A CLOUDY DAY IN THE ALBANY INTERVALE: 6/14/11
Did two hikes in the Albany Intervale off the Kanc Highway on a cloudy, cool day with a few light showers.
First I went partway up the Pine Bend Brook Trail to check out a relocation in the lower section and rock step work up in the ravine under Scaur Ridge.
Near the start the trail follows the old Swift River logging RR grade for 0.2 mi.
In the first 2 miles the trail makes about 10 crossings of various branches of Pine Bend Brook. Unless the water level is really high, these crossings are generally pretty easy. A 0.1 mi. relocation has bypassed a couple of crossings.
The trail enters the Sandwich Range Wilderness at 2.1 mi., though a more recent survey post places the boundary a little higher up.
A magnificent old sugar maple beside the trail.
I'm always impressed by the lushness of the ravine the trail goes up at the base of Scaur Ridge.
Lots of tall yellow birch in here.
A neat leaning tree, downstream from a rough spot where the trail goes up the brook bed.
Just above the L turn out of the ravine floor, a joint AMC/WMNF project resulted in some impressive rock step work, making this steep, formerly washed-out pitch a lot easier to negotiate.
Alongside the steps there's a framed vista out towards Carrigain Notch. I continued up to the crest of the steep little ridge above here, then came back down here for a chilly lunch before heading out.
After descending Pine Bend Brook Trail, I drove a couple of miles east and into the Passaconaway Campground to check out the Church Pond Trail. This has long been one of my favorite ponds in the Whites, but the trail - flat as it may be - has its challenges. First you have to ford the Swift River just a few yards from the parking spot. Today it was knee-deep, but at higher water levels it can be impassable. Fair warning: this is one of the worst mosquito areas in the region.
Looking downstream from the north side.
I kept the Crocs on for a second crossing of a sluggish branch stream 100 yards farther along the trail.
The west half of the loop trail is the shorter route to the pond and has always been more negotiable through the bog areas. The east half is slated to be closed by the Forest Service in the near future as it is essentially unmaintainable in the extensive muddy stretches.
The west half is in rough shape once past a junction with the Nanamocomuck Ski Trail. It is badly overgrown with shrubs - the car wash effect on a wet day - and the bog bridges that were put in a number of years ago have largely rotted away. You can make it through, with patience and a lot of balancing on slippery logs and the remains of the bog bridges.
As you get out into the open bog area, you can see Green's Cliff in the distance.
Some of the old bog bridges are still in place, settled into the mud. Watch out for many protruding metal spikes.
These pitcher plants were right beside the trail.
I've always felt that the destination was worth the trouble on this trail. Once across the bog, it makes a brief ascent to a gravelly hill called The Knoll, which has a beautiful stand of red pine.
A couple of side paths drop down to the shore, where there are picturesque Sandwich Range views across the water. L to R: Potash, East & West Sleeper, The Fool Killer and North Tripyramid.
Unfortunately, there are no good spots to sit and enjoy those views. The best sitting rock is along the eastern arm of the pond, reached by following the overgrown trail about 0.1 mi. in that direction and then dropping down an obscure side path.
Over the years I have enjoyed several snoozes on this rock - when there's been enough breeze to repel the 'skeeters. There was no breeze today.
From the rock there's a good view of Mt. Tremont and Owl's Cliff.
Back at The Knoll, I went down another side path for a different perspective, with a little evening sun breaking through.
From here I could see Mt. Passaconaway to the L of Potash.
Sunlight on the Sleepers. But the bugs soon drove me away.
On the way home I stopped for a short walk up a logging road to a wildlife/prescribed burn opening, a little bit west of the Pine Bend Brook trailhead, where there is an unusual view of the Tripyramid ridges.
Friday, June 17, 2011
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I worked with the Saco Crew on Monday and cleared this trail (blowdowns, brushing, waterbars). One of the crew members told me the Wilderness sign was tore up by a black bear. You can see the claw marks on it. That rock work is nice, although there is a side hill section in the middle that is very unstable. We had a tricky time in that section. Lots of scree in the waterbars.
I saw the freshly cleaned waterbars and other evidence of the previous day's work trip - thanks for doing that! I thought maybe a bear had whacked the sign. Sure is some loose stuff on that steep slope. A rugged stretch of trail!