Imp Trail

April 2, 2017.

Mother Nature played a cruel joke for April Fool's Day by dumping a northeaster on us Friday into Saturday. Getting six inches at home the totals up north were a bit higher. Waiting out this winter has been tough as most everything I have left on my redlining list are in areas that are not conducive to winter hiking. But figuring the Imp Loop is short enough and should see traffic during the winter I had hopes it would be doable. Andy would be joining me today as we met at the northern trailhead for the Imp Trail.

The ride up wasn't too bad and I got to the trail head a few minutes after Andy got there. Luckily the side of the road was plowed enough to allow for parking as we got geared up and headed over the snow bank. The trail has not seen any traffic since the fresh snow but there is a faint depression along the trail indicating some activity. There's about 6-8 inches of new snow as we head up with our snowshoes on with me leading the way breaking out the trail. Where the trail crosses under the power lines there is a view over to Osgood Ridge which is the southeastern knob of Mt Madison. The AT travels down or up (depending if your are a north/south bounder) following Osgood Trail.

 

It's pretty quiet out here as the snow dampens all the noise. The only sound is the whoosh of our snowshoes. A consistent up for the first portion of the trail. A short steep section then we break out onto a beautiful plateau of hardwoods.

 

There are beech trees up here and I witness my first bear nest high up in a tree. They're made by the bears when they climb up for the beech nuts and break off the branches and feed on the nuts then discard the branches in a pile. I look around the base of one of the trees and I find the claw marks of a bear who recently climbed the tree.

 

The plateau is a great respite for the legs as the climbing is soon going to get worse. Through the leafless trees we can see the destination, Imp Face, not looking all that far away. Just as expected the trail soon begins the steep unrelenting climb.

 

We slowly make our way up taking breaks very frequently as breaking out the trail is a lot of work. At a hairpin turn we stop and there is a fresh hole in the snow but no tracks anywhere. It has to be some type of bird that spent the night under the snow then flew off. Not much further and we hear the first voices of other people for the day. It is a couple coming up behind us and we gladly step aside to let them pass. We're only about a half mile away from the Imp Face so I am more than happy to let someone else break the trail for the rest of the way. Unfortunately they gave us the indication that the Imp Face was as far as they were going.

 

Reaching the cliff top of the Imp Face and I was pleasantly surprised as I had not read the book description about this trail. It's another one of those "why did I wait so long to come here?" hikes. It's an outstanding view across Route 16 to Washington and the surrounding peaks.

Across the valley is a scar in the trees which is the frozen southern branch of Imp Brook. The Imp Trail leads across that ridge just above it. A look back at Washington and for a brief second the clouds dissipate and the summit is visible.

 

A look into the Great Gulf and I know it will probably be June/July before I can get into that protected area to finish about a half dozen trails. A look beyond the ridge that we will be descending and a different perspective of Carter Notch formed by the shoulder of Carter Dome and Wildcat A which create Carter Notch.

 

After a forty-five minute break it is time to move on. The trail out is behind us as we head back into the woods. Skirting the cliff edge in the woods we lose the trail as there has been no traffic through here. It looks like it leads to the left but very quickly peters out. Instead the trail heads down a steep section and at the bottom turns to the left where the trail is partially blocked by growth. I get affirmation we are on the trail soon enough from a blaze and a more recognizable trail corridor.

 

It's a pretty level hike along the ravine headwall but tiresome breaking trail the whole way. We cross over the northern branch of Imp Brook where it leaves a scar in the the spruce woods.

 

I bury my hiking pole at this spot and it goes all the way down indicating there is still four feet of snow up here. Looks like it is going to be a while before i can get back to working on my list. A few minutes before reaching the junction with North Carter Trail I let Andy take the lead as I start to have my fairly usual stomach issues. It took us an hour to get from the Imp Face to this junction which isn't too bad for just under one mile.

 

It's 3.1 miles, all downhill, to get back to Route 16 from the junction. The trail hasn't been broken out on this side either as I let Andy go while I have to hang back for a bit. On the way down the sun has broken out of the clouds and the trees begin there dropping of the melting snow. The snow on the ground is also changing with the warming trend making for harder snowshoeing as we descend. We eventually reach the hardwood section where the melting snow coming off the trees is no longer an issue.

 

Two more stops for me on the way out as the stomach is really not cooperating today. Passing the Dodge Cutoff, where I came up the last time I did this part of the trail over five years ago, I catch back up to Andy and we are both gassed. I forgot how much work breaking trail is and how much it takes out of you. Getting soft these last two winters as I have not been consistently hiking. We finally make it to the end and now just a short roadwalk back to where we parked. Taking the snowshoes felt so good and so did walking on pavement. Thankfully I managed to knock off some redlining and the Imp Trail is done.

 


Final numbers: 6.6 miles, 7 hours and 15 minutes.

Redline Miles: 4.1, Total to Date: 1294.8