Friday, April 13, 2012
AT THE FOOT OF THE BALDFACES - EMERALD POOL & CHANDLER GORGE: 4/11/12
For the second week in a row I tagged along with Cath Goodwin and one of her dogs (this week it was Jade's turn) as she did some redlining in the Evans Notch area. Joining us was our friend Pam Bales, who was taking a break from her regular regimen of super-hikes. (Pam has done a Presidential traverse in each of the last 37 months - incredible!)
The plan was to visit a couple of the aquatic attractions on the lower slopes of the Baldfaces; as it turned out, our choices would be Emerald Pool and Chandler Gorge, leaving Eagle Cascade for another day. Skies were grey and a bit of rain was spitting as we set out on Baldface Circle Trail. An easy 0.7 mile brought us to Circle Junction and the side trail to Emerald Pool.
This deep green pool on Charles Brook is an extremely popular swimming hole in summer. On a midweek April day, we had the place to ourselves. Here Cath and Jade check out the pool from the classic ledge perch beside it.
A balance-beam log was the route I chose to get out to the best photo-op spot.
Back on the main trail, we took the south fork of the Baldface Circle, which climbs up to this old logging road.
We soon reached the side loop trail to Chandler Gorge, marked by a Chatham Trails Association sign. The CTA maintains most of the trails in the Evans Notch region; Baldface Circle itself is maintained by AMC.
After following a short relocation, the loop descends a sidecut section into a beautiful hardwood ravine.
Where the trail reaches the north branch of Chandler Brook, we found a wonderful series of open ledge slabs along the streambed - a beautiful secluded spot under some springtime sun.
Nicely sculpted ledges.
Heading up the loop trail through the hardwoods.
We entered darker woods and looked down on the rock wall of a flume. Neat area!
A bit farther up the trail a short spur to the L led to a sign for Chandler Gorge and a shelf with a view down at a couple of cascades and pools, plus another flume. (The loop trail makes a sharp R just before this sign; we didn't notice this and followed a false path up the ravine a short way before realizing our mistake.)
Pam tested the water and pronounced it "cold!"
We followed the loop path up to its western junction with Baldface Circle Trail. Here Cath and Pam continued up the mountain, hoping to climb the steep ledges of South Baldface and loop over Baldface Knob so Cath could redline a section of Slippery Brook Trail. I took the lazy route and went back down to the ledges on Chandler Brook for a snooze in the sun.
Back up through the hardwoods.
The first yellow violets we've seen this spring.
I moseyed back to the trailhead and wasn't there long when Cath and Pam returned. As they started up the South Baldface ledges, they were pelted by rain and snow pellets, and the ledges were very slippery. They quickly decided that retreat was prudent. Since we had some extra time, we checked out the damage on the Deer Hill Connector (which leaves from the Baldface parking lot) caused by Tropical Storm Irene. Charles Brook must have been raging through here.
Then we drove up Rt. 113 a couple of miles to the south end of Evans Notch, passing this fine view of Speckled Mountain and its sprawling spur ridges.
The road to Basin Pond was open, so we went up for a look. I've always felt that this is the premier drive-up picnic spot in the Whites, with the steep ledgy walls of The Basin, a low-elevation glacial cirque, rising around the pond.
We spent a few minutes admiring the cliffs on the southern spurs of West Royce (shown here), the Basin Rim and Mt. Meader, and watched a few Canada geese on the pond. Soon enough the stiff, chilly wind drove us back to the shelter of the car for the long ride home.