Friday, August 3, 2012

Goose Eye - Wright Trail

This is the initial post I wrote when I established Slowlohiking.com. Originally written in September of 2009, it was mothballed until I launched Slowlohiking.com in 2012
 
I decided to try Goose Eye (map) again. This was a place I remember my father talking of, though I believe he was talking about either coming up from the Success Pond Road or across the AT. Either way, I find myself drawn to places I remember him talking about, so rather than go the Kearsarge, which I don't think he ever mentioned, I ended up back at Goose Eye.

I went looking for extreme conditions, and I found them. By extreme, I mean rain, thunder and lightning, and high temps. Though the temperature was only 70, the dew point was probably 70 and the humidity was 98%. (I know the temperature, I hike with a thermometer, but the dew point and humidity are purely anecdotal.) Let's just say it was muggy! And raining.

The Maine Conservation Corps had worked on the trail during the previous week and the trail was it great shape. In spite of all the rain we had had, the trail was mostly well drained and firm.

I hiked along the river to the crossing where Lucy and I had to turn back earlier this year. I hiked relatively slowly, because a) it was oppressively muggy, b) I needed to warm up and, c) I'm still not in trail shape.

I crossed the "stream", expecting to start moving away from the sound of running water, which had been present to this point. Almost immediately, another "stream" appeared to my right. Boy, there is a lot of water up there. When I hike, I enjoy the full sensory experience. I love the smells of the woods; the sounds of the bugs, birds and water- even the sound of Lucy's collar jingling and the sound of my own footsteps and huffing and puffing. But in this case, the sound of running water was almost overpowering- it was all around me and really loud!

I am a proponent of slow hiking, or maybe "off-speed hiking". There are certain places where hiking fast is great; it's excellent exercise and physically challenging. But, I've noticed that my awareness of the environment around me is inversely proportional to the speed at which I'm hiking. When I'm slow hiking, I really see the landscape. I notice things; both forest and trees alike (an allusion to "can't see the forest for the trees"). I've seen plants growing through a hole in a leaf from the previous autumn's leaf-fall; I've seen tiny ants hauling a queen ant up a tree trunk; I've seen boulder fields along a forest hill side, each with a tree growing over it like the wrapped tentacles of an octopus. When I hike fast, my focus goes to the rocks and roots of the trail, and where my feet are going to go. So, as I hiked slowly because of the conditions, my head was up; I was looking around. What a beautiful area!

My primary goal was the campsite roughly 2.5 miles from the road. I am scouting places to "backpack" to. This is an ideal spot. There are two tent-sites around a common fireplace and rustic picnic table. The site is located where two streams come together, so the overnight sounds would be amazing. Looks very interesting indeed. I am planning to spend at least one night here this fall!

The trail splits into a northern trail and a southern trail at the campsite. The "recommended" ascent route is up the southern trail. This takes you one of the peaks of Goose Eye, where it intersects with the AT (Appalachian Trail). From there, the proscribed route takes you west on the AT across a middle peak (the real peak) to another peak. Here you leave the AT and head down the northern trail. Sounds like an awesome route. Only thing is, the southern trail is closed do to hazardous conditions.

So up the northern route I went. Immediately, the trail began a steep ascent. I was doing fine, but was a bit concerned, that my head felt hot to the touch. I felt fine, but my skin felt hot. Given the weather conditions and the potential for heat stroke or prostration or whatever, combined with my lack of conditioning (and the fact that this week would be a bad one to be limping around) I set a turn-back time of 2PM. One thing I have determined about solo hiking is that I feel compelled to pay really close attention to my body. And I always think about the trip down: a little tired up, leads to a dangerous trip down. Needless to say, I am sure I made the right decision.

As I was nearing the end of the trail, I spotted a small beetle fighting its way through the forest debris covering the trail. What was interesting was that when I stopped to watch it, the beetle began, I guess, playing part of the debris. I watched it for a while and it didn't move. I moved downhill from it, and dang if it didn't out wait  me. Interesting.

Overall it was a great day. Wish I would have summited, but whatever, I got what I came for. I highly recommend this area.

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