Northern Presi Trails

June 4, 2017.

Time to rehit the northern slopes of the Presi's. The myriad of trails in that region is overwhelming at best. Trying to get them done in any orderly fashion is more than daunting. Today a trip up to Thunderstorm Junction to fill in some more missing trails as the ravines might still have snow. This side of the Presi's face north so snow can linger for a while. My starting point will be at Appalachia as most of these hikes are in this area.

Tried to get going earlier but for some reason I only got to the trailhead just before seven. The parking lot is almost full and a few minutes later I am heading up Airline to pick up Short Line, one of the trails I need for redlining. This piece is all new up until the next junction where the Randolph Path and Short Line share the same treadway. The trail is a nice walk in the hardwood forest with the only sounds being from Route 2 behind me.

 

I reach the spot where the two trails coincide and I had done this piece last year but did not count it (the Short Line section) on the spreadsheet. Fifteen minutes later and I am at the junction where the trails go their separate ways, Short Line to the left.

 

Up the trail I go as it becomes a bit steeper and rougher. Down to my right buried in the woods is the sound of Cold Brook rushing down the valley. The trail gets close enough where I can actually see the brook and a short herd path leads over to it. Ten minutes later up the trail and the first evidence if where I am...near the bottom of King Ravine. The pathway is now boulder strewn as I pick my way through them. In between the boulders are pools of water unable to escape making the trek through precarious.

 

The trail reaches the brook edge again this time at a left turn. It is an idyllic spot and only if there was more time to spend here and relax. Up ahead the trail strangely levels out through some very open woods.

 

Just ahead is the end of Short Line as I reach the junction with the King Ravine Trail. Ahead is the ravine which is not on the agenda today. To my right the trail heads down almost paralleling Short Line. Reaching the bottom I am back at Cold Brook where it appears to be oozing across the forest floor

 

Crossing the brook the trail pretty much follows the contour as it makes its way over to a spot called the Pentadoi, so named because five trails intersect at this spot. I was at this spot last July when I did a series of trails on these very slopes.

 

Finishing another section of King Ravine Trail I head up Randolph Path for a short distance along the same route I did last year until I cross Spur Brook and reach the junction for Spur Trail. A left turn onto this new trail for me as it heads up to Crag Camp and beyond to Thunderstorm Junction. The first section starts out mild but very quickly turns into a steep slog.

 

Spur Brook is on my left and I can hear the rush of water and thanks to a faint path I am rewarded with a decent waterfall. The trail itself is unrelenting as the climb continues.

 

Next stop is on a marked side trail that leads to Chandler Fall with a pretty dramatic drop of water.

The climbing still continues as I pass by another trail, Hincks Trail, that leads off to the right and looks equally steep. The Spur Trail continues crossing its namesake brook. Needless to say the trail continued the steep climb.

 

Just below Crag Camp is another spur called Lower Crag which leads to the edge of King Ravine. The headwall of King Ravine still has splotches of snow and the line of boulders heading up the left side of the picture is the King Ravine Trail, still somewhere in my future endeavors.

 

Looking down at the floor of King Ravine it is boulder strewn with some of them being as big as houses. From my vantage point I am able to spot one of the trail signs in the floor of the ravine.

 

Just up the trail is Crag Camp which has to be one of the best spots in the Whites. How could one get sick of the views from this lofty perch? Across the ravine is Madison poking up into the sky.

 

I stop inside for a well deserved break as I have my snacks and water before heading back out. A good half hour and it is time to move on heading down the steps and the trail continues off to the right. A short distance before the trail turns left continuing the climb. Straight is the Gray Knob Trail, a section I will try to get later on the return. About fifteen minutes up the trail is one more side trail this one to Knight's Castle. I had once again not read the trail description for today so this is a complete surprise with an intriguing name. At the end of the path sits a good size rock outcropping where the views are pretty much the same.

 

Looking down along the ridge I just came up Crag Camp is visible. Looking further north are the three Weeks, The Bulge and The Horn with Cabot hiding in the clouds.

 

A few more minutes up the Spur Trail and the typical low vegetation means I am getting closer to treeline and soon the fun rocks of the Northern Presi's. Breaking out into the open and the clouds that have been blowing in and out all morning are just above me as I look to Madison disappearing in the mist.

 

Still pushing up the trail and it doesn't take long before Madison is back out of the clouds and JQ Adams is also visible. Another couple of minutes and I reach the end of the Spur Trail where it terminates at the junction of Lowe's Path.

 

The next two junctions come in quick succession. First the Great Gully Trail, which also comes up out of King Ravine and I still have to do, then Thunderstorm Junction. From here I need to make the short trip up Lowe's Path to get the piece of trail between here and the junction with Israel Ridge Path. Reaching my turn around spot and I can see where I need to head next as I need to finish the rest of Lowe's Path as it heads over the bump known as Abigail Adams.

 

Walking up here on nothing but jagged unstable rocks always seems like I am moving in slow motion. Each step is carefully placed and you never know if the next rock you are stepping is going to shift as you put your weight on it. It's physically tiring but more mentally tiring as it takes all your concentration and there isn't any time to look around as you move. It seemed like quite some time to reach the base of Abigail Adams but the time stamps say twenty minutes. I pause to look up and there is a large figure up on the rocks.

 

I got excited as I thought I might be seeing my first bald eagle. I zoomed in and it sure looked large and imposing but I couldn't quite tell for sure on the screen of the camera. The trail heads up the rocky outcropping so I slowly and quietly headed up hoping to catch a closer view of what type of bird it was. Reaching the top and there is no bird so the mystery will have to wait until I get home to check out the photo.

 

Heading down Lowe's Path and the rock trail continues the monotonous descent. The only saving grace are the views up here are some of the best. Straight ahead Cabot is out of the clouds now with The Bulge and The Horn. One of last years end of summer great hikes coming up from Mill Brook Road.

 

I finally make it to the scrub but the trail is still rocky as the ridge below begins to appear. A zoom on one spot and I can see the next junction ahead which gives me some hope that this section of trail is almost done. Thankfully it only takes another fifteen minutes and I reach the junction with the Quay Path, a wicked short trail.

 

I pause here trying to figure out which way to go next as I had big plans but the day is getting away from me. It's 2:30 now and I had hoped to finish up Randolph Path today also. But that is heading over towards Jefferson and then back to here to head down some other trails. Kind of the problem with this side of the Presi's is that there are so many darn trails it is a huge challenge trying to get them efficiently. Coupled with the terrain and elevation it is a mind boggling task at best. So onto the Quay Path for now as it connects up with Gray Knob Trail in a hundred feet or so. I am heading back towards Crag Camp to get this piece of the trail and then head back to Lowe's Path. A short distance down the trail is Gray Knob Cabin. No time for stopping right now as I need to keep moving. Gray Knob Trail is kind of annoying, at least after a long day, as it rolls up and down. At the height of the trail though there was this cool boulder sitting on top of another boulder.

 

On top there is this fantastic view north to the Pliny and Crescent Ranges. I rereach the junction for the Spur Trail and turn around and head back to Gray Knob Cabin where I stop for a break . Oddly there is no one here as I have the cabin to myself as I peruse the map trying to figure out my next route. Just outside is Hincks Trail which heads back down steeply to Spur Trail where I crossed Spur Brook earlier this morning. Back at the junction with Quay Path is Lowe's Path and I still need the section down to Randolph Path. I end up conceding the day and accept that I'll finish Lowe's Path and then head down to call it a day. I do recall reading that this section is steep so might as well get it done now and check this trail off my redlining. The beginning doesn't seem that bad and actually it's a fairly nice tree lined section of trail.

 

But then it becomes rougher and steeper as I slow down carefully picking my way down. The twenty-five minute trip down seemed a lot longer as I make it to the junction and a look back up to the trail reveals how steep it is in this section. Lowe's Path is officially done as I turn right onto Randolph Path and make my way out of the woods.

 

Back across Spur Brook and then at the Pentadoi I head out via Amphibrach. Thanks to the better terrain I make pretty good time as I hit the Link and then back to Appalachia. Not as much done as I wanted to get done but I seem to always forget that the terrain up on the Presi's has a way of humbling me. Oh well! Just another reason to spend some more time in the woods. The bird turned out was not a bald eagle but most likely a turkey vulture.


Final numbers: 11.9 miles, 10 hours and 45 minutes.

Redline Miles: 6.9, Total to Date: 1315.7