get to since I'd have to cross Nancy Brook down below and that might be a challenge. Continuing on the trail steepens quite a bit and switchbacks its way up where a break in the trees offers a view across the way to Stairs Mt which really resembles a locomotive.
At one of the switchbacks is the middle section of Nancy Cascade. The lower portion is nowhere to be seen as the trickling water empties into a pool and then disappears over the sharp edge.
At another opening a view of Stairs Mt and its neighbor Resolution Mt. I still have to do the trails in a couple of directions to those peaks. The trail continues the steep climb up through the forested ravine of Nancy Brook.
Shortly enough it reaches the plateau where Nancy Brook runs along a gouged out granite slab. The trail winds through the woods up here through what is virgin woods never touched by the loggers. I had forgotten about this fact and never paid too much attention while walking through this area. Hey just another excuse to come back up here someday.
Before I knew it I have reached Nancy Pond. A very quiet little spot made more so that I have not seen anyone else yet. In the back on the right is trailless Mt Anderson.
A short walk to the other end of Nancy Pond and then not far after crossing the boundary for the Pemigewassett Wilderness is Norcross Pond. Bigger than Nancy and a curious opening can be seen at the opposite end.
At the far end in the distance are Mt Bond and Guyot. Mt Nancy, another "trailless" peak is visible off to the right of the pond. I say "trailless" because there is a pretty established herd path that heads up to the summit.
The trail skirts the shore of Norcross Pond just to my left and on my right are the thick woods that rise away from the shore. About two thirds of the way up as I am slowly walking along the trail I hear this loud splash like a big rock has been thrown into the pond. Immediately freezing in my tracks I look to the pond and there is the ripple ring from an object hitting the water. Lisa believes in Sasquatch and the thought runs through my head as there is no one out here. But how could anyone be in the woods to my right since they are so thick you couldn't get through them? I slowly walk ahead on the trail and then I see what caused the splash...a beaver surfaces and it was his warning sign from thumping his tail on the water. I have never experienced this before and once I figured it out a sense of relief washed over me. Sorry baby but I still don't believe in Bigfoot but it did have me wondering for a few minutes!
Just past this spot the trail detours around a flooded section and at the northern end of the pond is an idyllic spot where an overnighter is set up. Not legal but still a sweet spot to spend the night. Finding the trail was a bit challenging here as I went to my right where a pretty established path led. But quickly I realized this isn't the right way and I headed off to the left where the tent was and found the way. It leads to a picture perfect spot where Norcross Pond drains down into the Pemi.
Behind me is the edge of Norcross Pond where I saw the small opening from the opposite end. At the top the pond is held back along the ledge by a beaver dam.
Down across the Pemi Valley and a view of Bondcliff and Bond that I have not seen before. Beyond the trail heads down into the valley on an old logging road at the most gentle incline with great footing. Can't imagine this section sees much traffic which might account for the lack of erosion.
Down at the bottom the trail crosses Norcross Brook, the outlook for Norcross Pond, and then turns onto an old logging railroad bed providing more great walking.
The next crossing is Anderson Brook and on the other side the trail passes by Camp 19. A good size clearing so familiar where the loggers use to live and always amazes me that these spots are still clear after all these years.
More straight walking along the rail bed as the trail seems to go on forever. Unfortunately it doesn't and soon the trail makes a sharp left. From looking at the old composite logging railroad maps the bed at one time continued straight to Stillwater Junction. A brief look and I can't see any evidence of it but might be worth exploring another day. Right after the left turn is a crossing of the East Branch of the Pemi River not far from where Anderson Brook and Norcross Brook join together forming the beginning of the East Branch. The book says there is a deteriorating log bridge here but there is no such thing here. Perhaps it was swept away from Irene back in 2011.
On the other side the trail follows another old logging railroad bed. One section goes through a spruce lined corridor. This is one spot where I wouldn't want to see a moose as there is nowhere to go. Both sides are walled in with thick young spruce. One last crossing this time Notch Brook and the only evidence I have seen of the old railroad is a wooden tie on the other side of the brook.
A short distance up the trail and I have reached the other end of Nancy Pond Trail where it junctions with Carrigain Notch Trail. A perfect spot in the middle of nowhere and finding a downed tree I sit down to enjoy the solitude while having some snacks. I contemplate continuing on to Stillwater Junction but that would be pushing the daylight hours. Besides I still need to come back to get some other trails in this area so I can wait. Taking a good twenty minutes and I resign myself to the fact that I have to start heading back. Back at the spruce lined section I turn around and get the only shot of the day of Carrigain with its watch tower visible.
The trip back goes by pretty quickly as I re-enjoy all of the areas this trail leads through. I can definitely see a return trip as this easily makes the list for one of my favorite hikes. That makes two great days spent exploring different areas that I thoroughly enjoyed. This redlining thing was a great idea even though it is taking longer than I expected to complete. I know I'll be checking out a lot these 1440.4 miles again in different seasons in the near future. Now how do I follow up this great hike...
Final numbers: 14.2 miles, 8 hours and 30 minutes.
Redline Miles: 7.1, Total to Date: 1241.4