November 9, 2013.
The goal for today is to complete the remaining trails on the Squam Mountain Range. Heading up Sandwich Notch Road, an old dirt road that remains unchanged since it was built back in 1801.
Most of today's hike is along a ridge so hopefully pretty easy going once I hit the ridge.
Most of the land along this road was cleared for farm and pastures back in the day. Today it has been reclaimed by the forests. I few miles in and I pass the spot I was looking for a year ago, the entrance to Beebe Falls and Bearcamp River Trail. If I had only walked down the road another quarter mile I would have found it. However, I did have a great time whacking along the river back then and knew I'd be back in this area at some point so today I'll get that short section of trail. A couple miles in and I pull off the road at the Crawford Ridgepole Trail head. About ten feet in the woods and there is the remnants of an old foundation that once housed a family back in the 1800's. On the opposite side of the road is the trailhead.
Right from the start the climb is steep and steady reaching a section of ledgey cliffs shortly.
At first glance it looks like the trail goes straight but upon getting closer it makes a right turn onto the rocky cliff.
It's a little hairy and with a full pack a concern but I figure good practice for the AT as there are many similar sections like this down south. The last bit is a scramble up through a chimney section.
At the top there is a peek at the Ossipees across the way.
The rest of the way is less steep and a fantastic walk through the woods.
Reaching the first height of land and the trail starts one of many ups and downs for the day. So much for the easy ridge walk. Not to be deterred I am rewarded with peak-a-boos along the way. A look at Mt Israel and Sandwich Dome just above the trees.
With all the bumps it is hard to discern which one is the actual twin summit of Doublehead. With the help of the GPS track this is definitely East Doublehead.
From a clearing there is a slight opening in the trees to the northwest with the Kinsman's and Tecumseh in view.
Heading down into the col between the two Doubleheads and I pass one of the objectives for later in the day, Doublehead Trail. Heading back up the trail from the col and I pass over West Doublehead not knowing this was the other summit, note to self: read the guidebook before not after. Back down and then up again and the trail opens out onto another ledge with views out to the east towards Squam Lake.
Just before the east summit of Squam and there is another ledge this time with open views to the north and west. The Sleepers and Whiteface are off in the distance and closer by Black Mt and Sandwich Dome.
Off in the haze and clouds I just make out the distinctive shapes of Liberty and Flume.
The first bump of Mt Squam is within reach and quickly I am there.
And then the west bump of Mt Squam.
About 11:30 and I am on top of Mt Percival this time in better conditions than a year ago when it was covered in snow and there were no views due to it being socked in.
The view out to Squam Lake from Percival.
This time I am going to do the cave trail located at the base of the cliff below the summit. Last year the conditions really didn't warrant it but now there is no reason not too. Dropping my back off in the woods and down I go to the entrance of the cave route. The first cave is located to the left of the huge boulder in the picture.
Ahead of me is a couple with two dogs and I am not sure what they were thinking in regards to getting them through this jumble of boulders. I pass them at the entrance to the first cave as they couldn't get the dogs up and over some boulders. Crawling through the first one and the next gets tighter as I have to lay down and squeeze through an opening.
And the final contortion pull through opening.
From there it opens out onto the collapsed boulders from the cliff and climbs back up to the ledgey summit of Percival. To think that Polar Caves and Lost River charge you for having this much fun and this is just as challenging as the Orange Crush and the Lemon Squeeze.
Back up to the top and I retrieve my backpack and off the way I came along the ridge returning to the junction with Doublehead Trail. It is 1:30 and the trail is 2.4 miles down and then the same to return to the ridge. Time wise it might take 2 to 2-1/2 hours to make the out and back trip. Then there is still 2 miles to get back down to the vehicle and that descent is steep and with the leaves on the ground could be slippery. The other option is head all the way down Doublehead Trail to Route 113 and road walk back to where I am parked. The only thing is I don't know how far of a walk that would be because it wasn't one of my contingency plans. So the only option was to abort it and I'll have to come back some other time to get Doublehead Trail. There will be no finishing the Squam Mountain range today. I make my way up and down and up and down and then finally reach the cliffy section and then the steep descent back down into Sandwich Notch. It takes an hour and fifteen minutes to go that distance but thanks to my taking my time and being extremely careful there were no incidents.
With some daylight left I have time to go and get the short section of Bearcamp River Trail that I missed a year ago and another shot of Beebe Falls.
If I had arrived at sunrise like I had planned I'm sure I would have completed my mission but all in all I can deal with having to come back here another time. There are supposed to be some great views off of Doublehead Trail and if I had tried an attempt I can almost bet it would have been rushed. Considering parts of that trail are steep also I am glad I didn't do it because rushing and steepness can spell disaster. So until another day and I'll wait for a picture perfect day to return to Doublehead.
Final numbers: 9 miles, 6 hours and 35 minutes.
Redline Miles: 4.5, Total to Date: 435.8