I missed out on an Eisenhower hike last week due to family issues, and Brian nicely suggested a trailed hike for this week, Tremont and Owl's Cliff. Hmmm, that would hit the spot. I don't spend much time on trails anymore and a fully (well, all but 100 feet) trailed hike would be a nice change.
So, of course, I tossed out the idea we whack up from Bear Notch Road to the col between the two. Supposed to be good woods, and we toss out 1200' of gain. Brian said he's up for anything, but by the end of the week I came to my senses. That 1200' of gain was over easy terrain, so why ruin a good thing? Time to enjoy a trail for a change.
We spotted a car at the Sawyer River trailhead as I requested and off we went. We passed the Sawyer Pond trailhead, and my eyes got wide. “WAIT!” We checked the map. Oh, that would've been a costly mistake. I got my trailheads mixed up, and we went back for the car. A bicycle race of some sort on Bear Notch Road made for an annoying trip. We parked and set out, with the trail following Stony Brook for a while. It was starting to get a little warm, and the brook was starting to look a little inviting, especially by the time we got to this small fall.
The bugs were thankfully absent, and there was a hint of a breeze out. Things were looking good. We kept anticipating the much talked about billions of switchbacks. The trail started to pick up a greater grade and then we were on them. Back and forth, back and forth. Whee! The funny part was in the beginning (but definitely not the end), the slope it was skirting wasn't that steep at all. Along the way, we leapfrogged a group several times, including Toby, the enthusiastic face licking yellow lab. We got a few views of Washington and the Resolution area along the way, which was good considering there was no view east from the summit.
Sorry Joe, I couldn't resist.
We were making amazing time considering the heat, but as the grades picked up, we finally slowed down, slowly picking off the switchbacks.
This is one of those “summits that never come.” You're close, you know you're close, but those final tenths just go by forever. No matter, I was in no rush today, it was getting hotter, so taking it easy was just fine by me. It didn't help that I had found out the day before a friend of mine had passed on, and many toasts were drank to him. Some deaths I take easily, some hit me like a ton of bricks, this was the latter.
We checked out the two viewpoints, and I was a very happy dude. Definitely worthy of the 52 With a View list. Only 180 degree views, but a great shot of Green's Cliff and Sawyer Pond,
and the best (or at least clearest) view of the Captain I've been able to get.
A massive expanse of Chocorua to the east peak of Scar Ridge was laid out.
And of course, much silliness. With the Captain in the background, Brian's got a little Captain in him.
Sawyer's Pond holds a special place in me, because it was the first Whites hike I ever did back in 1983. Need to get back there sometime for an overnight, this time with a float tube, though. Here's one guy sitting in the shelter and another down by the water.
Watch out, you never know who's spying on you from not so nearby mountains. :D
We had a breeze coming up, but for some reason, it completely died at the top, and for the rest of the day. Having enough baking, we headed down the Brunel Trail. We knew this would be 800' down to the col, and straight down at that. That held true. It would've sucked coming up this way, but for us, it was a quick trip down, slipping and sliding a good chunk of the way. Blessed relief of flatness in the col and then 300 feet up to Owl's Cliff, and an easy 300' at that. Good thing, as not only was the breeze gone, the mosquitoes were out in force and wouldn't let up for the rest of the trip. Bastards.
We hit the spur, and I complained they should relocate the trail so the viewpoint is 50 feet away, not 0.2 miles. Sigh. We moved along the easy slope, and the heat was hitting Brian the Frenchman full force now. Unfortunately, as I knew but didn't say, the view was downhill a bit. We came to a highpoint in the trail, and I had thought the summit was 200' away, so I asked summit or view first? View was the answer, in hope of a breeze. Urrr, nope. The view was much the same as Tremont, but more closed in, so nothing special.
We headed back up, looking forward to nothing but downhill, but we had to tag the summit first. I had made out a faint herd path at the highest point on the trail, and had a feeling that would go to the summit, and it turned out to be true. Thankfully, it was only about 5-10 feet above the trail, and only about 50-75 feet away. Nice. Shortest bushwhack ever.
Downhill time, the trail was nice and flat for a while, and then dropped like a rock again. But, we knew it would mellow, and become all but flat. We cranked out this section and came to Rob Brook Road. I wasn't aware the trail followed this for a while, which meant we were now out in the sun on a hard surface. Yay. We heard something in the woods, which may or may not have been a moose, but I am the Anti-Moose, so of course no sighting.
The entire trail, except in very open woods is in bad shape as far as maintenance goes. A number of blowdowns and pretty closed in. Definitely needs some TLC. We turned off the road and came to the Sawyer Pond (ahem, not the Sawyer River....) junction, anticipating the end. Finally we came to the Swift River just before the trailhead, and it was, and I might add amazing, as I had remembered it. A thigh high wade. I was looking forward to the cool water, what tempered that the rocks hurt like hell on sore feet. I said screw it and put on my socks and walked back to the car that way. I had dry socks in the car, and had I remembered my sneakers, I would've given my boots a wash.
So, that was that. A nice day of non-thinking with next to nothing of whacking, but the heat and bugs need to die. Funny thing. I anticipate each season, but then when it arrives, I'm sick of it in a matter of weeks, with the exception of fall. So I guess I can now say, despite being the harbinger of winter, fall is indeed my favorite season. Soon enough.