Eagle Link

September 2, 2017.

And then there was one! The last trail. There is no easy way to finish this trail as there are just a few options. A long hike in via Wild River Trail or a hike up from Route 113. The shorter version is the latter and the only downfall is I have to hike just under four miles to get the trail. The upside is I have to climb up to Meader Ridge to get to it.

After finishing the Mahoosucs yesterday and a long drive back home I prolonged my drive back up this morning. Mostly because of the temps as it got down into the thirty's overnight. Yes...that is a 30! The temps have been like that all week which are perfect for hiking and finishing this long journey. I arrive at Baldface Circle Trail head just before nine and oddly for a Saturday there are spots left in the lot to park. Getting ready and the lot begins to fill. Everyone else must have had the same idea in regards to letting the temperature get warmer. Wanting to separate myself from the crowd I head across the street to the trailhead for Baldface Circle Trail five minutes after nine. My eagerness to be done pushes me up the trail as I pass by the lower junctions and stay on the Baldface Circle Trail all the way. A few hours after starting and I reach the steep ledgey section just below the ridgeline.

 

Ten minutes later and I have reached Meader Ridge. To my left is North Baldface where there is no time for a visit today.

 

The sign junction marks the beginning of my last trail, Eagle Link! Into the scrub I go as I take my first steps. Quickly I am back into some woods as the trail skirts the northern shoulder of North Baldface.

 

A few minutes down the trail and the woods open up onto an exposed ledge. Climbing up the ledge for a better vantage point and Carter Dome and Mt Hight can be seen. To the left of Carter Dome in a saddle is a peek of Mt Washington's summit.

 

As far as trails go this is a relatively easy one as I make my way down. The grade is mild and varies from a forest to open areas where the hobblebush and wild berries fight for space. The trail proper is choked with the vegetation but the path is obvious enough to make my way across.

 

At an old brook bed that is dry the moss is clinging to the surface. The trail crosses here and it's a beautiful little spot all carpeted in green. Through another open section and then a small portion where the trail gets as rough as I'll see it.

 

Approaching a wet section and I hear voices. It is hard to distinguish where they are coming from...above or below me. Soon enough I figure it out as a couple is coming up the trail. I never expected to see anyone on this trail as it looks like it does not see much use. Plus the way up begins in the middle of nowhere being quite a distance from any road. The terrain begins to ease up as I get nearer to the bottom the path leading through ferns and an open forest.

 

I reach the first crossing of the Wild River and then a minute later the second crossing. It seems the river is split in this section of the woods something I'll explore at a future date.

 

Five more minutes and the end is in sight. My long journey is done. The moment is surreal as I sit on the same boulder next to the sign that I sat on over a year ago when I bonked trying to get out of the woods that night. I started this journey alone and hiked a great majority alone so it only seemed fitting to finish alone. I had thought about calling my brother and a few others but in the end I wanted to be alone for this time of reflection. Lots of thoughts were running my through my head as I sat there. I actually finished was the biggest one. Many times I thought "Why am I doing this?". Even this week I had doubts if I would finish. But every day I got up and with renewed vigor kept pushing on until this moment. It's done, over, finished....now what?

 

Get the heck out of here! Is the answer. I still have to hike back the way I came. At the first crossing (second on the way down) a campsite that looks fresh. Perhaps this is where the couple I saw earlier spent the night. Further up in one of the openings I stop for an extended break feeding on some fresh raspberries.

 

Just before returning to the junction I met the couple from earlier again as they heading back down into the Wild River valley. Back on the ridge and a short side trip over to Eagle Crag. Can't refuse the views on a day like this. The Carter Range is clearly in view from here...from Carter Dome all the way to North Carter.

 

Reaching Eagle Crag and I can see my path that I need to take to get back to the parking lot a mere four miles away. From this vantage point there are a lot of memories that are in view. Across the valley is Speckled Mt.

 

To the north are West and East Royce. Behind Speckled is Caribou Mt. I love this whole region more due to the seclusion I have discovered out here. While the masses are working on the "48" I have experienced a lot of alone time in this region.

 

Even further north are the Mahoosucs. Probably the roughest area in the Whites but definitely memorable and as tough as they can be I'll return to explore more of that area some day. Closer to me is Shelburne Moriah where I never saw a sole until I hit the AT portion of my hike that day.

 

Reluctantly I know it is time to go and say goodbye to these mountains for a while. I have other things that need to be finished now after putting them off for the last six years. The walk out is just as quiet. I see no one until below the Emerald Pool junction where the crowds are heading for an evening swim. I find it kind of annoying as group after group are heading up to the pool. More than the little area can handle. At the road it is time to head home and the long drive that awaits me. I finished this journey and what awaits will remain to be seen. I have a running list of things I want to do and explore. As far as lists go I am not closing the door on that but need something unusual to motivate me. I've flirted with the idea of doing another round of Redlining but have yet to feel the tug. For now I'll just relish in the fact of completing 1440.4 miles of trails that very few people have accomplished.


Final numbers: 12.9 miles, 8 hours 10 minutes.

Redline Miles: 2.7, Total to Date: 1440.4