Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Wet Wilderness: Scouting on the Cohos Trail

According to the Cohos Trail website, "Once beyond the Baldhead Shelter lean-to to the north, the trail is one of the least walked sections of the CT."

So we walked it.

"The trail has become much more distinct in the ground, however, and is quite easy to follow. You should still watch carefully for the yellow blazes on the trees at all times."

Blazes everywhere!

 We wandered through stunning country, visited more often by the feet of moose than those of humans, and enjoyed stellar signage and blazes the entire way.  Even with the annual piles of spring blowdowns, recent logging operations and lush undergrowth trying to hide the trail, we found our way easily thanks to the efforts of the Cohos Trail Association through here.

The new Dixville Bypass
Beginning in Dixville Notch State Park, my friend Johannes and I walked the Cohos Trail south to the Baldhead shelter on Baldhead Mountain, a distance of ten or eleven miles.  A mix of freshly cut trails, older woods paths, ATV trail and ski trails led us along.  Consistent recent rains meant a healthy amount of water and calf-deep mud at times, but that's to be expected out here - far to the north of the heavily used, rocky trail madness in the White Mountains.  It's all part of the Cohos Trail experience, and we relished the feeling of newness and relative obscurity in these woods - what pioneering trampers probably felt in the White Mountain region nearly two hundred years ago.

Looking down on Dixville Notch from the Table Rock summit
Nearing the top of the old Balsams Wilderness ski area
We dropped our packs at the shelter and used the remaining daylight to ramble up to the height of land in Gadwah Notch, a little crook in the mountains that truly feels like the dark, boreal heart of the Nash Stream region.  A drizzling rain greeted us there and progressed in intensity as we quickened our pace back to the shelter.  We fitfully slept through a night of pouring rain and high winds that occasionally blew water into the shelter and sprayed Johannes.

Baldhead Shelter, the first shelter erected on the Cohos Trail.  Views here reach the Carter-Moriah and Presidential Ranges!
We retraced our steps the next day through occasional and then consistent rains, keeping us nice and soggy from the get-go.  The main goals of the trip were met: we got a sense of how easy the trail was to follow (very, for the most part) and enjoyed the solitude of the Great North Woods.  I couldn't be more excited about the upcoming speed effort in late July!

-- Rob Rives, 7/1/2015

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