Hiking: Lost and Found | Hiking news


In the fall of 2013 I did this hike and this column first appeared. However, something surprising happened a few days after it was in the newspaper that ended the story. So here it is with the final event at the end of the column. Has something similar happened to you?

I love an extended day hike that has varied terrain that is both soft and steep, and feels like it’s the day itself unfolding. This is a 12.7 mile Sandwich Dome loop hike that I have done several times this time of year, starting just before sunrise and ending in the early afternoon.

I left in the dark, taking route 113A from the village of Tamworth, heading west past Wonalancet, then turning right onto Whiteface Intervale Road. Taking a quick left onto Bennett Street, I continued past the asphalt road for another 0.4 mile to a gate and parking lot for the Flat Mountain Pond trailhead.

Starting off the dirt road, it quickly found itself in the old bed of the Beebe River Railroad, where the Flat Mountain Pond Trail turned right and headed north. Instead, I took a left, heading south on the Guinea Pond trail. To the east, through the leafless forest, the pink sunrise bounded the pyramidal cone of Young Mountain, which rose to 1,990 feet.

The soft railroad bed was a good place to witness the arrival of the day. I came to a beaver pond that had long since submerged the old railroad bed. The trail had since been moved around this one but due to a new beaver dam I had to fight around the pond, jumping from clump to mossy clump.

Upon reconnecting with the trail, I soon came to several stream crossings. The current was fast and I was grateful for my waterproof leather boots.

Passing the view of Guinea Pond through the trees, I turned right onto the Black Mountain Pond Trail.

The beautiful 3.5 mile Black Mountain Pond Trail gradually climbs up the Beebe River Valley, reaching the beautiful and peaceful Black Mountain Pond, then ascends the steep, rocky south slope of the West Ridge of Sandwich Dome, reaching the Algonquin Trail. at the top of the ridge.

The rising sun turned gold from the deciduous trees as I walked up the gentle trail, and as I took the spur trail to Mary Cary Falls just below Black Mountain Pond, the sun was up. The flowing water flashed silver as it fell on granite boulders. Just for fun I walked up the left side of the falls away from the trail.

After 5 miles on gentle trails, climbing next to the waterfall was like waking up from a dream. At the top I returned to the nearby trail and was soon on the shore of Black Mountain Pond.

The first visit to Black Mountain Ponds is memorable. Mine was in the summer, and as I sat on the shore enjoying this deep mountain pond nestled under a steep rocky ridge, I noticed lots of spotted newts in the shallow water.

I’ve been back twice since, the second time on a cold day during a dry winter, when I felt the freedom to walk on the bare ice of the pond with MICROspikes. It was the third, when I only lingered long enough to take a few pictures, then walked up the steep trail.

The rainwater was still flowing over steep ledges as I walked up the trail through the stunted forest, and precautions were needed. Soon the spectacular southern views opened up as the day unfolded. Nearby to the west was Hall Pond and the Moses Hall House on Sandwich Notch Road. Just below was the sparkling Black Mountain pond, and looking east was the beautiful Young Mountain.

At a difficult place to climb on a ledge, my feet slipped under me as I bent over. I landed on my stomach and it shook my glasses, and they landed a few feet in front of me on the ledge. As I grabbed them, they fell from a crack in a cave.

Alarmed, I found another way to wedge myself into a larger crack to look for them. Soon I realized it was too dark and had to go back upstairs to retrieve my headlamp. I did and walked back under, being careful not to step on my glasses.

Eventually I found them unharmed and standing with the lenses facing down in the sand. Next to them was a new Leki Pole and an old water bottle. I was not the first to be bothered by this uncomfortable place. I kept the expensive post, and later found it useful.

I reached the ridge and joined the Algonquin trailhead and headed east towards the top of Sandwich Dome. This 1.7 mile section of trail offers some great views and then climbs a moderate incline through mossy green forest making for a very pleasant hike to the top.

The view from the top of the Sandwich Dome, although limited to the north side, is quite spectacular with the white village of Waterville below, the awe-inspiring mass of Mount Osceola just beyond, and the Franconia Ridge beyond.

I grabbed a sandwich and quickly made my way to the Bennett Street Trailhead. This trail descended on the northeast side for 2.5 miles, crossed the Flat Mountain Pond trail on the old railroad, and continued to Pond Brook and followed it for a few miles to complete the loop and reach the parking lot.

I was quite surprised to see another Leki pole standing on the edge of the trail. Although not exactly the same type as the other, they were a good found pair. As I walked along Pond Brook, the light twinkled in the high water.

A few days after this column was published in the Conway Daily Sun, I received a call from a woman in Sandwich. She had read it. It was his Leki staff that I had found in the cave while I was looking for my glasses. The exact thing had happened to her, slipping awkwardly, but she didn’t come down into the dark cave to find it. She wanted to get it back. I said OK, and his son picked him up from my house.

Next time I will climb above Black Mountain Pond, maybe I will descend into the cave looking for trail mana.

Also, the second Leki stick I found that day I loaned to a friend who was traveling in Burma who needed a walking stick. She still has it.


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