Yay, we're finally doing Sable and Chandler! Land of open woods! Stupid road washouts making for a long day. Oh, wait, a long day for some of us – the Bail Master returned in fine form today.
First, I ended up around Stoneham off of Rt. 5 thanks to my idiotic GPS, only to find a dirt road saying all gates closed and locked. WTF? Why would this moronic thing possibly think this was a shorter way? Argh! Fortunately had my Maine gazetteer with me, went back to south of Kezar Lake and somehow made it to 113 in Stow. That stupid thing was still trying to route me on a 30 minute trip to go 5 minutes up the road. GRRRRRR! Never again. Consult maps next time. GRRRR!
Joe managed to call and said we'd meet at Emerald Pool. I beat feet to get there, not wanting to have them wait too long. Grumbled, pissed and moaned at the GPS, then the weathermen who got me all worked up saying chance of showers and cloudy. It was sunny. GRRRRRR!
We went up the Baldface Circle Trail to connect to the Slippery Brook Trail, enjoying easy grades. Then the trail started going up. We had about 14 miles planned today (excluding Eastman), and we were moving quickly. I welcomed this in order to get done quicker, but I could feel something wasn't right with my legs. They were burning way too much and feeling tight. I ignored it, but I could feel my energy fading. Had a mellow night before, was well hydrated, and actually ate breakfast for once. Finally at 2000' I had to call everyone to a halt as I thought things over. 1500' down, 2600' to go, with a few steep stretches. Nope. Not today. Worst case would to be in deep and then bail, which almost assuredly would've happened had I continued.
I bade the guys adieu, and for once, my down day would not screw up anyone else's, so I was at least happy about that, but as I turned, I felt pretty bummed I wouldn't be grabbing these two today. I stopped some ways down, and yanked out my map, having second thoughts. As I studied it, I realized there was no way. My calves were bugging me on the downhill, for crying out loud. So, a big sigh, and I just walked slowly down the trail. Actually, I strolled. I was able to not stare at my footing and enjoy the forest for what it was. Hey, this is nice! I may have to do this more often. :)
It was still pretty early, so I yanked out my map again remembering something I saw. The old Slippery Brook Trail cut off the right hand corner to the Baldface trail. What the heck, I'll try to follow it. I knew about where it would start, and it was really obvious. In fact, the corridor was amazingly obvious. All I can tell is it was in use in 1972, but it seems like the relocation took place some time later.
It was easy to follow, mainly by a mostly treeless corridor and a depressed footbed. About halfway through I was watching for a brook crossing, but where it seemed to cross, I thought I was too high and kept on a foot path before I realized some time later it was heading for a nearby road, not the Baldface trail. Surprisingly I found a boot print in there. So I turned back, and the little uphill was enough to remind me of my calf issues. I went down the path to the brook.
Irene took a toll in this area, and I can only assume that's what I was seeing with the tons of boulders in the brook bed, and strangely, a garden hose.
There was a woods road (actually a lot of them) on the other side, which I followed for a while before again realizing it was going (apparently) in not quite the right direction. Backtracking again, I searched in vain for the trail, finally saying to hell with it and whacking over to the trail. Fortunately, I didn't pop out on anybody coming up the trail, but it wasn't long before I started seeing people. I kept looking over my right shoulder trying to find the other end. I managed to find some old rock steps leading away from the trail. A-haaa!
I followed the path for 15 feet before it ran into the trail I had just walked over. Oh, ok, a small relocation. Sigh. Well below where the old trail should've been there's an obvious “Y”, perhaps a relocation after 1972. I wasn't in the mood to follow it at this point, so I decided to check out the Cold River on the other side of 113, since there was little elevation gain involved.
The trail was normal enough for a bit, but then I was walking on sand. Like beach sand. Like walking on a beach. Sheesh. More storm damage.
There was one section where the flooding pretty much obliterated the trail, except for the blazes. It was a mess. As it neared the river, things returned to normal, and as I was wondering if there was a bridge to get across the river, it was actually a dam with a sluiceway.
The sluiceway was bridged with a 2x6, only a inch on either side longer than the gap itself. Yoiks. As I looked around I realized what a great spot this was. A shallow pool upstream, and lots of nice smooth flat rocks to lounge on below the dam. I took it all in for a while, exploring around.
A quick enough trip back for the drive home. OK, just stay on 113. 113 is in Conway. Simple enough (OK, I took 113B knowing it would reconnect with 113). And so for the second time, I followed 113 out of Fryeburg, heading right towards Hiram, Maine to the southeast. The easterly direction of travel about 5 miles from town was the clue. Yet again. Sigh. I saw the sign in Fryeburg for 302 to N. Conway, but I didn't want to go to N. Conway! Moron. I forgot 302 goes through Conway first. Got home and realized ME 113 (despite dipping into NH) has nothing to do with NH 113, which ends at the Maine border. Those two shouldn't be so close to each other!
The guys actually summitted Eastman first, of all things, adding an extra 1.6 miles and 500 feet of gain. After that, they had an extremely easy whack, but were in various amounts of pain from this or that by the end of it. It was too bad I couldn't have been there with them, but these things happen with no warning and no way to avoid it, so no point of worrying about it too much. I'll get there at some point.