It took us a while to get our act together this morning, but by 10:30 we were finally at the trailhead for the Baldface trails off Route 113 in Evans Notch. Okay, so true confession, I did not want to hike these trails. For thirty years I’ve managed to avoid them, but my guy promised me this morning that if I wasn’t comfortable we could turn back at any point.
And so our Mondate began.
The first .7 miles were familiar to us as we’d passed this way many times in the past, often with friends or family in tow. The destination, Emerald Pool. A forever nippy Emerald Pool.
We stood above the pool today and shared memories of past visits. And the people that made those visits memorable.
Even the water above the pool provided hours of entertainment in days gone by.
Today, it was the water’s force and volume, increased since last night’s rain, that gave us pause.
But we couldn’t pause for long. We had a mountain to conquer. And so, we headed back to the main trail and at the junction followed the Baldface Circle Trail . . . until it disappeared before our eyes. We backtracked but couldn’t figure out what we’d done wrong, except that we couldn’t see trail blazes anywhere. And so we retraced our footsteps until the trail petered out again. And then we decided to bushwhack and climb uphill because it only made sense that we’d find our way. At last, success–we found yellow blazes and an obvious trail. But . . . we didn’t know if we were on the Circle Trail or Slippery Brook Trail.
Our plan had been to hike up the first and down the latter. Out came the map and compass and we were fairly sure we were on the latter trail. To be certain, we hiked a wee bit, until we came to the brook. Yup. So, decision time. Turn around and head back to the other trail or continue on because we’d already come so far. We continued on. Plan B when we didn’t even know we had a Plan B.
And Slippery Brook held its own tribulations. The water–oh how it flowed. It didn’t bother my guy and within seconds he stood on the other side grinning back at me. Meanwhile, I hemmed and hawed. And hawed and hemmed. How in the world? I thought perhaps I should return to Emerald Pool and wait for my guy to complete the round trip. He wasn’t buying that. Neither was I, truth be told. But sometimes my head gets the better of me. He knew that. And so he dropped his pack, took off his boots and sloshed through the cold water to grab my pack.
I didn’t have a choice. I had to follow him. And so I did. Of course, this guy knows I’ll follow him anywhere.
We continued on the Slippery Brook Trail and a delightful trail it was. I kept waiting for the bald face to show, but it wasn’t to be. The worst part, if there was one, would be the mosquitoes. It poured last night and the trail was rather wet, but still, it provided a pleasant climb. We paused for lunch beside a stream where the mosquitoes abated.
One of the things I like about stopping for lunch, besides eating because I’m always hungry, is taking time to notice. Mayflies.
The deeply impressed veins of mountain maple leaves.
And u-shaped lobes of sugar maples.
And beech fern.
Following lunch, we continued to climb and noticed things like the great pretender–a bunchberry posing as a hobblebush flower.
And moose works carving the greenery.
At last we reached our halfway point at 3.5 miles. I kept wondering–where is the bald face that I’ve been dreading? The Slippery Brook Trail was a delight, be it long, with no bald rocks in sight.
While we climbed, I’d not only noticed my surroundings but also planned my funeral. I know who I want to conduct the service and he’s out of town this week. I figured that was OK. My guy would just have to delay it for a bit. And I thought about who might come and how the different folks would interact with each other. It’ll be a celebration of life, of course. And people should be encouraged to get outside and notice. Maybe they could go on a group walk.
And then we followed the Baldface Knob Trail where the yellow clintonia grew in such abundance that my guy actually started to ID it. I’ll make him a naturalist yet. 😉
Equally abundant were the lady’s slippers.
And then we met my nemesis. But really, it wasn’t so bad. All that worry for naught. I could do this. If we decided to hike down this way, I would survive.
At last we reached our first vantage point with the world we normally inhabit spread out beyond.
It just kept getting better, and cooler and windier–a relief for our sweaty bodies. But . . . the black flies increased significantly. I swallowed a few. All that swarmed must have been males because they didn’t bite. But they certainly were annoying.
As we approached the top of the Baldface Knob we recognized our neighborhood with Pleasant Mountain in the backdrop.
A 180˚ panoramic provided half of the picture. I thought I caught the other half, but it’s not to be. South Baldface was behind us and completely doable. We decided to save it for another day because it was getting late and we weren’t certain about the trail before us.
Among the selections at our feet, chokeberry
and mountain ash.
At eye level–a hummingbird moth who moved in supersonic speed.
And then we followed the path down.
The world stretched before us
to infinity and beyond. My guy insisted that parachutes were available at this spot, but they must have been previously claimed because I couldn’t find one . . . anywhere. And believe me, I looked.
It all seemed so innocent from the top, but really, it was a scramble. A major scramble that lasted a long time until we got back into the hardwood forest. Our footing–precarious and often wet. We both have a fear of heights in open spaces. My guy has forever had such a fear–my own is newly developed and I know not its source. Oy vey. We were in over our heads, but had no choice. I kept thinking about a rescue mission, but I don’t think they show up for those who whine. We practiced our crab walks, slid and skidded and hugged rocks and trees as we made our way down this precarious trail.
The lichens were beautiful and we got to see them up close and personal. We also practiced our trust jumps. Yup, several times my guy positioned himself to catch me as I jumped. Remember my funeral plans on the way up. I was preparing as we climbed and facing the inevitable as we descended.
Finally, we were rewarded with a more even trail–sort of–and lady’s slippers.
About a mile before the trailhead, we followed a spur to Chandler’s Gorge.
On the way out, I realized I wasn’t the only dirty lady.
Oh, and we found where we zigged rather than zagged at the start of the trail. Honestly though, we both realized that if we’d hiked up the Baldface Circle Trail, we probably would have turned back. So as luck would have it, we went the right way.
Since we were on stable ground, I mentioned my fears to my guy. He admitted he’d had the same. And when I said I was sure we’d both fall when I jumped down and he caught me several times, he said at least we’d be together.
Be together on a Mondate. That’s what it’s all about.
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