North Pack Cliffs

March 1, 2018.

No snow on the ground and temps in the low 50's so how could I refuse not to go out for a hike. I haven't hiked since the middle of September and the urge had been building. My good old standby of North Pack would fit the bill.

It's five minutes after three thirty when I take off up Ted's Trail. I like this trail over the Wapack Trail during the shoulder season as there should be less icy sections along the way. A few minutes up the trail and I reach the first brook crossing. It is a peaceful little spot that I have come to like about this trail.


On the bridge and the late afternoon sun finds a way through the trees and lightens up the brook. Into the open woods where all the beech trees have been spared and a huge twisted old beech stands guard next to the trail.


Soon enough I reach the split with Carolyn's Trail and stay on Ted's taking the left fork. I reached the spot where there is a lot of debris on the ground. This is where I got turned around the last time I was out here but coming in the opposite direction. I ended up following an old skidder road a short ways before realizing my mistake. Right before the boundary sign for the Wapack Wildlife Refuge there is this intersecting trail that is not on any map. A mental note to follow it one day.


Two crossings of the same brook as it winds through the quiet and empty woods.


Then my favorite spot along this trail.


Above the falls Ted's Trail follows the brook for quite a distance as the climbing begins.


Pulling away from the trail and I reach the stone wall where the trail turns left parallelling the wall for a bit. Just after are the first ledges and they are still snow and ice covered. It is odd that most of the woods are free and clear but these open ledges to the sun are still encased in the remnants of winter.


I push on keeping an eye on the clock as the sun sets off to my right. At some point I need to make a decision for turning around but it feels so good to be back in the woods. Pass the junction where a short link would bring you to Carolyn's Trail which is marked with pink flagging tape. Right after is the short scramble for the first views of the hike.


A look to the north and I am surprised with the incoming weather for tomorrow (rain) that I can see all the way to Franconia Ridge with Lafayette and the two points of Liberty and Flume. To the right of this are Sandwich Dome, the Tripyramids with Whiteface and Passaconaway.


I was tempted to turn around here because these are the best views of the hike. There would be no time to head over to the summit of North Pack for pretty much the same views. I was hoping to do my usual loop of up Ted's and down Carolyn's but the light was waning. I settled for the final push to the Cliffs and would turn around from there. Breaking out of the trees and I pass by my spot where I made an early morning hike to come watch the sunrise back in February of 2012. It was a cold morning standing there waiting for those shots that morning. A few more minutes and I reach the Cliffs of North Pack.


A quick shot south of the Wapack Range and the urge to return to hike the whole length is planted for sometime this year. Around the corner through the scrub and the reminder that the daylight is about to end as the sun is setting over Monadnock.


It's ten minutes after five and I turn around with a purpose heading back the way I came. I reach the upper junction that leads over to Carolyn's Trail and briefly entertain taking the path down. It's a gentler trail but I have no idea of the ice conditions and decide to stick with what I know as I continue down Ted's Trail. I make it all the way to the top of the waterfall and I have pushed the darkness as far as I can. Time for the headlamp exit for the last mile. There is a fine line from where the trail is visible in the early dark to needing assistance with lighting. Quickly everything is dark and following the trail corridor with the limited light of the headlamp is challenging in some spots. I make it to the last brook crossing and for the first time notice there is a house just off to the left of the trail. The house lights are visible through the trees and after crossing the bridge I lose the trail. The corridor looks like it follows the brook but soon I realize this isn't the right way. In the light of the headlamp I feel like I am on the path but wander off to my right hoping to intersect the actual trail. I come across the well head for the house, which is quite a distance from the house, and eventually turn back to the brook and find my mistake. The trail turns slightly right after crossing the brook. A few more minutes and I am back at the road and not bad for my first hike of this year and after a five month absence.

Final numbers: 5.4 miles, 2 hours 55 minutes.