Wednesday, June 24, 2009

BALD PEAK: 6/23/09

It was time to check out the newly relocated lower section on the Mount Kinsman Trail, the quiet west-side route up to the Kinsmans from Rt. 116 in the Easton valley. Today's destination was a local favorite: Bald Peak (2470 ft.), the open ledgy spur of North Kinsman reached by a side path halfway up this trail. This is one of the nicer half-day hikes in the region.

The new trail parking area is off the road, 0.3 mile south along Rt. 116 from the old trailhead, where parking was very limited. It's just south of the Tamarack Tennis Camp. Kudos to the landowner who has generously provided this new access.

The relocated trail section briefly climbs through a partly logged area, then enters this ferny glade.

Then it leads through some nice hemlock woods. As I was pushing my measuring wheel along through here, a hiker came up behind me and asked me if I'd seen the two bear cubs and their mama. Focused on the wheeling, I had not noticed them. He said the cubs were up in a tree, with mama at the base, no more than 30 yards from me. Yikes!

The new route meets the old trail after 0.5 mile; the distance is the same as the former route. This is a really nice relocation - congrats to the Forest Service trail crew on a fine job!

Around the corner is an old sugarhouse.

At 1.1 mile the trail enters the WMNF, having been on private land to this point.

The next section of trail climbs up into some quality hardwood forest.

At 1.5 miles the site of the old Kinsman Cabin, originally built in the 1930s for the use of skiers, is up on the left. The cabin was dismantled in 1982.

Just past the cabin site the trail crosses an attractive brook, with a small ledgy waterslide on the right.

This brook has several cascades some distance below and above the trail; some of them are difficult to reach.

As the trail climbs up across the slope, it passes some big old yellow birches.

At the next crossing there is a wet-weather cascade on what was once called Mossy Falls Brook.

Just before the junction with the Bald Peak Trail, I chatted with the hiker who had spotted the bear, a local teacher who each year leads a group of his middle school students on a backpacking trip over the Kinsmans, including one orienteering leg at the end of the journey. What a great experience for the kids!

Someone has made a nomenclature correction on the sign.

The Bald Peak spur leads through some pole-size conifers and mossy, ledgy areas.

Emerging on the top, I found the views partly obscured by a light mist. The dreary skies were due to a slow-moving ocean storm pinwheeling moisture back into New England for several days.

North Kinsman, which looms nearby to the east on a clear day, was fully socked in.

I repaired to a favorite perch on the south side of the knob. After a while the mists cleared and the views improved. The Benton Range was prominent to the southwest, and on the horizon I could pick out Killington Peak, the Breadloaf range, and Mts. Abraham and Ellen in the Green Mountains. Several birdsongs drifted up from the woods below: Swainson's Thrush, Magnolia Warbler, and White-Throated Sparrow. Sonsgters in the scrub around the knob included Blackpoll Warbler, Mourning Dove, and Dark-eyed Junco.

Water could be heard rushing in the wild little valley of a nameless brook to the south. Last summer I bushwhacked down there. After some fairly difficult travel I found a frothing sluice and big waterslide along the brook. Tough terrain in there.

Over on the north side of Bald Peak there was a good view NW to the peaks in the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont. This little nubble offers great rewards for a 4 1/2 mile round trip hike. I like the description of it by John Jerome, a former resident of Easton, in his unheralded but excellent 1978 book, On Mountains. In it he devotes a delightful chapter, "Field Notes," to a leisurely description of a hike up the Mount Kinsman Trail. This "polished granite protrusion," he writes, "sticks out of the mountainside like the hipbone of a fashion model."

The Bald Peak ledges are composed of a granitic rock called Kinsman Quartz Monzonite and are studded with what I believe are phenocrysts (crystals) of feldspar.

On the way down I made the short side trip down the narrow path that descends about 75 feet in elevation to Kinsman Flume.

The path ends abruptly on a little shelf at the brink of the flume. Caution is advised!

It's hard to get a really satisfactory look at this narrow chasm, but from the edge you can look down into it and see that it is an impressive formation. There are many rewards on the trek to Bald Peak.

1 comment:

  1. Great post Steve! I really enjoyed that side of the Kinsmans and all the stuff there was to explore.

    Incidentally, the weather was identical when made the trip.