Monday, July 5, 2010

South Baldface 7/3/10

View all the pics HERE
Happy 4th of July! We did South Baldface back on April 4th with plenty of snow still left and we have been wanting to see this magnificent granite batholith without snow cover. With the beautiful holiday weekend sure to bring thousands to the Conway's, the presidential range and the notches I decided to head to the more quite area's along Rt. 113 bordering NH and ME. So off we went for an early start.

We arrived at the Baldface parking lot, half full of what I presumed was campers and maybe a couple early birds. We had BOT (boots on trail) at 8:30am on this lovely morning, the trail very quite and peaceful. Mushrooms have begun to make their appearance much to my excitement and the frequent stops to snap a shot made this first stretch go by quick. We even stumbled across some unusual wild flower that I have yet to identify that was 20 ft. off the trail growing around an open mossy area (picture to right >)

We broke left at the Emerald pool junction (we remember the sign missing back in April and now a temporary paper sign marks the trails at this junction). Next down a little ways we broke right at the Slippery brook junction. The clouds now dissipated and the heat beginning to settle in. We climbed moderately, the trail rarely making any steep pitches and arrived at the boulder field just before reaching the Baldface shelter. We new in just a few more minutes we would break tree line to our first granite slab and views out to the North and West. Here we had a much anticipated snack and my new favorite hiking companion Coconut-Mandarin water, mmm! As we relaxed and took in our first views we could here what sounded like a large group stopping for lunch a few hundred yards back down at the shelter. We packed up and began the steep climb hoping to stay ahead of the crowd!

The trail really takes an opposite approach now from the previous easy-going climb, and tackles the open granite slabs of South Baldface's North West side. Slabs are 6 feet high or-so in spots requiring some climbing and scrambling. The Blueberry bushes sporting a few ripe berries as they mingle with the other outcrop plants in the cracks and crevices of the granite. This area is so amazing and awe inspiring. The kind of place where you just have to think, "a God of some kind had to create this!" We made our way to the top of a plateau area overlooking the deep ravine over to North Baldface and Eagle Crag and South Baldface's true summit 3/4 of a mile away. We climbed to the top of the knob marked by an interesting cairn, alpine grasses all around and yep, more granite!

We relaxed a bit here, resting on the many natural granite benches that workers hoisted up onto rock piles. Little, bright yellow butterflies with thin red outlines were everywhere. A half mile to go we began the final ascent. Looking back often at the sweeping views and watching as the massive group behind us popped out onto the ridge and knob areas. We must have counted at least 30 hikers! We reached the top at 12:30pm and walked around until we found a nice secluded spot down on the Southern side of the summit overlooking Mt. Washington. Too hot and tired to tackle the North peak today we pulled our boots and socks off and enjoyed the nice breeze as we had our lunch and other goodies. Views today were magnificent with so many peaks visible, to name a few: Kearsarge North, Chocorua, White Horse Ledge and the Moats, the Tripyramids, Carrigain, the Southern Presi's and Washington, and most of the Wildcat-Carter-Moriah range.

Once we had our fill we packed up and headed back up the summit where the last of the giant group was passing by onto the North peak. We passed a few people down until we got back to the knob where we headed South to Baldface knob and Slippery Brook trail. The view of South Baldface from Baldface Knob all the more impressive with a large granite wall that was plucked out from the glaciers. The trails over here much less traveled evident by the overgrown trail and frequent moose droppings. We met one lady at the slippery brook junction as we headed down this trail and back out to the loop trail were we passed several teens and a couple families, by the looks, headed for emerald pool. We happily arrived back at the now over flowed parking lot at 3:30pm where we quickly changed shirts, threw our bare feet in some sandals and took off with the wind blowing in the windows, ahhh!

This hike is so beautiful. Perfect weather, a little muggy, hardly a bug and is one of the most spectacular peaks in the WMNF. It is a technical hike and those who are not comfortable with some minor climbing and heights may have a hard time. I plan to get an early start on this massive ridge in the fall when it is cooler and hope to do the whole loop.

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