THE HEART OF THE MAHOOSUCS: 9/7/16
A long day (and evening) traversing Mt. Carlo, the three peaks of Goose Eye Mountain, and Fulling Mill Mountain with my friend Mark Klim. This section of the Mahoosuc Trail offers some of the most rugged terrain and beautiful scenery in the Whites. Along the way we checked out several recent relocations made by the AMC trail crew.
Mark drove us up the bone-rattling Success Pond Road out of Berlin in his pickup, and we set off up the Carlo Col Trail at 9:00 am. The first 0.7 mile is up a logging road used to clearcut much of the area a few years ago by a "timber liquidator." Since then some 4,700 acres on this western side of the Mahoosucs have come into public ownership and is now managed by the White Mountain National Forest.
Carlo Col Trail is quite pleasant after it goes into the woods. Here Mark ascends some good log steps built by the AMC trail crew.
A birch glade higher up the slope.
A short ladder on a relocation constructed in 2014, which took the trail out of an eroded brookbed.
New trail signs where the relocation meets the old route, just above Carlo Col Shelter.
Any thru-hikers who had spent the night here were long gone.
Next up was a short climb to the Mahoosuc Trail and then the moderate ascent of Mt. Carlo, which has a benchmark at the top.
Bear Mountain in the nearly unknown Eastern Mahoosucs, from the summit of Mt. Carlo.
Its highest summit is known as a fine viewpoint, but is not easy to get to.
The first of many subalpine meadows we would traverse this day, this one on the top of Mt. Carlo.
Goose Eye from a scrub meadow on a northern shoulder of Mt. Carlo.
Starting the ascent of Goose Eye after a tedious series of wet, slippery ledge slabs descending Carlo, we enjoyed an uncharacteristically mellow stretch of the Mahoosuc Trail.
The summit of Goose Eye looms above an open shoulder.
Typical Mahoosuc Range slabs, drier on this south-facing slope.
The East Peak of Goose Eye looms ahead on the right.
First scramble on a very steep pitch up to the summit ridge of Goose Eye.
Southbound AT hiker "Fine Line" descends a set of iron rungs set in a near-vertical ledge.
In 2011 I was perhaps the first hiker to ascend these rungs after an AMC trail crew member had just applied the finishing touches and told me the epoxy was dry.
I'd rather go up them than down.
A scramble just above the rungs...
...leads to a lofty, sturdy ladder.
View from the top.
Heading over to the summit of Goose Eye, we chatted with northbound thru-hiker "Big Country," a Southern lad who had started in Georgia on May 17 and was making good time.
Arriving at the summit of Goose Eye. The Kilkenny mountains are in the distance.
Looking over to the East Peak (R) and North Peak (L) of Goose Eye and the largely open ridge between them. There are two new relocations on this ridge that I wanted to check.
Looking north to the ominous Mahoosuc Notch, with Mahoosuc Arm and Old Speck beyond.
Goose Eye's summit is one of the best.
Next up: the East Peak.
The wonderful Wright Trail comes up from the east in the col between the main summit and East Peak.
The climb to East Peak is short but amply steep.
Atop the East Peak, looking north along the ridge.
Looking back at the sharp main summit.
We knew it would mean a late exit, but we couldn't resist this inviting traverse.
Looking down the cirque-like valley of Goose Eye Brook to Sunday River Whitecap.
This was a tough down-scramble.
Lowering clouds to the east.
A remarkable series of wooden walkways built by the AMC trail crew a few years ago.
A nasty wet slab.
Out to the subalpine meadows!
Looking west past the main summit.
A new relocation brings the trail out to the western edge of the ridge for a view down a hidden valley.
It was like walking the Crawford Path without the crowds.
Looking back to the rather daunting East Peak.
New AMC-built bog bridges.
The East Peak and main summit recede into the distance.
A new relocated bit of trail atop the North Peak.
Looking ahead to rounded Fulling Mill Mountain, our next objective. Streaming clouds have smothered Old Speck and Mahoosuc Arm.
The Mahoosuc Trail passes over the south summit of Fulling Mill, seen as a little ledgy spot to the right of center, above a curving drainage.
Gotta love the Mahoosucs!
More meadows descending the north side of North Goose Eye.
Bog bridges made on the spot.
Down we go.
Hanging out with thru-hikers at Full Goose Shelter. The spring behind the shelter was running - a lifesaver on this humid and strenuous day.
It was after 6:00 pm, and we hoped to make it to the Notch Trail before dark.
Last climb of the day, up Fulling Mill.
Evening sun lights the ledge on the south summit, a fine viewpoint.
North Goose Eye is revealed.
The sun and swirling clouds produced a first for us: the Brocken Spectre.
According to Wikipedia, "A Brocken spectre (German Brockengespenst), also called Brocken bow or mountain spectre, is the apparently enormous and magnified shadow of an observer, cast upon the upper surfaces of clouds opposite the sun."
That's my shadow in the middle. The phenomenon appeared and disappeared a couple of times during our ten-minute stay.
Crossing meadows on the broad crest of Fulling Mill.
Time had gotten away from us between negotiating the many slippery ledges, talking with thru-hikers and enjoying the views. We moved as quickly as we could down the steep 1000-ft. drop off Fulling Mill, aiming to get down to the mellow Notch Trail before resorting to headlamps.
Sunset from somewhere on the side of Fulling Mill. We barely made it down to the junction by daylight, then walked the 2 miles on the Notch Trail and 3.3 miles along roads back to the Carlo Col trailhead by headlamp. After the trudge along the roads we reached Mark's truck at 10:30 pm. It was a memorable day and evening!