Presidential Finish

August 30, 2017.

Today will bring about one of the hardest tabs to finish due to the myriad of trails on this side of the Northern Presidential Range. At least today I have no ravines or summits to deal with as it is all about trails. Starting at the Castle Trail head located at Bowman where the elevation is about 1400 feet and I'll be topping out just above 4800 feet. All the trails in the Northern Presidential tab are highlighted below to give one an idea of the abundance of trails. Included are the three ravines and headwalls I climbed this past week.

It's a simple plan as I have six trails left to finish and finally move on to another tab after today. The beginning should be fairly easy as I need to head up Castle Ravine Trail to rereach the junction with The Link where I was yesterday. Then a hard climb up the Emerald Trail, a side trip over to The Perch and then up Randolph Path to Israel Ridge Path. Come back across the slope along Gray Knob Trail, then back down Perch Path, head down Randolph Path, cut across Cabin-Cascades Trail to get the last section of The Link between Israel Ridge Path and Castle Ravine Trail. Then a simple walk out.

I did better on getting to the trailhead at a reasonable hour which is just down the road from Gorham. The temps are still good for hiking as it is in the high forties with no wind. I couldn't have picked a better week to be up here. Who would have thought for the last week of August I'd have this kind of luck with the cool temps and little wind. I start up the old abandoned Presidential Rail Trail as it is just before eight o'clock. A turn into the woods then across the Israel Ridge River for the first of many crossings.

 

The rest of the trip up to the junction is familiar territory from two years ago when I did a big loop up the Castellated Ridge and down Israel Ridge Path. Within the hour I reach the junction for the Castle Ravine Trail. Yesterday I did the hard part. Today it should be an easy trip back up to the second junction with The Link. A few minutes up the trail and I cross the Israel River again and a look up the ravine valley I'll be closely following.

 

The Johns River Railroad ran a logging operation in this ravine back in the late 1800's and I wonder if this section of trail was part of their rail line. Another crossing this time on Castle Brook which feeds the Israel River and a nice cascade upstream.

 

The trail heads up this old brook bed which must have been diverted from a catastrophic storm at one point. At the next crossing a small waterfall over a lengthy moss covered ledge.

 

Getting deeper into the ravine and the only sound is Castle Brook. Not a sole to see or hear as this is as perfect as it gets. Evidence of flash flooding as I reach a log jam piled up against the trees. Just before reaching the upper junction with The Link more possible evidence of a logging railroad might have ventured this far up as the trail is quite straight. From here The Link and Castle Ravine Trail coincide to where I met the two trails yesterday.

 

The next junction is for the Emerald Trail which I pass by for the meantime. A short distance ahead is the last crossing of Castle Brook, an easy hop and skip across. Up ahead is the lower junction for The Link where I was yesterday. Check the Castle Ravine Trail off the list as done!

 

Turning around it is a short trip back to the Emerald Trail and through a small opening in the trees I get a peek as to where I have to climb up to Emerald Bluff. The beginning of Emerald Trail is mild as it crosses the ravine floor.

 

But it soon changes as it climbs steeply and does not let up.

 

About midway up the woods open up to a view across the ravine to the Castellated Ridge and the first couple of castles. The trail continues the steep unrelenting climb until near the top where the grade eases up.

 

It takes forty minutes to reach the side trail for Emerald Bluff which quickly brings me to this fantastic view to the headwall I climbed yesterday. A look down into the valley and the steep climb I just did.

 

Back to the junction and near the trail sign an ammo box slightly hidden that I didn't see on the way up. No...it doesn't contain ammo! It's just a geocache left for some lucky cache hunter. A few minutes later and another trail done as I reach the junction with Israel Ridge Path.

 

Two down and just four more trails left to go on this tab! A short trip up to the junction with Perch Path and then onto the shelter which I visited back in June of 2015. The group I met yesterday on the Randolph Path section are here and spent the night. The rest of the trail beyond The Perch is all new terrain for me as I make my way over to the junction with Randolph Path.

 

A few yards down Perch Path is Cascade Brook trickling across the trail and is the source for the Town of Randolph's water supply. Just beyond that is a heavily signed four way junction where Randolph Path crosses. I turn right onto Randolph Path to head up to the junction with Israel Ridge Path to get this section of trail.

 

The Randolph Path is one those easier trails that starts at the base of Madison and traverses East to West across the flanks of Madison and Adams all the way to Edmands Col just below Jefferson. It is never too steep and for the most part pretty good footing along the way. It's total length is 6.1 miles and today I'll finish the remainder of what I have left in two sections.

 

The trip up is only twenty minutes as I reach tree line and then the junction with Israel Ridge Path with Mt Jefferson in the background. A look down Castle Ravine and I can see Emerald Bluff where I was earlier this morning. It is the closest bump with Mt Bowman located directly behind it on the other side of the ravine.

 

This is my turnaround spot as I head back down to the junction with Gray Knob Trail. I need this piece from here to Lowe's Path. In true Presi fashion the Gray Knob Trail immediately crosses a boulder field making for slow and tedious going.

 

But it is a great above treeline hike as I cut across a shoulder of Mt Adams. The terrain gets better for the most part but does have more brief rock piles to cross.

 

The trip across takes an hour as I finally spot the trail signs located at The Quay which is just below the intersection of Gray Knob Trail and Lowe's Path. The trail is just over a mile so not sure if the slow hiking time is more due to the terrain or just enjoying the great day above treeline.

 

A short break at the same spot I stopped at two days ago and then it's right back the way I came to the upper junction for Perch Path. Some more stellar views along this trail as I slowly descend down.

 

It's only fifteen minutes on this section as I re-reach the junction with Randolph Path turning right onto it for the descent down to The Log Cabin. Other than a couple sections of rough trail the Randolph Path keeps up its' great reputation with a mostly great footbed.

 

It goes quickly and before I know it I've reached the intersection with Lowe's Path where I turn left to continue down. Another break at the shelter before the final push out this time sitting on the porch as I have the place to my self.

 

I take the Cabin-Cascades Trail across to reach the last section of The Link I need. A look down the First Cascade on Cascade Brook as I cross it to get to the section of The Link I need between here and Castle Ravine Trail. Immediately on the other side the trail begins a short steep climb I was not expecting.

 

Through a little rough section and then The Link changes to a mellow walk in the woods. Halfway along and I come across this interesting birch leaner beside the trail.

 

Through some great woods and soon enough this trail and tab is done!

 

All that is left is the trip out which takes another hour and a half. The Northern Presi tab is done! I had second thoughts all week on wether I'd get it done but I just kept plugging away at it modifying my plan as hiccups came along. Time for the next region, the Mahoosucs. The plan is two days up there and then a finish in the Baldface Region. So close now!


Final numbers: 13.5 miles, 9 hours 45 minutes.

Redline Miles: 6.6, Total to Date: 1424.0