In and Out of King Ravine

August 28, 2017.

With the Great Gulf finish of yesterday it is time to move onto the next ravine, King Ravine. I have the Chemin des Dames and Great Gully Trail left to do in that ravine and along the way will knock off a couple of surrounding trails.

Up and at 'em as I make my way north to Appalachia and head up Valley Way. It looks like a great day as I cross the old railroad grade as the sun is bright and the skies are clear. The temps are in the low forties which puts a slight chill in the air. Within the first mile I stop to take off the long sleeve shirt and in just over an hour I am back at the Scar Trail junction. I was last on a portion of this trail back in the beginning of July.

 

I remember how steep this trail was when I came down it but it doesn't take long to get to the junction with Scar Loop. Up the steep trail and in quick order I see daylight ahead.

 

I am on Durand Scar and the view up the Snyder Brook Valley are stupendous. Madison, JQ Adams and Adams are clearly visible. The skies are perfect and looks like a great day up there. Let's just hope it holds out for when I get over the headwall. The loop continues a small climb up until it crests and then drops to the end where it junctions with the Scar Trail. A left turn at the junction for the short trip down to where it meets the Watson Path. Along the descent the trail dips into this little gash where a small brook slices through the terrain.

 

Reaching the junction and I turn around and head back up. The treadway above the Scar Loop junction is quite nice once it reaches a high point where I get a peek at South Weeks through the trees. The easy walking continues all the way to the next junction with the Airline trail.

 

A left turn onto the always rocky and eroded Airline as it takes another thirty minutes to reach the treeline. In front of me are JQ Adams and Adams with a clear blue sky. The winds are almost non-existent with Mt Washington recording them in the single digits.

 

I make it to the entrance to Chemin des Dames (translated to the "ladies path") and look down the steep wall to the ravine below. It is only four tenths of a mile down which is deceiving from this height.

 

Through the unstable rocky beginning and the trail heads into the scrub. About halfway down and I encounter the "Lemon Squeeze", a rocky collection of boulders where the pack needs to come off to get through.

 

The floor below still seems a long ways away from this vantage point. Looking across to the headwall and I can see where the Great Gully Trail goes up. It is that deep gash where a brook comes down sometimes sharing the trail.

 

On the other side a look back at the opening of the Lemon Squeeze. A few more minutes down the trail and I reach the top of a boulder field and the path is laid out with rock cairns.

 

Taking my time down the boulder field as there is no other way than to go slow when descending. Reaching the bottom and back into the scrub but the rocks are still present like this large one beside the trail. At the bottom the trail traverses through an easy section but just for a short bit as I reach the end of Chemin des Dames at the junction with the King Ravine Trail.

 

Next up is the Subway which I skipped back in July when I did the headwall via King Ravine Trail. Immediately the trail goes through a jumble of rocks.

 

I expected the trail would continue to go through a series of "caves" but instead goes across the tops of some boulders after the initial cave. A lot of clambering is required and then back into the caves. I will admit that this short path was frustrating in regards to following it. Several times I reached a point where I wasn't sure which way to go thinking it was supposed to go under the boulders like the one below.

 

After reaching dead ends I'd return and finally spot a blaze leading me in a different direction. A few spots took some real effort with all four limbs to get up and over. This one spot required the pack to come off and be pushed ahead of me to squeeze through.

 

Just 200 yards in length it seemed a lot longer but after crawling through one more cave I finally reached the end and back to terra firma where the Subway reconnects with King Ravine Trail. On any other day this would have been enjoyable but where I was pressed for time knowing the miles and a headwall ahead of me made for a different experience.

 

Taking a short break while I regrouped before the next section of trail the Great Gully Trail. It is only nine tenths of a mile long to reach Thunderstorm Junction but after yesterday I know it is at least a two hour trip climbing these head walls. The trail begins innocently enough as it heads over to the beginning of the real climb.

 

First some big boulders to scramble over and then the typical jumbled boulder path that is grown in with the scrub.

 

The climbing is non-stop as I reach the base of the waterfall that I have seen from a distance. Fortunately the trail does not climb up it but instead turns to the right here and climbs up and beside it.

 

It leads to this tricky little spot where I need to take my backpack off again to get up and through. Hard to tell in the picture but there is an overhanging rock that forces you to crawl under kind of reminiscent of Six Husbands Trail.

 

Wander too far to the left through here and a precipitous drop is awaiting you bringing you quickly back to the base of the waterfall. The trail continues the steep climb but other than the one spot around the waterfall exposure is not an issue as the scrub and trees line the trail.

 

About an hour after starting the Great Gully Trail and a look back towards the ravine floor. Ahead is just more climbing with the headwall looking close but is deceiving as I move slowly along.

 

More rock climbing as this part of the trail has grown in. Then back out into an open boulder field following the combination of old blazes and rock cairns.

 

Off to my left Madison makes its first appearance. Another look back and the ravine floor seems so far away.

 

The trail continues the climb across one more boulder field as it now approaches the top of the headwall. Reaching the top and back onto better terrain as I reach the grassland at the base of Mt Adams.

 

A look back once over the headwall and it is has taken two hours just as predicted to get here. Ahead is the end of the Great Gully Trail where a huge rock cairn marks Thunderstorm Junction. One more trail down as I plop down to take a much needed and deserved break.

 

I have one more trail to get for today and that is the Hincks Trail located down by Gray Knob Cabin. I ponder which way I am going to go down to it as there are two options, Lowe's Path or the Spur Trail. Spur Trail would be the better of the two since I went down Lowe's Path last time I was up here but I remember Gray Knob Trail being up and down between the Spur Trail and the cabin. Lowe's Path will lead me closer to Hincks Trail except I need to get up and over Abigail Adams. It is not much of a climb so I head on down Lowe's Path for the exit off the ridge. Up and over Abigail and then the long view down the ridge.

 

It takes an hour to get to the junction for Gray Knob Trail. I think it went faster (twenty minutes faster) than the first time I took this same route. I need the section of Gray Knob Trail between here and and Randolph Path and doing it now would take some of the pressure off for the rest of the week. The beginning is fairly straight forward but then I start hitting rocks and decide to not push it if the rest of the trail is going to be like this. Beside I still need Perch Path and several other trails in this area. So I turn around and head over to the junction for Hincks Trail which is located at Gray Knob Cabin.

 

I knew going in that this would be a steep trail as it descends 950 feet in just seven tenths of a mile. The beginning was nice and smooth and then the eroded section with the exposed rocks .

 

Through a blowdown section where the tops of the trees where snapped off. I reach a mossy green brook where the water is just a trickle.

 

A section of the brook is broken off slabs that create a little mini waterfall as it flows over the moss covered granite. I reach the end of the Hincks Trail in just over thirty minutes and that was the last trail for redlining today.

 

From here it is autopilot as I make the familiar trip out down the Spur Trail to Randolph Path then down the Amphibrach. A turn onto the Link and then back to Appalachia as it is six o'clock. Tonight I'll stay in Gorham to help shorten up the driving time and maximize my hiking time. Tomorrow looks like I'll be tackling my last ravine, Castle Ravine. Under thirty miles to go. It is so close but looking at what I have left still seems a long ways to go.


Final numbers: 10.7 miles, 10 hours 25 minutes.

Redline Miles: 3.1, Total to Date: 1412.9