|Hiking Trail Conditions Report|
||Chandler Mountain, Sable Mountain, South Baldface , NH|
||Bushwhack, abandoned Sable Mountain Trail, Baldface Circle Trail, Baldface Knob Trail, Slippery Brook Trail, road walk|
|Date of Hike:
||Sunday, July 3, 2022|
|Parking/Access Road Notes:
||We parked at the Mountain Pond Trail lot. A surprising number of cars there (likely people camping?) at 7:45am but still room for a car or two. Still several cars but more room when we returned around 4:45pm. Road in is long and dirt but should be passable by any car. |
||Dry Trail, Mud - Minor/Avoidable, Mud - Significant |
|Water Crossing Notes:
||Easily rock hopable except the larger crossing of Slippery Brook at the beginning of our day in attempting to follow the abandoned trail. This was still rock hopable with dry feet (barely) but was a bit more challenging, especially without two poles. |
|Trail Maintenance Notes:
||At least one blowdown/widowmaker you can duck under along the road portion of Slippery Brook Trail. I don’t think it was far at all from the gate/start of the trail actually. May be some others along the way I’m forgetting too. I don’t recall the blazing situation on the trails but I didn’t find any of them hard to follow though Slippery Brook is not terribly well travelled. Above tree line, things are obviously marked with cairns. |
||A long hike for dogs and some scrambling up South Baldface along the abandoned trail that I’d be concerned about for dogs. |
||On the summits of Chandler and Sable I believe but not too bad. I think the wind on Sputh Baldface kept them away. They got worse as we walked out Slippery Brook Trail. |
|Lost and Found:
||Day 245, Peak 239 & 240. I’d already done South Baldface. Goal was to try and follow the route of the abandoned Sable Mtn Trail over Chandler, Sable, and South Baldface, then follow Baldface Knob and Slippery Brook (south) back to our car at Mountain Pond Trail with a short road walk.|
From the Mountain Pond trailhead we walked 0.2mi along Slippery Brook Rd, then turned left and crossed Slippery Brook. We followed relatively close to the brook for the next 1/4ki, roughly following it, just west of north. Then, when the brook turned to head more NE, we turned more NW and diverged from it. From here, we followed a N/NW bearing to my first waypoint which was where the trail is just east of a wetland area shown on the 1930 and 1945 maps at about 2050ft. Woods up to here were a bit mixed but nothing too thick or difficult. Basically as you’d expect and flat-gradual grades. As expected, we did not find much of a trace of an abandoned trail through here though we spotted what we thought could possibly be a very old blaze on a very old tree. This happened twice. And, according to my friends’ Gaia map overlay, we were relatively close to or on the old trail the entire time. That said, those old maps should be taken with more than a grain of salt.
We could see the wetland area to our left, crossing to the left of it on the level back into more pokey woods to head toward the drainage which we’d follow up. We stayed on the SW side of the drainage and continued to climb at easy grades to around 2500ft. Not too long before this we crossed a wet, marshy area, and I believe crossed the main drainage. This is basically at the base of the steeps at 2500ft. From here up it was very steep and a drainage wasn’t quite to clear, but we made our way up, often on steep, dry brook bed/slab. Made for easy but steep walking. A bit of scrambling but nothing difficult and you could easily walk alongside these as well. Some minor cliff bands to work around as we approached the ridge but nothing I think you really need to be aware of or avoid. Open woods.
We hit the ridge roughly where it appeared the trail did and upon hitting it we immediately noticed flagging and a herd path coming up from further SW along the ridge. My friends guessed that this was a human made herd path from most bushwhackers coming to Chandler but not attempting to follow the abandoned trail coming in further SW along the ridge which looks like a reasonable and obvious enough way to go. In any case, we began to be able to follow a herd path along the ridge. We enjoyed the long walk up Chandler in increasingly interesting and seemingly unique woods. Overgrown and kinda brushy but not in the usual sense. Hard to describe. Haven’t experienced any other peaks like this. I loved it! As we neared the summit we got some unexpected views too :) East to find the canister. Technical high point is an obvious rock next to it which isn’t too difficult to scramble up. We signed in and continued on our merry way.
We seemed to basically do what the abandoned trail did, heading north off the summit before turning NE into the col, avoiding some cliffs on the east side. We did come down a bit awkwardly though and made some twists and turns along the way. Woods become thicker or a bit more obnoxious at times, mostly around the col though I think it’s mostly avoidable. We pushed through one very small but thick band of spruce. Again there’s game paths or herd paths often enough. Not too long after the col I believe we found some moose bones scattered about including a skull. Most of them are still there ;) We basically followed the ridge up Sable like the abandoned trail did, often on a path. We got a surpassingly good workout hoofing it up to the summit. Lots of ferny areas and such but mostly good woods. Canister was easy to find. We took some photos (congratulations to Rick for finishing the NHHH) and continued a short distance along the summit ridge to where one friend descended the SW ridge of the peak back toward Slippery Brooks Rd.
The other three of us continued along the long, flat, northern ridge of Sable. This was the most consistent herd path we got. Didn’t last the whole way but iwe were able to follow it longer here than any wagers else. Seemed to fade as you dropped into the Sable-Baldface col. Mostly good woods until we descended off the ridge into the col and hit a spruce wave though right was shortly lived and even seemed to be a herd path through it at first. Once down to the col, we found a path, CLEAR AS DAY, but headed perpendicular to our bearing as if to follow the drainage out to Slippery Brook Trail. Anyone know about this?? Small spruce in and around the col. Pretty easy going though. Shortly before the col we come to a small clearing with a large boulder and a great view up to South Baldface. Got my mouth watering at the ledges we’d be about to be ascending!!
We began ascending, mostly in softwoods but okay woods, on the far side of the col. We could almost smell the ledges. Soon enough we hit them and began making our way up them but a bit south of where the trail was. We went up some boulder and some genuinely scrambly (harder class II maybe closer to class III climbing) stuff that could be avoided by staying further right or left. As we made our way further north we eventually ran into cairns (YES!!) and rhododra. This is when I hit cloud 9. Beautiful views, ledge, rhododra, an abandoned trail and cairns, a gorgeous day, and wonderful friends. What more could you ask for? With care (sometimes great care) we were able to follow the cairns all the way up to South Baldface. This became tricky when the path sucked back into the woods here and there but again with great care it’s doable. We passed what we think was an interesting relic as well.
So how’d we do following the abandoned trail? Well I’m too cheap to pay for the Gaia overlay but, surprisingly, my friends tell me that we followed it very closely or appeared to be right on it all the way up Chandler. Interesting since there was little/no sign of a trail here. On the ridge we were obviously on or close to it since it’s a ridge, so no surprise there, but according to the Gaia overlay (which again should be taken with more than just 1 grain of salt) we were most off it on our ascent up South Baldface. So who knows if these cairns follow the old route anyway or if they’re entirely a more recent path some people have made but it was still an epic hike and day.
We enjoyed a fairly mellow hike out with fantastic views for a ways, before a very mellow descent along Slippery Brook. Trails were mostly dry and even most of the mud pits weren’t deep but still a severe one or two on Slippery Brook Trail. Saw a handful of others out. The hike was about 12.75mi with around 3300ft of gain. It took us 9hrs to complete. 120 more days and 125 more peaks to go…
||Liam Cooney |
Disclaimer: Reports are not verified - conditions may vary. Use at own risk. Always be prepared when hiking. Observe all signs. Trail conditions reports are not substitutes for weather reports or common sense.