Crossing above Jocko Lake
After a stop at a lookout with a limited view of nearby Jocko Lake (this is the only semi-closeup lake view you get along this entire trail), we started another ascent, this time steep and rocky, to a shoulder on the next "mountain" along our route, 1350-foot (400m) Buck Mountain. The steep and rocky ascent was extremely short-lived, however, and after about 2 minutes of climbing we emerged into yet more gentle, flat, open forest glades.
Carefully following the markers, we crossed a high shoulder of Buck Mountain, passing through several very nice views towards the Madawaska River and Valley. The trail then started a descent down into a well-defined ravine separating Buck Mountain from the next mountain in the horshoe-shaped arrangement of hills we were visiting today. Again, although there were a few steeps spots here and there, it was straightforward, and the elevation loss was quite minor - perhaps 250 feet (<100m) at most.
Marker cairn near Buck Mtn
Nicely-framed Madawaska view
The bottom of the ravine contained a distinct microclimate, different from the sunny, open ridges we had just been hiking through: dark, wetter, and somewhat gloomy. For us, this experience was only short-lived, though, for after crossing the bottom of the ravine, the trail immediately started back up on a diagonal traverse. After a few steep bits and one big switchback, we regained the 250 feet we had just lost, and began another semi-open ridgetop stretch of hiking. It was becoming apparent that the particular signature of this hike was exactly this: semi-open terrain, patches of bedrock and lichen, and a mixed maple and oak woodland. In this part of Eastern Canada, it was quite unusual to see this sort of thing at this low elevation. We expect usually to see a thicker forest with less views, more bushwhacking, and many more coniferous trees.
Perhaps there is more of this sort of terrain in this general region than I had first thought. In any case, I certainly was enjoying the easy rambling through this peaceful, quiet land.
The twists and turns of the trail had us now heading back south, along a new series of hills. There were plenty of smaller and larger views off to the west, and several more short and steep ups and downs between the various little hills and bumps. As before, a few of the ascents and descents are locally quite steep, but only for a minute or two. Nothing at all serious.
The Griffith Uplands trail follows a very faint bit of ATV track along a stretch near Spring Mountain, and there are a few spots where the trail acquires and then leaves the track where one probably needs to take extra care to notice the trail's flagging and paint blazes, for it is easy to make a mistake and follow either the ATV track for too long or to veer off onto other faint herd paths.
We arrived at a particularly nice lookout near the top of Godin Mountain, and here we decided to stop for lunch. For about an hour now, the morning sun had disappeared behind a somewhat grey overcast, but as we set up for lunch, a large patch of blue sky drifted overhead, turning our open lookout into a prime warming spot.