Half Day Hike DATE: 02/24/2022 - 02/24/2022
Trip/Event Location: Randolph, NH
Trip Leader(s): phoenix
Max # People: 12
Trip Guiding / Event Fee: No, I will not be asking participants for money
Difficulty Level: Easy to Moderate
We will hike the Link to its junction with Cliffway. Along the way we will cross Cold Brook via the Memorial Bridge shown in the picture. Taking the Cliffway, we will climb to White Cliff...
We will meet at Appalachia parking area on Route 2.
On more than one winter hike, I have found the Appalachia parking area to be a “wind tunnel.” Such was the case as we “geared up” for this hike, with the first ones ready to hike retreating back into the car to wait until the others were ready. The previous afternoon had gotten into the 50s, but it was now back in the low 20s. We were one day too early for snowshoeing, so we put on our microspikes instead. We walked onto the snowbank in front of our cars and hiked the top of the snowbank to the trailhead. The common trail from the parking area was icy in parts.
We shortly veered to the right twice, where upon The Link trail becomes free of its entangled alliances with the other trails leaving the parking area. Once we were in the forest, the wind ceased to be an issue by staying aloft. We traversed a snow bridge over a small brook with open running water a few yards to our right. We then reached a sugar maple area. I called out a caution to watch for the overhead sugaring tubes, one of which over the snow-packed trail, you could practice a limbo dance if you so desired. The trail was well marked as it maneuvered to the left of a sugar shed and beyond.
We were happy to have the memorial bridge to safely cross Cold Brook. There was no temptation to violate the prohibition of wading in the brook, which is a water supply for the locals. We continued on The Link. Through the leafless trees we could still hear traffic on Route 2 in the valley below, although our microspikes on the snow-packed trail made more noise than the vehicles. This led some inventors in our group to grandiose ideas. Fred would invent musical microspikes. Mo would design microspikes with a noise canceler, so you could seek up on wild animals to observe them. The only wild animals we saw were a few birds, thankfully not the constantly begging Canadian Jays. I also noted a red squirrel scamper off into the woods as we approached, but must have been too cold for it to sound the alarm routinely heard in warmer months.
After two miles on The Link, we turned left onto Cliffway. The Link trail had been broken all the way, but Cliffway had been windblown so it was initially a bit more challenging to follow. The wind had knocked small branches off trees and deposited them upright in the snow, thus camouflaging the trail. We slowed our pace and surveilled for the yellow blazes on trees to guide us. The leafless trees soon transitioned to a hemlock forest whereupon the trail became obvious once again.
Upon reaching White Cliff, some of us started eating lunch and some waited as it was only noon. The viewpoint on White Cliff is a somewhat restricted northward view of Lookout Ledge and the Crescent Mountain range. There is also a very short trail (Along the Brink) that hugs the cliff, but it does not give any better view. We began to get cold in the shade on White Cliff, so it was time to move on.
In pursuit of a sunny area, we continued onward to Bog Ledge. We once again stopped for lunch/snacks as sunlight was a plenty on the ledge. Here there was an excellent view into King Ravine as well as the summits of Mt Madison and the Adams family. Indeed, the view from Bog Ledge was better than White Cliff. Perhaps the Randolph Mountain Club should consider sacrificing a few trees on White Cliff to restore it to the “good view” promised in their trail guide. Of course it’s always easy to add a job to some other trail maintainer’s list without any offer of helping them do the work!
We then followed the Monaway trail down to the Amphibrach trail. Some crazy moose had postholed a section of Monaway. I guess narrow legs with heavy upper body just put too much pressure on the snow. Prudent humans can alleviate postholing by wearing snowshoes, but providence and/or evolution did not give moose such brain power.
After a steady decline in elevation, we reached the well-trodden Amphibrach. Before heading down the Amphibrach, we hiked the few extra yards of the Monaway extension to Coldspur Ledges, but found nothing spectacular there. Perhaps other seasons yield validity to the guidebook’s claim it is “an attractive area of rock slabs and cascades at the confluence of Spur Brook and Cold Brook”. In winter, the attractiveness must be under the snow.
Our last scenic stop was Cold Brook Falls. Given the snow formations on the right side of the falls, Jeffrey suggested renaming it “Cauliflower Falls” and everyone agreed. We then headed back on The Link to the sugar shed. We took a side path down to the Presidential Rail Trail and walked that wide “expressway” back to our cars. The hike took around 4 hours. Afterwards we enjoyed hot chocolate or coffee at J's Corner Restaurant & Lounge in Gorham.
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