As Brian and Greg closed in on the NH 200 highest list, there were two choices, Green's Cliff and West Baldface, and Brian left the choice up to me. Hmmm, short, likely scrappy, and not so great views, or long with nice views. It was supposed to be sunny, so I went with views.
We rode up to the Bog Brook Trailhead, recently visited for Black Mountain on Brian's 3k finish, except this time we actually took the trail. Keith had warned it was a swampy mess, but with cooler temperatures the mud was solid. Pleased with our easy progress, we naturally came to a daunting obstable. The Wildcat River.
Brian found a way across, but involved getting down a 4 foot drop right next to the water. To boot, the rocks were icy in spots. Yoiks. Feet dry, the Wildcat River Trail junction waited on the other side which we passed by and then came up to and crossed the logging road we used before to get to Black. More brook crossings without incident, and I was really enjoying this trail. The sense of solitude and feel of wildness that was usual. I was already vowing to return for more visits.
After passing the Wild River Trail, the woods opened up into nice open hardwoods. We got to the site of the Perkins Notch Shelter, and I noticed a little herd path going toward to pond, and got an interesting view of Carter Dome.
It didn't look so imposing from this side, just another hill. The Wild River crossing was another interesting one, having to pick our way along the far bank before heading up. Greg decided to start whack right after that, so away we went in good woods.
Soon we came to a nice mossy area, and other that a few scrappy patches, the going was good. We got up to a hump and I set about searching for the highpoint, noting a good sized cliff. Crap, we were on the sub-bump. Guess that explains why the guys were plowing ahead on my left. The mystery of getting over the cliff solved, we plowed ahead, seeing the peak in the distance. I was using my old Powershot A40, since the Olympus finally kicked the bucket, so I was constantly fiddling with the camera trying to capture the day. Here's Brian (in beautiful open woods!) waiting for me to get my ass in gear.
We passed some restricted views and nice little fields near the summit, and were rewarded with some great views on the summit. I love whacking summits like this! Of course, the Baldfaces were right there.
Washington was poking out over Wildcat Ridge, with Carter Dome and Hight on the right.
The Moriahs were also in evidence, as well as the Sandwich Range to the south. Little did we know Joe was up with Becky on the Baldfaces, and saw us. That's me on the left with an orange hat, and Greg and Brian in their orange vests. Too flipping cool! Thanks, Joe!
We discussed exit options. I suggested northwest then west to hit the trail a little sooner, Greg was talking about going southwest. I was flipping out about that, as the map showed some really steep areas. Greg kept mentioning it, and he succeeding in riling me up before he just laughed and told me to calm down. Crap, suckered in again. Soooo, we headed out to the northwest which opened up into amazing hardwoods.
These ended in open softwoods near the trail, and we climbed back up to the East Branch trail junction. Climb. Oof. And then we climbed some more. I had forgotten we'd have to climb all the way to Perkins Notch and by that time I was silently begging to downhill. As soon as we got onto the Bog Brook Trail we came to a three logged bridge over Bog Brook where we stopped short. “Anyone remember this?” Nope, nope and another nope. Apparently we hit an abandoned section of trail. The bridge was in surprisingly good shape though.
We talked about whether to take the logging road out or the shorter trail with the brook crossing. We took the road, Greg was sure he was going to get dunked this time, and the rest of the way passed quickly enough.
We stopped at Moat Mountain Brewery, and being my first time there, I have to agree that they have the best pot stickers ever. The Iron Mike ale didn't suck either. Greg got a picture of Pansy Mike with an Iron Mike. Never a lack of amusement!