Sunday, December  9, 2018
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courtesy JInnes
Another look at Cannon Cliffs
Cairn and Sophie
Looking back at Lafayette
After just under a kilometre of alpine ridgeline walking, the Appalachian Trail began a steeper descent (still fully in the open) down to the marked junction with the Skookumchuck trail. The Skookumchuck trail connects to a spot just north of Franconia Notch along the highway, and would be the next phase in our loop trip today.
Getting steeper
Granite Lookout
Skookumchuck Junction
Skookumchuck Junction
The Skookumchuck trail is another of those lightly-travelled routes in the whites, and the trail shows it. Not too eroded and actually quite pleasant to descend. That and talking with Sophie about the costs and benefits of reservation versus first-come/first-served campgrounds caused the normally tedious upper part of our descent to pass by quite quickly.
courtesy JInnes
courtesy JInnes
Pleasant upper forest
Fungi of the forest I
Fungi of the forest II
Nowhere is the Skookumchuck trail overly steep, and where it is a bit steeper, there is some nice rock-step trailwork. In its lower portion, the Skookumchuck trail follows the banks of Skookumchuck brook, today flowing very gently and pleasantly over lots of mossy boulders and rocks. I stopped at one point to take some close-up pictures of it.
Lightly used, well maintained
Lightly used, well maintained
Skookumchuck Brook
Skookumchuck Brook
So, we had had a great day so far, and we were generally ahead of our planned schedule. We were also now only about a kilometer or so (0.6 miles), straight-line, to the recreational path. What I didn't see on my map (or remember from past trips), is that the Skookumchuck trail doesn't go straight down to the path. Instead, as we emerged from the valley of Skookumchuck brook, the trail curved north, taking a long gradual descending traverse to the trailhead, which was actually quite a ways north of us still. We endured this trail for far too long, and instead of just bushwhacking down to the path - which was only a few hundred yards below us - we stayed on the trail, going in almost exactly the opposite direction of where we wanted to go.
Heritage trail and guy
Eventually we reached a cross-trail - something called the "Heritage Trail" - which appeared to be a mostly winter-use route for skiiers and snowmobilers. We didn't really care about that, though, or the fact that it was a bit overgrown. It was going in the right direction, therefore we wanted [to follow] it. It was only for a short bit, though, before we were dumped out onto the Franconia Notch multi-use recreational path. Finally.
Overgrown Heritage Trail
Now properly back on-track, we began our walk south along the multi-use path. You could really tell along this stretch how this used to be a fully operational park road, but now the cracks in the pavement were slowly being exploited by the flora of the area. Still, this is the easiest kind of walking, and we were able to up the pace significantly as we walked gently uphill back towards Franconia Notch.
Franconia recreation path
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