We spent the night of Sept. 14 at the Basin Pond campground in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, in order to make a very early start on the Bald Mountain Loop, since all the accounts we'd read suggested it was a long and strenuous--and the weather forecast said there'd be rain before the end of the afternoon.
We drove past the trailhead on our way to camp Sunday afternoon, and the cars were parked for quite a ways either side of the lot. But at 7 on Monday morning, we had the place to ourselves.
The sun was up--somewhere. We started our hike under a low layer of clouds.
|It took a little looking to find the trail, but we eventually got started in the right direction.|
|We had hoped to climb above the clouds--and we did.|
|Looking more or less towards Maine, which isn't far off--the hike is very near the border.|
|The route was well marked, for the most part, with blue blazes painted on rocks and trees.|
|Still going up.|
|Still enjoying being above the clouds.|
|Lichen growing in rings on the rock. In some places, the "colonies" of lichen had covered a dozen square feet or more in these geometric patterns.|
|This one looked to me like a miniature zen garden.|
Leaves had begun turning here and there, and were still a novelty.
|I hadn't known that turning color could be so... splotchy.|
Halfway down we stopped to enjoy the Eagle Creek Cascades, in a green world.
By the time we reached the Emerald Pool, less than a mile from the trailhead, we'd been on the go for over 7 hours. It took some strength of will to detour a quarter mile or so each way, but it was worth it, for a pool that really was as emerald green as I could imagine.
|If anything, it was greener than this.|
In case anyone's reading this with a thought to doing the hike (in another season--I wouldn't recommend it at this time of year, though some do manage winter ascents), our stats were about 7.5 hours for the loop, which is about 9 3/4 miles. We are reasonably strong, but not so young any more, and as you can see, easily distracted by photography, so we are on the slower end of times reported by other hikers. On our day, we saw only one, possibly two other parties doing the full loop, and they might have caught us had we not taken the less-used option on the descent (Bicknell Ridge, rather than Eagle Crag and the north side of the loop). We saw two other parties near the end doing short hikes; obviously a weekday after Labor Day turns this often-crowded hike into a chance for some solitude!
©Rebecca M. Douglass, 2018
As always, please ask permission to use any photos or text. Link-backs appreciated.