September 14, 2016.
After yesterday's hike I had a little time left in the day and figured I get one more quick hike in as I headed towards Gorham. With the dry summer we have been having I thought it would be the perfect time to do Landing Camp Trail as I have read it can be quite wet. It's located off of Bog Dam Road which is a big loop road off York Pond Road. I made it to Bog Dam Road and there was a sign there warning that some work was being done on it and the gate might be open during construction. Down the road I go and as luck would have it the gate is closed. Tried the western end and that gate was locked also. Huge crap! The work was going to continue right into December and by that time I would be surprised if the gate is unlocked once the snow flies. Back to plan B which was find a place to stay and get cleaned up for the night. So all the weather reports were calling for rain the next day but not starting until well after noon. Just enough time to get a hike in before heading home to regroup. The next morning I got up early and headed back up York Pond Road and this time made my way to the end to the York Pond Trail head. They always warn that the gate at the fish hatchery is locked/closed from 4 PM to 8 AM but everytime I have come through here it is open. Per usual it is open and I am the only vehicle when I reach the trail head. A quick gear check and I am on the trail at 7:00.
I have not been on this section of trail since April of 2012 as I make my way up the wide old logging road. Reaching the junction where the Bunnell Notch Trail splits off to the right I go left. This section of York Pond Trail I did back then when I was returning down the Bunnell Notch Trail and heard some strange sounds off in the woods. There is a small pond in between the two trails and the frogs were making there all too familiar (to me now) peeping noises.
The trail crosses over Spring Brook via a small concrete dam. Another crossing of Spring Brook which is a very shallow stream at this point. After that a very boggy section of trail and thankfully it is lined with bog bridges to keep the feet dry.
The trail leads through some birch glades which have seen some ice storm damage as the tops have been snapped off allowing for new growth to get their foothold for the next generation. It is a gentle climb as I quickly make my up the trail ever wary of the incoming weather. A little over an hour from beginning and I am in Willard Notch where York Pond Trail intersects with Kilkenny Ridge Trail.
A right turn onto Kilkenny Ridge Trail and I make my way up to Mt Weeks. It is just 1.2 miles to the top as the trail goes first through a devastated area where trees once blocked the path. There is something about the Kilkenny region and blowdowns as I remember when I did the other section of this trail from Starr King to Weeks and there were quite a few blowdowns also. Hobblebush line the trail as I head higher then the ferns as the trail steepens. Further up the evergreens dominate and soon enough I am back on the wooded summit of Weeks.
It is 9:00 and time to beat it back down before that rain gets here. According to the weather reports I still have quite a few hours before it arrives. On my way back down there is a ray of hope as the sun breaks through and illuminates the terrain. It doesn't last long as I continue down and just before re-reaching the junction I feel the first drops of some wet particulate matter. What is this? It's just after 9:30, why is it beginning to rain? I turn left at the junction and a very short ways down is where the Kilkenny Ridge Trail turns right and the abandoned section of York Pond Trail goes straight ahead. I had a picture of it but in my hurry of taking it I got a blurry picture. A quick stop here as I throw on the raincoat and start my way up to South Terrace.
As the rain picks up I keep moving getting wet from the vegetation that lines the trail. The trail isn't that bad as I have read as it climbs up the slide slope of South Terrace. I keep a steady pace as I make it up to the junction on top of the ridge where a spur trail leads off to the left to South Terrace.
A short quick walk over to the summit and there are no views as the clouds have settled in with the rain. Where one would normally have a view to Weeks there is the white screen blocking out the faint outline.
Back to the junction and a nice walk along the ridge as the wind has also picked up. Somewhere along the way I passed over the nondescript bump of Middle Terrace. I might have done the same with North Terrace if not for the sign on the tree marking the highpoint.
I can see myself returning someday to redo this hike as it is a beautiful section of trail and I have not seen many reports of people taking this route. The rain however leaves a sour taste on the day or maybe it is my frustration with the weathermen who completely blew this forecast. It's 600 feet of elevation down from North Terrace to Bunnell Notch and surprisingly never steep on the wet terrain. The rain continues to pick up in intensity as I quickly make my way down and before I know it I make it to the junction with Bunnell Notch Trail.
Turning right onto the trail which will lead me back to where I was earlier this morning. The trail starts out with pretty good footing and then soon turns to slick rocks as it begins to pour in buckets. I have never hiked in such intensity of rain before as I quickly become soaked from head to toe. I only stop once very briefly to tuck the camera in my backpack to keep the moisture out of it. The three miles down go quickly as my pace picks up flying when the terrain permits.
Then just to add insult to the whole wet day I come across sections of the trail where the maintainer needs a lesson in brushing a trail. The only time I was on this trail it was mid April and there was no growth and as I got higher up in elevation there was snow. These sections today are six to eight feet trail underbrush swallowing the trail soaking me even more as I pushed my way through.
Now I know that once you are soaked you really can't get any wetter but somehow this gave the illusion of being wetter. Finally getting through the worse of it the rest of the trip was walking through a stream of water that formed on the trail. Seeing the junction with York Pond Trail was a big relief as I was only a few more minutes away from the end. Back at the trailhead and it was just after 1:00 which is when the rain was supposed to start. Oh well, it was a nice solitude day as I saw no one and all in all a nice hike on some new trails. This also marked the completion of the long Kilkenny Ridge Trail as well as York Pond Trail. A long drive back home to dry out everything and then right back at it tomorrow. Only question is where to next?
Final numbers: 11.1 miles, 6 hours and 5 minutes.
Redline Miles: 4.4, Total to Date: 1186.3