The final training run for the Captain. Just needed some miles and the Wild River was calling me. As much as I wanted to do a Moriah and Shelburne Moriah loop from the campground, given the copious rain and high water warnings about the Moriah Brook Trail, that was out. So I fashioned together a loop up the Eagle Link to Eagle Crag and down the Basin Trail. The more knowledgeable of you will immediately spot an issue with this.
I got up at the unheard of 3 AM, since it was Memorial Day, and I was hoping to avoid heavy traffic on the way back, so out the door at 4:00, finally getting to the campground around 7 AM. Up the Wild River Trail, across the bridge, and to the Moriah Brook Trail junction. And for whatever reason, up the Moriah Brook Trail. I somehow missed the Highwater Trail heading down going down, but at least quickly realized the mistake as the river grew further away, and the trail headed up. Argh.
Back to the junction, back to the trail. The trail suddenly ended at the river, and I got very confused, yet again. The trail doesn't cross the river until way up high. What the hell? I went back a bit, but found no other paths. Ah, maybe this is a section that got washed out. Followed something of a herd path to no avail. WTF???? I finally realized this wasn't the Wild River, it was Moriah Brook. Moron that I am, I somehow spaced that I'd have to cross this regardless. Double argh! OK, how to get across?
The log looked too slick, plus there was a couple areas I'd have to stand up, so no go. I went upstream coming to a nice beach, but there was nowhere to cross where I wouldn't have to take a large leap, and I knew how that'd turn out. There were places to wade, but I wondered how many more brooks I'd have to wade, and then only to possibly get turned back at the Wild River crossings only to do it again. Sigh. Time to turn back. To boot I had issues finding the trail again, hard as that seems to believe. Just didn't go far enough. Quick trip back to the campground, made quicker because I realized I forgot to pay the parking fee.
Took care of that, then into plan B, and out and back of Eagle Crag. Lots of gain, and a 2.5 mile side trip to boot. Oh well, make the best of it. I came to the longest stretch of bog bridging I've ever seen, this is only a small portion of it.
To say this first mile or so of this trail is a mucky mess is an understatement. I don't mind getting muddy and wet, I just don't like being slowed down by it. But to make up for it, there were cascades. Lots and lots of cascades. Big, little, wide, narrow. Simply awesome. These pictures do them no justice.
The trail dried out more or less, and I just kept steadily going upward to the junction. I prefer a slow steady pace versus any stopping, and I just plowed up the hill. I was also mindful of the finish time to get back home at a decent time and avoid traffic, if that possible. Arriving at the junction, I checked the map, and carried on, arriving at the Blue Brook tentsites. Wait. WHAT? Oh hell, I made ANOTHER wrong turn, looking at the wrong trail on the map. What the hell is wrong with me today? OK, more miles and gain. Up to the Basin junction, and I headed into the woods, seeing a potential view. There was one, but not as good as things to come. It was here that I heard the first people on the trail I'd find all day. Nice to find seclusion on a holiday weekend.
So, my conclusion on the Basin Rim Trail. It rocks (errr, so to speak). Lots of ledges with an amazingly steep drop to the east. First up, a nice view to Basin Pond with Snell Pond beyond.
And so began the first steeps of the day, heading up to Ragged Jacket. I kept chanting in my head “Rag-ged Jack-et” or “Get Up This Bitch.” Again, steady plodding, and arriving at the height of land, I decided to tag Ragged Jacket itself. Open woods, followed by some blowdown, but a quick trip.
Now up to Meader, at easier grades, but I was starting to feel it. Nice easy ridge walk after that. Or so I kept telling myself. Near the junction, there's some nice views into Maine, including this of the Royces at left, Caribou just right of that, Bald and Saddleback way back there, and Speckled at right.
I was shooting for a noon turnaround, and at the junction I was sure I could make it to Eagle Crag before then. And so I went on and hit Mt. Meader while I was at it. Scrappy, but mossy. Back on trail, and then back off the trail, following the spur path to the view. I kept getting sidetracked, but I was here for views, after all. There was the first views to the Carters from here, nice and worth the side trip, but nothing spectacular.
OK, back to the Meader Ridge Trail for good now. Some disconcerting downhills (one in particular) that I knew were going to beat me up on the way back. On the way, I also starting getting some pains in the back of my left ankle. Uh oh. Had I pushed myself too much these last two weeks? I kept moving on, keeping a check on it. It came and went but didn't seem to be anything major. Or so I hoped. The Baldfaces started coming into view.
And eventually, came Eagle Crag. Great panorama of the Carters and Moriahs from here.
The wind was strong and cold up here, pushing me back at one point. I took a break on the lee side, poking up to take pictures and hiding afterwards. Well, I was only halfway done (well slightly more than that thanks to the Wild River trip), so time to go down. Oh wait, up, down, up, down, up, down, up, then down. Barring any more misadventures. My ankle would occasionally let me know it wasn't happy, particularly on the downhills, but still no big deal. I was pretty stoked to have piled on the miles today, knowing I was now fully ready for the Captain, but those little uphills on the way back sure enough did kill me. I could find a good pace going down, but every little uphill broke that.
Just get to the Basin junction and all will be well. Just get to the Basin junction! Up, down, plod, plod, plod. Counting down the miles. Big relief at the awaited junction, and let the downhill begin! Being extra careful to take the right trail this time. I finally actually saw some other hikers at the Blue Brook Connector. Just after that, I lost the trail. Oh, holy hell, seriously? Worse, it was in open hardwoods. I finally found the stupid thing where a blowdown had averted my eyes away. Sigh. Onward. Back through the muck, now not caring in the least and just trudging through it. I had also lost the trail where the two cascades meet and the trail crosses Blue Brook on the way up, sure enough, I did it again. Finally, an uneventful rest of the way down and back to the car at 2:30. Tiring, but well worth it.