Baldface Knob

May 21, 2017.

Feeling inspired by yesterday's hike up Cardigan and its' ledges I decided to finish the Baldface Circle Trail by climbing the ledges that lead up to the plateau below South Baldface. The plan was a simple out and back with a couple of side trips on two trails along the way I also needed to redline.

On the drive up Route 113 I pulled over for a perfect shot of where I'll be heading up and the ledges I'll be climbing. I still have no idea of where on that ledge face the trail leads but soon enough I will be on it.

 

A nice early start as I head up the trail at a quarter to seven. I get to the junction and this time I head down to Emerald Pool as the spur trail is on the list. I've been by this a few times but today I am cleaning up the rest of the trails on this side of the mountain. It's a very short trip down and the Emerald Pool lives up to its name. Charles Brook is the feeder stream and it fills the pool through a slot in the granite rocks. Wanting a better vantage point of this I head downstream and find a spot in the middle that is accessed via a rock hop.

 

Back up at the junction where the Baldface Circle Trail splits and the blocked trail I mistakenly took (in comparison to the actual trail) last fall is so obvious now. Quickly up the trail and I reach the next junction where Slippery Brook Trail leads off to the left. My route is to the right, the rest of the Baldface Circle Trail I need between here and the knob below South Baldface.

 

A short steep climb climb up and then onto an old logging road where behind me the road is purposely blocked by debris. In short order I reach the next offshoot trail I need for the day which leads to Chandler Gorge. The trail climbs up along Chandler Brook where there are some nice cascades coming down the ledge lined brook.

 

A few minutes up and I see a debris filled ravine and I wonder if this is the gorge. If it is, it is not that impressive to make a trail to. But the trail continues up and right where it turns to the right there is a sign nailed to a tree signifying I have reached Chandler Gorge.

 

The brook tumbles down into a massive pool that is deep and carved out from eons of water flow. From the pool the brook slices through a narrow channel between the rock lined walls of the brook shooting out into the valley below. Now I am impressed.

 

A short climb up away from the brook and then winding through the woods to return to the Baldface Circle Trail. The plan is do a straight out and back as I have read that going up and down the ledges is possible. So I'll get the small piece of the Baldface Circle Trail between the Chandler Gorge loop on the way back. The trail and old logging road continue to coincide for a bit more as I head up the brook valley.

 

A little over thirty minutes and I reach the all to familiar sign designating the Forest Protection Area signifying I am just a quarter mile away from the shelter. Beyond the sign the trail changes dramatically as the rocks and boulders begin to line the trail. Before I know it there up on a small knoll is the Baldface Shelter and the first person I would see for the day.

 

A short water break at the shelter while chatting with the other hiker. He started up after I did but didn't do the Chandler Gorge loop and that is how he got ahead of me. A group of four comes up also and begins the trek up behind the shelter. Giving them a bit of a lead before I head out and begin to tackle the unknown. Right behind the shelter and the ledges begin. A couple minutes up and the real fun begins as the trail breaks out on a very wide open ledge. The group ahead of me are off to the far right looking for the trail. A quick look to the left and there is a blaze basically around the corner of that small cairn.

 

A huge crack in the ledge as I stop to get a picture and let the other group pass by. I want to be able to take my time and enjoy this trip much like when I did Huntington Ravine a few years ago. The beginning is more of a series of large steps as the ledges broke off in slabs over time. Then across large slabs using the edge of another slab for holds.

 

There were a few hairy spots where coming down I didn't think I would be comfortable so I started regretting missing that short piece between the Chandler Gorge loop. Once out of the scrub for good I knew there was only one choice, well two sort of, I needed to head across Baldface Knob and then down Slippery Brook Trail. If the woods looked good when I got near the gorge is then I would bushwhack over to the other trail. If not then all the way down Slippery Brook Trail and back up Baldface Circle Trail. Above me I can see where I need to get to finish this portion of the trail. A look back and a great view down to the area of Evans Notch.

 

Pushing up the slab and I soon see the end of this trail where the large rock cairn sits. Other than the small piece down below this trail is done. A view to the north and behind Bicknell Ridge are the three Moriahs - Moriah, Middle Moriah and Shelburne Moriah.

 

Even further north is the Mahoosuc Range where I spent some quality time hiking just last fall. Just to the north of here are the two annoying Royce's that kicked my butt one day just a year ago.

 

Time to get moving after some more pictures as I head down along the Baldface Knob Trail. A surprise as I reach the col and then start the short ascent as there is a couple who spent the night right directly next to the trail. A minute later and I am back on top of Baldface Knob for the second time. A great little destination in itself with abundant views. I don't linger long though as I continue on heading towards the junction for Slippery Brook Trail. Along the way I stop at the same spot as last fall to get a comparison shot of Mt Eastman. Yeah...definitely fall is better!

 

I make it to the busy little junction and make the left turn onto Slippery Brook Trail. I actually like this trail as it is a fairly mild approach when coming up from Route 113. A short ways down the trail and I can never resist taking pictures of first a Purple Trillium and then a Painted Trillium.

 

I make it down towards the bottom where the map and GPS show the two trails being the closest to each other. Coincidentally if I stay straight along the contour this should dump me at the the top of the gorge. The unknown is I don't know what is above the gorge for terrain. The fear is I drift to far to the east and end up hitting the gorge. It's a risk to save some trail time and the bushwhack isn't that far in distance so... The woods look good as I cross the small brook and begin the adventure. Five minutes into it and I see something that doesn't look like it belongs in the woods. It looks like a can and sure enough as I get closer it is half of a round rusted can.

 

I stop and look around as this is an odd spot for this. There is no record of a logging camp at least from the heyday of logging in the Whites. But there is more to be found as I scan the area. Some scattered metal parts one looking like cast iron. Perhaps a stove at one time. Some rectangular cans and even a steel rope of some decent length.

 

If I hadn't skipped that small section of trail and changed my plans I would have never stumbled upon this little historic find. I'll certainly be back some other day to do some more exploring of this site but for now I have to get across these woods. The woods really open up and starts to head downhill. I can hear the brook ahead of me and then there it is down below.

 

At the bottom there is a sweet little pool also emerald in color like its bigger sister I saw first thing this morning. Heading above it I cross Chandler Brook and a view upstream from this spot.

 

Following the rocks upstream for a short bit so I can get to the opposite bank and there is a spot where someone has set up camp at one time. Following the brook downstream and not far ahead is the top of Chandler Gorge. Success! Hit the brook perfectly and without incident.

 

Back up the loop trail and then reaching the Baldface Circle Trail for the second time today I take a right turn this time to head down on the missing piece. It takes only a few minutes on this section and this time I am officially done with this trail.

 

An error in thinking I could do and out and back on the Baldface Circle Trail turned out into a pleasant surprise coming across that logging camp site. Nice when things have a way of working out. Since I started so early and it is not noontime yet I have time to head up the road and fill in a small section of trail I missed a year ago while doing the Royces, Hermit Falls.


Final numbers: 8.2 miles, 5 hours and 20 minutes.

Redline Miles: 2.9, Total to Date: 1301.3